Sarah Cabral
Published on November 04, 2021

I’m sure you’ve heard the term lowlights used before, but what are they and what is their function? To get lowlights, your stylist will add in a color that is several shades darker than your base color using a foil highlight technique or even a balayage. Thus, lowlights and highlights are achieved using the same techniques, the difference being in whether the colored strands are darker or lighter than the base color.

Blending lowlights and highlights creates contrast and dimension resulting in some gorgeous color transformation. Read on for the comprehensive lowlights vs highlights guide and the best examples of how to enhance your hair color with lowlights.

When Hair with Lowlights Is a Good Idea

There are different reasons you would want to get hair lowlights. Sometimes, you are just looking to add dimension to your highlighted hair. In this case, adding a darker color will make the lighter highlights show up more. This is very common with the modern dimensional color that is so popular today.

Look at this example of blonde hair without lowlights. It is more solid-looking and has less dimension in it.

Ash Blonde Hair Color with Root Smudge

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

Now, watch how it comes to life with lowlights. The dark shade next to the lighter ones makes them brighter.

Blonde Hair with Highlights and Lowlights

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

Another case when a colorist would advise getting hair lowlights is to fix hair color after summer when your hair is really light or brassy from the sun. Lowlights can help you eliminate some of the brass and get a nice natural look for your mane.

Also, women who are frequent blonding clients and have had consecutive highlights put in might need to get back to the dimension they had when they first started. If this is your case, adding lowlights can bring some of your natural hair color back.

When styling lowlights, you want to add waves or curls to your hair – this will make them show up better. If you wear your hair straight, highlights and lowlights won’t show up as much.

See the best looks with highlights and lowlights you might want to copy!

1. Brown Hair with Highlights and Lowlights

Balayage is meant to be natural-looking, as if your hair lightens in the sun during summertime, so adding lowlights will help give it dimension. This look is a traditional brown hair balayage with highlights and lowlights added in.

Light Brown Hair with Highlights and Lowlights

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

2. Brown Lowlights

Brunettes should leave dimension for a more natural grow-out, so lowlights help keep it natural. This technique is called foilayage, and it’s used to mimic a balayage using traditional lightener with teasing to accomplish this lighter blonde. I add lowlights to make the blonde pop and keep it dimensional.

Foilayage Hair Color

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

3. Caramel Lowlights

Caramel lowlights are a great option for the fall hair color. This technique is a mix of highlights and lowlights. You can add a warm brown lowlight and tone down your highlights for the fall/winter to create this beautiful caramel look.

Toning Down Blonde Highlights with Lowlights

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

4. Icy Blonde Highlights with Lowlights

Blondes should add lowlights to make blonde strands pop more! This technique is also called a foilayage. This client is a natural brunette, so it may take several sessions to go this light. If you are a natural brunette and you want to be really blonde, adding lowlights and root shadowing will help achieve depth and make the color more low-maintenance.

Lowlights for Brunette Going Blonde

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

5. Natural Redhead with Brighter Red Lowlights

Enhancing a natural redhead with highlights and lowlights will really make their hair stand out. This client has a beautiful natural auburn color, but sometimes it can lack dimension. Adding brighter red lowlights along with golden blonde highlights will really make it intricate and rich.

Honey Blonde Hair with Lowlights

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

6. Burgundy Lowlights with Copper Highlights

Burgundy and copper tones are great for fall! Adding two hair colors will really bring brown hair to life. This client is already a natural brunette but we added these beautiful warm tones using highlights and lowlights to enhance her natural olive skin color.

Dark Brown Hair with Burgundy Lowlights

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

7. Lowlights to Add Depth to Blonde Hair

Leaving depth underneath your blonde hair is important to make blonde highlights on top stand out. For natural blondes that want to go lighter, the word “lowlight” might sound scary. Still, adding this depth in will actually make your blonde hair look lighter! So don’t be afraid!

Platinum Blonde Balayage for Brown Hair

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

8. Ash Lowlights for Cool Hair Color

Adding a darker ash tone next to an icy blonde will keep a brunette looking cooler. It’s important when you ask your colorist to add dimension and maintain a cooler all-over look, eliminating as much warmth as possible. Adding both cool-toned highlights and brown lowlights will help achieve this.

Ash Brown Hair with Highlights

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

9. High Contrast Face-Framing Highlights

I’m sure you heard the term money piece by now, that is a heavy highlight that you see in everyone’s hairline. As a stylist, one of the most important areas that I place a lowlight is right behind the face frame. This gives you that bold pop of blonde right in the front.

Dirty Blonde Hair with Platinum Money Pieces

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

10. Lowlights for Gray Hair

Another way to use lowlights is for gray blending. A way to camouflage gray is adding cool toned highlights and a lowlight that is close to your natural color. This look requires frequent toning sessions. You can also use purple shampoo at home for maintenance.

Highlights and Lowlights for Blending Gray Hair

Instagram / @sarahzstylz

I hope these ideas gave you some great tips on how to change your color! Remember, when adding lowlights or any other color, it is really important to use all the products for color maintenance that your colorist recommends. Professional colors are only guaranteed when you are using the right products at home. Follow my Instagram channel sarahzstylz for more professional tips and inspiration.

Ash Blonde Hair Color with Root Smudge Blonde Hair with Highlights and Lowlights Light Brown Hair with Highlights and Lowlights Foilayage Hair Color Toning Down Blonde Highlights with Lowlights Lowlights for Brunette Going Blonde Honey Blonde Hair with Lowlights Dark Brown Hair with Burgundy Lowlights Platinum Blonde Balayage for Brown Hair Ash Brown Hair with Highlights Dirty Blonde Hair with Platinum Money Pieces Highlights and Lowlights for Blending Gray Hair