Summer is always a veritable mash-up of beachy ombré looks and highlight inspiration. But the season (and subsequent seasons) has so many options for brunettes as well. Enter lowlights for brown hair. According to a few expert colorists, adding lowlights is an incredible way to up the dimension in your hair, with none of the damage of traditional highlights. "Whether a client is a gray-coverage brunette or just wearing her natural color, lowlights are always a wonderful idea for brunettes to create movement, texture, and reflection," says colorist Kadi Lee. "When placed correctly, lowlights can even mimic the effect of a highlight, without hurting your hair."
While the technique of applying lowlights is specific to each colorist—be it in wider panels in a foil or hand-painted via balayage for maximum detail and precision—the tone and shade is specific to you. "It's usually chosen based on your skin tone and eye color," she notes. Luckily, the best time of year to execute lowlights is immediately post-summer, when your hair tends to be faded and naturally lighter from extended sun exposure, notes Lee. "Or you can do it in the midst of winter, when your skin gets a bit paler. The depth from adding lowlights helps to maintain a richness to the clients overall complexion," Lee adds.
If you're hoping to get lowlights for your brown hair, the sky is the limit. From deep chocolates to rich chestnuts, adding lowlights is a low-commitment way to experiment with all the shades of the brunette spectrum. Below, find our favorite inspiration shots. Try to target a photo with a similar skin tone (and most importantly, similar hair texture) and bring it in for your next color appointment.
1. Add Dimension
This photo is a perfect example of how adding espresso-colored lowlights adds dimension and movement to lighter, chocolate-colored hair.
2. Complement Curl Texture
These lowlights emphasize the bouncy texture of her curls and complement her beautiful brown eyes.
3. Give an Illusion of Thickness
When you have shorter hair, lowlights can help add the illusion of thickness and texture. The colors blend so perfectly here, you'd think she was born with this natural hair color.
4. While Growing Out Dark Hair
These two photos are the perfect example of how near-black lowlights are amazing if you're trying to grow out naturally dark hair, yet can't be in the salon 24/7. The lighter tips look natural and blend beautifully with the cool, dark lowlights.
5. Emphasize Natural Beachy Texture
While this golden-hour selfie is stunning, these lowlights really show off that perfectly undone, beachy texture we keep trying to achieve.
6. Give Dimension to Updos
While Lucy's lowlights are rather subtle, she shows them off with a slicked-back up-do. When wearing your hair back, you're able to see dimension more so than if you kept it down. This is a great way to show off the variation in color.
7. Blend Colors
Adding lowlights to dark hair can sometimes be tricky, as you don't want the differences in color to be extreme. These lowlights give just enough caramel and blonde tones that mesh perfectly with the color of her roots.
8. Add Dimension to Braids
The lowlights in these braids are to die for, creating a variance in color and adding dimension.
9. Go Natural
How good do these lowlights look from the side? It's important when getting lowlights that your hair looks good and natural from all angles.
10. Carefully Color Deep Brown Hair
With deep brown hair, it's important to get just the right shade of lowlight depending on how dark your natural color is. These caramel lowlights suit the depth of her hair color perfectly.
11. Faintly Color Natural Curls
These soft, natural curls and faint lowlights are a match made in hair heaven.
12. Subtle Depth
The lowlights pictured are more subtle and close to the rest of the hair color, yet they still add more depth and interest than an all-over color. We love how the dark brown plays off her shiny, chocolate hair.
These two-toned low lights actually start darker at the top, and get lighter at the bottom. Sometimes blending the hair color takes a little more than adding a different color, you can see how dimensional the strands look starting at the top of her head going down to the bottom.
14. Lowlights Paired With Highlights
The caramel-colored highlights in these natural curls creates the perfect base for two shades. We love the half-up look that shows off the color even more.
15. Slowly Shift to Overall Color
These lowlights were created with more of a mahogany brown color than blonde, giving the hair a variety in tone, yet sticking as close to her natural hair color as possible. A great way to transition into lowlights without altering too much color.
16. Transition From Summer to Fall
This look is perfect for people wanting to transition lighter summer hair to something a little darker for the seasonal change. How pretty are these dark lowlights with the lighter caramel-colored strands?
17. Face-Framing for Layered Haircuts
Face-framing lowlights are a great way to attract attention and are very flattering for layered haircuts. The contrast is just right between these tones and really show how well her hair is styled.