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There's a reason why hair highlights will never not be a thing. For one, they occur naturally in many hair colours. They're also a tried-and-true way to freshen up your look without as much commitment as, say, a full-on dye job. Plus, some strategically-placed highlights can even make thinner strands appear a bit thicker. But the most wonderful thing about highlights – their versatility – can also be a source of indecision for anyone who wants them.
With so many options, how in the heck are you supposed to choose which highlights to get? Before you make a decision, think about the base colour you have (or want), and consult with your colourist to see what would work for your hue, texture, and lifestyle.
But most importantly, a little inspiration is definitely needed. And there's plenty to go around – like this break down of these different highlight jobs seen on some of our favourite celebrities.
Margot Robbie: Golden Ice Ombré
This high-contrast ombré on Margot Robbie has a burst of brightness that's super low-maintenance – all the more reason to try it yourself. This summertime look works year-round and enhances your eyes. A good purple shampoo like the customisable one from Function of Beauty can help maintain brightness on the mids and ends of a look like this.
Gemma Chan: Warmed Up Ends
The addition of the caramel hues gives Gemma Chan's hair that sun-kissed feel and also complements her naturally-dark roots. Warmer tones help reflect light and add the perfect glow to her fair skin. Maintaining rich highlights can be tricky, so using a colour-safe shampoo and conditioner like [the ones from] Oribe's Beautiful Colour line help the longevity of your colour and enhances the shine.
For this hue, we also suggest the Evo Fabuloso Colour Boosting Treatment in the caramel shade. It can help maintain that salon hair colour between visits.
Shay Mitchell: Ribbon Highlights
Look carefully and you'll see there's quite a contrast between Shay Mitchell's darkest pieces and the lighter – though by no means light – brown highlights in her hair. But you really do have to look carefully because the tones look so natural together. Although some opt for ribbon highlights like hers for a bolder, high-contrast, chunkier look.
Julianne Hough: Golden Ends
Instead of an ombré in which the gradient begins higher up in the hair, Julianne Hough is sporting one of our favourite low-maintenance looks: a few golden highlights just at the ends. It's easier to grow out and gives you plenty of time in between hair salon appointments, not to mention it looks stunning with the medium-brown shade she transitioned to during the pandemic.
Lucy Hale: Subtle Dimension
When done strategically, highlights can do more than just change up your colour – they can enhance your hairstyle and complexion, too. Lucy Hale also has a subtle highlight that adds dimension to her haircut and adds some glow to her skin. Hale's stylist, Kristin Ess, recently told Allure that these highlights are actually part of a transitional colour to bring the actor from auburn to blonde, but we wouldn't blame her if she stuck with this beautiful bronde for a while.
Olivia Munn: Dark Brown Ombré
Another easy-upkeep option: a subtle ombré on dark brown hair, like Olivia Munn wears. Gone are the days of high-contrast gradients that start out dark at the roots and end up practically platinum the farther down you go. We love a dark brown shade all over that transitions into subtle chocolate-brown pieces from mid-length to ends. This takes little maintenance ranging from four to six months.
Lily Aldridge: Warm, Glossy Highlights
It's not just highlights that give Lily Aldridge her gorgeous, subtly dimensional brunette look. There's also a warm gloss all over making her hair feel very rich and healthy. We recommend asking your colourist for highlights with a dark gold all over. For an easy-to-use brunette gloss treatment you can use right in your own shower, try Tresemmé Gloss Colour-Depositing Hair Conditioner in Dark Brunette.
Jennifer Lopez: Square Balayage
Speaking of chunky highlights, the balayage technique isn't just for a subtle look. We love the caramel contrast of the square balayage look on JLo. Pulled back or down, these oblong pieces bring positive attention to her pronounced facial features. Ask your colourist to paint solid or chunky pieces in place of a traditional, soft balayage.
Isla Fisher: Colour Enhancement
Colour enhancement is when you subtly add tone-on-tone highlights to make your natural colour look richer. A great example of this is Isla Fischer. She has piece-y, lighter copper highlights strewn throughout her hair and around her face to create a second dimension. It's a gorgeous alternative to an obvious contrast between your base colour and the highlights.
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