Brunettes, listen up: Looking to switch up your hair color without doing anything too drastic? Say hello to lowlights for brown hair. Unlike highlights, which are lighter than your natural hair color, lowlights are generally at least two tones darker than your natural color. Whatever your base shade of brunette, adding in lowlights for dark hair is a great way to amp up texture and add dimension to your overall look. Sound like a hair color idea that’s right up your alley? Good news then, dark brown hair with lowlights is trending! Here, you’ll learn how to get this look in just a few simple steps, as well as which hair care products will help maintain it.
THE LOWDOWN ON LOWLIGHTS FOR BROWN HAIR
From balayage to ombré to sombré, and everything in-between, it can be hard to keep up with all of the latest hair color trends. Thankfully, just like highlights, quality lowlights are one look that will never go out of style—even if they’ve seen a surge in popularity lately. That’s because it’s a gentle way to add some dimension to your locks without the damage that typically goes along with permanent hair coloring. Lowlights involve partial hair coloring, in which just a few specific strands are colored (rather than your entire head of hair).
The other amazing thing about lowlights is that they’re totally customizable, both in which sections of hair are colored, and also which shade of brown lowlights you choose—you can even pick more than one! The right shades of lowlights will also look great regardless of whether you have short hair or long hair. Lowlights for brown hair are typically two to three shades darker than your base color, although depending on your skin tone, you can choose warmer or cooler shades of brown lowlights, from lighter chestnut shades to rich caramels to dark chocolate browns. The method of applying lowlights also varies—a stylist can use foils or go freehand, using the same method as they would for balayage highlights.
Editor’s note: We’re focusing on brown hair, but if your strands are even darker, lowlights for black hair look stunning, too! Keep that in mind and you can apply any of the information here to your black tresses.
HOW TO GET BROWN HAIR WITH LOWLIGHTS
Is this the look for you? Here’s how to get brown lowlights:
STEP 1: FIND AN INSPIRATION PHOTO
Every hair colorist wants to create an end result that their client is happy with, of course, and this will be much easier if you bring an inspiration or reference photo to the salon. Not only will it help give them a better idea of what look you’re hoping to achieve, but it will also make it way easier for you—instead of trying to explain what kind of lowlights you want verbally, it’s much simpler and more effective to come prepared with a picture you can point to as what you want.
STEP 2: KEEP YOUR SKIN TONE IN MIND
When researching what kind of lowlight look you want (we love Pinterest!), keep your skin tone in mind. Like we said, lowlights can come in many shades and hues, from caramels to deep chocolate tones. Your stylist should also be able to help with this, but when looking for inspiration photos, try to pick one where the model (or celeb) has a similar skin tone and even eye color to your own.
STEP 3: BOOK AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR COLORIST
Highlights and lowlights alike require a certain skill to apply and get just right, so it’s probably your best bet to visit a pro if this is something you’re interested in trying out yourself. A colorist will be able to expertly place lowlights throughout your hair for the most multidimensional look, and they’ll also be able to recommend and tweak which shades of lowlights you end up with.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF BROWN HAIR WITH LOWLIGHTS
While lowlights don’t cover each and every strand of your hair with permanent color, your mane will still require a bit more TLC than virgin, uncolored strands. You’ll want to be sure to take the best possible care of your hair in order to help maintain your new color and keep it from fading for as long as you can. Lucky for you, there are a few easy switches you can make in your hair care routine to do so.
TIP #1. SWITCH OUT YOUR SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
OK, so you might love your current shampoo and conditioner, but when it comes to caring for color-treated hair, it’s a good idea to consider sulfate-free products and switch to a system that’s safe for colored hair. Even though you only have lowlights, rather than an all-over color change, you’ll want to make sure to swap out your regular shampoo and conditioner system for products that are better suited to your updated strands. Try the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Conditioner, which are sulfate-free and safe for color-treated hair.
TIP #2. USE A HAIR MASK
Once or twice a week, swap out your new conditioner for a color-safe hair mask. This extra step in your routine only takes a few minutes, and we promise your strands will thank you for it! To use, apply your mask onto damp hair right after you’ve shampooed and leave it on for three to five minutes before rinsing. It’s that easy!
TIP #3: TURN DOWN YOUR WATER TEMPERATURE
Even if you’re using all the best hair care products for color-treated hair, if you’re washing your strands in hot water, you could be doing your hair a disservice. That’s because hot water can strip your strands (and your skin!) of essential oils that keep them hydrated, leaving your hair feeling dry and your color looking dull. The best remedy is to turn down the dial slightly and wash your locks using lukewarm water. We know, it doesn’t feel nearly as wonderful as steaming, hot water! But trust us, not only will it help make your color last longer, but it will also help keep your strands healthier in the long run.
TIP #4: AIR DRY YOUR HAIR
We get it—you love heat styling, and we do too. The only issue is, all that heat can do a number on your hair. So, instead of creating beachy waves with a curling iron, try using the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Wave Swept Spray or L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Boost It Air-Blown Texture Mist. Whichever option you choose, just spritz a bit into clean, damp hair post-showering, then scrunch up the ends of your strands a few times and allow your hair to air dry. If your hair is naturally straight, you can try braiding your hair right after you apply the product to give your strands more shape. Let your hair air dry while it’s in a braid, then remove the braid to reveal the soft, beachy waves you're seeking.
More of a sleek and shiny gal? Skip the high-heat straightener and reach for a bottle of the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Precious Oil Satin Hairspray. Not only can it help create the appearance of major shine, but its strong-hold finish can help tame flyaways.
Editor’s tip: Since we know there will still be days where you crave a heat-made hairstyle, just be sure to protect your strands before applying heat. To do so, spray some of the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray onto damp strands before blow-drying and then again before using a flat iron or curling iron.
TIP #5: USE A PRE-SHAMPOO TREATMENT
If you’re really prone to dry strands or rapidly dulling color, consider adding a pre-shampoo treatment to your regular hair care routine. This extra step will add another layer of conditioning to your strands before you shampoo, which can help seal in moisture and keep your color looking its best. Reach for a pre-shampoo treatment that’s formulated with antioxidants and deeply repairs and restores hair, like the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Repair Remedy Balm (which can also be used as a hair mask). To use, wet your hair slightly then apply onto your lengths and ends. Leave it on for up to five minutes, then proceed to rinse out and shampoo as usual.
TIP #6. BOOK A FOLLOW-UP WITH YOUR COLORIST
Even if you take amazing care of your hair, as good as any expert could, eventually you’ll need to re-up your lowlights. Unfortunately, super grown out lowlights haven’t caught on as a hair color trend just yet. That means you’ll want to keep regular appointments with your colorist on your calendar. Go ahead and book your next appointment while you’re still at the salon so you won’t forget!
If you’re thinking you may want to revamp your hair with lightened strands as opposed to darkened lowlights, check out our article on the Best Highlights for Brown Hair to Add Movement and Shine.