Salon Game-Changer: How to get highlights in half the time

L'Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights is the newest hairovation (WE KNOW IT'S NOT A WORD!) that was created to save busy people the hassle of traditional highlighting

What if you could get a head of highlights without having to sit under a heat lamp for the best part of an hour? Would it tempt you? It sure tempted us. So we tried it.

I got my hair cut and dyed a month ago, and the greys grew out after about two minutes - but that's another story. The hair story for today concerns L'Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights, the new colouring service that claims to cut salon time in half. As someone who does not find going to the hairdresser the least bit relaxing, this appealed to me. As someone who needed a lift because her old balayage was snipped out the month before, yes, this appealed. 

According to L'Oreal, the reason why one in five women drop out of colour is that they couldn't be dealing with the time and effort. Maybe that's why roots actually came into fashion, and people paid for stylists to only apply colour at the ends. But L'Oreal want people to have the hair they want, not the hair that's in fashion. So they got to inventing and came up with a heated tool that works with a special cream formulation and thicker than usual foil, and Instant Highlights were born.

The science part

Instant Highlights is a three-part system that lightens the hair up to six levels in half the time as traditional highlights. They're not meant to replace full heads of highlights, though; you won't be coming out looking like Pamela Anderson. A max of 15 colour pieces are used in the process, so they are perfect for colour newbies, for refreshing a look, for something extremely low-maintenance (hands up!) or to experiment.

The full lineup is: the Instant Highlights Heating Iron, Instant Highlights Lightening Cream and Instant Highlights Aluminium Foil. They were designed together to work at ‘instantly’ lightening the hair in a controlled and even way. AND they can be used with L’Oréal Professionnel’s Smartbond technology to help prevent damage and ensure softer, stronger shinier hair.

L'Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights

You can get the Instant Highlights done in all L'Oreal affiliated salons nationwide, but I was invited to try them in Dylan Bradshaw in Dublin where master technician Aoife Bradley tended to my tresses. Aoife is actually one of the stylists who designed a look for the Instant Highlights campaign.


The process is similar to balayage. Hair is divided into sections and placed between the special foil. Then, Aoife gets to painting. (Instant Highlights uses a cream bleach - not a powder - that doesn't contain ammonia.)

L'Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights

Aoife says her favourite element of the Instant Highlights process is that the same stylists stays with you throughout the whole thing. She consulted with me, painted my hair, made sure the glaze was right and perfected the blow-dry. And gave me all the compliments which I greatly appreciated. I must say, it was very nice indeed to be in the hands of someone so knowledgeable and skilled at their work.

After each strand was painted, Aoife ran the heated tool over the sections, giving about 30 seconds of time to each one. And then it was done! Instead of having to wait around for ages waiting for the cream to work, I was ready to have it all washed off. The process isn't speedy; it's not like it takes only a few minutes. You have to go through the motions. But the Instant part is the tool which eliminates that waiting time which can take so long, and that's why I would recommend it. Busy people, or impatient people, or people who just don't have the time to sit around in a salon all day - this is for you.

I chose a very subtle 'lift', but it put life into my previously bland, one-colour hair.

L'Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights miriam


The L'Oréal Professionnel Instant Highlights service costs €150 in Dylan Bradshaw, but it varies from salon to salon.

Related Articles

More from Beauty