The new Instant Highlights in-salon service from L’Oreal Professionnel could be a game-changer for the time-poor

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Spending a morning, afternoon or evening having your hair coloured is the perfect weekend or after work indulgence, but fitting it in can be pretty tricky. The demand for speedy services is higher than ever due to our fast-paced lifestyles and L’Oreal Professionnel’s new Instant Highlights colour service looks ready to meet it.

Designed to provide highlights  in half the time, it cuts out the need to wait around for your colour to develop by using controlled heat to accelerate the lightening process. Making it possible to achieve a colour refresh in around 40 minutes to an hour, it’s a time-saving option for the time-poor that looks set for big things. Here’s what you need to know about the new colour service.

How does it work?

It consists of three key stages. First, a lightening cream is applied to 5 to 15 sections of the hair (depending on the look you’re after). Secondly, each section is enclosed in thick pieces of aluminium foils. Next, a specially designed heating iron is used on top of them to speed along the lightning process. Unlike a pair of straighteners, the tool maintains a lower temperature of 140 °C (which it checks and regulates every 0.2 seconds). It also features a separator to prevent the plates from touching and to help the iron glide along the section and conduct heat safely and evenly. The lighter the colour wanted, the more heat that’s applied.

What are the different looks available?

The menu of looks focuses on flashes of colour that are targeted around the hairline and ends for a sunkissed look. However, it can also be done with more vibrant shades too in case you’re looking for something a little bolder. There are four different styles to choose from.

1) InstaContouring - to instantly frame the face and accentuate facial features with clever contouring techniques and colour placement. It involves colouring 5 to 10 pieces of hair.

2) InstaLights - to add strands of colour for a sunkissed effect or to gently brighten an overall look. 10 to 15 pieces of hair are coloured here.

3) InstaRevive - to revive and brighten grown out ombré or Balayage for a quick refresh. 15 pieces are coloured.

4) InstaPop - to add pops of colour throughout the hair from subtle pastels to bold statement shades. The number of sections coloured depends on the look you’re after.

Who’s it for?

Those drawn to the low-maintenance appeal of Balayage will love this as will those who are new to hair colour or looking for a new season colour switch-up. Designed to work across all hair types and hair tones, it provides a useful way to experiment with different looks. However, it isn’t designed for those with conventional highlights who are looking to re-do them due to the lower number of highlights applied.

How damaging is it to your hair?

“No more than a traditional set of highlights,” says Stephen Nurse, Operations Director at Daniel Galvin. Hair colour’s never going to be brilliant for your hair however, there are some features of the service that go some way to help keep damage to a minimum. For starters, the lightening cream contains essential oils to reduce the risk of heat-induced hair sensitivity.

Secondly, L’Oreal Professionnel’s protective Smartbond treatment  can be mixed into the lightening cream to prevent damage and leave hair softer and stronger. It does this by strengthening the weaker parts of the hair bond to make it better equipped to deal with the stress caused by colour.

Lastly, specially designed thicker foils are used to prevent exposing each of the sections of hair to too much heat.

How much does it cost?

Set to launch in L’Oreal Professionnel salons across the country in February, the cost of the service may differ from salon to salon, ranging from around £30 at Headmasters to £95 at Daniel Galvin.  Find your nearest salon here .

Smartbond may come as part of the package or it may be extra, but it’s well worth booking in for in my experience for the long-term health of your hair.

The verdict?

We were extremely impressed by the results of a live demo at the Instant Highlights launch this week. Taking around 45 minutes from start to finish, the finished look was soft and natural and the process, speedy but not rushed.

Stephen Nurse compared the anticipation ahead of its launch to that of the Brazilian Blowdry  a few years ago - it’s that big of a deal. And we have to agree, in terms of quick and easy ways to change up your hair colour, it’s likely to be a game-changer.

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