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Vanessa Koeb
Colorist
Updated on December 22, 2023

The “Lived in Hair Color” is the modern way people love to express their natural beauty through hair coloring, making it the real “hair revolution” of the moment.

In the last couple of years it has been the hottest color trend becoming the most in demand service in hair salons, featured online, on magazines, on red carpets and by hair professionals across the globe.

The lived in hair movement takes inspiration from the revival of two very important eras, the 70s and the 90s, where natural sun kissed hair tones and natural texture where a must. During the 70s, we’ve seen people like Jane Birkin, Farrah Fawcett or Joni Mitchell inspiring effortless color textures. In the 90s, the grunge subculture influenced fashion and hair trends too. Notable is the shoot of the young Kate Moss for Clavin Klein who brought back the beauty of simplicity with her clean look and effortless-looking and minimally styled blonde highlighted hair.

In the past years, we’ve seen beautiful effortless lived in blonde and brunette colors enhanced with the notes of gold, honey, caramel, and cinnamon on celebs and fashion icons like Suki Waterhouse, Margot Robbie, Kaya Gerber, Hailey Bieber, Daphne Groeneveld, Amal Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and many others. Those hair icons are the perfect source of inspiration if you are looking for the lived in color of your dreams!

What is a Lived In Hair Color, Anyway?

The term “lived in” has been coined by the Beverly Hills celebrity hairdresser Jonny Ramirez in 2022 and refers to a specific natural looking color techniques that allows a perfect blend and extremely natural regrowth. The key goal here is to ensure a natural feel and a long-lasting style.

The technique involves blending highlights and hand painted pieces of hair together with the use of foils or cellophane to allow beautiful lifts for a very natural looking color distribution.

While the color can look a lot like balayage, the difference lies in how the color is placed: usually, it has a touch of brighter shades at the front to look more sun-kissed, while a balayage has a more prominent graduation and angled color placements. It’s also essential to achieve a good lift and thus create contrast, as the technique itself creates a more delicate color distribution that may look not visible enough if done wrong. Plus, it’s fundamental to create a fake root (excluding the front) matching the natural hair color using a toner. That allows more visual blend and plays a very important card in tailoring the contrast.

The lived in hair color is a unique and bespoke technique, ideal for blondes and brunettes willing to embrace warmth and to enhance the natural lightness of their hair. It requires an experienced colorist to perform this technique – the one with a great color vision and excellent color knowledge!

Lived In Hair Color Ideas

If you think this is the coloring technique you were looking for and want to get inspired, find some lived in blonde and brunette colors I have created. My choice of tones from honey and caramel to gold and buttery blonde helped me elevate my clients’ complexion and natural hair color.

1. Lived-In Bob in Sun-Kissed Blonde

This gorgeous chin-length bob was inspired by Hailey Bieber’s summer bob that kept the hairdressing industry on its toes for the entire season. It features lots of natural texture and beautiful strands sun-kissed from mid-length to the tips.

2. Lived-In Caramel for Brunettes

Sometimes, small things make a big difference! This delicate caramel balayage is perfect for enhancing the richness of brunette locks. Notice how caramel highlights reflect the light, lending the locks a glossy sheen. It’s also a perfect solution if you are looking for ways to maintain a grown-out balayage.

3. Short Wolf Cut with Lived-In Lightening

This 90s-inspired short wolf cut exudes Winona Ryder vibes with its rebellious charm. The cut features layers that cascade around the face, creating a tousled and edgy look. It’s a blend of grunge and sophistication, perfectly capturing the essence of the iconic era.

4. Gorgeous Bronde Balayage

These long brunette locks are a cascade of natural beauty! Hand-painted bronde locks add dimension, seamlessly blending warm, sun-kissed highlights into the rich brown base. This look is the epitome of effortless elegance!

5. Lived-In Blonde and Soft Textures

If you’re absolutely hooked on “Euphoria” and can’t get enough of Sydney Sweeney’s iconic hairdo, you’re in for a treat with this style. It’s a tad brighter and boasts plenty of gentle texture, along with those ultra-soft bangs.

6. Ashy Balayage on Dark Brown Hair

Adding an ashy balayage to your dark brown locks is like giving your hair a subtle, smoky makeover. It brings depth and dimension while keeping things cool and chic, giving you that effortlessly stylish edge. To top it all off, throw in some babylights for a beautifully nuanced look.

7. Bold Blonde Face-Framing

This client was delighted with her previous color as it grew out, so it was a wise decision to maintain the same color pattern and infuse just a touch of vibrancy. We decided to create a striking contrast with her natural hue, giving her hair a grunge-inspired yet soft and natural appearance.

8. Bronde Hair with Face-Framing Highlights

This bronde hair with lived-in face-framing highlights instantly remind you of Jessica Biel’s iconic look. These gentle highlights blend flawlessly with the natural color, mimicking the sun’s gentle kiss on the strands, for a truly effortless look. It’s the kind of hair that radiates natural beauty, just like the actress herself!

9. Lived-In Honey Blonde with Babylights

It’s all about strategic placement when you aim for that lived-in charm! With subtle, scattered babylights and some honey-toned lowlights for depth, this style is a classic of lived-in styles. These techniques create that delightful “grown-out” look, adding dimension and depth while maintaining the warmth and sweetness of honey blonde.

10. Sun-Kissed Brunette

Creating a sun-kissed effect for brunettes can be a bit challenging but entirely achievable. Opt for balayage or babylights in shades slightly lighter than your natural color. The key is subtlety and natural placement. Your stylist’s expertise ensures those gentle, sunlit highlights blend seamlessly with your deep brunette base for a dazzling finish.

If you want to stay tuned with all my color creations, get more inspiration or read my latest articles about color trends predictions, you can find me on my website or my Instagram page @vanessakoeb!

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