Glamour March 19, 2024



The Best Low-Maintenance Hair Color Ideas for 2024


Keep salon visits to a minimum. 

Switching up your dye job based on hair color trends is fun, but sometimes what you really want (or need) is an especially low-maintenance hair color.

Whether you’d like your hair blonde, brown, or red, nobody wants to spend more time or money at the salon than necessary. Fortunately there are certain colors and in-salon techniques that ensure that your hair continues looking great long after you leave your color appointment.

Of course it’s always smart to consult with your colorist about what you’re looking for, but it can also be helpful to go in knowing what you want. A quick Instagram scroll can help provide timely hair color inspo. To help you save time and money, we spoke to top colorists to get their expert advice about which colors grow out best and will buy you more time between salon visits.

What is the most low-maintenance hair color?

According to Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, “anything that leaves your natural hair alone and only adjusts the mids and ends” is best for not needing so many touch-ups. With something harsh like highlights, you would get a band of growth from the roots down, but if you’re not touching the roots and leaving them natural, there won’t be a recognizable “line of demarcation,” she says.

“Balayage is amazing for low-maintenance hair, as it starts off as a soft point at the root to a thicker ribbon towards the bottom, which mimics what the sun does to our hair naturally,” says Valdes. Balayage is a highlighting technique in which colorists hand-paint the highlights strategically, so that the lightened pieces appear more naturally placed.

Celebrity hair colorist Brian O’Connor, who is co-owner of Fruits Salon in Nashville, adds that “baby lights are always a nice way to leave a soft blend and an easy grow-out.” Baby lights are more delicate than highlights, and they’re woven throughout the hair for a more natural blend of colors.

What are the most difficult hair colors to maintain?

Red hair is notoriously difficult when it comes to upkeep. While it’s the hardest color to fully strip from your hair, it’s also the first to fade, often lightening drastically within the first few washes. So unless you’re wanting to touch-up your own color at home, it would be wise to skip the scarlet shades.

In general, Valdes says, avoid “solid colors that are the same from roots to ends.” Single processed colors—whatever the hue—will grow out pretty obviously whether your natural hair is light or dark. This coloring is a sure-fire way to get that dreaded line of growth.

“An allover bleach and tone is always going to be high maintenance,” O’Connor says, adding that allover black is tough too, “especially if you have a lighter natural hair color.”

How do you maintain hair color at home?

O’Connor says to avoid too much heat styling. “It’s the biggest color fader, as well as the sun,” he says. Additionally, Valdes says to steer clear of abrasive shampoos and swimming pools—chlorine can mess with your color.

Instead, opt for a color-locking shampoo and conditioner. We like dpHue Color Fresh Shampoo and Conditioner. And if you are going to use hot tools, always use a heat protectant like R+Co Centerpiece, which hydrates and fights frizz too.

Because colored hair tends to be drier and more damage prone, it’s smart to incorporate a hair mask. One that deposits colored pigments is even better because it’ll give your color a boost between salon appointments. O’Connor’s brand Good Dye Young has Dyeposit, which tones and hydrates and has 10 shades to choose from.

Ready for low-maintenance hair color inspo? Ahead, our favorite shades and techniques that will look great long after you leave the salon.

Chestnut Brown

Medium-brown hair lovers might want to consider golden brown chestnut hair. “Chestnut hair is a beautiful shade that ranges from deep reddish brown to light golden brown; it’s a very versatile color that suits many skin tones and can be both warm and cool in tone,” says Nicole Lucero, a colorist at NYC’s Mahogany Grace Salon, who adds that the look has become increasingly popular in recent years, with celebrities like Camila Morrone, Emma Watson, and Lily Collins sporting the shade. “It is a low-maintenance hair color that requires minimal touch-ups.”

Ombré Balayage

If you’re tired of high-maintenance shades or want something closer to your natural color, you’ll love the ombré balayage aesthetic. “Less is more with a subtle ombré look,” Madison Reed master colorist Shvonne Perkins tells Glamour. “It draws inspiration from ’70s style icons and features a solid root with grown-in, sun-kissed blonde highlights weaved throughout the midlengths and ends.” Perkins suggests lightening your ombré hair with Madison Reed’s Light Works Balayage Highlighting Kit.

Deep Brunette

According to Perkins, a deep brunette very close to natural is especially low-maintenance. “All you’d be doing at home would mostly be utilizing color-depositing conditioners and blue shampoos, just to keep your tone balanced,” she says. “Otherwise, a little bit of fade actually works with these natural shades because they appear as subtle highlights.”

To create the look, Perkins suggests using Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color in Milano or Messina at home or in a Madison Reed Hair Color Bar, and maintaining at home with Madison Reed Color Therapy Mask in Caffe or Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss in Espresso.

Cozy Blonde

The cozy-blonde movement is already well underway, and considering how low-maintenance it is, it’s not hard to see why.

“Cozy blonde is a term used to describe a super-low-maintenance approach to being a blonde,” says Michelle Cleveland, celebrity hair-extension artist and Wella master color expert. “The look embraces more depth in the hair with lowlights and strategic placement of lighter blonde shades, allowing for a low-maintenance blonde that works for any season.”

Chestnut Highlights

For a slightly lighter option that’s still low-maintenance, Perkins suggests chestnut brown with highlights. “Chestnut brunette is a natural brown with hints of caramel and golden undertones,  and loads of rich shine,” she says. What’s more, she adds, this color is especially luminous and reflective. “It’s a departure from the subdued, ash tones featured in the trends from seasons past.”

To create the look, use Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color in Lucca Light Brown or Tuscany Brown at home or in a Madison Reed Hair Color Bar, says Perkins.

Candlelit Brunette

One of 2023’s biggest brunette hair trends is candlelit brunette, and with good reason: It’s super chic and super low-maintenance. “Candlelit brunette is a warm and radiant brown hair color that’s achieved by adding subtle highlights and lowlights to a brown base; the overall effect is meant to mimic the soft, flickering glow of candlelight,” says Jennifer Korab, celebrity hairstylist and owner of Renaissance Salon & Spa in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

“To achieve this medium-brown ombré color, I use a combination of foiling and balayage highlight techniques to add dimension and depth to the hair,” says Korab. “The tones of the highlights are typically a shade or two lighter than the base color. The shade of a candlelit brunette can vary depending on individual preferences and skin tones. Some people may prefer a more golden, honey-toned look, while others may opt for a deeper, chocolatey tone.” This is an especially ideal option for those with naturally light brown hair. Touch-ups can be infrequent since it looks so pretty grown-out.

Honey Melt Blonde

Much like cozy blonde, honey melt blonde is an ideal option for blondes looking for a more low-key and less high-maintenance take on the light shade. “Honey melt is adding honey tones and lowlights in a pirouette pattern around the shape of the haircut,” says Lauren Mildice, hair colorist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon. “By having a warmer blonde color, you won’t find yourself at the salon as often since warmth lives in the hair.”

Adding depth and warmth back into the hair also minimizes the visibility of the grow-out phase, Mildice adds. “This technique can be utilized to replenish depth and dimension while creating structure to an empty monotone summer blond.”

Caramel Lowlights

For a more quiet-luxury-inspired take on candlelit brunette, Lucero recommends dyeing your hair a rich chocolate brown with reddish undertones and opting for lowlights instead of blonde highlights.

“This look is achieved by adding lowlights to the hair in shades of caramel or burgundy,” she says. “It is a great way to achieve a natural-looking hair color that is also striking and bold. This style suits individuals with warm-toned skin.”

Deep Blonde

“A deep blonde like this is low-maintenance because it allows the hair to retain some of its natural pigment, and it’s not overly lightened, making maintenance both integrity and color related,” says Perkins. One of our favorite takes on deep blonde is Rosie Huntington-Whitley’s butterscotch blonde.

Natural Brown

The natural movement is also underway for brunettes. “More-natural color is still in, meaning people are avoiding overprocessing,” says Jaclyn Curti, hair colorist and extensions specialist at Eva Scrivo Salon in New York. “Think Olivia Rodrigo’s rich chocolate brown with subtle amber brown highlights toward the bottom.” This look also works well for ashy brown colors.

Honey Bronde

“There’s no doubt that brown hair has been a huge color trend in recent years, with many celebrities opting for a natural (even if it’s not their own natural) hue,” says Alex Brownsell, celebrity hairstylist and cofounder of Bleach London. “We have seen many blondes becoming more beige, with many people opting to keep their blonde but tone it down to something that could pass as natural.” Examples of the phenomenon includes caramel and honey bronde, which can be created using part Just Like Honey, part White Heat, and part Instant Coffee.

Face-Framing Highlights

There’s no need to dye (and care for) your whole head of hair when you just want a pop of color. “This lux light brown and blonde look is the pigment mix of the moment,” Brownsell says of the two-tone blonde-on-brunette look. “This coffee brown is the perfect color for sectioned styles like Charlie XCX Gemini hair, and half-and-half or Dua Lipa peekaboo stripes.” (Another example? skunk stripe hair.)

You can achieve this at home using semipermanent dye such as Bleach London’s Instant Coffee Super Cool Color, says Brownsell. Make the blonde pop with face-framing baby-lights. But the best part? It’s super-low upkeep, as it looks just as chic while growing out.

Charcoal Brunette

According to Mildice, low-maintenance charcoal brunettes are on the rise. “Color companies such as Redken are creating colors such as ‘brown smoke’ and ‘cool ebony’ due to popular demand,” she says. “Charcoal brown is a comfortable in-between color.”

Mildice thinks this shade is best for the spring and summer, “since many brunettes find that they feel very red and warm when they are out in the sun. By this color being cooler, it will help cancel the warmth out,” she says. Plus, there’s little to no upkeep, and a color-depositing conditioner and gloss, like dpHUEGloss+ in Dark Brown, can drastically lengthen the time you go between touch-ups.

Honey Highlights

It seem everyone has been wearing honey highlights lately—Ciara, Selena Gomez, Keke Palmer, Kim Kardashian, and Rihanna have all debuted their own takes on the dye job. And considering how low-maintenance it is, it’s no wonder so many beauty lovers are following suit.

“This look is usually achieved in a combination highlight and lowlight service,” says Perkins. “In order for the shade to look multi-tonal and complex, it’s important to leave plenty of lowlight or background pigment in the hair to keep it toasty and ‘bronde’ as opposed to full."

Golden Wheat Blonde

While blonde tones are tough to keep low-maintenance, Valdes says that warm mid-tone blondes like honey wheat blonde are some of the most low-effort of the bunch. “The mid-tone allows for a softer grow-out, therefore extending time between appointments, while a bright platinum blonde requires more frequent visits to the salon, approximately four to six weeks,” he says. “Wheat blonde can go 12 to 14 weeks between visits with a minimal line of demarcation.”

Lily Veil Balayage

If you’d rather add blonde ribbons to your natural hair color, Valdes recommends “lily veil” balayage. “Similar to the placement of a classic French balayage, this method uses foils to create high-lift blondes with a graceful grow-out, creating very clean dimension,” she says. “You can expect this color to last you longer, since it starts closer to the top around the face and cascades down toward the shoulders. The beautiful thing about this color is you can customize it for your specific hair, type color, and texture.”

Espresso Martini Brunette

Chase Kusero, cofounder of IGK Hair Care, points to beautiful chocolate brunette with lots of shine—which he calls espresso martini—as a prime brunette shade, especially since it’s so low-maintenance. To get the look, Kusero says, try a “beautiful chocolate shade in the IGK Permanent Color Kits like Hot Chestnut or Bold Brown” and maintain the shade at home with IGK Color Depositing Mask in Electric Bronze.

Blurred Roots

Another way to extend the time between trips to the salon as blonde? Blurred roots. “Adding in a root smudge with a soft transition will create a soft ombré-like blonde as it grows out,” says Mildice. This way, since it’s intentional, you can go as long as you want until you head back to the salon.

Vintage Brown

Some of the most low-maintenance brown hair colors are reminiscent of the past, says Mildice, meaning natural and undone. “By placing subtle ribbons of walnut and nutmeg underneath and through the length, we stay true to the brunette world with color that appears organic,” she says.

Dark Vanilla Blonde

Finally, dark vanilla sundae blonde combines the best of dark blonde: ashy tones and low-maintenance balayage. “Fair golden and slightly cool tones intermix creating the smooth tone from your beloved dessert,” says Mildice. “By backdropping this color with a light brown tone, it creates a soft, chocolate-drizzled effect. It will be popular since it is a great in-between blonde that still remains bright. It’s not too golden or too ashy.”