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Highlights vs. ombre: Color pros and cons

Thinking of changing up your locks this summer? We have the scoop on some different options to try. While we love traditional highlights, ombre hair maintains its spot in the style spotlight. Check out some of the pros and cons of each look.

Rachel Bilson's ombre hair

Ombre hair

In a nutshell

For the last few years, ombre hair has been one of the top trends, embraced by everyone from Drew Barrymore and Rachel Bilson to Jessica Biel and Hilary Duff. Basically, ombre hair is accomplished by creating a dark root and then extending down to a lighter tip.


  • It’s a fairly low-maintenance look, meaning less frequent trips to the stylist.
  • Ombre color creates a sexy/edgy look that’s great for summer.
  • Ombre hair works on any skin tone from very fair to dark. Just choose your hues accordingly.

How to get ombre hair >>


  • If not done properly, it can look as if you’ve just lazily waited too long in between dye jobs.
  • If your hair is very fine and super-straight, ombre hair can look one-note and flat. The look works best (and the most natural) on those with some body and movement to their hair.
  • Having bangs doesn’t always work with ombre hair. Your bangs will be one color while the rest of your tresses are two-tone.
  • For darker skin: Opt for deep reds, coppers and bronze.
  • For medium skin: Think about rich browns, toffee and copper tones.
  • For fair skin: Try ash tones, subdued blonde shades and golden caramel hues.

Jennifer Aniston's highlights

Regular highlights

In a nutshell

Highlights offer a great way to refresh your look and update your hair color without having to dye your whole head. Sections are dyed to create depth and texture and lighten the overall look.


  • Highlights are subtle: If you don’t want to dye your hair, highlights are a nice compromise — just enough to lighten up your tresses for summer.
  • Highlights are versatile: Unlike choosing one shade to dye your whole head, there are lots of options when it comes to getting highlights, depending on your hair color.
  • Highlights can also add a lot of texture and depth to your hair and enhance your natural color rather than alter it completely.


  • Even though it’s only in sections, highlights can dry out hair.
  • Darker roots will eventually appear, necessitating a trip to the salon (or a trip to the drug store for a fresh application).
  • Highlights will naturally fade over time and are more likely to fade after long stretches in the sun.
  • They can also be prone to discoloration when exposed to pool chemicals.

Watch: How to make a quick homemade hair mask

Is your hair dry and lifeless? Wander over to the kitchen and concoct a remedy.

More hair tips and trends

How to make a sock bun
10 Hairstyling shortcuts
3 Affordable treatments for dry hair

Photo credits: Lia Toby/

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