Ask CurlyNIkki: How Can I Highlight My Hair Without Damaging My Curls?

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CurlyNikki wears blue highlights created with cream eyeshadow.

Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: I'm anxious to try bold highlights—think bright blue or purple—but I don't want to use chalk or any chemical dyes in my hair.  Any suggestions?


CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE:   Blogger FroEnvy shared the genius idea of using cream eye shadows to experiment with hair color rather than chalking, a method that uses colored chalk to dye the hair.  My first thought was, "This is so happening!"  Unlike chalking, which I'm quite sure wasn't developed with us curly girls in mind, there's no abrasive rubbing of the wet cuticle and no flat ironing to set the color.  You simply just slick on a little cream shadow and BAM— instant #RockStar.

From my experience, this is a really dope and easy way to rock ratchet and unnatural, yet trendy colors.  So far, my favorite color to wear is blue (pictured above) using Maybelline's Color Tattoo Eyeshadow.  I simply use my fingernail to scrape a little of the eye shadow from the container, emulsify it between my thumb and forefinger and apply it to my dry hair, one curl at a time. I stick to highlights, focusing on the tips (think ombre) and only hit four or five curls. It wears for the duration of the style although around day three, it’s a bit less vibrant. 

When you're ready to remove the color, the night before wash day, rub coconut oil on the color to remove much of the pigment. When you wash your hair, any color that's left will be removed.  There’s no need for harsh clarifying shampoos, as one with the detergent cocobetaine will suffice.

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.