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A Complete Guide on Types of Highlights For Your Hair 

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Updated On: 16 Aug 2023

A Complete Guide on Types of Highlights For Your Hair 

You might have gone through this experience where you feel like chopping either a big or small chunk of hair or colouring it the way you wish. And after the said thing is done, it makes a huge impact on your overall personality as well. But this time you might like to try something different. Something which you have never done it previously, such as adding highlights to your present hair. Be it long or short. Applying highlights might be a good way if you feel apprehensive about dyeing your entire head. 

But there are plenty of options when choosing highlights for your hair type and hairstyle. From balayage technique to chunky highlights, there is a wide range for you to pick up from. In this blog, we are sharing information on different types of highlights for your hair and which colour suits better for your natural hair colour or even dyed hair. To familiarise yourself with different types of highlights to avoid confusion when your stylist tells you about them, this blog is the one for you to provide you with the necessary information regarding hair highlights. 

Highlight NameMaintenance  Use of foils
BabylightsLow maintenanceYes
Traditional HighlightsHigh maintenanceYes
Chunky HighlightsHigh maintenanceYes
Balayage HighlightsMedium maintenanceNo
Ombre HighlightsLow maintenanceNo
Reverse Ombre HighlightsLow maintenanceNo
Halo or Ring HighlightsLow maintenanceYes
Sombre HighlightsLow maintenanceNo
Foil-ayage HighlightsLow maintenanceYes
Money-Piece HighlightsLow maintenanceYes
Dimensional HighlightsMedium maintenanceYes
Ribbon HighlightsHigh maintenanceNo
Airtouch HighlightsLow maintenanceNo
Tennis HighlightsHigh maintenanceYes

Babylights

Babylights are considered to be fine, subtle hair highlights which mimic the dimensional hair colour that is visible on kids’ or children’s hair. This is a very popular hair highlight that suits well with any type of hair colour and hairstyle. Babylights are an advanced form of traditional highlights with the usage of foils. The only major difference between these two is the placement of the foil and the amount of hair captured in each foil. 

The advantage is that the hair is sectioned finely with only a few strands in each foil offering you better dimension across your hair. This delivers a natural sun-kissed look to your hair and blends naturally with the base colour of your hair. 

This hairstyle is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Low maintenance and care which will grow out nicely in later stages.
  • Changing up their hairstyles without opting for anything too drastic.
  • Any person with fine hair adds up the textural look. 

Traditional Highlights

Traditional highlights which are commonly known as foils are the basic of all types present in the hair highlights section. In this type of highlight, the stylist uses a foiling technique to lighten the strands of your hair from roots to the end ins a specific sectioning pattern. After that, the stylist leaves your natural hair colour between the strands to impart dimension & depth to your hair. 

Traditional highlights are the most sought out and common among the list of highlights but it requires more upkeep than the rest as they distribute colour all over your head.

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for 

  • Will give you more intense highlights and brighter contrast.
  • Accentuates your natural hair colour. 
  • Helps frame and shape your face with traditional highlights. 

Chunky Highlights

These highlights were a trend back in the 90s and are back in the line of action as more and more people are opting for this kind of hair highlighter. This hair colouring or highlighter technique involves creating thick, bold streaks of colour in your hair. It is a bolder lighting method that refers to the width of colour placed in your hair making a bold statement compared to the traditional highlights that are thin and subtle. 

These are usually done in contrasting colours to your base hair creating an edgy, trendy, and classy look on your face. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • To create a more contoured feel in their hair.
  • Naturally complements curly or oily hair without much effort into styling them.
  • To create an illusion that your hair is thicker.
  • To contour more softness and make the hair look sleeker.

Balayage Highlights

Balayage is a French term that translates to ‘sweeping’ and is pronounced as ‘bah-lee-ahge’ is commonly used to sweep a hair lightener over your hair to create beautiful highlights. Balayage is a technique of free-hand painting highlights onto the hair, creating a soft & natural gradation of lightness towards the end. This is a natural-looking method that is often confused for a look but is a hair-lightening technique. 

Balayage is not just limited to blondes but is used on all shades of hair to add a soft, sun-kissed dimension. This is an effortlessly cool hair trend that has taken over the stripy highlights of the past while offering the same gorgeous dimension and fun colour. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Soft and natural gradation of lightness along the hair strand—usually slightly deeper closer to the scalp and lighter towards the ends.
  • Started away from roots and is usually & mainly focused on the mid-shafts towards the ends of hair.
  • It is easy to maintain with the right products and techniques. 
  • Blends so seamlessly into your natural colour.

Ombre Highlights

This highlight is simply another way to call the Ombre hair colouring style. These start with dark roots and eventually fade into a lighter shade when you reach the end. When the transition happens from hair roots to the ends, it is quite short. Ombre is a French term where it means ‘colour that is shaded or graduated in tone.’ Ombre is a trendy hair-lightening method. Ombre even embraces the concept of slight hair painting which makes it stand out from the rest of the hair-lightening techniques. 

Ombre hair tends to have the least dimension but can be varied to be soft, subtle, or edgy & dramatic based on your preference and taste. Ombre is more of a horizontal placement in hair.

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • A dramatic, gradient colour effect where the hair is split into two contrasting colour sections.
  • The blending of two hues on all strands of hair.
  • The transition from dark roots to lighter ends. 

Reverse Ombre Highlights

This is pretty much the Ombre highlights but in the reverse pattern, that is your hair gets transitioned from lighter roots to darker ends. From the lighter tone, the shades contrast themselves with cooler and darker tones offering you different hues on a single plate. Reverse ombre hair tends to have the least dimension but can be varied to be soft, subtle, or edgy & dramatic based on your preference and taste. Ombre is more of a horizontal placement in hair.

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • A dramatic, gradient colour effect where the hair is split into two contrasting colour sections.
  • The blending of two hues on all strands of hair.
  • The transition from dark roots to lighter ends.

Halo or Ring Highlights

Ring highlights or the Halo highlights are popularly known for that subtlety.  These are specific placements of highlights that creates lightness around the face. They are commonly called face-framing highlights as they add a proper frame to your face. This highlight majorly concentrates on lightening only the face while leaving the rest in your natural tone or a darker tone. 

The goal of Halo highlights is to set dreamy, light highlights to frame your face. It creates a dreamy halo-type illusion around your face naturally. This technique is similar to money pieces.

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Noticeably lighter shade in the front accompanied by a natural tone.
  • Create an illusion that light is shining on a person’s face. 
  • Much lighter highlights with lesser contrast.

Sombre Highlights

The combination and mashup of subtle and ombre give you the term Sombre. Sombre highlights impart you with a stunning, subtle, and feminine look. This is a subtle blend of darker shades at the roots and lighter ones at the hair ends. Sombre might be costly initially but needs low maintenance compared to the others once you get the Sombre highlights.   

It is similar to ombre & reverse ombre highlights but the transition is more subtle and gradual. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Hair colouring creates a soft, natural-looking gradient from dark roots to lighter ends. 
  • Makes your hair look thicker and fuller.
  • They can add dimension and depth to the hair.
  • Requires low maintenance and lesser touch-ups.

Foil-ayage Highlights

This technique is the same as Balayage but here the stylist makes use of foils to impart lightness to your hair. This hair technique suits well for brunettes and those who are looking to highlight blondness in their hair or to add a blond look to their hair. Since the hair is going to be captured inside a foil, it is sure to deliver vibrant strands of hair throughout. This is an excellent option for those who do not wish to go for a new look. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Can be applied to any base colour from ash blondes to dark brunettes and bold manes in shades of blue & green.
  • For a seamless and subtle finish. 
  • For extra lighting prowess in the Balayage technique.

Money-Piece Highlights

This is a face-framing hair-colouring technique that involves dyeing your front hair so they deliver a lighter look than the rest of your hair. This not just brightens up your complexion but also makes your facial features pop in a good way. This highlight pretty much serves as a makeup contour or a bronzer on your face. 

A money-piece highlight is what you need to boost your natural shade and imparts a natural-looking sun-kissed glow to your hair. And this style doesn’t require heavy maintenance since you won’t dye all of your hair.

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Looks great on any type of hair, length, texture, colour, and size. 
  • Soften & brighten your complexion and is easy to maintain.
  • It is customizable and makes any colour more interesting in your hair. 

Dimensional Highlights

If you looking for something that delivers more contrast then dimensional highlights are the one you are looking for. In simple words, this means you are adding dimension to your hair via colour. This delivers an illusion of a thicker mane and looks great on curly or wavy hair. This technique makes use of foils and multiple colour formulas. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • The contrast of lighter and darker tones on their hair.
  • Looks great on hair with curls and waves. 
  • Brightens your complexion and delivers a face-frame look. 

Ribbon Highlights

Ribboning or Ribbon highlights are a form of hair colouring technique that is similar to that of balayage that can create high contrast colour or a very subtle colour depending on the desired look you opt for or the stylist chooses for you. They are cascading ribbons of hair that are highlighted in a different colour than the base colour. Here, it starts with a solid colour base and then weaves a lighter hue throughout the entirety of the hair in ribbon-like pieces. The end product creates a lighter contrast between light and dark pieces especially when styled with a curling iron. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • It suits better with styled hair and gives you ribbons of highlights throughout.
  • Creates a ton of depth and movement in the hair.
  • It is achieving bright pops of colour that suit perfectly your natural base colour. 

Airtouch Highlights

This type of hair colouring or highlighting is a great way to create a perfect blend and create a baby lights-like dimension at the new growth while brightening all of the lengths in one fell swoop. Instead of applying backcombing, teasy lights, or weaving techniques, Airtouch highlights uses a slice and then the air from the blow dryer. Airtouch gives a result of the tease, pushing the smaller hairs and internal layers away, leaving you all the length to the colour. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • To get more depth in hair and create a perfect blend.
  • Requires zero teasing unlike balayage and some other hair-colouring techniques.
  • Natural-looking effects paired with soft dimensions will survive the grow-out. 

Tennis Highlights

This multidimensional technique is extremely versatile since it simulates how hair naturally brightens in the sun, and highlights are subtle and complementary to your base colour. Tennis highlights are high maintenance and are not for the ones who are looking out for a breezy lifestyle. But in a way, it is easier to upkeep this look with only a few touchup appointments throughout the season. It offers a subtle and blended look that fits well with your face. 

This kind of highlight is suitable for someone who is looking out for

  • Subtle and blended look throughout the summer season.
  • Offering a sun-kissed fresh look that matches the summer vibe with a breezy touch.
  • Sporty or athletic look. 

Do’s and Don’ts to Keep in Mind While Seeking Hair Highlights

A hair-colouring disaster is the last thing you wish to witness as this naturally impacts your whole look and may mess it up as well. For all the fascination hair colouring holds you should start with choosing the right colour and right highlight. 

Do’s

  1. Start with choosing the right colour that suits you well with your skin tone. You can find this out by checking your wrist. A greenish shade on your wrist implies you have a cooler skin tone. Similarly, a yellowish shade on your wrist means you have a warmer skin tone. 
  2. Not just your skin tone, but the colour of your eye and eyebrows plays a vital role in choosing the right colour for your hair. Many people have cool skin tones with warm eyes. In that case, opt for a neutral shade to balance both warm and cool tones.
  3. Pick your motive. If your goal is to cover greys, colour up entirely. But if it is to get highlights, choose the colour carefully & wisely.
  4.  The colour of your highlight should always be three shades lighter than your original hair colour. 

Don’ts

  1. Do not add too many variations or colours which will ultimately destroy the look you wish to achieve. Have 3 shades maximum woven in your hair and not more than that. 
  2. Do not go for so lighter tone that they match your skin tone. It will give you a washed-out look. 
  3. Avoid using heat appliances like hair straightener that causes damage to your hair after applying highlights. 
  4. Try to avoid hot water as much as possible and do not use hair products containing sulfates.
  5. Do not go after the colour which your friends or any other person have chosen. What suits them might not always suit you and vice versa. 

Popularly Used Colours in Hair Highlights

These are some of the popular colours in the world of highlights.

  • Blue
  • Blonde
  • Honey Blonde
  • Burgundy
  • Green 
  • Pink
  • Grey
  • Copper
  • Mahagony
  • Chocolate & caramel
  • Auburn
  • Purple
  • Light brown

Closing Thoughts

Are you tired of the same look always? Then why not opt for applying highlights to your hair? Not only do they add colour to your hair but bring out a completely new look to your face and highlight your personality. There are a plethora of hair highlights but make sure you choose the one that suits well with your look, skin tone, and other factors. What are you waiting for? It is time to get some glow-up and have the spotlight shining on you. Go for the one that suits you and not which others have opted for. 

Soundarya Kamat

Soundarya Kamat is an inquisitive individual with a deep passion for the formation of names and an expertise in freestyle writing. Her relentless curiosity drives her to research and explore the intricacies behind the origins and meanings of names, unraveling the stories they hold. Holding a certifi... Read More

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FAQs

What are hair highlights?

Hair highlighting is a technique to change a person’s hair colour using a lightener or hair colour to uplift the level of brightness of hair strands. It can be of any colour but the thing is it should be 3 shades lighter than the natural base colour of your hair. 

How many basic types of hair highlights are present?

Generally, there are eight basic types of hair highlights present: namely, Babylights, traditional highlights, balayage, ombre, halo, money-piece, dimensional, and sombre highlights. 

What kind of highlights gives the best results?

Babylights and balayage are considered to be some of the best hair highlights that give out the best results as well. 

How long do these highlights last on an average basis?

Almost all kinds of hair highlights last for around 2-3 months maximum. 

What should be mainly avoided after getting highlights? 

After getting highlights, avoid using heat appliances like hair straightener that causes damage to your hair after applying highlights, and try to avoid hot water as much as possible & do not use hair products containing sulfates.

Can the hair be oiled after highlighting them?

You can use oils like coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, and almond oil after getting your hair coloured as these do not cause any harm. 

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