how to do SOFT HIGHLIGHTS on dark brown hair

hello everyone! jessica here :)


today i am here with miss emily, one of my most favorite human beings ever! she is almost 18. it's crazy to think back at turning 18 - what a fun time. since she is turning 18, she is ready for a change.


when thinking of all the different type of hair we could create for her, we wanted to do something really different: SOFT HIGHLIGHTS on dark brown hair. my concept stems from stars like eva longoria, who have a beautiful brightness, and softness adding color around the face. a very romantic, sexy feel.

the sectioning PATTERN

here we are on the left side. with emily, i'm going to be using DIAGONAL sectioning so that when the hair falls, the highlights come through very diffused.

we are going to keep her predominantly dark. because of this, i’m going to be sure to leave a veil of the dark. this way, as her hair grows out it won't be too noticeable.

i'm taking pretty decent sized sections- about ⅔ OF A CM THICK.

for this first section, i’m going to GENTLY BACKCOMB near the root then get ready to place her first foil.

PROTIP: with long hair like emily's you can place a little bit of your lightener or color on the foil so that the hair stays in place instead of sliding around. place the hair on that lightener patch a little bit below where you intend on feathering out the color. this way you have room to make it look exactly how you want it.

now i can go through and paint the lightener on the top. using that #protip also ensures that the hair is fully SATURATED with the lightener. this tip is also great for those with very coarse or thick hair. i have had many trial and error sessions where you think you have applied the lightener heavy enough but after washing it out- there are spots left that are still too dark.

finally, after folding the hair up and really saturating the strands, i'm going to FEATHER the lightener up a little bit.

then i'm going to fold the foil up nice and small and move onto the next section.

on top of each large ‘slice’ of lightener, i am going to put a BABY FINE WEAVE of her natural hair color. the weave size is relative to your client's hair. some may need a finer weave while some may need a thicker portion.

emily has thick coarse hair so her weave will seem more like a medium weave.

weaving the hair out i will drop the lower section of it and place the top weaved portion on a new foil. again, i have already applied a streak of lightener to help her hair stay in place and ensure its fully saturated.

with two sections down, one fully lightened and one baby weave- our next section will be SKIPPED OVER. these ‘skipped’ sections in between the lightened portions will keep her hair on the darker side, which is what we are going for. this is the size of the portion we are leaving out.

time to REPEAT

now we will start to REPEAT the pattern. on this next section, i will backcomb the hair near the root and apply the lightener on this whole section.

i am keeping the lightener lower on this portion. to about HALFWAY up.

following the same method we have been using- be sure to place that hair on the lightener a little below where you want to feather it out to AVOID chunky lines or having to pull the color up more than desired.

afterward, go ahead and fold that foil up nice and tight and move on to the weaved section.

now, because we are going to end up toning to a LEVEL 7, we are going to bring up the lightener a little higher on this section. this will provide her with a good base.

just a friendly reminder- in our videos we are providing examples of methods we use. feel free to change the placement to what you and your client feel comfortable with. hair is art so just envision your end goal and work from there.

for emily’s style, we want to have lightness around the face. since we haven't had any lightened sections pulled all the way up to the front yet, we will end with a dark root all over. we want to avoid that so i'm pulling the lightener almost to the root in this section.

after folding up that foil on our weave section we move onto the ‘skipped’ section.

when starting the next repetition of our pattern, i'm going to pull the fully lightened section up of the way. a little further up than the last section.

PROTIP: if you happen to place the foil a little low on the hair, use the end of a weaving comb to carefully pick up the section and move it up on the foil.

continue this pattern all the way to the top of the head and then we will move onto the front.

the TOP section

i have gotten this far up her head. i have done a baby weave here, next i’m going to leave for a VEIL.

moving on to separate out the next section i am going to continue with only weaves. i’m doing this to have more color focused on the top.

so, taking my comb, i will perform a weave and apply the lightener to the top portion of the weave.

on this top portion, i'm not applying the lightener to the foil first. this is because i am able to GRIP the hair on the end of my foil like so.

i hold it tight and paint the lightener onto this section. i am sure to not paint it all the way to the top of the hair in case my foil slips while i'm painting it on the bottom.

PROTIP: with long hair, when flipping the ends up, ensure they are straight and flat on the foil. keeping it straight prevents unnecessary damage when attempting to comb out tangled up hair from a messy application.

moving back to the top of this section, feather the lightener up to the roots. then fold the foil up and move on.

the next section will be left out.

i am placing the color very close to the root to provide the illusion of the hair growing out in the lighter color. i do not want her to have a darker root up top.

moving onto the next section i do a fine weave and then i apply the lightener to the top section of the weave.

i'm continuing this pattern until i get to the end of this top portion of hair. at the top, i have left a small section of her natural hair to help with that veil.

FRAMING the face

now on this front portion near her face, we are going to still leave a veil of her natural color, but it will be smaller than the one left in the back. this is because we want the color to be more concentrated in the front providing her a pop of color.

i'm going to continue using diagonal parting.

with the area around her face, i'm choosing to work with smaller sections as i really want that color to show off here. because your hair in the back of the head is denser, using larger sections back there and then smaller sections up front near the face gives the appearance of an equal color tone.

just like with the first portion we did, we are going to BACKCOMB the first section near the roots.

i want to bring this color higher up towards the roots when i'm going around her face.

continuing to repeat the pattern from the back- my next section is split into a baby weave and i apply lightener to the top section of that weave.

then we leave our 3rd section out.

on this next repetition, i want the color closer to the roots near her face, but not so much towards her ears. so, i'm going to ANGLE on the lightener when i apply it.

i then move to the section- the fine weave. applying the lightener closer to the root.

now that we have reached the TOP of this front section i am going to revert back to the method i used on the back- top section. i will use only weaves to have more of the lighter color.

this will make the pattern for the top be a weave, skip a section, weave the skip a section and then finally leaving a small veil.

once completed i will repeat this full pattern from the left side of her head, onto the right side.


here her foils are all PROCESSED. looking closely here, you can see it's processed just past level 7 which is perfect. keep in mind that the under pigment of level 7 is orange and i want to bump her slightly higher than that.

here she is all WASHED OUT. it looks lovely!

on the first quadrant, i used a level 7.

on the second quadrant, i used half level 7 half level 20vol.

on the front, i used a level 20 as well so that it would all process at the same amount of time.

i started with a level 7 because i wanted her to end at a level 8. you never want to over lift. if i would have overlifted, i would have to fill the hair to bring it back down before toning it.


for emily’s toner, i have mix half 7.1 and half 7.2 i chose those color because i need to neutralize out all of the warmth in her hair.

this combination will neutralize out the warmth and create a nice 7 with a little bit of ashy. in the sun, her hair is really going to pop.

i will apply the toner and then come back when it is all processed washed out.

applying PRODUCTS

Now emily all power dried out.

we need to remember that hair is like a sponge. this means you do not want the hair sopping wet when applying products. having the hair quickly dried in a power dry removes some of that water saturation so it can hold the product.

today i am applying the nvenn ‘blow out kit’ to emily’s hair.

in this blow out kit, i love the ‘volume’. this product is such a great volumizer because it has the ability to give volume to someone with hair as thick as emily’s. i have applied 3 full pumps to her hair.

after ‘volume’ i’m going to apply some ‘protect’ all over her hair.

then i apply the nvenn ‘replenish’ oil.

after applying the full blow kit i will power dry the hair again.


her hair is now all dry, styled. i'm going to finish her off with some ‘smooth’ split end serum.

this product is really useful for piecing out curls. be sure to re-emulsify by rubbing your hands together. this ensures you have enough product evenly on your fingers.

here she is all finished! this is a subtle color change but that is all emily needed. just enough to add brightness around her face.

because we used this subtle sunkissed look that is still close to her natural color when her hair grows out she won't have to get colored every 4-6 weeks. when her hair grows the fade will look natural. she will, however, have to get the color toned on occasion.

looking at the back and how it catches the sun, its such a nice highlight for her hair.

thank you for tuning in for today's video! if you have any questions or comments please leave them down below. make sure to subscribe to @nvennhairbeauty to see our new videos every friday!

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