How To Go From Highlights To All-over Color?

All-over color or single-process color as we call it, transforms your hair by going several shades lighter or darker than your natural color.

This is achieved by changing your entire hair color, imparting a single one dimensional look which not only adds warmth but also covers a whole lot of gray hair while boosting your skin tone in the process.

Highlights, on the other hand, add up streaks that are usually a shade or two lighter than your natural hair color which in turn boosts the overall look. 

Reasons To Go From Highlights To All Over Color

People usually opt for highlights because they not only enhance your hair but tend to do so without completely changing or messing up your natural or root color.

But sometimes, you do need a fresh change and sticking by highlights forever usually snatches away that opportunity to be versatile; or you may be feeling like the recently done highlights are not suiting you because of a striking contrast in your base color and the highlights.

And you now wish to alter the process, wondering how to go from highlights to all over color? Is there any way out now?

The answer is yes! You might also be thinking if it is possible to do it at home without paying lengthy and expensive visits to the salon? The answer is again affirmative! 

Shampoos Hub
Shampoos Hub

Although covering up highlights again to go all over color is not impossible, it is not a child’s play either.

We are telling you this because of a widespread wrong notion that you can easily go from highlights to all over color just by getting some dye and applying it on your hair.

No, the idea is more than that and requires a two-level procedure to achieve desired results. If you try covering it up by simply dyeing your hair, the highlights will reappear again within a few weeks. 

In this article, we will briefly describe how to go from highlights to all over color by guiding you through easy and simple steps so you can do it at home, minimizing any potential damage to the hair. 

How To Go From Highlights To All Over Color?

While highlights add a subtle dimension
While highlights add a subtle dimension to your hair, the huge transformation that comes with all-over color is worth trying.

Before we begin to inform you about the step-by-step process, we want you to first weigh all the possible outcomes and think over this decision wisely.

Think if those salon visits, money, time and efforts you invested to get highlights are worth putting aside? Since once you decide to cover your highlights, it would take a minimum of a whole year if you somehow want to switch back to highlights without causing damage to your hair.

This is because the color sticks to the deepest fiber of your hair when you attempt to cover those highlights and in order to go back to your highlights, you will need to bleach, dye and tone it all from the scratch and sometimes wait for months or a set time period according to your hair condition before getting any new treatment done.

So have you thought about it clearly? If yes, continue reading:

Step 1: Pre-pigment your hair

Pre-pigment your hair
Pre-pigment is an important step in going from highlights hair to all over color process

To go from highlights to all over color, you first need to pre-pigment your hair. Basically, pre-pigmentation is a technique which is used before coloration to add some extra pigment to the hair surface. It helps in retaining your hair color by replacing the missing color pigments of your target color.

Since pre-pigmentation marks a noticeable reduction in the opening of the cuticle, it is also a great way to protect the hair fiber from any potential damage. 

What if I skip pre-pigmentation?

Skipping the step of pre-pigmenting your hair is a big NO especially if you are going two or more shades darker. 

Doing so will not only result in failed longevity of the color but also will bring out those translucent khaki green and gold hues that appear as a result of incorrect color application.

What does pre-pigmentation involve?

Pre-pigmentation includes applying straight dye to your hair but WITHOUT ANY DEVELOPER for better durability and longevity of the target hair color. 

Pre-pigmentation is a must to do before proceeding to dye your hair all over if:

  • You are going two or more shades darker than your existing shade.
  • Your hair is prone to fade.
  • Your hair is porous.

Factors to consider before pre pigmenting the hair

Consider the brand’s undertone chart

Undertones are a very important part to look into if you are coloring your hair. Before pre-pigmenting your hair, ensure referring to the brand’s chart or RPC (remaining pigment chart) that guides about the undertone replacement. 

Let’s say you want to achieve level 6 on previously lightened hair. The underlying pigment of level 6 is orange/yellow so you need to first replace those orange/yellow undertones and then proceed to apply the target shade.

brand’s undertone chart
Refer to your brand’s undertone or RPC (remaining pigment contribution) chart before pre-pigment your hair

Get your hands on the correct shade

Pick a color that marks the closest resemblance to your natural hair color so that there would not be a huge or noticeable difference in both the colors when your roots grow out.

The quantity of dye

In order to pre pigment your highlights, you will need about half a bottle of dye. But this is not all. After pre-pigmenting your hair, you will need more dye (this time with a developer) to color your entire head.

Therefore, ensure buying two to three bottles of the dye so that it remains sufficient for the whole process until completion. 

Now let’s get started with pre-pigmenting your highlights!

What do you need?

  • Hair dye
  • A plastic container
  • One tablespoon of water
  • Hair clip
  • Moisturizing cream/oil 
  • Gloves 
  • Brush and comb

How to do:

  • First, brush your hair gently so as to remove all the tangles and rough knots.
  • Now apply some moisturizing cream/oil on the edges of your face and/or other areas that are prone to get dye stains.
  • Prepare a smooth mixture by adding half a bottle of dye and one tablespoon of water to a plastic container.
  • Tie most of your hair with a hair up. Leave a layer at the nape of your neck. (Remember, dyes and colors should always be done on dry and unwashed hair).
  • Now begin applying the dye, first on the lightened strands. Make sure to do this with precision by applying it on the highlights only. 
  • Run a comb through the dyed strand to saturate the dye evenly.
  • Repeat the same procedure for all of the layers that have highlights.
  • Let the dye sit for about 10-15 minutes. 

Step 2: Apply the dye

Apply the dye
Application of the dye mixed with the developer appropriately is the second and final stage to get the all-over color

What do you need?

  • Hair dye
  • Developer (20V recommended)
  • Plastic container
  • Color brush 

How to do:

  • Simply mix equal ratios of hair dye and developer (1:1 ratio or as per packet instructions) in a container.
  • Apply the dye all over your hair including highlights evenly with the help of a color brush.
  • Let it sit for around 40 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly.

After rinsing and drying your hair, the highlights will be gone and your entire hair will exude one dimensional, even and single-toned color. 

Aftercare tips for all-over dye

Now that you have known the whole process step-by-step in detail, it is time to reflect on some of the useful measures to be taken if you wish to maintain this recent transformation from highlights to all-over color.

Avoid washing your hair for three days

This is a general rule for almost every major chemical or color treatment. Skip the head wash for at least three days to give a chance for the pigment to stick better and deeper to the hair fibers.

Washing your head right after will result in stripping the pigment off quite soon when it actually requires some time to sink in properly.

Avoid washing your hair for three days
Wash your hair 3 days after dyeing to ensure the pigment is stable in the hair.

Lessen the hair wash days altogether 

Not only do you have to avoid washing your hair for three days straight after dyeing your hair, but it is better to skip being a frequent washer.

Washing your hair on alternate days instead of daily rigorous cleansing will ensure retaining of the dye for a longer period of time while also maintaining the healthy balance of natural oils of the scalp, crucial for hair nourishment.

Minimize heat impact

Applying direct heat or using flat ironing more often brings damage to the hair by stripping it. It is, therefore, best to avoid hair straighteners, hot water during showers and other hair styling appliances that use heat as much as possible.

Heat from hair tools will change the color of your hair
The heat from hair tools will change the color of your hair

Couple your shampoo with additional hair protecting products

Investing in a good color-safe shampoo will help keep the hair dye for longer. Choose shampoos that are sulfate and paraben-free (a bonus if they are free from silicon and formaldehyde etc too).

These substances, in the process of deep cleaning the hair, strip the essential and natural oils off the scalp resulting in dry and damaged hair in the long run.

Furthermore, using other hair care products to follow up after a shampoo like a good leave-in conditioner, co-wash, hair serum and hydrating hair masks will help keep the cuticle sealed and moisture intact, thereby reducing the chance of your hair color and hair pigment fading. 

Don’t forget the touch-ups

Touching up all-over colored hair needs to be done every 4-8 weeks depending on the hair growth rate.

This is because the roots grow faster, bringing in contradictory colors as compared to highlights that only demand touch-ups after every 3 months or so. 


I have short hair. Is it a good idea to opt for all-over color?

Yes, definitely. In fact, all-over color looks better on short hair than highlights because it gives a one-tone, single-dimensional and an overall uniform look which is important for short hair.

On the other hand, highlights do not get enough room to show themselves much with short streaks and so they look better flattering and showy on long hair.

Will I achieve a very dramatic look with all-over color?

No, it depends on the strength of the developer and the dye.

Since it is all in your hands, you can go as subtle to as dramatic according to your choice and quantity of dye/developer used.

Is getting all-over color gentle on hair?

Yes, it is gentler than highlights because the process of highlights involves much more bleach; the formula of which can bring quite damage to the hair if done often. 

Is there a possibility of getting both highlights and all-over color?

Yes, there is. In our colorist term, we call it a double process color. It is a good idea to opt for it if you want to cover a considerable amount of gray hair while still wanting your highlights to shine.  

Celebrities often do this but this is quite an expensive treatment because of converging two major treatments into one. Plus, two separate treatments mean exposing hair to more chemicals and more potential damage. So only go for it if your hair is in the best of its health.


In a nutshell, you first need to pre-pigment your highlighted streaks with a single dye without a developer. After that, you can apply the dye with the developer to your entire hair to get that perfect uniform look by all-over color.

Going from highlights to all-over color is not impossible but it does demand patience, perseverance and correct techniques which is why we compiled this step-by-step guide for your ease and understanding so you can do this process by sitting at your own home comfortably. 

We hope you stay in the highlight no matter whichever coloring technique you go for! Wishing you amazing, colorful and lustrous locks! Happy dyeing and coloring sessions!

Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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