Allure February 6, 2022



25 Gorgeous Ways to Highlight Your Hair in 2022 


Whether you want to upgrade your base color with subtle, sun-kissed highlights or a chunky, face-framing balayage, we asked pro colorists to guide your next trip to the salon and provide some celebrity inspo. 

Highlights will always be in vogue. Of course, single-process color can be a serve, but adding those extra tones to your dye job gives texture and dimension to all hair types, even fine strands. A few well-placed ribbons of a lighter color can be just the thing to enhance your cut, carve out cheekbones, or even add an enviable boost of radiance to your skin. Highlights can also be a really easy way to wake up your hair color when you want a change, but not a drastic one. Plus, they can look really natural and, if you've got a colorist who knows what they're doing, be super low-maintenance aftercare-wise.

We know. We've got you thinking about taking a trip to the salon for a freshening up now. And you're in luck, because there is no shortage of gorgeous options to consider this season. As for the vibe? "Warmth is back for 2022," says colorist Matt Rez of the brondes, caramels, and gold-spun shades that are giving hair a richer feel right now. 

Whether you're a blonde looking to weave in a few lighter threads, a brunette seeking soft face-flattering highlights, or someone wanting to add definition to curls, there's a dye job trending that will do all those things — at the same time, even! Allure chatted with some of the most sought-after colorists to find out what's trending right now and what to ask for at the salon if you like what you see. 

Scroll down for a guide to the 25 biggest highlight trends for 2022 as seen on your favorite celebrities, plus tips on how to choose what's best for your strands in terms of base color and maintenance.

Blronde Highlights

We already know bronde hair is the perfect marriage of brown and blonde. But Rez, who coined the term "blronde," says this new take on the color family relies on a lot of finely-woven blonde highlights throughout the hair. "Blronde leans more on blonde than brown but still has enough base color to be multi-dimensional," he says. "About 60 to 70 percent of the hair is foiled away."

Gwyneth Paltrow's shade here is a beautiful demonstration of the look. Just be sure your colorist is taking note of your undertones when choosing a color. Honeyed hues warm up cool skin, while ashy tones can help balance out warm skin. The added bonus of a shadowed root like this is that you can leave three to four months between foiling appointments. Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, suggests booking in for a gloss every six weeks and calls dry shampoo "a game-changer for this trend, as the blast of volume and texture to the roots allows you to really see all the highlights."

Given the pieces are so well blended, Valdes suggests this for someone looking for a "natural glow" rather than a statement color. "Small highlights like Khloé Kardashian's will never be the same as traditional highlights where you get a big pop of brightness," she says.

Sarah Jessica Parker's curls are pretty much its own character in the And Just Like That… Sex and the City reboot. Her hair, while it does appear to be mostly blonde, does have that deeper base — you see shades of medium and light brown peeking through her golden strands. "It's a great way to add in a controlled amount of warmth without it taking over, so the color doesn't read brassy to the eye," Rez explains. He has another ace up his sleeve for anyone who wants go lighter: picking a level that will suit their eye color. "The lighter the eyes, the lighter the hair color," he explains.

Chunky Honeycomb Ribbons

Hair has been enjoying a nostalgia trip for a while now but nothing screams '90s redux quite like Jamie Chung's money piece highlights. "It's a revamp of those old-school chunky highlights but with a modern twist," says Valdes, noting that colorists can go with either a foil or balayage technique, depending on your starting color. If you're darker and wanting to go lighter, "[you'll want to take] more back-to-back sections to create the ribbons of color," she adds.

The great thing about ribbon highlights is you can go all out with blonde or dial it down to a soft brown if you're a brunette like Kylie Jenner. "It's really about the placement," colorist Rita Hazan, founder of Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, explains. "Lighter sections around the face that are blended out on the bottom create a cohesive look. It's low maintenance but dramatic at the same time, giving a soft, youthful effect to the face. You still have the darkness to create balance so you won’t look washed out or too blonde." Valdes seconds this, saying, "The placement draws attention to the haircut, cheekbones, and jawline. It's hitting all the right points."

Jennifer Lopez's tousled waves are a good example of how to showcase chunky honeycomb highlights. "They look best on someone who wears their hair with these soft waves," says Hazan. "On straight hair, ribbons lose their effect." The good news is, you can easily stretch out color appointments between four to six months, using an at-home gloss in the shower to prevent brassiness. Better yet, if you go too long between touch-ups, your grown-out roots will tap into another iconic '90s trend: grunge.

Lit Caramel

Lit Caramel highlights offer a boost of brightness to a brunette base with its golden tones. The gold here is key — it adds the rich, warm dimension to darker brown hues and it's a hue Halle Berry wears well. According to Los Angeles-based hairstylist George Papanikolas, darker brunettes should ask their colorist to use a combination of "balayage and more delicate highlights at the roots that gradually get thicker and heavier as you move down the hair." Also worth noting: backcombing large sections before highlighting will help achieve more lift and brighter ends.

Over the years, Beyoncé has tried several different iterations of caramel highlights – and with good reason. "The secret is the sheer, warm caramel gloss that goes over the highlights to create the golden finish," says Papanikolas. "It perfectly complements Beyoncé's golden skin tone and brings out the warmth in her eyes. The tone-on-tone finish is very modern, soft, and sophisticated."

Caramel highlights like Miranda Kerr's have large-scale appeal because they frame and softly contour the face. Something to bear in mind: Regular glossing treatments are required to maintain the pops of contrast. "Brunettes [who opt for this coloring technique] only really need to highlight every three to six months since the overall foundation of the hair is still dark," says Papanikolas. The warmth that cooler blondes tend to battle against in the grow-out phase is also an advantage for caramel highlights. "The color will be more consistent," Valdes adds. "Hair color fades warm, so it will stay in the same realm from the day you get the highlights to the day you need a touch-up."


Zendaya is known for embracing her natural curls and these subtle pieces, fanning out around her face, catch the light like a dream. "It's easy to get lost in all that movement and volume, but the key is to hand-paint the highlights and keep the placement simple," says Papanikolas. "Choose the curls you want to pop and just paint them as you want to see them. Adding bold, chunky highlights accents the curls and gives them more definition."

"With the arrival of so many high-tech hydrating and strengthening treatments, people are exploring what they can do with their curls," says Valdes, who loves the copper highlight look on Serena Williams. The biggest consideration when coloring is to lift the hair but still ensure the curl pattern comes back. 

Papanikolas's top tip for keeping your texture safe? "Make sure the salon uses an ammonia-free lightener, which is less damaging." Applying a hair oil at home is non-negotiable, too, as curly hair tends to be drier and more fragile by design. "With curls and coils, it's harder for natural oils to travel down the hair shaft from the scalp, so it's important to supplement with hair oils after introducing chemical services," explains Papanikolas.

A halo of lighter color around your face will draw attention to your eyes without any harsh lines. But, as Ciara proves, adding a bit of visible root gives curlights more edge. "Keep in mind that highlights will be way more low maintenance if you have curly rather than straight hair as the line of demarcation is blurred out," says Valdes, who recommends a touch-up every three months if you prefer to see the highlights closer to the root.

Blended Bronde

This is one seriously Cali-cool look and relies heavily on a technique Rez created called "midlighting" to blend the color into the rest of the hair. "A midlight is the warmer halfway point between your natural base color and highlight," says the colorist, referencing the look he created on Hailey Bieber as "mid-lit bronde."  A completely customizable shade, the midlight is simultaneously woven in with the highlight for dimension. "These two colors are painted on in tandem so they create a seamless blend after a shadowed root," says Rez.

This fresh take on barely-there highlights relies on using your base color as the background for the most natural results. "Everything comes back to the base color as this automatically flatters your complexion," says Rez, who is behind Sam Weaving's look seen here. "60 to 70 percent of what you see is the base color. The highlight should be no more than four levels lighter than your base color and the midlight two levels lighter. This way you ensure a seamless transition." There is just one more thing to note if you plan on choosing this color. "Bronde is great for those who want to lean towards the most natural-looking color but you don't want to lose the gold element in the highlight – it's what keeps hair reflective," says Rez.

Papanikolas says this low-maintenance style – seen here on Margot Robbie – is more of a lived-in balayage. "The overall foundation of the hair is the natural color," he says. "The highlights act as an accent to help illuminate the skin and give the hair movement and dimension." It also won't require frequent touch-ups, which means you can stick with it through spring and beyond.

Elizabeth Olsen sports a slightly brighter version of blended bronde. "Anyone can do this look irrespective of base color or hair type," says Papanikolas. "But if you've previously been heavily highlighted, then your colorist will need to add more richness and depth so that the overall color is darker."

Wispy Babylights

Adding a few wispy babylights is one of the easiest ways to hit the reset button on your look. "Dakota Johnson went black for that great movie, The Last Daughter," says colorist Tracey Cunningham of the brunette star. "I really loved her hair but it was too dark for real life. I did three rounds of little babylights because I wanted it to look lighter, not stripey. I suggest doing a finer foil first and then going in afterward to look at your placement and where you'd want to add the poppier pieces."

 While this style looks deceptively simple, as Cunningham tells Allure, it involves different glosses on the root and a lighter version through the mid-lengths. "It's always good to show a photo rather than say the name of the highlights because it's so difficult to describe hair color with words," she advises. 

Tiny threads of lighter color are a happy middle ground for brunettes like Kaia Gerber who don't want to stray too far from the dark side or commit to anything long term. "Subtle pieces give dimension and movement so it's not a dense flat color all over," Hazan explains, adding that it's "a great way to introduce someone to lighter hair without doing too much."

Sun-kissed babylights should look like the color has melted into the hair so there are no harsh bleached-out lines, says Papanikolas, who created this look on Pia Whitesell. He abides by a two-step technique: hand-painted highlights within four shades of the base color and an all-over sheer gloss, which he likens to "pantyhose" for creating a softly muted tone. 

"In terms of maintenance, sheer toners need to be refreshed every four weeks as they have delicate color molecules and tend to fade after about 20 shampoos," Papanikolas explains. He also recommends clients cut their hair a few days before their color appointment so that the babylights can be tailored to the style.

Playground Highlights

Meet the trend that is especially fitting for the light-filled days of spring and summer. Effectively, playground highlights recreate the look of virgin hair naturally highlighted by the sun – just like when you were a child. Taylor Swift's hair color here is a great example for blondes. "Using Taylor's already light base color, fine blonde highlights have been added throughout," says Hazan. "These stay away from the roots to seamlessly make her ends lighter."

Those who are blonde are embracing easier-upkeep flaxen highlights, like Amanda Seyfried's. "It's a more subtle way to be blonder, especially if you have bangs," says Hazan. "Keeping it lighter around your hairline helps frame and brighten up your face but the slightly darker base adds depth and dimension. Neutral shades work best with lighter hair because they blend better with less contrast."

If you want to try this trend with darker hair, the color Gemma Chan has here is a good jumping-off point. "The main thing to note is that if you like dramatic contrast, playground highlights aren't for you," says Hazan. "This is a softer, more natural vibe. It’s not about a harsh dark-to-light look." Using a shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair will keep the hue vibrant for longer.

Reverse Balayage

Maddie Ziegler's latest color change is a great example of how reverse balayage looks and works. With traditional balayage, lighter highlights are hand-painted onto random sections of hair, starting mid-shaft and becoming denser towards the ends. 

This does the exact opposite. It involves painting darker roots to blend into lighter midlengths and ends. "Reverse balayage is all about adding depth and darker tones back in," says Rez, who created this look on Maddie. "Highlights are swapped out for neutral lowlights and a warmer midlight is used to create a balance of tones." Technically, it's not highlighting your hair, but you still get the same multidimensional effect.

Reverse balayage is perfect for folks like Jessica Alba who are looking to go darker — whether you're naturally blonde or just have some lingering bleach you're trying to grow out. Instead of focusing on highlights, it's all about the contrast underneath: making those midlights and shadowy pieces blend with the rest of your hair. "What's not foiled away will play as the highlight," explains Rez.

It's not just the cute bob that flatters Natalie Portman's facial features. The warm, lighter tones hug her cheekbones in an understated way, which is exactly how reverse balayage should be executed. Before committing to the trend, Rez recommends a color consult to decide on the all-over tone you want to achieve. 

"How light your color and porous your current hair is will determine how often you need to go to the salon for foil work as more depth may need to be added," Rez explains. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was this highlighted look, so between salon visits, apply a hydrating hair mask to prevent fading.