Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Lowlights are exactly what they sound like: the opposite of highlights. While highlighted strands add summer pizzazz to dark hair, lowlights dim down your hair’s tone and give movement and dimension to a flat mane. Another plus of lowlighting with dark colors: It’s way gentler on your hair. It takes peroxide and ammonia to get your hair to lighten up, but it can darken down with products that don’t contain harsh chemicals.
Picking a Color
Whether you’re a DIY diva or salon-pampered lady, you’ll need an idea of what color lowlights you want long before dye touches your hair. Generally, it’s best to stick with a shade that melds well with your skin tones. If you have warm golden or yellow skin, you’ll look your best with warm lowlights — think honeyed brown, deep caramel and warm chocolate. If you have cool skin with blue or pink undertones, cool colors such as ash brown, mocha and raven black will suit you.
Though salons often use permanent or demi-permanent color to create lowlights in your hair, a dye as gentle as semipermanent color may give you the look you desire. Your stylist will probably use foils to section off your lowlights as she dyes them. If you’re doing lowlights at home, you can paint them on with a dye brush or use a special comb -- they’re usually included in lowlighting kits -- to create a natural, blended look.
Though it helps your stylist when you’re armed with a description of the lowlights you want, it’s even better to bring a photo to your dyeing session. What you may think is dark chocolate brown may mean something different to your colorist. A picture will also convey how drastic or subtle of a look you want. If you’re lowlighting your tresses at home, start with just a few strands and analyze the overall look before you add more. Follow your dye’s instructions closely: You can avoid most hair mishaps by knowing how to mix your dye (if mixing is necessary) and how long it’s supposed to stay in your hair.
Lowlights to the Rescue
Though they are a style unto themselves, lowlights are also the perfect antidote to overly highlighted hair. Dye your hair with a semi- or demi-permanent neutral shade close to your natural hair color. Look for words on products that imply muted undertones -- “natural” or “ash” -- and use that color all over your mane. Though it’ll transform your crazy highlights into subtle lowlights, it won’t mess up the remainder of your tresses.