The Aveda colourist, Carl was soooo nice, and really knew what he was doing. I told him I wanted to take the edge off the black in my hair, and warm it up a bit. But I definitely didn't want too much red or orange - which is where my hair usually ends up due to the high levels of red pigment in black hair. I've had awful, awful highlights before where I've ended up with thick, ginger streaks... ohhh... so bad... sooo bad. Of course, I only realised how bad the "highlights" years later when looking at photos. <cringe> Why did no-one tell me??
I made sure Carl knew I was going to be super lazy with the upkeep of the highlights (I'm a wash 'n' go person, and a "recent" hair cut for me is anything within the last five months). This was the reason he suggested subtle highlights in the first place rather than a flat colour. I think we went a little too subtle though because my hair still looks quite dark unless there is light or sun shining on it. Well, I guess he did say it was safer to start dark and go lighter next time. My fiancé couldn't tell the difference <sigh>.
This was the first time I'd ever paid so much for anything done on my hair (£115 for a Master Technician) ... but the service was worth it. When you look closely, you can see very intricately-created chocolate highlights against the black. Overall, it looks ultra natural. No dodgy streaks in sight.
Here's how the colour turned out (an indoors photo last thing yesterday night, and a photo from this afternoon walking on windy Hampstead Heath):
And here's me looking cool while waiting for the highlights to do their stuff:
I was expecting my hair to feel a little dry and damaged post-processing but it really doesn't at all. And the rich brown tones make my hair look glossier with more movement. Apart from wishing I hadn't gone so subtle, I'm really impressed with the experience and result from Aveda. Now that I've seen for myself that it is possible to have highlights in my hair which are not orange streaks, I'm definitely going to try going lighter next time.
Update (6th August 2010): I went back to Aveda to get my roots done, and went a bit lighter! See the photos of my lighter brown highlights here.