The Best Highlights and Lowlights for Every Hair Color
Read this before your next salon trip.
While single-process hair color most definitely has its place, incorporating highlights and lowlights into your natural shade tends to make for a much more dimensional (aka natural) end result. And for the most flattering finish, you want to make sure those tones not only complement your existing color, but each other, too. So we asked a pro colorist to weigh in on the best highlights and lowlights for your hair color. Consider the below a cheat sheet to achieving your most gorgeous hair color, ever.
When it comes to best highlights and lowlights for blond hair, it’s important to consider your skin tone first, points out Lucille Javier, a colorist at the Sally Hershberger | Tim Rogers Salon in New York City. “Cooler tones are wonderful for those with warmer skin, while warmer shades are ideal for people with paler complexions,” she says.
Highlights: On-trend platinum hues are the lightest blond you can go, and have cooler undertones. On the warmer end of the spectrum, golden, wheat-y tones are choice.
Lowlights: Pair platinum highlights with beige-toned lowlights on the underside and lower parts of your hair. Honey and butterscotch hues work beautifully with golden highlights if you’re keeping things rich and warm.
Brown hair is never boring when it’s enhanced with a few hits of strategically-placed highlights and lowlights to add vibrancy and dimension.
Highlights: Look like you just got back from a beach vacation, 365 days a year. “Caramel highlights are great for anyone who wants to recreate that natural, sun-kissed effect,” explains Javier.
Lowlights: Rich, chocolate tones will add visual interest to any shade of brown hair. Bonus: The upkeep is super minimal, adds Javier, making it perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to be at the salon every six weeks.
Red color is the most prone to fading, making all-over, single process dye jobs a serious commitment. That’s where painting subtle highlights and lowlights on red hair comes in—it will enhance your natural color, without requiring lots of maintenance.
Highlights: Go just slightly lighter than your base shade and ask for face-framing pieces, suggests Javier. Balayage, a color technique where the highlights are hand-painted (no foils involved), is an especially good option here.
Lowlights: A few pops of vibrant red are a fun and creative touch, yet because they’re not at the front and top of the hair, they won’t come across as too in-your-face.
For Dark Brown or Black Hair
Highlights and lowlights for dark brown or black hair isn't necessarily the technique you want. Because your color is already so dark to begin with, the goal should be to add more vibrancy and shine, rather than incorporating new tones, explains Javier. She suggests a clear gloss to intensify your current tone and add mega-watt sheen. Bonus: It’s easy, quick, and inexpensive.