Difference between highlights and lowlights

Could it be the perfect hair colouring technique to help you transition from summer to autumn? Let's find out...

In the market for a new hair colour? Well, let us ask you this: have you ever considered getting lowlights? Ok, hang on, before you scoff at our suggestion, hear us out: lowlights are more versatile than you think.

The reality is, to create your sunkissed locks or rich, multi-tonal chocolate hair, your stylist probably has to use some lowlights as well as highlights. So, keep on scrolling to find out everything you need to know about this amazing colouring technique.

lowlights information hair
Lowlights 101.

Lowlights vs. highlights: what’s the difference?

Most people are well-versed with the term highlights, however, not many know what lowlights are. While highlights involve working lighter shades through the hair to help lift your base colour, lowlights do the opposite. So, dark hues are worked through your tresses to add depth and richness.

Who do lowlights work on?

Well, because lowlights work by adding darker colours to a lighter base, it works better if you have naturally lighter or mid-shade hair. Which means that if you have blonde, red or medium brown-coloured hair, lowlights will work a treat on you.

However, if you have really dark hair, lowlights probably aren’t your best option. In fact, it’s probably better to opt for highlights, instead.

Suntanned girl with brown lowlights
Lowlights and highlights are a perfect match.

Are lowlights damaging?

Truth is, lowlights aren’t any more damaging for your hair than highlights. In fact, the process is pretty much identical, except one applies lighter hues and the other applies darker hues. Simple, right?

It’s also a common misconception that you can only exclusively work highlights or lowlights at one time. Because to create a more natural-looking finish, you really need to employ both of these techniques, so do ask your colourist to combine these two hair colouring processes to achieve your desired look.

So, should I try it?

The short answer is: yes! Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about adding high-contrast colours for a statement aesthetic. In fact, lowlights are an easy way of creating depth with your original hair colour, not to mention adding longevity to your coloured tresses over the autumn and winter months.

So, if you opted for a beautiful light blonde hue for summer, working in some golden or caramel lowlights are a great way of making your overall hair colour look richer. Likewise, if you’ve chosen red-tinged tones, golden coppers and darker auburn shades can help add more dimension. In other words, it’s the ideal colouring technique for your seasonal hair transition!

Editor’s tip: Whenever you decide to colour your hair, you should always adapt your wash and care system for one that’s specially formulated for colour-treated hair, like the TRESemmé Colour Revitalise Colour Vibrance Protection Shampoo (500ml, £3.69*) and the Conditioner (500ml, £3.69*).