Allure March 7, 2021



The Prettiest Highlight Trends for Your Hair Color


There's a reason why hair highlights will never not be a thing. For one, they occur naturally in many hair colors. 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? Where should they be concentrated: face-framing or all around the head? Should they be cool-toned or warm? Do you do subtle highlights or go with a more chunky look throughout? Before you make a decision, think about the base color you have (or want), and consult with your colorist 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 — just ask any of the colorists we hit up to break down these 30 different highlight jobs seen on some of your favorite celebrities.

What we're really trying to say is: Bookmark this page — we're sure you'll find something you'll want to bring to your colorist ASAP.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Kylie Jenner: Umbrella Lights

These versatile highlights are called umbrella lights because they create two different looks in a single style, as if being covered or exposed by an umbrella. "When Kylie pulls her hair up and away from her face it brightens her skin tone," Karissa Schaudt, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, explains. "Pulled down, the dark covers some of the highlights adding depth and volume." Schaudt recommends asking your colorist for face-framing baby-lights that are least two shades lighter than your natural base color.

Eiza Gonzalez: Wispy Lit Brunette

If you're looking to update a deep color without straying too far from dark vibes, wispy lit brunette is the way to go. "This look will read predominantly brunette with subtle wisps and pops of lighter highlights concentrated mostly on mid-lengths through ends of the silhouette," says colorist Matt Rez, who created this look on Eiza Gonzalez. He notes that colorists can go with either a foiling or balayage technique, depending on your starting color and texture. "Just ask that the highlight not be lighter than two levels of your base color, and tone of the wisps to complement your predominant skin undertones." 

A product like Not Your Mother's Triple Threat Brunette Blue Treatment Shampoo will help keep those highlights from turning brassy while boosting your base brunette's richness.

Jessica Simpson: Tone-on-Tone Beachy Highlights

Rita Hazan has been coloring Jessica Simpson's hair for more than 20 years, and they rarely stray from her buttery blonde base with baby-blonde highlights — "which is what you tell your colorist you want," she tells Allure of achieving similar tone-on-tone beachy highlights. "It's a happy color! Sunny, bright, and cheerful, which is what we all need now."

Isla Fisher: Color Enhancement

Color enhancement, New York City-based colorist Nikki Ferrara explains, is when you subtly add tone-on-tone highlights to make your natural color look richer. "A great example of this is Isla Fischer," Ferrara says of the redhead. "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 color and the highlights. 

To boost a ginger shade like Fischer's at home, try the Kristin Ess Signature Hair Gloss in Copper Penny.

Bebe Rexha: Bombshell Blonde

Colorist Tracey Cunningham loved doing this look on Bebe Rexha because it's "super blonde without doing a bleaching tone for a super sexy look that is multi-dimensional and not flat," she says. "Ask your colorist for highlights with a darker shade on the roots and hairline along with an ashy tone all over for more life and dimension," recommends Cunningham, who relied on Redken and Olaplex products to create the look.     

Ferrara is an admirer because the platinum highlights give that icy vibe without nearly as much of the maintenance demand as all-over platinum. Just don't forget to keep brassiness at bay with a treatment like the Kérastase Blond Absolu Ultra-Violet Purple Hair Mask.

Bella Hadid: Brightlights

Sally Hershberger master colorist Aura Friedman couldn't help but notice that people have been bleaching their hair incrementally, often as face-framing pieces or at the nape of the neck. And because blonde is the ideal base for carrying bright colors, the next step, she says, is clear — and colorful. 

"People are reaching for bright colors more than ever, and by adding a vibrant dash of neon orange, fuchsia, or sapphire to existing bleached strands, punchy brightlights are sure to be a hit," she tells Allure. "If there is a color in mind, I encourage people to bring references, whether a photo or an item showing their ideal shade, to ensure your colorist understands your desired look. From there, work together on identifying the placement and tone; this is a collaborative process."

Hazan is also a huge fan of "money pieces," as she calls this look. "I love a chunky face frame highlight," she tells Allure. "You can play with it with different pop colors as well. It's very playful and fun."

Jennifer Lopez: Square Balayage

Speaking of chunky highlights, the balayage technique isn't just for a subtle look. Schaudt loves 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," she says. "Ask your colorist to paint solid or chunky pieces in place of a traditional, soft balayage." 

Maddie Ziegler: Midlighted Blonde

This dimensional blonde, created by Rez for Maddie Zeigler, reads very natural because of its balance of neutral, warm, and cool tones. "The base color will play as a lowlight in the neutral and or cool-tone world, midlights will be the warmer pops, and highlights can be neutral or warm to complement the client's skin tone," Rez says.

Rez says it's a super customizable look for anyone who wants to go lighter — especially if you ask your colorist to pick a level that will suit your eye color. "For example, if you have dark brown eyes and you want to have the 'midlighted blonde,' look, make sure you tell your colorist to leave a lot of your darker base color on the interiors of the silhouette," he explains.

Lily Aldridge: Warm, Glossy Highlights

It's not just highlights that give Lily Aldridge her gorgeous, subtly dimensional brunette look. Cunningham says there's also "a warm gloss all over making her hair feel very rich and healthy." She recommends asking your colorist for highlights with a dark gold all over. "It's always better to bring in a photo because it's so difficult to describe hair color with words," Cunningham advises. 

For an easy-to-use brunette gloss treatment you can use right in your own shower, try Tresemmé Gloss Color-Depositing Hair Conditioner in Dark Brunette.

Chrissy Teigen: Healthy Honey

This look is awesome for anyone seeking a warm, low-maintenance yet elevated highlight, Friedman tells Allure — and that's true no matter what base color you're starting with. "I love this particular shade because it looks great on all skin tones and hair colors," Friedman says. "Applying these honey hues will add an earthy richness to those with light hair, and boost brightness across brown or black hair." 

For something similar to what Chrissy Teigen sports, ask your colorist for a full-processed highlight starting just below the root and blended seamlessly throughout.

Hailey Bieber: Sun-Kissed Pieces

"'Sun-kissed' is so overused, but I like it when hair looks like you've gone to the beach, been in the sun, your skin has a little glow. And you can get that skin glow with your hair color," says colorist Colleen Flaherty, who's "very into" Hailey Bieber's current color because it's so natural-looking. Although much of it is darker, there's some variation of lightness, and that combination lets you visit the salon for upkeep as little as twice a year. For this look, Ferrara says to ask your colorist for some brighter honey pieces around your hairline.

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. Ferrara loves 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," she tells Allure.

Sofia Richie: Soft Golden Color Melt

Because of Sofia Richie's golden complexion, colorist Rachel Bodt says golden highlights work extremely well. "Most of the contrast is on the ends, but it's not an ombré because of how broken up it is," she tells Allure. "It works so well because the tones of color were picked specifically to go with her skin tone."

Kim Kardashian: Caramel Panels

The intensity of Kim Kardashian's highlights has a particularly stunning effect because the color itself is so understated, Bodt says. "I love when we see a bold placement toned down with a soft palette that is just perfect for her complexion," she tells Allure, calling the noticeable yet beautifully blended highlights "caramel panels."

Lucy Hale: Subtle Dimension

When done strategically, highlights can do more than just change up your color — 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," says colorist Elizabeth Hiserodt. Hale's stylist, Kristin Ess, recently told Allure that these highlights are actually part of a transitional color to bring the actor from auburn to blonde, but we wouldn't blame her if she stuck with this beautiful bronde for a while. 

Addison Rae: Brightened Brunette

"This is a great way to go lighter but still read brunette," says Bodt of Addison Rae's incredible color, which looks especially amazing on long layers like hers. How is such a perfect balance struck? "A lot of the lightness is around her face, but she still has all of her depth in the back, and her tones were picked to go with and not fight her skin tone."

Julianne Hough: Golden Ends

Instead of an ombré in which the gradient begins higher up in the hair, Julianne Hough is sporting one of Ferrara's favorite 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," she says, not to mention it looks stunning with the medium-brown shade she transitioned to during the pandemic. 

To keep the golden pieces looking warm but not brassy, try BlondMe Tone Enhancing Bonding Shampoo for Warm Blondes. 

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, Flaherty tells Allure that a more "lived-in" take on the trend is very wearable.

Ciara: Warm, Reddish-Copper Tones

Since Ciara's skin tone has some warmth to it, she wears rich brunette colors well, says Hazan. "[Ciara's] mixture of dark brown against the copper really anchors the look and gives her depth where she needs it." 

To keep the strands of your highlighted hair in tip-top shape, try the Virtue Split End Serum. It revives broken hair and split ends as well as helps to prevent breakage.

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," says Morgan Parks, a colorist at Nine Zero One Salon in Los Angeles. "Maintaining rich highlights can be tricky, so using a color-safe shampoo and conditioner like [the ones from] Oribe's Beautiful Color line help the longevity of your color and enhances the shine." 

For this hue, she also suggests the Evo Fabuloso Color Boosting Treatment in the caramel shade. "It can help maintain that salon hair color between visits."

Issa Rae: Mocha Ombré

The two-tone contrast of Issa Rae's amber and soft copper highlights is simply stunning. "The combination of highs and lows adds a lot of impact to her curls but still makes her [hair] appear lighter all over," says Bodt. "When lifting curly or highly-textured hair, it's so important to use products that help the curl pattern come back. I love the whole Olaplex line because it's reparative — from the steps that get added to the color to the after-care."

Priyanka Chopra: Classic With a Twist

Deep whiskey, chunky highlights placed throughout Priyanka Chopra's hair cut through her dark strands but still read classic brunette. "This really works on her skin tone because it's not overly warm or light," says Bodt. "When lifting dark hair, it can be more open to getting dingy or brassy," she continues. "I love using apple cider vinegar rinses like R+Co Acid Wash [before shampoo and conditioner] to remove those minerals.

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 her eyes]," says colorist Guy Tang. Tang also advises that a good purple shampoo like this customizable one from Function of Beauty can help maintain brightness on the mids and ends of a look like this. 

Laura Dern: Mixed Tones

Somewhere between strawberry blonde and bronde, the shade of this Big Little Lies star's hair is what Pinterest boards are made for. The subtle accents of lightness throughout brighten up her fair skin tone and add interest to an otherwise ordinary solid shade. "She has pale skin with blue eyes — this [hair color] helps her stay light, but has warm tones at the same time," says Hazan. "Her color is multidimensional and gives her texture movement.