What Are Lowlights? A Guide to Subtle Hair Color

Have you been itching for a change to your hairstyle but aren’t quite sure you’re ready to fully commit to a bold new hair color? Lowlights might be the perfect solution for you. Lowlights are subtle highlights that blend in with your natural hair color, adding dimension and depth without drastically changing your look.

Unlike traditional highlights that can brighten your whole head of hair, lowlights focus on adding richness to just parts of your hair. The result is a stylish yet natural-looking color that complements your unique hair tone and skin undertones.

With lowlights, you get all the fun of experimenting with new hair colors without the risk of hating the end result. Read on to learn everything you need to know about lowlights and how they can enhance your hair.

What Are Lowlights?

What Are Lowlights?
Source: Hairstyles Weekly

Lowlights are subtle highlights that add dimension and depth to your hair color. Unlike traditional highlights that drastically lighten sections of hair, lowlights involve adding darker shades to create contrast and make your natural hair color pop.

What’s the Difference Between Highlights and Lowlights?

Aspect Highlights Lowlights
Purpose Lighten hair sections for a brighter look Darken hair sections for depth and dimension
Effect Brightens and can make hair appear thinner Enhances natural color, adds fuller appearance
Coloring Process Bleaching and toning to lighter shade Using a slightly darker dye than natural color
Overall Look Sun-kissed, lighter appearance Multi-dimensional, richer and darker tones
Application Applied to lighten sections for a sun-kissed look Applied to darken sections for depth
Natural Appearance Can appear bold, noticeable highlights Subtle, natural-looking color change

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Why Get Lowlights?

Why Get Lowlights?-What Are Lowlights
Source: Bangstyle

There are several benefits to lowlights:

  • They create a multi-dimensional look without the drastic contrast of highlights. The lowlights look very natural and sun-kissed.
  • They add depth and fullness to fine or thin hair. By placing lowlights strategically, stylists can make the hair appear thicker and fuller.
  • They soften your natural hair color or grown-out roots. If you have outgrown highlights, lowlights can help blend regrowth and create a seamless transition between the two shades.
  • They are lower maintenance than highlights. Lowlights do not require bleaching and toning, so they cause less damage to hair. They also grow out more subtly, so you can go longer between touch-ups.
  • They work with any hair color. Whether you have dark brown hair, light blonde hair, or red hair, lowlights can enrich your natural shade and enhance your color.

    Benefits of Getting Lowlights:

Whether you have blonde, brown, or red hair, lowlights can enhance your natural color and give it a boost. They are perfect for anyone wanting to deepen their hair color in a subtle, natural-looking way. Lowlights are a great option if you want to color your hair without dramatic changes.

Lowlights offer several benefits for your hair. Here are some of the main advantages of getting lowlights:

Subtle, Natural-looking color:

Subtle, Natural-looking color-What Are Lowlights
Source: Softer Hair

Lowlights provide subtle, natural-looking highlights through your hair. Unlike traditional highlights that can appear streaky, lowlights blend with your hair color for a sun-kissed effect. The results look very natural since the color is just a shade or two lighter or darker than your natural base.

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Less maintenance:

Less maintenance:-What Are Lowlights
Source: Softer Hair

Since lowlights blend in with your natural hair color, roots are less noticeable as your hair grows in, requiring fewer touch-ups. You can go longer between salon visits, saving you time and money. Lowlights also don’t require as much upkeep with special shampoos or styling products. You can continue using your normal hair care routine.

Adds dimension:

Adds dimension-What Are Lowlights
Source: The Shade

Lowlights add dimension to your hair color in a subtle way. By adding shades of lighter and darker pieces throughout your hair, lowlights make your hair color appear more vibrant and multi-dimensional. Your hair will look fuller with more depth and texture.

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More versatile:

More versatile:-What Are Lowlights
Source: All Things Hair

Lowlights offer more versatility and work on all hair types and textures. Whether you have fine, thick, wavy, or curly hair, lowlights provide a flattering color boost. They can also be used on color-treated or natural hair. Lowlights are a great option if you want to add color to your hair but are hesitant to do anything too bold or drastic.

Gentler on hair:

Gentler on hair:-What Are Lowlights
Source: Softer Hair

Compared to traditional highlights, lowlights are typically gentler on your hair. Less bleaching means less potential dryness and damage. Lowlights usually don’t require bleaching to the roots, avoiding potential irritation.

Your hair will be softer, more lustrous, and healthier. For the most natural-looking results with the least potential damage, ask your stylist about balayage or ombre lowlight techniques. These provide a very subtle, sun-kissed effect by hand-painting color onto sections of hair.

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Best Hair Colors for Lowlights:

Lowlights are subtle highlights that create depth and dimension in your hair color. They’re ideal for enhancing your natural hair shade or blending regrowth in between highlight appointments. The best hair colors for lowlights include:

Dark Brown:

Dark Brown:-What Are Lowlights
Source: Pinterest

If you have medium brown hair, adding lowlights in the shade two to three levels darker will create a rich, multi-dimensional look. Think chocolate brown or espresso. These deep brunette lowlights pair well with caramel or honey highlights for a sun-kissed effect.

Light Brown:

Light Brown:-What Are Lowlights
Source: Itakeyou

For dirty blonde or light brown hair, lowlights in the shade one to two levels darker add subtle contrast. Try cappuccino brown or chestnut lowlights. These earthy tones create a sun-kissed look when combined with buttery blonde highlights.

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Reddish Tones:

Reddish Tones:-What Are Lowlights
Source: Hairstylery

Lowlights in copper, cinnamon, or auburn shades are stunning on natural redheads or anyone with warm undertones. Copper lowlights give strawberry blonde hair a boost of color, while auburn lowlights enhance chestnut brown hair. Cinnamon lowlights work well with caramel highlights for a multi-dimensional autumnal look.

Ashy Tones:

Ashy Tones:-What Are Lowlights
Source: StyleCraze

If you have cool undertones, lowlights in ashy shades like mushroom brown, slate, or pewter gray create a harmonious look. Ashy lowlights neutralize brassy tones in dishwater blonde, light brown, or graying hair. They provide subtle contrast when paired with icy blonde or platinum highlights.

Lowlights should be done by a skilled colorist to ensure an even, natural-looking result. They require carefully painting select sections of hair with a color one to three shades darker than your natural tone. When done right, lowlights create the perfect sun-kissed, multi-dimensional look – not too bold, not too subtle, but just right.

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How to Maintain Your Lowlights?

Maintaining your new lowlights requires some special care and attention. To keep your lowlights looking fresh and natural, follow these tips:

Wash Less Frequently:

Wash Less Frequently:
Source: Beauty Epic

Now that you have lowlights, you don’t need to wash your hair as often. Washing too frequently can cause your lowlights to fade faster. Aim for washing your hair every 2-3 days instead of daily. For washing your hair chose sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to hydrate your hair without stripping the color.

Limit Use of Heat Styling Tools:

Limit Use of Heat Styling Tools:
Source: Loren’s World

Heat tools like blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons can cause damage and fade lowlights. Give your hair a break from the heat when possible. If you do use heat tools, make sure to use the proper heat protectant product first to shield your hair and lowlights. Also, keep tools in a lower heat setting.

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Deep Condition Weekly:

Deep Condition Weekly:
Source: SkinKraft

Lowlights can dry out your hair, so it’s important to moisturize it regularly. Use a weekly deep conditioning hair mask, especially on the ends of your hair. Leave the mask on for at least 5 minutes to fully hydrate your lowlights and the rest of your hair.

Limit Sun Exposure:

Limit Sun Exposure:
Source: Healthshots

Too much sun cause lowlight to fade. Wear a hat or UV-protectant spray when outside to shield your hair from the sun. If swimming, wet your hair first with regular water before getting in the pool. The water will prevent harsh pool chemicals from seeping into your hair. Rinse out your hair immediately after swimming to remove any remaining chemicals.

Touch Up Roots:

Touch Up Roots:
Source: Adobe Stock

As your natural roots start to grow, your lowlights may look unnatural. See your hairstylist every 4 to 6 weeks to touch up your roots. They can color just your roots to blend in with your existing lowlights for a natural look. This also prevents a harsh line of demarcation where your natural hair meets the lowlighted ends.

With the proper maintenance, your lowlights can look freshly done for months. Be patient and pamper your lowlighted hair, and you’ll love your subtle, sun-kissed color.


So now you know all about lowlights and how they can give your hair extra dimension and style. Lowlights are a subtle way to enhance your natural hair color and provide contrast without the drastic change of full highlights.

They create depth and make your hairstyle pop. The best part is lowlights tend to look very natural, allowing your unique hair color and texture to still shine through. If you’ve been hesitant to color your hair because you don’t want anything too bold or unnatural-looking, lowlights could be the perfect solution.

Give them a try—you have nothing to lose and a stylish new ‘do to gain. Your hair will thank you, and we have a feeling you’re going to love your fresh new look.

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