Root Retouching vs. Highlights

With all of the different hair coloring treatments out there – especially if you color your hair – you might be wondering: what is the difference between a simple root retouch and highlights? They might seem similar, but there are quite a few major differences between the two. We break down everything you need to know here!

The Main Difference Between Root Retouching & Highlights

A root retouch is a single process color, whereas highlights are a 2-process color and much more dimensional.

The type of retouching or highlight service we recommend is always based on the client’s current hair and their overall goals for the look of their hair. For instance, if you have a current base color you love but you just want to add some dimension, we’ll probably recommend highlights; if you color your hair and your roots are growing out, we’ll likely recommend a root retouch. Don’t have a clue, don’t worry! Our Wild Honey Salon hair coloring experts will consult with you and give their recommendations.

What Are Hair Highlights?

Hair highlights are an ideal option if you have a great base hair tone and don’t want to amend your natural hair color too much. Essentially, highlights enhance your hair by adding streaks that are a shade or two lighter than your natural color. They look the most dynamic when the stylist uses at least two different shades. You can also ask for face-framing highlights to brighten your complexion.

Great highlights should be layered to produce tonal variations. There should be lights, mediums, and darks to create depth and translucence in the hair. Highlighting should be like painting a masterpiece, and you can’t do that with just one color – hence the two-process color!

There are three main types of highlights:

  • Foil highlights are the most traditional highlight method. The technique adds uniform color to hair, and it can be made bold or well-blended. You can get many different shades for a natural look.
  • Balayage, or “hair painting,” allows the stylist to add natural ribbons of color to hair in large or small swaths. Balayage hair highlights are a great choice because they are low maintenance, or if you have a base color you love and just want to go a couple shades lighter in certain areas. You won’t need to get your roots touched up as much with balayage as you do foils, and it grows out better than any other color option.
  • Lowlights are a great way to add dimensional color to your hair by coloring certain areas darker than your natural hair color or to previously lifted color. Lowlights add depth, dimension, and accentuate movement, and typically look good on all types of hair. Many times, lowlights are added to the lower layers of your hair so that blending of your lightened hair and natural color can be achieved. Many stylists will combine highlights and lowlights to create dimensional color and interest.

Highlight appointments typically take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 and a half hours. The cost for highlights varies greatly depending on which type you’d like, how long your hair is, and more.

What is a Hair Root Touch-Up?

When hair has been colored using hair color, the roots tend to be the first places to show it, since that is where the new hair comes in. A root touch-up is simply an application of hair color applied to the roots of the hair, to disguise the fact that hair has grown out, and to make a hair coloring last longer. Generally, hair will need to be colored every four to six weeks, but a root touch-up can increase the time between appointments.

Our root touch-up service is recommended for any of our San Diego customers who are looking to touch up and maintain their color.

A typical root retouch appointment will be anywhere from 1 hour 30 minutes to two hours. These appointments are ideal for covering grays that might start appearing or for retouching your base color. Our Root Retouch appointments start at $85, but cost is dependent on hair type, length, and existing color.

How Long Will My Touchup or Highlights Last?

All-over coloring will need to be touched up every four to eight weeks, while highlights can last up to two or three months. Be sure to ask your stylist about a gloss treatment following your color or touch-up – this step can really add a boost to the color and make it last longer.

Have questions about root retouching and highlights or want to book a consultation at our Wild Honey San Diego salon contact us today!

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