How to Touch Up Roots on Highlighted Hair


Image of a hairdresser styling the client's hair
Source: Oksana Kukuruza |

How to Touch Up Roots on Highlighted Hair

Whether you’re in need of a root touch-up or you are a stylist looking to perfect your touch-up skillset, this article was written for you. In this piece, we will show you how to effectively touch up roots on highlighted hair!

Root touch-ups are a relatively easy service to do, but when you add in the complexity of previously highlighted hair or need to touch up highlights, there are various factors that could make this simple service a little trickier.


Depending on the style of the highlights, hair texture, condition and length, root touch-ups can look different for everyone. That’s why we will talk about how to touch up roots on each highlighted style of hair so that you can achieve the best results.


How to Touch Up Roots on Highlighted Hair

There are many different kinds of highlight styles out there, but we have identified a few of the most popular below. Select the style you’re going for below and follow the directions for that specific look to touch up your roots without ruining the existing highlights.


Shadow Root

For those who have highlights but also want a shadow or darker root, you can easily touch up the grow out with a darker color while also making sure the highlights still look great. Here is how:


  • Start from the bottom with thin sections.
  • Apply professional hair color or toner to the root and brush it down in a diagonal direction to blend the shadow root with the highlight seamlessly.
  • As you get to the top of the head, turn the brush sideways to make the shadow root look a little less harsh.
  • After you have applied toner or color to the root, follow up with a lighter color or toner right below the shadow root to blend the root and highlights.
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Balayage highlights have a naturally lived-in look with an evident root. However, if the balayage has grown out quite a bit and you want to touch it up and the roots, here is how you can achieve this using salon tools and products:


  • Section the hair with a front and back section and add in the client’s part.
  • Start from the bottom and section the hair down the middle. You should have two different sections.
  • Lightly tease thin sections of hair.
  • Then, place a foil under the hair.
  • Apply a light amount of conditioner an inch under the root.
  • Then, brush the lightener from the tip up into the conditioner to create a beautifully blended balayage look.



The ombre hairstyle includes having visible roots since the ends of the hair are the only parts that are lightened. Touching up the roots on this highlighted style is relatively easy. Here is how you can do it:


  • Section hair into four parts.
  • Apply a darker hair color directly to the root of the hair and leave room between your grow out and the beginning part of your lightened hair.
  • Use a comb or a brush to gently brush the color right down. This will create a blended and melted look that maintains your lightened hair while giving you darker roots.
  • If you’re adding lightness to the ends of the hair while touching up the roots, lighten the hair first and process and rinse before darkening the root.
Image of a woman at a hair salon styled by the hairdresser
Source: Dean Bertoncelj |


Chunky Lights

If you want to maintain the chunky highlights from root to tip, it’s best to highlight the hair similar to the way it was done at first.


  • Section the hair as you would for chunky highlights.
  • Take sections of the hair you want to be highlighted and apply lightener to the grown-out roots, connecting them to the previously lightened hair.
  • Use a toner to even out any brassiness so that the touched-up roots match the previous highlights.

Are you feeling confident about root touch-ups now? We know that root touch-ups can be trickier when highlights are involved, but we hope this guide empowers you to create beautifully touched-up hairstyles.


It’s important to make time and space for a consultation with your client or with a stylist to understand the client’s needs and wishes. This is also a great time to set expectations for clients and ensure that you both are on the same page.


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