How to add lowlights to highlighted hair: choosing the right color for your hair and maintenance secrets

over highlights

Are you thinking about adding lowlights to your highlights?


If you’ve been getting highlights for a while, you’ve probably noticed that they lose their brightness and stand out less over time. To fix this phenomenon, you can get lowlights.

  • To get them, you’ll need to wait until your highlights are very blonde.
  • Then, you’ll need to use a dye that is at least two shades darker than your base color.
  • It’s ideal to reapply lowlights every four months and you can either use a cap or foil to do them.


 You probably know that lowlights are small areas of darker shades of hair that you get every 4-5 months when you touch up your highlights. 

If you’re trying to get lighter hair by doing highlights, why would you want to darken your hair?


The reason is simple. Every time you update your highlights, your hair will get blonder and blonder until you no longer have certain areas highlighted – your entire head of hair will be blonde.

That’s when it’s time to get lowlights, to give your highlights life again.


And there’s another big advantage. You don’t need to bleach your hair to get lowlights like you would to get highlights.  All you need to do is use a permanent or semi-permanent dye to add darker areas to your hair. 

That means lowlights are the opposite of highlights, since instead of raising your hair color a few shades, lowlights lower your hair color a few shades, using a color two shades darker than your base color strategically distributed throughout your hair.


This technique is especially good for adding dimension and depth to your hair, while also creating a more natural mix of colors. It also makes your hair look thicker and generally more voluminous.

And it’s a technique that’s much more common than you think. For example, last week one of my clients that loves balayage named Vivian came to my salon.


When I looked at her hair, I noticed that after updating her highlights several times, her hair was too blonde; her hair color lacked depth, instead it was all very similar, which meant that her locks didn’t stand out the way she wanted them to.

When I proposed darkening some areas, she looked at me like I was crazy. And I understand why because for someone that loves sun-kissed locks, the word “darken” made her think of the night and the moon, not the sun she loves.


But when I told her that I didn’t necessarily mean that I’d use a dark color, I just meant that we would use a color two shades darker than her base color.

In her case, her base color was a light, ashy blonde and her highlights were platinum. That meant that we would use a dark ashy blonde for her lowlights.

So, we would always be using light colors, just mixing them with a color one shade darker than blonde that would help return depth to her hair and make it stand out again.

She took a deep breath out when I explained all that and I got to work. After putting on her cap, I threaded each piece of hair out that I would darken and applied the dye.


The results were amazing because you could see the highlights stand out again and her hair wasn’t just one color. I mean, you could differentiate between the highlights and the lowlights.

If you’re going through the same thing as Vivian, there’s only one solution: lowlights. So, I’ll tell you:

  • How to choose the right color for your lowlights
  • How often you should apply lowlights and how to take care of them


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How to choose the right color for your lowlights

depth with lowlights

Ideally, you should find a color two shades darker than your base color.

For example:

  • If your base color is a level 6 light brown and your highlights are a level 8 light blonde, your lowlights can be level 4 brown.
  • If your base color is a level 7 dark blonde and your highlights are a level 9 lighter blonde, then you can get level 5 medium brown lowlights.
  • If your base color is level 8 light blonde and your highlights are level 10 lightest blonde, you can dye some areas level 6 light brown.  


 As you can see in the examples, you should always try to get lowlights two shades darker than your base color to make your highlights look their best. 

My recommendation is that if you’re looking to improve how your highlights look, talk to a professional hair colorist. In the salon, they’ll show you the palette of color options and you can decide which color is best for your lowlights together.


Your skin tone can also play an important role in the kinds of lowlights you choose.

  • If you have light skin with a warm undertone, then cinnamon colors will work well for you.
  • If you have pale, cooler-toned skin, then dark chocolate and light brown will work better for you.
  • If you have a medium skin tone with warm undertones, then golden brown is good for you, and if you have a medium skin tone with cooler undertones then lighter brown would be better.
  • If you have darker skin with warm undertones, an intense caramel and dark brown will look best, while dark skin with cooler undertones goes well with dark brown.


As you can see, to decide the best color for your lowlights, your best bet is to talk with a hair colorist, since they will be able to help you consider your hair’s base color and the color of your highlights, as well as your skin tone.


If you’re worried about taking care of your lowlights, you can stop worrying because this technique won’t make you a slave to the salon. Let’s have a look at why.


How often do you need to update lowlights

blonde and honey

  • If you get cap or foil highlights monthly, you should get lowlights once every 4-5 months.

That’s because if you touch up your highlights once a month by using blonde dye, you’ll get to a point when all of your hair will be blonde.

To avoid that, many women go for lowlights, which completely update your hair color and give the appearance of a bigger change.


  • One of the many benefits of this technique is that  it requires less maintenance than many other color services. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take care of them.


  • The only way to protect your stylish lowlights is by using the right products.

The best products are ones that are designed for dyed hair, since that will help maintain the life and shine of your highlights and lowlights.

And don’t forget the importance of nurturing your hair weekly with hydrating masks made for dyed hair.


Now you know how to add light to your highlights.

What color will you end up going with for your lowlights?


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