Everything You Need to Know About Getting Lowlights

Get the lowdown on lowlights!

Highlights are often many people’s first experience of colouring their hair, so even if you haven’t tried them yourself, you probably know someone who has. However, it’s safe to say that lowlights still seem to be a bit of mystery to a lot of us.

Below, we’re breaking down the basics of what lowlights actually are and what sets them apart from highlights, as well as sharing some of our favourite examples of highlights and lowlights working together to create stunning multidimensional looks.

What Are Lowlights?

Lowlights are a hair colouring technique that involve dyeing strands of hair darker to add depth and dimension. Because they emulate the different tones that naturally occur in our hair, they’re perfect for breaking up block colours and making those with dyed blonde hair look more natural. They’re also a really great way to test out a darker hue without committing to it all over (kind of like try-before-you-buy!).

What’s the Difference Between Highlights and Lowlights?

In many ways, highlights and lowlights are very similar and this includes the methods used to achieve them. They’re both applied either in the traditional way using foils, or painted on freehand. The one key difference between highlights and lowlights though is that highlights use bleach to lift and lighten, while lowlights take your base colour down a few shades darker to add extra dimension.

Who Should Get Lowlights?

Lowlights work well on all hair types, from curly to straight and depending on your base colour, they can be either super subtle or have a bolder effect. For example, lowlights are especially popular with those with blonde hair looking to transition to dark and even brunettes who want to add depth and movement to their look.

16 Examples of Highlights and Lowlights Working Perfectly Together

Ask your colourist the number one thing that their clients ask for and they’ll probably say something along the lines of “I want it to look natural.” The last thing most of us want is for our hair to look like it’s dyed and to do this you’ll need a blend of both highlights and lowlights.

As we naturally have lighter and darker areas of hair, using these two techniques alongside each other makes for colour that’s so realistic-looking that no one would ever know it’s not real! Here are some of our favourite looks that incorporate highlights and lowlights together…

Sweet Caramel

Highlights and lowlights: Jennifer Lopez with medium length curly hair with side fringe.
Gives your tresses a multi-dimensional finish with the use of highlights and lowlights. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Using a mixture of caramel blonde with lowlights helps to give Jennifer Lopez‘ sunkissed hue a multi-dimensional finish that looks perfect with her large curls.

Bronde

back view of a woman with blondey brown curled hair with highlights and lowlights
Cookies and cream brought to life in hair colour. Credit: Instagram.com/ginastyless

This hybrid hue mixes brunette and blonde highlights and lowlights to create a soft and pretty colour that would flatter a wide variety of skin tones. Credit: @ginastyless

Ash Blonde

side profile of a woman with chest length ash blonde wavy hair
Lowlights are a great way to make ultra light blondes look more natural. Credit: Instagram.com/minthaircrafting

Cool-toned ash blondes have been in for a while now but it’s easy to overdo it with too many highlights that leave your hair looking too bright and white. Blending light blonde hair with lowlights helps to tackle this problem by eliminating any chances of over-highlighting. Problem solved. Credit: @minthaircrafting

Editor’s tip: If you’re really dedicated to maintaining ashy blonde locks, unfortunately, it’s not just a case of going to the salon once every 6-8 weeks and hoping for the best (although, we wish it was that easy).

To keep your hair from becoming brassy, you’ll need to invest in a silver shampoo (AKA purple shampoo, thanks to its bright violet appearance) like the TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo. These types of shampoos work to counteract any yellowness, leaving you with that cool, ashy tone you want between appointments.

Silvery Brown

back view of a woman with dark silvery brown hair with ashy highlights, worn curled in a twisted half up half down style
Being a silver fox has never been so covetable. Credit: Instagram.com/hairby.ashleypac

Hands up who’s loving the metallic hair trend? Because we sure are! This shimmering blend of silvery strands with a more natural brunette base is really stunning, but on a more practical level, it also means you won’t need to lighten or bleach all of your hair, which = less damage and happier hair. Credit: @hairby.ashleypac

Face-framing

Highlights and lowlights: Beyonce with long straight brown hair with dark eye make-up.
Frame your face with soft highlights. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

As you may have already realised, there are many different options to consider when looking for highlights and lowlights. Hair Queen Beyoncé uses highlights along her hairline help to frame her face, while the deeper brown tones give her hair colour added depth.

Toffee Tones

side profile of a woman with long curly toffee brown hair with layered bangs
This toffee hair colour is reminiscent of autumnal days and crisp fallen leaves. Credit: Instagram.com/hairbysarz

Looking to lighten up your brown hair with blonde highlights but don’t want to go too light? This classy toffee hue would work for women of all ages as the lighter areas will lift the complexion for a more radiant, youthful feel. Credit: @hairbysarz

Sandy Blonde

back view of a woman in the salon with long curly sandy strawberry blonde hair
Nude beige tones are a fresh, modern way to rock blonde. Credit: Instagram.com/nk_beautysalon

The beauty industry is no stranger to the nude trend, we’ve all been obsessing over nude lips and nails for years now. Now though, the trend has filtered down into hair in the form of not-quite-warm, not-quite-cool neutral shades which promise to work on just about everyone. You don’t need to tell us twice! Credit: @nk_beautysalon  

Sunny Bronde

Highlights and lowlights: Jennifer Aniston with medium length highlighted blonde hair with long side fringe.
Get the best of both worlds with a half-head of highlights. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Not quite ready to commit to a full head of highlights and lowlights? Then follow in Jennifer Aniston’s footsteps and opt for a half-head instead.

By leaving a dark base underneath and adding a mixture of yellow-toned shades, Jennifer is able to get the best of both hair worlds.

Copper Highlights

back view of a woman with curled copper highlighted hair
Add a flaming tint with fiery copper highlights. Credit: Instagram.com/hairandmakeupbyjj

Copper-haired celebs like Emma Stone and Emma Roberts have no trouble pulling off the fiery hue but if you’re especially pale and worried red tones won’t suit you, you can try adding a few brighter, more vivid copper highlights on top of your normal colour. That way, you’ll get the look without being at risk of becoming washed out. Credit: @hairandmakeupbyjj

Editor’s tip: Red shades are notorious for losing their vibrancy, but don’t let that dash your redhead dreams. Using the TRESemmé Colour Revitalise Shampoo and Conditioner will help to preserve the vibrancy of your shade for longer.

Balayage

Highlights and lowlights: Kaia Gerber with her brown balayage hair in half-up, half-down style at Chanel.
For those with fear root regrowth, a balayage is the answer. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Does the thought of root regrowth put you off the idea of colouring your hair? With the fan fave balayage technique, you can push those worries to the side.

Using a mixture of highlights and lowlights, usually starting from the ear and finishing at the tips, a balayage is the perfect example of a hair hue that can be tailored to everyone.

Grungy Grey

asian woman with dark grey silvery hair with darker dark brown lowlights
Maintain a dark base with grey locks for a ’90s grunge feel. Credit: Instagram.com/jonathan_colors

Nirvana hair and grown-out roots are all the rage this season and luckily for us, highlights and lowlights make it really easy to copy the look. Our hair naturally has some lighter areas (usually around the face and crown), while the under layers (which are less exposed to the light) remain darker.

Combining the two means you’re able to pull off more daring colours, like this grey, without it looking too severe. Yay! Credit: @jonathan_colors

Ash Lights

Highlights and lowlights: Chrissy Teigen with wavy medium length highlighted brown hair wearing a white one-shoulder dress.
Lighten up for spring/summer. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Is there any hue Chrissy Teigen doesn’t look amazing wearing? We think not. With her medium-length waves perfectly showing off her mix of ash blonde hair and rich lowlights, we think this is the perfect cool-toned hue for spring.

Burgundy Lowlights

back view of a woman in the salon with burgundy red and blonde curly hair
Wine lovers, this one’s for you. Credit: Instagram.com/hairbymollyshannon

You don’t need to go a fancy vineyard to rock this merlot-inspired hue! All you need is some burgundy lowlights to give your mane a winter update and best of all, it’ll always be mulled wine season where you are. Credit: @hairbymollyshannon

Ash Brown

side profile of a woman with long light ash brown hair with highlights and lowlights
It’s not just blondes who can play around with ashy tones. Credit: Instagram.com/trish_aaah

Put off by the idea of having highlights and lowlights all at once? What if we told you there was a way to make it look like you had both, without you actually having to get two types of colour applied?

Let us explain. When you add lowlights a couple of shades darker to brunette hair, your current colour then by default becomes ‘highlights’. Get it? So, you’ll look like you have lighter strands without you actually needing to lighten them. Clever, no?  Credit: @trish_aaah

Summer Blonde

Highlights and lowlights: Ana de Armas with dark blonde ombre balayage wavy medium length hair.
The perfect summer update for blondes. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

With the change in season comes a change in hair colour. Ditching our warm winter hues for lighter and brighter shades is the given for spring/summer, and this dirty blonde balayage is just perfect.

With dark blonde roots and a seamless transition into golden blonde, this wavy ‘do is summer in a colour.

Baby Blonde

back view of a blonde woman with long curled baby blonde hair with highlights
Whatever your eye colour, this striking platinum hue will really make those peepers pop. Credit: Instagram.com/allurebyilene

Forever wishing you were born with Nordic blonde hair? To fool everyone into thinking your bottle blonde is 100% au naturel, try emulating the effect with creamy white blonde babylights (a finer type of highlight) and some ever-so-slightly-darker, golden tones, particularly at the roots.

After all, even natural blondes have a certain degree of ‘rootsiness’, so don’t be afraid to ask your colourist to pull some darker tones through from your roots. Credit: @allurebyilene

Editor’s tip: To really make the most of your blonde, why not try a special wash and care combo just for blondes? The TONI&GUY Illuminate Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner works on both natural and dyed blondes, enhancing highlights and boosting shine for a really radiant finish.

 

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