Like most women, the biggest gripe I have with my hair is the time it takes to look reasonably presentable. And, while trips to the hairdresser are an indulgence to look forward to, it's increasingly hard to find the time. Cuts are one thing, but throw in colour and you're looking at hours spent in the chair. Hours that many of us just don't have. In fact, speedy colour services have seen a boom in searches on Google to the tune of 518 per cent in the last four years, with more of us looking for quicker alternatives to give us the results we want in less time. So, when I got wind of L’Oréal Professionnel's new Instant Highlights –which claim to cut the time it takes to highlight hair in half, and offer a low-maintenance alternative to a full head of colour – I was intrigued to see how (or if) it could truly work. I went to try it and report back. Here's everything you need to know.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO BEFOREHAND
At least 48 hours prior to your treatment you'll need to carry out an allergy test to check for any allergic reactions.
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE
Before the service, your colourist will consult with you about how you'd like your hair to look before mixing the colour. The highlighting process involves taking small strips of hair (around 15 pieces), applying a lightening cream, wrapping it in foil and then going over it with a specially designed heat tool (that looks like a straightener) to speed up the colour. The foil is thicker than regular foil to protect the hair from the heat and the heating iron is designed to operate at a lower temperature (140 degrees) with a separator to prevent the heat plates from directly touching the foil, in order to leave hair healthier and prevent damage. Once applied and heated the foils are removed (no need for development time) and the bleach is washed out.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE
The timing can vary depending on whether you want your hair styled at the end, but it takes around half an hour to apply the highlights, then around another half an hour for a wash and blowdry – meaning you'd be able to do it in a long lunch break.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST AND WHAT RESULTS YOU CAN EXPECT
Because your hair is being bleached, the results are permanent. But, since the highlights are very soft (they're scattered through hair quite naturally), you could choose to grow the highlights out with minimal maintenance. To maintain the colour, you're looking at refreshing it with another set of highlights every three months.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST
The price may vary depending on the hair salon and location you choose (you can find your nearest here), but it should cost somewhere between £50-£90.
I was really impressed with how quickly this service was able to achieve results that normally take me hours. There was very little waiting around. Once my consultation was finished and the lightening cream was mixed, it was applied, the hair wrapped in foil, heated and done within half an hour. The highlights were expertly distributed throughout my hair, focused around the front of my face where the sun usually hits and then softly through the back. It only took 15 pieces to make a difference to how my hair looks all over. What's more, the roots of each piece were backcombed before bleach was applied to diffuse the colour near the top of my head so that the effect is really natural and soft. I like that there's minimal commitment and the highlights can grow out easily if I choose, or I could top them up or add more in in the future. It's a very good option for colour-phobes (like me) looking for a non-scary hair shake-up.
Elle tried the L’Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights at Daniel Galvin's salon in Selfridges