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The Best Highlight Colors for Black Hair

Hair Color Ideas

The Best Highlight Colors for Black Hair The Best Highlight Colors for Black Hair The Best Highlight Colors for Black Hair

Have you ever looked at your jet black hair and sighed to yourself over your inability to hop on board the highlight train? Well, believe it or not, this hair brightening technique isn’t solely reserved for sun-kissed brunettes and natural-looking blondes. That’s right—if you’ve convinced yourself that you (and your hair) aren’t cut out for highlights, it’s time to revisit the idea. Whether you want to add depth or simply perk up your hair color without diving into a full-on dye job, black hair highlights are the perfect solution for switching up your look. Ready to get in on the multi-tonal fun? Here are some gorgeous highlight hues to consider if you have black hair, along with tips for caring for color-treated hair.


Looking for natural-looking highlighted strands? Or are bright pops of color more your bag? There are a myriad of highlight options for you to choose from if you have black or dark brown hair. Keep in mind that adding highlights to black hair can be quite a dramatic hair color change and your best bet may be to visit a professional colorist as the process often requires bleaching and multiple sessions to achieve your desired look.

For added spice…try red highlights

Although it’s one of the rarest natural hair colors in the world, red is easily one of the most commonly requested shades in salons. When it comes to incorporating red highlights into black hair, look for a colorist who specializes in the balayage technique to subtly brush on vibrant hints of color. This technique not only looks less chunky than traditional highlights but it’s also super-low maintenance. Which shade of red will complement you best? The trick to rocking red is finding the right shade to match your skin tone. Typically, if you have fair skin, a bright orange-red or deep auburn will look the most stunning against your skin—without washing you out. Medium skin tones tend to look best with warm-toned copper and golden reds, and dark skin tones pair beautifully with blue-red shades. Before heading into the salon, feel free to browse the L’Oréal Paris Feria Hair Color Chart for inspiration.

For an edgy look…try platinum highlights

Looking to embrace your inner grunge? Platinum blonde highlights will do the trick. Together your platinum highlights and jet-black tresses will create a stark contrast, giving off a street chic style that’s sure to turn heads wherever you go. If you’re confident in your hair dyeing skills and want to DIY you highlighted head of hair, use the L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Highlights in Star Lights.

For natural-looking hair…try chocolate brown highlights

Ever wished you could rock sun-kissed hair like your brunette BFF? Good news: You can! The trick to achieving this summery look on black tresses is to opt for chocolate tones that will most closely resemble the way the sun would naturally lighten dark hair. Of course, you can go lighter on the brown spectrum, just keep in mind that the more contrasting the color combo, the less natural it will look.

For sophisticated, romantic-looking locks…try burgundy or navy highlights

Based on recent runway shows, it’s becoming clear that burgundy and navy are having a serious moment. As the year’s hottest colors, you better believe they look amazing when incorporated into black hair.

For natural-looking dimension…try cool-toned balayage

Another hair color trend practically made for gals with dark brown or black hair is cool-toned balayage. Rather than placing blonde streaks throughout, as you would with a traditional balayage, this technique involves subtly lightening strategically-placed strands for subtle, natural-looking highlights. Once hair is highlighted, it's toned one more time to produce an even subtler effect.

For a trendy, colorful look…try oil-slick hair

This edgy new hair trend was pretty much made for dark-haired gals. Inspired by the mix of magenta, purple, cobalt, and green colors reflected in puddles of gasoline and oil on the pavement, oil slick hair is a perfect option for those with black hair who want to get in on the rainbow hair color trend. Not only do you get to be on-trend, but this look has another upside—it doesn’t require excessive bleaching or damage!

For subtle sophistication…try a sombré

A softer ombré, called a sómbre, is a great choice if you want an all-over lightening of your hair but are hoping to avoid the stark contrast that ombré often produces. Bonus: It’s also easy to do. The key is to pick a shade that’s just a few shades lighter than your current color—it’s all about a gradual, subtle transition.

For temporary, bright streaks of color…try a 1-day color spray

Interested in adding some color to your look but not ready to commit to a permanent change? No problem. Temporary color sprays, such as the L'Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Spray, allow you to play around with different colors without the commitment. And with ten vivid shades to choose from, you’re sure to find one that you’ll love. To use, just spray your color (or colors!) of choice onto dry hair in sections and the formula will rinse out with your next shampoo—no bleach required! 

For a cool, chic look…try ash blonde highlights

If you’re interested in blonde highlights but platinum blonde feels a little too bold for you, ash blonde highlights may be more your speed. The ash blonde hair color is a smokey, cool-toned hue, and while it’s flattering on almost everyone, this is another trend you probably want to consult a professional about rather than trying at home. That’s because it will require some bleaching of certain sections of your hair.  


Whether you’ve opted to highlight your hair at home or visit a professional for your new hair color, one thing’s for sure: It’s important to take care of your color-treated hair to help preserve the life of your color and keep your hair looking and feeling its best. So, keep the following in mind when it comes to your hair care routine:

1. Switch to shampoo and conditioner that are safe for color-treated hair—and skip the sulfates

This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s worth re-stating. Use a shampoo and conditioner combo that’s sulfate-free and safe for color-treated hair, like the L’Oréal Paris Hair EverPure Moisture Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Conditioner, which gently cleanse and replenish moisture without stripping hair.

2. Use a pre-shampoo treatment

For added detangling and extra conditioning, use a pre-shampoo treatment, like the L'Oréal Paris Everpure Repair Remedy Balm, on damp hair before you shampoo. Leave it on for three to five minutes before rinsing and aim to use the treatment a couple times a week (or as needed) to give your locks a boost in strength and shine. When your hair’s feeling extra dry, you can also use the balm as a hair mask after washing.

3. Shower in lukewarm water

Yes, you read that right—unfortunately, it’s time to kiss long, hot showers goodbye! Piping hot water can strip your hair of moisture and color, leaving your locks dry and dull. Turn the temps down to keep your hair’s moisture levels happy. Lukewarm water is what's best for your hair and surprise, surprise, it's best for your skin too!

4. Use a hair mask regularly

Once or twice a week, swap out your regular conditioner for a strengthening and repairing hair mask, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Intense Repair Hair Sheet Mask. Apply the hair mask after shampooing and leave it on for five minutes, then rinse off.

5. Prep your strands before you use any hot tools

Oftentimes, colored hair can feel dry, and using a heat tool like a blow-dryer, curling wand, or flat iron can add to that. If you’re going to heat style your strands, it’s crucial to use heat protectant first to protect your strands and your color. Try the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray.

6. Air dry your hair

An alternative to heat styling is air drying. Embrace your natural texture and show off effortlessly tousled waves. Spritz a wave spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Wave Swept Spray, onto towel-dried hair, then braid your hair. Once it’s dry, undo the braid for pretty, loose waves!

7. Refresh with dry shampoo

Keep your locks looking their best and most voluminous with a few spritzes of dry shampoo whenever you need to refresh your look. Reach for a dry shampoo that won’t leave any residue, like the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Dry Shampoo.

8. Get your beauty sleep… on a silk pillowcase

Not only does it feel extra-luxurious, when you sleep on a silk pillowcase it’s also better for your tresses (and it’ll make your blowout last longer). That’s because silk is gentler than cotton and polyester, so sleeping on it will help cut down on hair breakage that can be caused by tossing and turning. Since cotton can also absorb moisture, silk will help keep your hair hydrated, which is always a good thing when you have color-treated hair. 

9. Use a Hairspray with a Glossy Finish

Can’t make it into the salon for regular hair gloss treatments? No problem—set your style with a hairspray that will leave a shiny, gloss-like finish, such as the L'Oréal Elnett Precious Oil Satin Hairspray. This formula will lock your look into place and also help keep damaged hair smooth and hydrated, thanks to a formula that includes silky argan oil. 

Next: Highlighting 101: How to Master At-Home Hair Brightening