There are highlights, lowlights, ombré, balayage, splash lights and baby lights. Enough to make you go mad and wish there was a special dictionary just for these hair terms, right? There are new techniques with tricky names hair experts are coming up with daily and it can be difficult to keep up. Taking the plunge to get highlights hair can be quite daunting, especially since it cannot be reversed easily if you do not like the way it looks on your hair. For all the cautious hearts out there who want to do a bit of research about hair highlights and all that it entails before getting highlights in their hair, here is everything you need to know.


1. What are highlights?

What are highlights?

Hair highlights are sections of your hair that are dyed a lighter or darker colour than your natural hair colour to add dimension to your hair. They brighten the overall appearance of your hair and can be regarded as ‘makeup’ for your hair. Some hair artists are also known to ‘contour’ your hair with strategically placed hair highlights and lowlights. This means they will lighten and darken sections of hair to draw attention towards or away from certain facial features. Hair contouring also can make certain facial features look thinner or sharper. Now that you know what hair highlights are, let’s move on!


2. How do you choose hair highlights and lowlights?

How do you choose hair highlights and lowlights?

Pick a hair highlight that is not more than 3 shades lighter than your natural hair colour, and when you are getting lowlights done, choose a shade that is not more than 3 shades darker than your natural hair colour. Any lighter (for hair highlights) or darker (for hair lowlights), then the shade transitions can look unnatural and very stark.


3. What hair highlights suit Indian skin tones?

What hair highlights suit Indian skin tones?

Understanding your skin tone and undertone is important while choosing hair highlights. It is better to work with what natural hair colour you have, rather than trying to change your basic hair colour. There are a few families of colours that are suitable on Indian skin tones, and if you are a newbie to getting hair highlights, this is a good guideline to stick with.


i) Brown Hair Highlights

Brown Hair Highlights

This is a safe option for Indian skin tones. It is important to understand your skin undertones to choose the particular shade of brown. Cooler skin undertones can pick brown highlights with ‘ashy’ tones and warmer skin tones can pick brown highlights with ‘golden’ tones.


ii) Burgundie Hair Highlights

Burgundie Hair Highlights

Hair highlights in burgundy shades will look good on girls with olive and neutral undertones. Burgundy is a purple-red and looks particularly good on Indian skin tones. A personal fave of RnB icon Rihanna, this hair colour will always in be in-vogue. Why? It is the right kind of deeply pigmented shade that creates a signature look. 


iii) Red Hair Highlights

Red Hair Highlights

These are trickier to work with, with coppery highlights suited for lighter skin tones and blue-based reds working well with deeper skin tones. If you are the kind of girl who burns easily in the sun, or if you are prone to redness, stay away from getting red hair highlights as they will add to the overall ‘redness’.


iv) Light Brown Hair Highlights

Light Brown Hair Highlights

There are many shades to differentiate between all the light brown shades. Call them honey, caramel or maple, stick to the rules we mentioned earlier. Your hair highlights cannot be more than 3 shades lighter than your natural hair colour and keep in mind your skin tones while choosing the exact shade of light brown highlight!


v) Black Hair Highlights

Black Hair Highlights

A good colour for adding low lights to your hair, and cover grey in the meanwhile! Black is a very stark colour to wear on your hair and needs to be carefully done in case you want black low lights on your hair. Consult with an experienced technician before you get these low lights.


4. Hair Color Highlight Techniques

Hair Color Highlight Techniques

Now that you have chosen a hair highlight colour, what different techniques are there?

Here are 5 popular techniques of applying hair highlights you can choose from:


This is a French term, which means ‘to sweep’. Ture to its name, this hair highlighting technique involves the technician sweeping a highlight colour along the surface of your hair, freehand. The technician will not saturate entire sections of hair (as is done in foil highlights) but instead will give you a natural-looking gradient that is easy to grow out.

Foil technique:

Here a hair highlight colour is applied to entire sections of hair and it is folded in foils. This technique of highlighting the hair gives better control over the placement and multiple colours can be applied at the same time.


A blast from the past, the dip-dye highlighting technique takes not one but two colours to get the desired look. There is the darker root shade that is closer to your natural colour and the lighter tine for the tips. If done right, your hair will look like is has actually been dipped in dye and fished out!

Colour melting:

The colour melting technique uses multiple shades to acquire the smooth, blended highlights that are so distinctive to look at. The technique focuses on blending highlights with the base colour of your hair to get rid of any harsh lines or clear distinction between the different colours.


Also known as tortoiseshell, this hair colouring technique looks stunning on darker Indian hair tones. Creating a soft blend of gold and chocolate tones through the hair, this technique adds a slight gradient of darker colour at the roots which warm up to honey tones at the ends.


5. Post-Colour Care

Post-Colour Care

Okay, so now you have got hair highlights. What next?

Post-colour care is very important to maintain the vibrancy of the colour and hair texture. If you do not take care of your coloured hair, it may soon become dry and the colour can start looking dull. So keep these points in mind!

  • Wait 2-3 days before you wash your hair as you risk washing off the dye if you wash your hair within  48-72 hours of colouring your hair
  • Use shampoos and conditioners meant for colour treated hair as they will get you more mileage of your hair highlights
  • Colour gradually washes off with frequent washing. So keep washing your hair to about 2-3 times a week
  • Air-dry your hair as much as possible. The hair colouring would have dried your hair considerably and using a blow drier or heat styling equipment will only increase the dryness
  • Get frequent trims. Any hair colouring process will dry your hair and the ends are the first to dry out. Split ends start at the ends, so get regular trims to keep dry ends from spreading

6. FAQs about highlights hair

FAQs about highlights hair

1) What is the difference between streaks and highlights?

A. Streaks are a band of colours that cover the entire length of your hair - from the root to the tip of the hair ends. Whereas highlights are focused on the end of your hair. Streaks are recommended to thicker hair but highlights can be done on any hair density.

2) Can highlights cover grey hair?

A. Highlights are not recommended to cover grey hair as they can turn them brassy and yellow. Instead, go for lowlights instead as they look much more natural and can be customised to match your natural virgin colour.

3) How can you remove highlights from hair?

A. There are two ways of removing highlights from your hair - you can either let them grow out, which can take several months, or opt for an immediate fix like applying colour on the highlighted sections of your hair.

4) Is it possible to tone down highlights?

A. Yes, it is possible to tone down your highlights. One way to do is your stylist can use a toner to tone them down. Or you can use a purple shampoo to tone down gold or brassy highlights.