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What Are the Best Tips for Combining Highlights and Lowlights?

By Andrea Cross
Updated May 21, 2024
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Women and men who color their hair often still want a natural look. One easy way of accomplishing this to combine highlights and lowlights, a method also called a tri-color service, which produces a multidimensional look. When combining highlights and lowlights, there are a number of tips to help you achieve the best look, including which colors to use and how different combinations suit your face shape.

Highlights are applied to add depth and texture to your hair. Lighter in color than your natural hair, highlights are generally added to the top layers of hair and around the face. When combining highlights and lowlights, it is important to first choose the right color for your hair.

Never choose highlights that are more than three shades lighter than the natural or base color of your hair because this will make them look unnatural. You should also add more highlights on the top of your hair than lowlights. For highlight colors, if you are blond, you should go for light golden or more straw-colored shades as these tend to look more natural. If you are brunette, then you should apply darker gold, caramel, or copper-colored hues. Redheads should choose copper, gold, or champagne shades.

Lowlights are darker colors that are usually applied to the lower layers of hair, also to increase depth. Like highlights, lowlights should never be more than three shades away from the main color of your hair. Women or men with blonde hair should apply lowlights that are a deeper shade of blonde, such as honey, or even a light brown shade, such as caramel. Brunettes should choose richer tones in shades red and brown, such as auburn and chocolate, while golden brown and brunette shades suit redheads.

If your hair is black, then you should choose both lighter and darker shades that have hints of plum and red. For gray hair, stay with a sliver or gray color, and go for tones that are a shade or two lighter or darker than your natural color. When combining highlights and lowlights, choose shades that have similar hues because this will help to make the final result look more natural. Be careful to choose shades that complement your skin color in order to avoid looking washed out.

The placement of highlights and lowlights together should be influenced by your face shape. Women with rounder faces should put more lowlights around their faces, keeping the highlights away from the hairline. This placement helps to make round faces appear more slim. Conversely, if you have a heart-shaped face, you should frame it with highlights, keeping lowlights away from the hair and jawline.

For longer, narrower faces, highlights should be concentrated on the lower ends of the hair, which helps to reduce the length of the face. If you have a face that is more square, place highlights evenly throughout the hair, especially at the front. Given the complexity of a tri-color service, you should get it done at a hair salon. The stylist can advise you on choosing the right colors and can ensure that they are placed correctly.

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Discussion Comments

By Rundocuri — On Feb 20, 2014
I saw a young lady yesterday with light red hair combined with golden blonde highlights and strawberry red lowlights. She looked great, and her hair had a natural glow without looking streaked.
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