In this day and age of notable excess, neon hair extensions, reality TV glam and celeb relationships that unfold on social media, there’s something completely refreshing about a trend—or anything, really—that flies under the radar. This obsession with the super obvious is precisely why elegant, and dare we say it, even restrained looks, like blunt, simple bobs and lowlights for brown hair, are having a big moment. Classics never have to go overboard to make a point.
Satisfyingly subtle and, best of all, economical AF, opting for lowlights for brown hair is definitely a quieter way to get on the color wagon. For those in the ‘biz, it’s also become a thoughtful nod to the “natural” movement slowly gaining steam, as the look can also simulate just a natural lightening or sun-bleaching of dark hair.
Visually, it’s pretty obvious: These barely-there strips of color that are just a half step or two lighter than the base make for great dimension, without looking anywhere near extra. Oh, and our most relevant takeaway: It’s certainly lazy-girl friendly and gives us longer between salon appointments, which is always great news! Read on for some of our fave looks:
1. Blown Out
A pristine blowout and middle part help those subtle auburn lowlights shine.
2. Wavy Ombré
Freshen up a gradiated color by mixing in some ashy lowlights on the mid-lengths.
3. Halo Frizz
Super skinny hairline lowlights, together with bedhead texture, break up a monotonous black shade.
Lazy bends go hand in hand with soft, barely noticeable lowlights around the hairline and ends. A sea salt spray, like Bed Head by TIGI Queen Beach Salt Infused Texture Spray, helps encourage a beachier dry-out.
5. Quiet Two-Tone
Look closer and you’ll see that this cohesive shade is actually a blend of two chunks of lowlights, one lighter than the other.
A textbook glossy light brown balayage comes into its own when worn with a messier texture.
Lowlights on the mid-lengths and ends keep graphic hairstyles from looking too severe.
Thin copper lowlights lend some interest to a simple, medium-length haircut.
Caramel ribbons pop against a medium brown color, particularly when rendered in shiny, healthy-looking waves.
10. Rich-Girl Bends
The sweet shade is popular for a reason: Here, caramel and cinnamon work with some morning-after rumple to deliver some sultry sex appeal.
Expertly faded chestnut ends give a fiery, burnt-out effect to air-dried waves. Simulate the undone look with a texturizer like Bed Head by TIGI Joyride Texturizing Balm.
Soft strips that begin mid-shaft are the one of the most natural, democratic iterations of brown hair with lowlights, and look equally flattering on straight, wavy or downright curly locks.
13. Curly Bob
Lowlights blend a brown ombré and make a curly texture more nuanced.
A mix of highlights and lowlights help make your color more 3D.
Lowlights that seem to melt into the rest of your color (spot the nuances at the brow and hairline) are the perfect wingman for structured waves.
Want to break up your cool brown hue? Choose an ashy tone that gets progressively more intense at the ends.
Top-only lowlights create a sun-streaked effect on an otherwise simple layered look.
18. Old Hollywood Waves
There’s nothing like a good screen-siren curl to get those golden brown streaks to shine!
19. Half-Up Twists
The tag team of caramel lowlights and a pretty, festival-ready look is adult boho chic.
Want to know if your highlights are seamless? Wear it in a sleek, ironed look and see if you can spot the demarcations.
Feathered waves are the perfect hairstyles for lowlights on brown hair that are concentrated on the fringe area.
22. Loose Waves
Hot rollers help emphasize these chin-length lowlights.
Who else will be sporting this multi-tonal brown this winter?
Hairline lowlights and a soft middle part give this look a retro touch.
25. Tousled Lob
Lowlights on the mid-shaft of a long bob give a flattering glow and open up your features. Tip: Keep it subtle to avoid a dip-dye effect.
26. Curled Ends
Use a round brush to recreate the uptown polish in this hairstyle, which is emphasized by the espresso-and-khaki color combo.
Is it red, or is it brown? Get a hue that straddles both and punctuate it with a folksy accessory, like a wide-brimmed hat, to tie it all together.
28. Ash Blonde
Quietly toe the line into blonde territories with an ashy shade that remains near your base.
29. Hidden Strips
Peek-a-boo lowlights that are most obvious at the hairline and nape areas are low-maintenance and no-fuss.
Make a popular haircut more unique with a unique, wide-ranging combo of lowlights.
It girls have an unfussy approach to their hair color; emulate that insouciance with light coffee lowlights against a chocolate base, paired with a shaggy haircut.
32. Long and Textured
Keep long brown hair from looking basic by affixing some strategic honey lowlights past the chin. Tip: Apply a bit of lightweight leave-in conditioner, like Nexxus Hydra-Light Leave-in Conditioning Foam, to help keep ends moisturized.
33. Wet Lob
Auburn lowlights look even more luxurious in a fashionable (yet casual) wet-styled lob.
Saturated ends look more natural when kept in the same brownish color family.