Balayage, Ombre, Babylights… which method is best for Asian Hair?

highlights and lights in Asian hair

Recently, many Asian women have visited my salon, looking to lighten their hair.

If course, most of them don’t want to go straight to a platinum blond. So I often recommend highlights.


But it’s important to keep in mind that all highlights work well on Asian hair, and may not match your skin tone either.

  • For women with very dark hair, I recommend an ombre, which leaves the roots dark and adds some natural highlights about halfway down the length of your hair.
  • For brown hair, a balayage with some golden shades can look amazing. Because the base color is light enough to add some sun-kissed highlights, which add some lightness to the hair.
  • Keep reading to learn about a few more ways to highlight your hair.

Still have questions?


That’s natural. Everyone should to stop and think a moment before changing the color of their hair.

  • Maybe you’re wondering how the highlights will look with your skin tone and eye color.
  • Or maybe you’re intimidated by the idea of bleaching your hair. Which is completely natural, as bleaching is a strong chemical process that you’ll have to go through no matter which option you choose.

But, there’s some good news.


Asian hair is naturally thick and strong, and usually tolerates being bleached very well.

So, let’s get started and discuss all the ways to highlight Asian hair, so you can choose the option that works best for you.

What are you options?


  • Balayage
  • Ombré
  • Sombre
  • Babylights

To help you decide, we're going to go over each one in depth, and well as what hair types it works best on.


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Balayage: from France to your Asian hair

japanese young girl

Originally from France, the balayage is a coloring technique that's applied freehand. The hairdresser applies the bleach as if they were painting a work of art.

In French, balayage means to sweep or paint, and the best part of this technique is that it creates more natural highlights, without a distinct line where the color changes. All this means the highlights blend naturally with the base color.


Unlike traditional highlights, which separate the strands with aluminum foil, the balayage involves lightning thin sections of hair by hand and then covering them with plastic wrap.

Not only that, but the highlights in a balayage start lower than traditional highlights, which not only creates a more natural look but also means you won't have to get touch-ups as often.

When I would recommend a balayage


 I would recommend a balayage for anyone with long hair who's willing to experiment with shades of light brown or blond. 

Are you worried about having to keep up the balayage?


Well, there's no need to be. Because the highlights are subtle and blended with your base color, it doesn't need to be touched up very often, certainly not every month. Which also means it's quite inexpensive to keep up a balayage in Asian hair.


Ombres: a great option for wavy Asian hair

chinese woman with long hair

Can you recognize an ombré when you see one?


Once you know what you're looking for, they're easy to spot. The hair color simply gradually lightens towards the ends.

Usually, only the lower half of the hair is bleached for an ombré.

Of course, if you have very dark hair, and want to experiment with light blond shade, you'll have to bleach all of your hair.

Want to know a secret?


It has to do with one of my clients, who has beautiful Asian hair.

I always remember her because I loved her name: Amaya, which means "night rain."


Amaya had dark brown hair and wanted a ombre. The problem? The color she wanted for the ends was significantly lighter than her base color.

So the ombre would be very obvious. Can you imagine hair that's half dark brown and half golden blond? It would stand out, to say the least.


 To create a less obvious color change between the base color and the ends, I did a balayage first, and then an ombre. 

This creates a much better-looking results, without an abrupt color change.


Another thing to keep in mind is that ombres look better on wavy or curly hair, as the transition from dark to light can appear very obvious in straight hair. In wavy hair, in the other hand, the change is much more subtle.


The sombre: a more natural option for Asian hair

Although the ombre isn't going to stop trending anytime soon, it wasn't long ago that another trend started to take hold: the sombre.


Basically, the sombre is a much more softer version of the ombre, which generally uses colors closer to your base color to create a more natural, sun-kissed look.


 If you want to add some depth, texture, and movement to your natural color, a sombre might be a good option for you, as it uses more tones as it moves from to dark to light. 


Like everything related to fashion, trends in hair color are always changing.

For example, have you ever heard of lowlights? If not, well, there's a first time for everything.


It might be your first time learning that lowlights are a great way to add some depth to Asian hair.


Lowlights: a new alternative to highlights

new trend in hair coloring

Instead of lightening your hair, lowlights darken some sections of hair.

This adds texture and movement and works great on almost all types of hair: curly, straight, long and short.


This trends is popular in some parts of the world. Such as Singapore, for example. There's its common to see people with naturally dark hair with highlights or lowlights.

If you don't want to stray too far from your natural color, lowlights might be your best option.


Babylights: mini highlights that look great on all hair types

Babylights are just what their name suggests: very small highlights. The result is hair that mimics the look of children’s hair that’s been naturally lightened by the sun.


And, so long as you don't change your base color, babylights require very little maintenance.  Because the highlights are very small, there isn't a clear line when your hair grows out.

The sections of lightened hair are small and closely spaced, and blend with your base color to create a natural look.



As you can see, there's plenty of way to lighten Asian hair.

I would recommend:

  • Babylights if you don’t want to change your base color
  • A balayage if you don’t want to spend money on upkeep or have to go back to the salon every month
  • An ombre if you have curly hair
  • A sombre for a more subtle lightening effect


If you have Asian hair, what kind of highlights are you thinking of trying?


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