An unavoidable truth in the beauty world is that trends come and go. Take hair color, for instance. So often, lightening and brightening hair is the goal, especially during summer. Whether it's blonde balayage, ombré, or a peachy pastel hue, darker brunettes are seldom included in the highlight conversation, which could be a huge missed opportunity. What if you like the bold contrast? What if you're naturally raven-haired and bleaching it simply to be on trend just isn't feasible? Essentially, we're trying to say that dark hair can look just as amazing with highlights as blonde hair.
While coming to that conclusion is all well and good, our short stint on the high-school debate team taught us that we can't claim something without backing it up with support. That's why we went through Instagram with a fine-tooth comb, searching for the celebrities and expert hairstylists who have created our favorite dark hair with highlights. Spoiler alert: We found 30 variations.
Dark Brown Hair With Highlights
Choosing a Shade: "I recommend going between 2-3 lighter tones for the highlight on dark hair," says Garnier colorist Millie Morales. "Highlights on dark hair should only be two levels lighter than your root color," agrees Nikki Lee, celebrity colorist and co-owner of Nine Zero One salon in L.A.
Maintenance Level: Low to high. According to Morales, "if the client wants lighter highlights the maintenance is going to be high, because as the new hair grows the difference in color is going to be more noticeable."
Goes Great With: Green, blue, or hazel eyes and all skin tones
Whether you prefer soft and subtle highlights or bright and beachy ones, these looks are sure to inspire you to book a salon appointment, stat.
Aside from a few color switch-ups in the past couple of years, Kylie Jenner typically keeps a base of silky black hair. In this photo, it's clear to see the soft chocolate-colored highlights undulating throughout her mid-lengths and ends. This is a great way to add dimension to the hair without high contrast.
Lee is also responsible for this gorgeous ombré situation. We like how the color starts off dark at the roots—almost black—before transitioning to auburn brown at the ends.
"On dark hair I recommend doing a more rooted look so the grow-out is easier," says Lee
Dark, Wine Colored Locks
Instead of mid-length hair, you could try a long, dramatic 'do, like Vanessa Hudgens and her celebrity hairstylist, Chad Wood, did here. Her waist-length extensions are matched to her natural raven locks, and her natural color is expertly melded with a wine colored tint.
Toasted Brown Highlights
Lastly, Wood created this bouncy, wavy bob for actress Olivia Munn, and incorporated some toasted brown highlights that brighten up the overall look.
There are several highlighting techniques your stylist might employ to lighten dark locks. "The sombre is a great choice for a softer ombre look," says Morales, while balayage creates a more natural effect with blonde on the ends. "Baby highlights are perfect to bring your hair into a lighter look without changing the hair color, making it light and fresh."
Anderson posted this photo of beauty influencer of Amanda Steele on his Instagram account. We're definitely into this reverse ombré situation, which starts out as chocolate brown and steadily grows into a dark black shade.
Deep Brown-to-Black Ombré
Stephen Garrison is an expert colorist who works between New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We like how this dark brown/black color gets more intense as it moves further down each strand.
Balayage is one of the best techniques for getting the appearance of natural highlights, as Morales mentioned.