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Highlights vs. Lowlights – What Are the Major Differences Between Them?

Adding multiple tones to your hair can be both subtly stunning and boldly beautiful. Getting “the look” can be as easy as requesting lowlights or highlights. These techniques may be the perfect way to change up your base color and freshen up your look. However, the terms are not interchangeable, and they aren’t just industry buzzwords. Asking for one over the other can give you completely different color results. That’s because lowlights and highlights are two different techniques with quite different end results. Which one is right for you? Let’s break down the difference between highlights and lowlights.


Highlights are one of the most requested color processes in salons today, but what exactly are they? Highlights are woven or sliced sections of hair that tend to be colored two to three shades lighter than a person’s base hair color. Highlights can add brightness, dimension, and movement to a person’s natural base color. This technique may also add a boost to dull-looking hair and create a “sun-kissed” effect.


Lowlights are typically applied with the same woven or sliced technique. However, lowlights add hints of color two to three shades darker than a person’s base hair color. Lowlights are often used to add richness and the perception of depth to the hair. Lowlights can also help give the illusion of more volume and texture. One more thing to keep in mind. If you have never colored your hair, lowlights tend to be a little more low maintenance.

Which Process Should I Ask For and What Colors Work for Me?

It all depends on what look you want to achieve and your ultimate hair goals. Highlights are a great way to add a fresh, light, and bright dimension to hair. Lowlights can add more depth and the perception of volume. Both techniques can be applied in ways that make the final outcome look bold and dramatic or subtle and sophisticated, depending on preference.

A good colorist will be able to add either highlights or lowlights to just about any base color. Blondes can achieve a brighter, more sun-kissed look by adding highlights. This technique also looks gorgeous on those with dark blonde and brunette base colors. Honey, golden, and caramel colors can look stunning. Those with red hair may want to think about adding strawberry blonde highlights for a pop of color and dimension. Those with dark base colors can also add highlights. Just be sure to talk to your colorist about your hair color goals.

With lowlights, blondes can add more depth and richness by weaving in darker colors like caramel or toffee. Brunettes can also get the same effect by going just a few shades darker and adding mocha or chestnut tones. Looking for a little more drama? Try adding bronze or burgundy lowlights. The only base shades that can be tricky to work with are black or extremely dark brunettes. Dark shades can be more difficult to lowlight because it may be hard to find a color darker than the base color.

Still unsure which technique you should try? Pull out your phone and take pictures of hair colors that you like. Next, talk to a stylist at Therapy Hair Studio in Houston. Our highly trained and experienced team can help you narrow down the color and technique that will give you the look you are craving. Be honest about your routine and your hair color goals, and we can help you decide on whether lowlights or highlights are right for you. In some cases, the answer may even be both at the same time!

Ready to change your look? Schedule an appointment with a Houston highlight specialist today. Call (713) 355-HAIR. We promise it’ll be the highlight of your day.


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