While choosing a hair color that suits you is key to creating a great look, finding the perfect highlights to complement that hair color is just as important. Highlights have an incredible impact on your overall look, giving dimension to your hair and enhancing your natural beauty. By just adding the right highlights, you can frame your face, make your eyes stand out, define your cheekbones, and even give your complexion a sun-kissed glow. The key is to choose the right highlight shade for you and add them in the right places and in the right amounts. Choose the wrong highlight color or place them incorrectly and you could end up with a head full of scratches rather than beautiful natural-looking hair.
RELATED: How to choose the best hair color that will suit you
black hair with highlights
Black hair can really benefit from the addition of highlights. In the right tone, highlights can lift dark hair and give it new life. The only trick to making this look work is to choose the right color for you and achieve it in your hair. Since black hair is so dark, it may take you a few appointments to achieve your desired highlight color. Without additional visits to the salon, you could end up with a brassy look, so be sure to go through the process. When you go to the salon, ask your stylist for highlights in rich brunette hues, golden brown tones, or creamy chocolate colors. These brunette colors will work best with your dark hair and create vibrant results with a subtle sheen. Choose a shade close to your base shade to prevent highlights from looking too shiny and unnatural. For this reason, you should also aim to avoid blonde highlights. If you really want a light shade, try a rich caramel hair color instead.
RELATED: 25 Sexy Black Hair With Highlights Ideas
black hair with red highlights
Red highlights can be very flattering on dark hair, but remember that they will transform the look of your hair, so make sure you want them before you hit the salon. If you’re ready for a change, these highlights are a great way to update your black hair, especially if you don’t want to completely change your color. Red highlights will add shine to your hair which is not possible with other colors. A great alternative to plain browns and unsuitable blondes, red highlights add shine to hair and shine in the sun. The color is also very flattering for women with dark hair and dark complexions. Choose between vibrant red hues, such as cherry, and lighter copper tones, as well as spicy red-based cinnamon and auburn shades, depending on your overall style. While rich red hues will be a flattering contrast to dark hair, copper and auburn tones mixed easier.
RELATED: 50 hottest red hair color ideas
brown hair with highlights
Whether your brunette hair is long or short, it will benefit from adding a few strategic highlights. Brown hair tends to be duller than blonde and less shiny than black, so without the help of highlights it can appear flat and plain. Add highlights in brown hues, like caramel, walnut, toffee, or bronze, and you’ll immediately notice your hair looking more radiant without looking over the top. Medium-skinned brunette women tend to enjoy intense brown highlights and caramel tones best, while pale-skinned women should choose lighter highlights, including caramel, honey and dark blonde shades. Selecting highlights with warm undertones, like toffee and toffee, will also create a golden glow for your skin and give your hair a natural, sun-kissed look. Auburn hair is another great shade for this reason, as its warm tone pairs perfectly with brunette hair for a sun-kissed look. If you want to drastically lighten your hair, you can also consider a balayage look, with blonde highlights painted and concentrated on the ends of the hair (where the sun naturally hits).
RELATED: 60 Best Brown Hair With Highlights Ideas
Blonde Hair with Highlights
Blonde hair naturally has highlights, which is why it’s important to include blonde highlights when dyeing your hair blonde. As one tint all over can be quite unflattering, adding a few pieces that are a shade or two lighter than your base color will do wonders for creating a gorgeous, natural-looking blonde (even if it’s from a bottle ). Choose between platinum blonde highlights, which are best suited for cool skin tones, and golden blonde highlights, which are best suited for warm skin tones. Ask your colorist to focus your highlights on the ends of your hair with only a few going all the way to the roots for a more natural look. Adding a few face-framing pieces will further create a naturally flattering appearance. Also, be sure to keep your locks fairly thin as the variation in tone is much easier to spot in light hair and can look streaky if too thick. If you’re worried about your overall look looking too light, you can also consider adding light brown or dark blonde highlights for a more dimensional look.
RELATED: 17 best blonde hair shades to try now
While we mostly aim for our locks to look natural, there are times when the wow factor of colored locks is just too good to resist. This year, celebrities and fashionistas traded in their usual browns and blondes for pink hair, blue hair and even rainbow hair hues. In particular, pastel highlights have become hugely popular, with unique colors offering surprisingly flattering results. The soft, ethereal tones of candy pinks, light lavenders and baby blues captured everyone’s interest and brought hair coloring back to life. Best suited to blonde-haired beauties, pastels are particularly flattering on pale skin tones. While blonde women look great with these soft tones, brunettes and dark-haired women can appreciate that they look great with bright, vibrant hues, like electric blues and bold magentas. All it takes is a few thick strands on the underside of your hair and you’ll have an unbeatable flash of color for every occasion. If you’re unsure of such a bold color, try using temporary hair dye or hair chalk first.
Hair Highlighting Tips
To achieve great highlights, aim for a tone that is about two shades lighter than your base hair color. While one or two different highlight shades (or low-light shades) are great, try not to add more or your hair will start to look like a rainbow. If you have a warm hair color, stick to warm highlights, and if you have a cool hair color, stick to cool highlights for an organic look. Just make sure the shade is not too close to your skin tone, as this will cause a knockdown effect.
While darker hair works best with thicker locks and lighter hair works well with thinner hair, all hair types can benefit from locks that vary in size. Try balayage for a sun-kissed natural look. Take care of your locks with a color-safe shampoo and heat protectant before styling to ensure you get the most out of your color.
Hair Highlights FAQ
What color is best for highlights?
The best color for highlights is one that is two shades lighter than your base color. This way it looks more natural. You will also want to try to match shades by mixing cool with cool and warm with warm, so that there is cohesion in your hair.
What goes first highlights or color?
When you get your hair professionally styled, there are different techniques for adding highlights. The most common is foiling, which is done first, followed by base color around the foils. Then everything is rinsed together. If you’re doing your own highlights at home, it’s a better idea to do your base color first and then follow with the highlights. This makes placement more manageable and you don’t have to worry about messing up your sections.
Do highlights look good on everyone?
Highlights will be great for everyone, as long as they’re done right. Soft, natural highlights are a great way to add dimension and movement. However, if done incorrectly, you risk looking like a zebra, so be sure to choose a trusted colorist. Of course, highlights are completely personal preference, and single-hued hair also looks great, so it’s up to you if you decide to get highlights.
Do highlights damage the hair?
Highlights usually require the use of bleach or lightener. As such, any time you chemically alter your hair, it will cause damage. On the bright side, the highlights use such small sections of hair that they limit the damage. Plus, there are ways to minimize damage and repair your hair. Use a good conditioning treatment regularly and nourish your hair from time to time.
Is it better to highlight or color the hair?
Whether you do highlights or an all-over color is personal preference, and neither is better than the other. Highlights can cost more and take longer, but they add natural dimension and interest. On the other hand, a single process color may be faster and cheaper. It can be bold and accentuate a trendy haircut; however, you don’t get the benefit of different shades blending everywhere.
What hair color is best for highlights?
The best thing about highlights is that it works on all hair colors. It lends itself particularly well to blondes and brunettes because there are so many shade variations on these color spectra. However, the highlights look just as good on black, red, and brightly colored hair.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting news and updates delivered to your inbox.