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Architexture Hair Salon Blog

This is the place where we'll share our thoughts on hair styles, trends, fashion and just anything else we think can help you look great.

All You Need to Know About Highlights and Lowlights


Both highlights and lowlights involve applying color to the hair, but the two techniques are used to achieve different effects. They're both partial coloring techniques, which means they're easier on your hair than full color. In case you're looking for a new look for the summer and have been considering getting highlights or lowlights, here's everything you need to know about these coloring techniques.

Adding Highlights to Lighten Hair

Highlighting is a method of coloring hair that uses a bleaching agent or pigment to lighten sections of hair. You know how after a long summer spent in the sun your hair takes on that beautiful and radiant sun-kissed look? That’s what highlighting is meant to look like, and the technique is all about coloring selected sections of hair.

Just like when you highlight information on a page: you don’t highlight all the text, but rather the sections you want to stand out. Highlighting is meant to be a subtle effect, and this generally means coloring small sections of hair one or two shades lighter than your natural color.  

Lowlights to Add Depth

Lowlighting is similar to highlighting, but the major difference is that you color selected sections of hair a couple of shades darker (rather than lighter) than your natural shade. For instance, if your hair is a light brown, you could add dark brown lowlights to your hair to give it more depth. Lowlights can also be used in conjunction with highlights, and one of the most popular color looks is blonde highlights paired with red or darker blonde lowlights.

Accomplishing High and Lowlights

When you go to a stylist for highlights or lowlights, the colorist will use foil sheets to divide your hair into sections. The foil will allow the colorist to apply a color to one section of hair without touching the others. You can also opt for a half-head of color, and in that case, the colorist will only apply highlights or lowlights to the top layers of hair. While this is a slightly cheaper option, it’s not recommended for people who often wear their hair tied up.

Effects Achieved with Highlights and Lowlights

On top of adding different hues to your hair, highlights and lowlights also add depth and texture, giving your hair more body and volume. They also bring life to your hair, can frame and light up your face, and can complement your eyes and skin tone. Highlights and lowlights are great for all hair types, including straight, curly, and frizzy.

Highlights and Lowlights Versus Streaks

Although highlights and lowlights are similar to streaks, they aren't the same and they don’t achieve the same effects. For one, streaks tend to be large blocks of colored hair, and the color difference between the streak and the natural color is usually more drastic. On the other hand, highlights and lowlights are done with smaller sections of hair, and the difference between the color and the natural shade is less drastic. As such, highlights and lowlights are sutler than streaks, and look more natural.

A Few Important Things to Note

Highlights and lowlights are great for anybody who wants to add some depth and color to their hair while still maintaining a natural look. However, lowlights aren't recommended for people with really short hair, because the sections can look messy. Also, if you want to change your look for summer, get your color done at least a month in advance so the sun doesn’t change the color too much. And lastly, don’t top up the color more than four times a year, or you could damage your hair.

Highlights and lowlights are a great way to add depth and interest to your natural hair, and they can give you a completely new look without making any drastic changes. The trick with highlights and lowlights is to keep it subtle, and to stick with colors that are two to three shades darker or lighter than your natural hair, and to color small sections, so the colors blend into one another. Whether you opt for highlights, lowlights, or both, your new hair will look natural, radiant, and fantastic.