Hair highlights are a great way to update your current hair color. Highlights give your locks an added pop of brightness and can be customized to any color you like.
Looking for a new hair color? Find your perfect shade of hair highlights with this salon’s guide to hair highlights.
You can tone it down with different shades of the same color, like blonde, or try two base colors like red and blonde, and wear different shades of those colors if you need more drama in your hairstyle.
Gradually transitioning hair color is a fun and fresh look. Hair that goes from brown to red to blonde looks beautiful, as you can see in the next photo.
Are hair highlights still in fashion? You bet. The 2008 issue of a short hair magazine has “Highlighting Short Hair” on the cover. Inside there is a hair color gallery in their special showcase. It shows a beveled bob hairstyle similar to Victoria Beckham’s very popular hairdo, but it has bright red streaks in brown hair. The color style looks cool because it has random highlighting throughout.
Which highlight is best for hair?
It is natural for women who were brave enough to get the edgy haircut to get bored of it sooner rather than later and want to wear edgy color in their edgy cut. You may feel it’s over the top to have an extreme cut with extreme color. By that combination, you could look like a punk.
Another photo they show is a teen girl with a Pob haircut that has a different style. You can see the hairdresser copied Posh’s look like the basic cut, but then the girl styled it to look messy. It still has the sharp sides that define the popular look, but it fully covers her forehead. The highlight style is the subtle brown hair color of the dark brunette. It’s a good example of how well subtle coloring complements an extreme hairstyle.
There is also an image of a woman’s funky haircut that has a deep ‘V’ shape at the front. It actually looks so radical that you’d probably only see it in a fashion magazine or at a runway show. But the coloring is good to copy. It has about four or five wine highlights in short dark black hair.
Also featured is a pic of a really cool pixie hairstyle with the most gorgeous red highlights in naturally dark brown hair. The model looks amazing. Highlighted spiky hair is kicka–!
Hair Color Magazines
Most hair magazines are for hairstyles, and they may offer a section on color styles or trends. One that specializes in color a little more than the others is Cut and Color magazine. It is the sister publication of Celebrity Hairstyles. The premiere issue was in the summer of 2007. It offered “the inside scoop on which hues will be hot for summer, straight from our team of experts.” Its hair color advice ranged from blondes to brunettes and redheads, but it also had a section in “The Color Scene” on highlights.
“Contrast is back,” said John Simpson of Lewis’s Salon and Day Spa in Pittsburgh. “We’ll be seeing warm and cool tones that blend together for a beautiful neutral shade.” One example was Eva Longoria.
“Placement of color is not so typical or straight across these days,” noted Tony Snow of Pon International in Anaheim Hills, California. “You see a combination of chunks, blocks, and thin slices placed in radial sections altogether and in not-so-obvious patterns. The idea is you can change the direction of the style or placement of a part and not really see the way the foils were placed.” Celeb examples they gave were Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston.
That sounds like a good development in the hair industry and a significant sign of progress in the evolution of hair coloring. High-contrast highlights were so popular in the 90s and even in more recent years, but there’s now the expectation of a transition to the elegant, sophisticated hair coloring style that chooses subtlely over drama.
This refinement is a welcome change, and it’s a natural improvement which seems to be most appreciated by mature women. More and more female celebrities in their 40s and older choose subtle highlights. We may be able to blame Jennifer Aniston for this hair trend because her hair almost always has an advanced highlighting style.
How to Get Natural Highlights
Ashlee Simpson was the cover girl for the February issue of Sophisticate’s Hairstyle Guide magazine. “I always like to change it up,” she admitted, “especially my hair color.” This year she is a redhead; the last time she had red hair was many years ago. “I dyed my hair orange when I was 11!”
A year or two ago, you may remember, Ashlee had jet black hair; and before that extreme hair color makeover, she had blonde hair. The singer is also into highlights. Even though she likes radical color changes, Ashlee also likes a less dramatic style.
“For natural highlights,” the newly married celebrity says, “I put lemon juice in a squirt bottle and spray the ends of my hair. It really lightens them up.”
Hair Color by Season
Do you change your hair color style based on the season? Does your hair look different in the fall or winter than it does in spring or summer?
“Slices are the thing for summer,” suggested Jason Thomas, a stylist in Charlotte, NC, “because weaving gets lost in the season’s bright light. Any variation on slicing will do well.”
The girls who have that look, the hair magazine noted, include: Eva Mendes, Kelly Clarkson, and Danity Kane.
Summer 2023 Hair Highlight Trend
“The skinnier, the better when it comes to highlights this summer,” said Cherry Borbon of Chatters Salon in Kent, Washington.
“Chunks and large streaks are gone. I’m doing lots of balayage techniques with golden tones and shadow box techniques in which I weave a lighter golden blonde on the surface with a deeper red underneath for a shadowy effect. There’s a combination of tones that will work for everyone!”
The women who have this look include Gisele Bundchen and Carmen Electra.
The long-running hair color trend of thick and chunky streaks may be replaced by a move towards thin or even very thin highlights, also called “slices.” It looks cool and elegant. You can’t always tell if it’s natural or colored, especially when the placement looks randomized. One cool and fun way to do thin slices is to mix up the placement, so some slices are from the crown to the middle, while others are from the middle to the ends.
Turn up the contrast a few shades of blonde, but still keep the mixed-up colors that look painted on in a random fashion, and you have more definition (below). This fantastic female look that teenagers love has a few light chestnut brown highlights teaming up with the blondes. A cool layered haircut with fully colored bangs makes it one of the best hot new designs.
Bob hairstyles are in fashion for 2023, like they were in 2022. But this year, you may want to add some stylish color if you’re bored or prefer hair with more than one color. Do you want a hairstyle that is in fashion but also not exactly the same as every other girl? Fashionable but with your own twist?
This woman in the above pic has very dark brown hair and a special highlighting style. The top of her head is dark, but there’s a gradual transition to lighter brown or dark blonde towards the end of her bob. So it has high-contrast highlights at the top but moderate contrast in the middle and at the ends.
You see a lot of hairstyles where there is either subtle or bold highlighting, but the combination of both, like you see above, is quite intriguing and attractive, too. The best hair colorists can do mixed looks with both strong contrast and very subtle color transitions.
Gorgeous red hair with amazing blond highlights. Wow. This coloring job is first-rate. Look how layered hair that’s slightly highlighted at the back can look so attractive. The transitions are perfect. That’s one key to blonde highlighting in red hair. If you do it gradually and carefully, it looks naturally tinted by the sun. And that is a pretty, healthy look, isn’t it?
Fab near shoulder-level bob hairstyle for redheads with blonde highlighting. The subtle transition to just a little blonde in the center of her style looks fantastic. You’ll be lucky if you can find a colorist with the skill to do this. You can see from her roots she’s a natural brunette, but this coloring looks very cool. The shades of red she has looked like auburn and some colors between wine red and burgundy. More bobs should be colored in style like this today. Color is one of the best ways to convert plain bobs into sensational hairstyles with lots of flairs. This is a great modern example of how to take your hair from ordinary to extraordinary.
More drama is available to redheads who find their natural hair color is too muted. Want to crank up the vibrancy? Here’s a picture of a girl with long red hair and lots of bright orange highlights. It can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s kind of fun.
Many long red streaks in black or very dark Hispanic hair are over an inch from the roots and from front to back.
Deep red hair color and one that has cooler red instead of warm red may appeal to a wider audience. Here’s a brunette with some bright red color. This is a unique, fresh look that highlights mostly just the flips for the hair above the girl’s shoulders but has a few patches higher up, too. The top half of this hairstyle is more wearable for a lot more girls than the bottom. That huge swath of red in the bottom half is pretty wild. Still, the top is an edgy color style for medium hair.
This teen hair model has beautiful low-contrasting hair colors. There’s a rich red and a gorgeous auburn. Sometimes two competing reds seem over the top. The right pair of similar colors, though, totally rocks. This is the classic beauty of warm red coloring.
We can forgive this young woman’s roots for showing because she gives us an example of amazing copper tones. Medium blonde and the right shade of copper artfully added work wonders. Layered cuts are now in vogue, so this is good news for women who like the look that layers give to different colors.
Check out how the light reflects off layers; it catches them from more angles and “lifts” the hair to a new dimension. Her hair looks multi-tonal; she may have used four or more different colors. (Or was she out in the summer sun, and it tinted her hair?)
Lots of caramel streaks in female Asian hair. Do you ever choose your highlight color based on the color of your eyes? There’s no question that matching your hair color to your eye color can draw out your eyes. It’s a good beauty idea, especially when your eyes are one of your best features like this girl.
Hair with Extreme Highlights
Pink, the recording artist, is no longer wearing pink hair (she went back to chocolate brown). But Avril Lavigne took over, and here’s her straight hairstyle with pink and blonde highlights. Even though it’s an extreme hair color, the color, and simple styling looks elegant. Pink goes better with a blonde than brown or red. She has four or five pink streaks but only on one side. It’s her new signature look/color.
For a bolder look, you can lose the highlights and just go for wide chunks of color. This teen girl has a punk look even though she has similar hair colors as Avril Lavigne. Also, her roots aren’t showing, and her hair looks a little more teased. It gets even more dramatic with the short section of jet black color at the end of her long hair.
An intriguing and mesmerizing new color style that is about half blonde and half brunette with light blonde color on top and dark brown “underneath.”
A similar style to the previous hair color design. It’s a medium bob with strong double toning. It also has the blonde “overcoat” and dark “undercoat,” but the long bangs are mixed up. That interspersed look in the middle stands in distinct contrast to the other primary colors that are separated and give tons of definition to the sides. It’s a modern color interpretation of the classic shoulder-length bobbed haircut.
Shifting Emphasis from Front to Back
It seems like blonde highlighting around the face has been the most popular choice for longer than anything else. That’s fine, but what if you get bored of it? What does it look like if you move the blonde further back? This model shows us. Light reddish-brown is the dominant color of her style, but then at the back, there’s a quick, sharp shift to a dirty blonde color. She still has some lighter color at the front, but it’s only on one side.
Summer Hair Color
The sun naturally adds highlights to the hair of many girls and makes a good summer look or beachy hairstyle. Here is an example:
Summer hairstyle of Eva Mendes with thick layers (Courtesy Elle magazine). Notice how highlights bring out or emphasize her layers.
Gisele Bundchen’s highlights in the summer of 2007. Gisele is from Brazil and often has a beachy look to her hair and complexion (not to mention the figure). A lot of girls ask their stylists for her waves, and some want her coloring style, too.
Back View of Long Curly Hair with Streaks
How hot is that!? Beautiful beach look or just a hot summer color style.
Horizontal Highlighting Style
The vast majority of highlights women get are vertical. Are you tired of them? Horizontal highlights are an edgy alternative. The teen girl in the above photo has layered short hair, so the two-tone streaks along the sides and around the back stand out more.
In the photo below, the girl has a similar style, but she has short bangs and wears different colors: white or ash blonde and bright blue or blue-purple. She also added a chunk of color to the front, but off-center, and to the ends at the back.
The Elegance of Subtlety
You could have streaks that nobody can miss or streaks almost nobody can see. This young woman has gorgeous healthy hair and very subtle, very dark auburn highlights. Tones that are so similar can look very attractive. This color style is a good example of how less is more.
One tip or trick to make fully blonde hair look like it has highlights is to make it slightly pricey. The artificial separation of hair strands creates a natural shadow. That contrast mimics highlighting rather nicely.
Highlighted Hairstyles for Kids?
Is it okay for young children to have their hair highlighted? You’ll want to be careful to check the chemicals that would be used on their fine hair and tender scalps, but it can be done safely. Here’s a five-year-old girl who got a fashionable bob haircut that is lightly highlighted to frame her face.
Kids are introduced to highlights at a young age, as this Barbie commercial shows. Inevitably they will ask if they can have highlighting in their hair, too, especially when they see celebrities with it or their friends get it.
The standard hair coloring technique of using many aluminum foils. They protect the hair you don’t want to be changed from the highlighting creme.
How much do highlights cost?
Do-it-yourself brush-on hair highlighting kits with product and brush cost under $25. The brands which offer them include: Herbal Essences, L’Oreal Paris, and, of course, Clairol.
If you prefer to trust your tresses to a professional, depending on the experience of the hairdresser/colorist, prices for highlights can range from $50 to $500.
An alternative to highlighting by creme application is hair strand extensions.
Clip-In Highlighted Hair Extensions
Hilary Duff with dark brown clip-on highlight extensions in long straight blond hair. Instant high-contrast streaks add fun drama to Hilary’s night-out style. She can remove them easily without any extra cost of a new coloring job.
Hair Color Trends and Fashion in 2023
The August issue of Sophisticate’s Hairstyle Guide (Kristen Bell cover) has a special section on the latest hair color fashion: “Color Trends: What’s Hot in Haircolor in Your City” (pages 32-35). It has input from different hair salon owners and top colorists on the exact or general color and highlights trends they are seeing.
The cities covered include: New York, NY; Washington, DC; Newton, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Sterling Heights, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Denver, CO; Tempe, AZ; Orlando, FL; Dallas, TX; Atlanta, GA; Oklahoma City, OK; Houston, TX; Toronto, Ontario (Canada); and Nottinghamshire, UK.
Along with the colors, for most cities, the colorists note which celebrities (if any) are the inspiration for the color trends. For example, Laurie Helmick of Denver, Colorado, said: “Jessica Simpson wears the multi-tonal blonde color that’s popular.”
Pick up a copy of this great magazine to find the details, or just call your salon and ask what colors are in fashion for your city before your next appointment. (The bigger salons should know even if the smaller ones with fewer clients haven’t noticed any trends yet.)
Victoria Beckham, according to an estimate by hair colorist Kyle White of Oscar Blandi, pays about $500 per month on highlights—the same she pays for her Pob haircut. (US, May 21, p. 73).
Brides like to get their hair specially done for their wedding, and Brides.com estimates it can cost $250 for wedding day highlights.
Who can color your hair with streaks?
If you don’t already have someone to put highlights in your hair, there’s a website with a list of certified colorists for every state in America at bls.gov. You just type in your zip code to get the list. The same list of experts often appears at the back of hairstyles magazines. But online, you can email them or find the colorists’ websites (if they have one). Lots of professional stylists are available; now, you can find one easily online.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2018. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.