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Hair highlight tips by hair color

It can be really exciting and also a little scary asking your stylist for highlights. Most people would think that because it’s not all-over color that it’s not as significant. Well, I would say it is a significant investment you are making toward your hair so ideally, you should get exactly what you want. When it comes to making sure you get what you want, it’s important you know how to communicate that to your stylist.

Woman getting her hair highlighted

The color of your highlights depends a lot on two things: your natural hair color and what colors you like. Korinne Seagraves from Studio 54 in Oakland, California, recommends taking into account the type of jewelry you like to wear. Silver means you’re probably drawn to cooler tones and gold means warmer tones.

Natural hair color:
Medium blond

Highlight recommendations: Lowlights in deep blond, strawberry blond undertones with golden highlights all over or stick with golden, honey and apricot hues.

Communicating with your stylist: Have your stylist use white lighting and the hair swatches to determine what color will look best. “White lighting is how you’re going to see the base tone in your face, which is what you want to base your hair color on,” says Korinne. Work with your stylist to figure out which set of colors will complement your coloring best.

Natural hair color:
Dark blond

Highlight recommendations: Reddish copper highlights.

Communicating with your stylist: Korinne says, “Give your stylist a good idea of your end goal. The better we understand what you are trying to achieve, the easier it is for us to help you.” With that being said, a great way to highlight hair with an already great base is balayage (hair painting). Ask your stylist for balayage highlights to achieve a very natural lightened look.

Natural hair color:
Light brown

Highlight recommendations: Ashy blond and/or lighter highlights underneath.

Communicating with your stylist: Taking your light brown hair a little bit lighter underneath and then using the ashy blond on top can give you a really well-rounded hair color. Korinne recommends asking for well-blended highlights to avoid looking streaky.

Natural hair color:
Dark brown

Highlight recommendations: Sun-kissed caramel and honey around your face or medium brown.

Communicating with your stylist: If you’re looking to go just a little lighter here and there, asking for ‘ribbons of medium brown’ will do the trick. Ribbon highlights are a great way to frame your face and give you a sun-kissed look for summer.

Natural hair color:

Highlight recommendations: Chocolate, caramel highlights and/or slightly auburn lowlights.

Communicating with your stylist: It’s important to let your stylist know if you are wanting to make a dramatic statement or look very natural when you leave. “If you are looking to add dimension to black hair, the caramel highlights are great and add some auburn lowlights for dimension,” says Korinne.

Natural hair color:

Highlight recommendations: Warmer auburn colors or caramel.

Helpful hint: The lighter your eyes, the brighter you can go.

Communicating with your stylist: “You always want red to be dynamic,” says Korinne, “so it’s fun to add some varying levels of highlights to red hair.” Let your stylist know that you are looking for a few similar colors of all-over highlights to build up that dynamic color.


Highlights can be an easy way to switch up your look, add dimension and new dynamics to your base hair color. It’s important to work with a stylist who knows your hair and understands what you envision your hair looking like when you leave the chair. Most importantly, have fun with it!

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