Pinwheel Highlighting

Pinwheel Highlighting - This simple technique guarantees you a natural highlighted look everytime. No experience needed to create a gorgeous salon look!

I am going to admit right away that this post was never on my potential list of things to blog about.  However, I am often called on by family members and friends to play “hairdresser” for them.  I have cut hair (men, women, and children alike), as well as foiled, dyed, and highlighted.  I just approach the situation thinking, “I guess I’ll give it try.  Afterall, if they don’t like it, it will either grow back or we can color over it.”  For the most part, I have a pretty successful track record, which has caused my “clients” to keep coming back.  

Just this past weekend, my cousin asked me if I was willing to dye her hair.  As always, I gladly excepted!  She wanted to transform her VERY blonde (almost white) highlighted hair into a warm honey blonde with lots of texture.  After browsing Google, we decided to try the latest trend…Pinwheel Highlighting.  I must admit that I was a bit skeptical, but after breaking the process down, it seemed fool-proof.  

After some deliberation, she chose Clairol’s Light Brown for her base color and Clairol’s Medium Blonde for her highlights.  As I said, her goal was to warm her color up a bit and create a more natural look versus a bleached out look.

STEP 1: Separate out a base layer.  I parted her hair straight across from ear to ear.  I do apologize because I don’t have a photo of this step.  From here on out, I will refer to this section of hair as the base layer.  

STEP 2: Separate the top layer of hair into wedges to form a pinwheel.  Because she wanted more subtle variances in color, we chose to use ten wedges.  For a more chunky look, you could cut this number down.  

Pinwheel Highlighting - This simple technique guarantees you a natural highlighted look everytime. No experience needed to create a gorgeous salon look!

STEP 3: Apply color to base layer separated out earlier.  Because she preferred a darker base, we used the light brown color.

STEP 4: Apply coloring to hair one wedge at a time.  We chose to do the darker color first because that was the color she wanted to show through a bit more.  This can vary based on preference.   

STEP 5: Allow color to develop on hair for recommended length of time.  Rinse when complete.  

Pinwheel Highlighting - This simple technique guarantees you a natural highlighted look everytime. No experience needed to create a gorgeous salon look!

Having colored and highlighted hair in the past in numerous ways, I was a bit hesitant when we initially found this technique.  However, what I discovered throughout is that it is so simple and the end results look very natural.  I would strongly recommend Pinwheel Highlighting.  It has been many years since I have experimented a bit with my haircolor, but this just may tempt me enough to give it a try myself!   

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23 Comments

      1. A few questions – 1) Does the pinwheel start at the top of the head? 2) How do the colors frame the face? 3) How do the pinwheel coloring affect wearing ponytails or parting your hair?

        I’m about to give this a try and I want to ensure that I haven’t missed anything. I part my hair on the right side and I wear ponytails often so I don’t want a funky chunky look 🙂 Thanks!

        1. Thanks so much for reaching out to me, and I can’t wait to hear how your Pinwheel Highlighting goes. Now…to answer your questions.
          You can start at the top of the head if you do not wear ponytails, but it sounds like you do. So, I would then suggest to separate out a very small section that frames the face (about an inch wide) and evenly color smaller chunks with your colors. I just do this with my fingers. This will provide a nice frame for the face and avoid weird streaks or chunks when wearing a ponytail.
          I hope this helps! Please reach out if you have any more questions!

  1. I wanted to see how it looked on the bottom because I can’t tell if the parting lines are all the way down,, But I love the way it looks, great idea, it’s a lot easier then having to go get your hair done when I can do it at home, Are you using a lighter hair color on the wedges or are you using a highlighting product. Sorry for all the questions, I just love it.

    1. I am so upset with myself that I didn’t take a picture of the lower layer, so I am sorry for that. I parted the hair from ear to ear and dyed that section the darker color. As for the lighter color on top, I did use a lighter dye, not a highlighting solution. I hope this helps! Happy coloring!

      1. When you say from ear to ear, does that mean everything below the ears is the base color? My client has short hair short in the nape so what is this technique work on her?

        1. You are correct. I chose to make everything below the ears the base color. As for short hair, I have only used this technique on longer hair. I would think it would have the same effect, but I can’t say for sure. Please let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

          1. I tried this because it looks super cute and easy! I have hair a little passed my shoulder blades and really struggled with it. My hair got tangled and the colors mixed so you can’t really see the light color =/ great concept tho. I will try it again sometime!

          2. This is a nice way to get a salon look at a low cost. I have done it will all lengths of hair. Please try again and let me know how it turns out! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  2. I am wondering what this looks like when you put it in a pony tail? I would really like to do this with slightly darker colors but don’t want it to look like I have stripes when I wear a pony tail. Thank you.

    1. I have actually done this Pinwheel Highlighting to my cousin and also myself. My cousin does not pull her hair straight back into a ponytail. Instead she parts her hair on the side and swoops it behind one ear. Therefore, she doesn’t see any weird striping. For myself, I did section off about 1 inch along my hair line by my face. After applying the hair dye to the pinwheel, I randomly alternated the colors in smaller chunks on this section to avoid this issue. I simply used my fingers and selected what pieces I wanted each color. After doing that, even when I pull my hair straight back, I do not see any striping.

      I hope this helps! If it is a bit confusing, please email me at [email protected]. Happy hair dying!

    1. She chose Clairol’s Light Brown for her base color and Clairol’s Medium Blonde for her highlights. I hope this helps!

  3. The results look beautiful! Do you do both colors at the same time? I assume you unclip each section and pull the color all the way through. Could this technique be used to just add highlights to already darker hair?

    1. You are correct. I can’t see why highlighting dark hair wouldn’t work. I have never tried it, but I am just assuming that it would have the same effect. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. Waooow!!! Really very cool site of blog. My wife changed her hair style last week in minxdesigns and she is looking more beautiful than previous. Thanks to my friend for who referred her the salon.

  5. I am getting ready to try this with 3 colors. I have long hair & i pull my hair back in pony tail alot..im trying to figure out how many sections i should use? And if i should do them all the way backto base of neck instead of sectioning “base” ear to ear? Or just section about an inch wide all the way around hairline and rotate colors to prevent striping?… Please help me asap i dont want to look funny lol i start a new job tmrw

    1. So exciting! I would love to see a photo of three colors when your done. I do not see why you couldn’t section the pinwheel all the way down to your neck. I think that is a great idea. I would suggest also separating an inch around your entire hairline. By rotating the colors in this 1-inch section, you will avoid any strange chunks in a ponytail. I hope this helps! Happy coloring and I hope you love your new job!

  6. Hi I’m fixing to do my daughters hair and want to do the pinwheel technique but where I get confused is the whole parting of the hair. Where do I start the part and so on. She has shoulder length hair and never wears it up the colors will be a natural light brown and red blonde. Please help I dont want to mess her head up cause I will never hear the end of it.

    1. First of all, I want to apologize for not responding right away. I was out of the country and didn’t have access to internet services. As for the Pinwheel Highlighting technique, how you part the hair is really based on what your desired end results are. The more wedges that are used, the more subtle the highlights will be. If you lower the number of wedges used, the results will be a bit more chunky. Also, you can decide what colors you would prefer to be seen more at the top of the head. If your daughter normally parts her hair down the center, the color chosen for the center wedge should be the color she wants to show more. I really hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please to do not hesitate to ask.

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