The Editors
Updated on August 30, 2021
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Coloring short hair with highlights is the easiest way to make it edgy and interesting. Whether you love your pixie cut or can’t wait for your short crop to grow out, you can add highlights and lowlights to give your new ‘do some depth, tone, and texture. There are endless options, from traditional blonde highlights to hot pink or platinum. If you don’t like them, you can color over them easily enough, but odds are you’ll want to experiment with a different color every few months.

Short Hair with Highlights Ideas

Blonde ‘lights on brown base have already become classics but you can also go less traditional ways, like trying blonde and red, brown and blue or teal, rose gold and golden blonde combos, to name a few. More ideas with pictures are listed below.

1. A Subtle Take on Chunky Highlights

Chunky highlights like these were super popular in the ’90s – remember the look of starkly defined highlights? You can see that here as well, but it’s much subtler and, thus, softer. Remember, ’90s looks are back with a vengeance, so this could be your next hairstyle.

2. Shaggy Bob with Caramel Highlights

Don’t ever mistake brown for boring, especially when it comes to hair. Here, copper and caramel highlights brighten up brown hair. These highlight colors would look good on black hair as well, but they’d stand out even more than they do here.

3. Punk Rock Perfection

If you’ve ever wanted hardcore rocker hair, this is the look to emulate. The style is its own work of art, but the mix of platinum highlights, chunky blue streaks, and stark roots is sizzling.

4. Blonde on Blonde

You almost can’t tell that there are any highlights here, that’s how perfect the hair color is. A close peek reveals some darker hair, very deeply buried and well blended, but mostly this stunning woman has blonde highlights in various shades.

5. Dark Hair, Bright ‘Lights

Dark hair below, bright highlights above, deliberate ombre touches all throughout – it’s such an iconic look. This isn’t the Sarah Jessica Parker’s version though, oh no. Platinum highlights for short hair became a thing with Madonna, way back in the ’80s.

6. Dark Red Hair with Copper Highlights

This is absolutely stunning. One of the great things about dressing up short hair with highlights is that it can take bright colors. Here, dark red hair brightens up even more thanks to the layers of gold, pale copper, and light auburn. If you want a red ‘do, this is the way to do it.

7. Chocolate Vanilla Swirl

Bad play on words, but this looks just like a perfect swirl of ice cream. You don’t often see brown highlights on blonde hair; it’s usually the reverse. Possibly this hair isn’t naturally blonde, but that’s hardly the point. Reverse the traditional sometimes, because it ends up looking pretty sweet.

8. An Extreme ’90s Throwback

Here’s another take on the ’90s version of short hair highlights, but this is a more extreme version with a stark contrast between the light brown and blonde highlights. While this contrast makes it different from short hair balayage, the highlights are blended so artfully that the overall effect is very smooth.

9. Blonde All Over

Though the base is dark brown, this is a study of blonde highlights. Most of them are extremely light, but there are a few streaks of golden blonde, dirty blonde, and honey blonde. Still, this is one smart way to go light without completely bleaching your hair.

10. Hair on Fire

Here’s another take on red hair, this time with blonde highlights. The change is jarring but not extreme – if you look closely, you can see how beautifully the red blends up into the blonde.

11. Wavy Bob with Subtle Highlights

To make your hairstyle more feminine and stylish, add movement to it by creating light strands and careless waves. This hairstyle is a great option for fine hair, as difference between shades creates additional volume and hair looks much thicker.

12. A Real Rose Gold

These are the most dynamic short hair highlights ever. The shock of yellow blonde beneath the rosy light brown is remarkable – it really does look like rose gold. In short: love, love, love.

13. Red on Black

Red highlights on black hair are to die for. This isn’t a traditional red, however, but a dark auburn with a cherry gleam that gives it a softer overtone. Beautiful!

14. Highlighted Faux Hawk

This is so punk rock. It’s more like a dip-dye job than mere highlights, but who’s counting? The dark hair with the brassy blonde tips is a surefire statement-maker.

15. Fade to Blonde

This is an excellent example of beautifully done blonde highlights. Darker hair peeks through enough to make it a part of the look, meaning that you don’t have to worry about your roots as much – which is another perk of having short hair with highlights anyway.

16. The Black and White Angel

This isn’t really black and white, of course, but it’s close enough. Platinum highlights on short black hair look nothing short of amazing. This look is dramatic, punk rock, and incredibly photogenic, as you can see. Also, awesome tat.

17. Feathered Pixie with Undercut

If you’re a fan of extremely short haircuts, this is an option for you. Choppy texture, contrast transitions between hair lengths and asymmetrical bangs will not leave others indifferent. Successfully placed highlights wil accentuate your edgy tips even more.

18. Highlights and Lowlights with an Edge

Where to start, where to start … The mix of colors here is beautiful. There’s dark brown, a little bit of violet, and chunky highlights of blue-black and purple. Along with the edgy cut, it’s a masterpiece of hair color.

19. A Hint of Red

Red highlights for short hair look amazing with a dark base. They especially dazzle with black hair. The contrast is usually stark, but here the red is subtle, it looks naturally.

20. Sweet Sorbet Streaks

This is manic pixie dream girl hair. It’s candy coated and so cute! There’s pink, purple, fuchsia, and orange. Her hair looks like a sunset – proving unequivocally that with highlights, you can treat your hair like a canvas.

Short hair with highlights almost always looks interesting, and there’s so much room to play around. You can experiment with bold, vivid colors or get daring with more traditional hues – like that ravishing red ‘do in #1. Would you rock a pixie just to highlight your hair?

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