All Beauty, All the Time—For Everyone.

Yes, You Can Pull Off Dark Hair With Highlights—Here's Proof.

Olivia Munn



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 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 21 variations. 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.

01 of 21

Chocolate Highlights

Black hair color

Aside from a few color switch-ups in the past couple of years, Kylie Jenner typically keeps a base of silky black hair (much like her older sisters Kendall, Kourtney, and Kim). In this photo, which she posted to her Instagram, it's clear to see the soft chocolate-colored highlights that undulate throughout her mid-lengths and ends.

02 of 21

Dark Ombré Curls

Dark Brown Hair Color

Black-ish and Grown-ish actress Yara Shahidi shows off her dark brunette color in our favorite way— with healthy, springy curls. We like how the top layers of her curls are subtly lightened from the black shade underneath. It's a natural ombré effect that looks stunningly effortless.

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Face-Framing Highlights

Highlights around the face



Nikki Lee is an expert colorist and co-owner of Nine Zero One Salon in Los Angeles. One of her many clients is pictured here sporting lighter locks subtly throughout her hair, and more prominently around her face. A beautiful way to shape your face, and give your hair some added vibrancy.

04 of 21

Auburn Ombré

Auburn Ombre



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 an auburn brown color at the ends.

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Whispy Blonde Highlights

Blonde Highlights

Lea Michele is just one of Lee's many celebrity clients. As soon as Lee posted this photo on her Instagram account, we noticed the mix of light brown and blonde wisps throughout her hair, giving her highlights balance and a bit of playfulness.

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Dark Brown Highlights

Aburn Highlights with Bob



Even with a chic, shaggy bob, Lee creates glossy, deep mahogony highlights for actress Sarah Hyland. The blink-and-you'll-miss-them highlights elevate her deep chocolate locks.

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Dark Color Melding

Emma Roberts Highlights



Emma Roberts is also a regular client of Lee's. We consider her to be somewhat of a hair-color chameleon, but we're particularly partial to this rich black/brown color meld.

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Dark, Wine Colored Locks

Long Dark Hair



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 expertly matched to her natural raven locks, and her natural color is expertly melded with a wine colored tint.

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90's Highlights

90's Highlights



Wood created modernized 90's highlights for actress Isabela Moner, complete with a double-knot that has us humming the Spice Girls.

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Toasted Brown Highlights

Highlighted Bob



Lastly, Wood created this bouncy, wavy bob for actress Olivia Munn, and incorporated some toasted brown highlights that brighten up the overall look.

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Reddish Brown Curls

Dark brown hair with red tint



Zendaya's big, wavy curls are enough to inspire major hair envy, but we especially can't get enough of color. While her roots are still a deep brown, her hair fans out into a rich, warm carmine.

12 of 21

Burgundy Highlights

Black Hair With Auburn Highlights

Beauty, lifestyle, and fitness influencer extraordinaire Hannah Bronfman posted this photo to her Instagram account, and we're in awe of her thick, lose curls. We like how her black tresses are accented with burgundy highlights— a perfect mix of red and purple.

13 of 21

The Perfect Black/Brown Hue

Dark Chocolate Brown Hair

Justin Anderson is an expert colorist and the co-founder of dpHUE (you know, the brand that makes the cult-favorite Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse, $35?). He's responsible for this black/brown hair color that's so dimensional and bouncy that it looks like light emanates from within each strand.

14 of 21

Caramel Highlights

Short Dark Hair

We love this color creation, also by Anderson, which is a glossy and saturated black color accented with caramel-toned highlights.

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Reverse Ombré

Reverse Ombre Hair

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.

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Minimal Highlights

Short Highlighted Hair

Here, Anderson shows us how brilliant and enhancing a few strategically placed highlights can be. They perfectly frame the face and give her grown-out bangs a little pop.

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Blonde Ombré

Blonde Ombre


Anderson creates a toussled, brown-to-light blonde ombré for actress Leslie Grossman, and frames her face with blonde ribbons, giving her that summery, just-back-from-the-beach look.

18 of 21

Ombré Lob

Ombre Lob

Should we just call Anderson the ombré master? What starts out at the roots as a true black shade, gradually brightens up until the ends of the hair, where the color is a cool-toned blonde.

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Balayage Highlights

Black Hair with Highlights

Here's the last piece of dark brunette hair inspiration from Anderson. Again, if you don't follow him already, you're missing out. Consider this the best way to incorporate balayage highlights into dark hair.

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Deep Brown-to-Black Ombré

Long Black Hair

Stephen Garrison is an expert colorist who works between New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Here's one of our favorite looks of his. We like how the dark brown/black color gets more intense as it moves further down each strand of hair.

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Black Hair with Blonde Highlights

Ombré highlights



Garrison proves that you can pull off blonde highights in even the darkest of hair colors. He adds wisps of cedar and ash-grey blonde hair to this wavy, dark locks for a look that feels sophisticated with a bit of edge.

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