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If you didn’t already know, gray hair is totally on trend these days. Once upon a time, spotting gray hair meant immediately plucking it or scheduling a dye job to conceal your changing hair hue. But nowadays, it’s become more and more commonplace for those who are actually going gray—and not purposefully using gray hair color—to embrace it with highlighting and lowlighting techniques that help create depth and contrast. And we have to say, we’re quite the fan! Donning gray hair has become synonymous with embracing your natural beauty. Dig the sound of that? Keep reading to find out how to blend gray hair with highlights and lowlights to get the look yourself.
When it comes to gray hair, integrating a series of highlights and lowlights can help create a mixture of natural colors for a multi-dimensional ‘do that’s full of movement. This modern technique allows you to embrace your grays in a stylish way!
Since highlighting and lowlighting requires a certain level of skill, this look is often best left to a professional colorist. One thing to keep in mind when you request highlights from your colorist: Lightening even the skinniest of strands will require bleaching. Also, as with most highlight and lowlight techniques, you’ll want to consider your starting base color before diving into adding highlights and lowlights. Not sure where to start? Below, we share the best colors for each base.
If you’re a natural blonde…spruce up your gray-strewn blonde with a mix of hues. Ask your colorist to add in highlights and lowlights ranging from pearl to medium blonde. These natural-looking, cool ash tones will blend beautifully with cool, silvery shades of gray.
If you’re a natural brunette…you’ll want to play around with darker lowlights. Think espresso! When you add bright highlights to dark hair, it will only accentuate any grays that you have.
If you’re a natural redhead…it may be time to implement a series of lowlights and highlights in the brown and blonde range. Not ready to kiss your fiery locks goodbye? If you only have a few grays, you can get a glaze so they don’t stand out from your base color quite so much.
Another thing to consider when choosing the highlights and lowlights for your hair is what type of highlighting technique will give you your desired look. Below, learn about three different highlighting techniques you can ask your colorist for.
Both balayage and hair painting involve freehand painting strands to create natural-looking highlights. While we typically think of balayage hair as being similar to an ombré, it doesn’t have to be. Since highlights that start halfway down your head won’t do much for gray roots, you can start your highlights at your roots—even with a balayage technique. In fact, the placement of your highlights can be completely customized!
A variation on the balayage highlighting technique, you may have guessed that foilyage is nearly identical to traditional balayage highlighting, the only difference is that it adds foils into the mix. Highlights are placed wherever needed, then each highlighted strand is wrapped in foil to intensify the effect. The foils will seal in heat and allow your strands to become lighter and brighter for a more dramatic, highlighted look.
This highlighting technique is perfect for those with light gray hair. Babylights involve brushing on super-fine blonde highlights throughout your hair for a sun-kissed look. These blonde strands will brighten your light gray mane and give you an overall more youthful appearance.
If you’re tempted to DIY your blended color, look for an at-home highlighting kit that comes with everything you need to create perfectly placed, precise, even highlights. Here are a few of our best highlighting kits to consider:
L’Oréal Paris Frost & Design: With its high-precision pull-through highlighting cap, this highlighting kit lets you select the exact strands you want to be lightened so that you can avoid messy mistakes and unwanted results. The time-saving formula leaves you with a delectable swirl of creamy highlights for a sun-kissed glow and lets you choose to create subtle or bold highlights.
L’Oréal Paris Colorista Bleach in Highlights: This highlighting kit allows you to get gorgeous highlights from the comfort of your own home while giving you the flexibility to customize your desired look.
L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Glam Lights: In just two easy steps, this highlighting kit gives you the tools to achieve ultra-glamorous hair with beautifully blended highlights. Fill the included highlighting brush with product and brush it through your hair from root to tip to highlight your mane. Sounds easy, right? Just follow the included directions and you’ll be good to go!
L’Oréal Paris Touch-On Highlights: With its innovative Control-Touch FingerTIP applicator, this highlighting kit literally lets you have naturally radiant, dimensional highlights at your fingertip. The kit gives you precise control over the placement of your highlights so you can create any look you choose—from subtle to dramatic.
L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Highlights: This advanced highlighting kit helps you achieve a multi-faceted spectrum of pure blonde highlights in one easy step. The revolutionary Easy-Glide Highlighter makes highlighting your hair at home easier, quicker, and more precise. Finish with the included conditioner to give your locks long-last shimmer.
Don't want to highlight your hair? Consider another option for embracing your graying mane!
Using a hair gloss is a great way to keep your color looking shiny, fresh, and youthful. Gray hair has a tendency to look dry and damaged, but a good gloss can help your natural grays rival the trendy grayscale shades you see influencers sporting.
Changing your part is an easy way to instantly transform your hair for a fresh, new look. Currently rocking a side part? Switch to a middle part! Those who have a middle part, try parting your hair to the side. While this may seem like a small change, you’d be surprised how quickly a new hair part can refresh your entire beauty look.
Colorful hair is totally on-trend and just because you’ve decided to embrace your gray locks doesn’t mean you can’t join in the fun! Add some color to your mane by applying a wash-out color spray or hair makeup to the ends of your hair. Try the L’Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Spray or L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup 1-Day Color, both of which wash out in just one shampoo and come in an array of fun colors.
Another easy way to instantly transform your look is to rock a new hair accessory! Whether you choose to wear a jeweled hair accessory or a trendy head wrap, there are so many options to choose from.
Similar to a hair gloss—but more temporary—a hair serum will keep your mane frizz-free and shiny. Try the L’Oréal Pairs EverSleek Frizz Finish Oil-In-Serum. The non-greasy serum is a luxurious blend of argan oil and flower oils that helps to tame frizz and fly-aways, detangle, and smooth each strand.
It doesn’t matter which base color you started with, or whether you opted for lowlights or highlights, the maintenance tips for gray hair remain the same. To help keep your newly colored hair looking and feeling its best, commit these three rules to memory:
1. Switch out the products in your shower. It’s time to make room in your shower for a shampoo and conditioner that are safe for colored-treated hair. Try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo and L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Conditioner.
2. Keep things cool. When you do shower, use cooler water rather than hot. This will prevent any further dryness that can be caused by high temperatures, allowing your mane to retain its moisture—something gray hair tends to need desperately.
3. Up your hair’s hydration. Add a hair mask to your weekly beauty routine. Once or twice a week, swap out your daily conditioner for the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Intense Repair Hair Sheet Mask and leave it on for five minutes before rinsing.
4. Keep heat styling to a minimum. Excessive heat styling can damage your hair, which seems pretty unnecessary to us. Since you’re already embracing your naturally graying hair, why not do the same thing for your texture? Rock your natural hair by air drying your strands.
To turn your air-dried tresses into Cali girl beachy waves, spritz the L'Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Wave Swept Spray onto towel-dried hair, braid your hair, then undo the braid once your hair has finished drying. For added volume and texture, apply a dollop of a hair pomade or paste, like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty, to dry hair for messy, carefree definition. For even more volume, spritz the L'Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Boost It Air-Blown Texture Mist throughout your mane to tease your roots, build body, and create a blown-out look.
You see, blending your gray hair with highlights and lowlights doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. With the right colorist or highlighting kit and proper post-color know-how, your gray strands are sure to look gorgeous! For more advice on coloring gray hair, check out our article, 12 Best Tips and Tricks to Help Hide Roots Between Coloring.