Hair trends may come and go, but they never really go out of style. The trends you loved are often either slightly reimagined or wholly reinvented, offering a fresh take on a familiar look. Now, a trend you couldn’t get enough of in middle school is finally making its way back into the mainstream. We’re talking about face-framing highlights.
You may not remember your chunky highlights fondly, but they’re back and better than ever—we promise! Think of the face-framing highlights of today as the sophisticated older sister of the stripe-y highlights that were super popular through the ‘90s and ‘00s. They’re bold, intentional, and look stunning on literally everyone.
Ready to embrace this blast-from-the-past trend? Whether your goal is to add lightness to your brunette strands with blonde face-framing highlights or you want to add depth via dark hair face-framing highlights, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about face-framing highlights.
What are face-framing highlights?
Face-framing highlights are strands of lighter colored hair that are strategically placed near the front of your hair to help accentuate your face. Because face-framing highlights only take up a small section of your hair, they’re perfect for salon color newbies and anyone looking for a quick and subtle way to switch up their look. One of the best parts about face-framing highlights is that they’re completely customizable! Choose any color you like, along with your preferred placement, and revel in a look that’s completely customized to your face shape.
How To Get Face-Framing Highlights
If you’re keen on trying this look on yourself, we highly recommend making an appointment at the salon. A professional colorist will know exactly how to lighten your locks—or in some cases add a pop of color—so that it’s perfectly placed according to your face shape. They’ll also be able to achieve your desired color with minimal, if any, damage.
What is the maintenance like for face-framing highlights?
It should come as no surprise that you have to switch up your hair care routine when you opt for all-over color, but what about highlights? While highlights are not as high maintenance, you should make a few changes to your routine if you want them to look their absolute best between salon appointments.
First, we recommend swapping out your shampoo and conditioner for a system formulated for highlighted hair like L’Oréal Professionnel Vitamino Resveratrol Color Radiance Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner. These radiance-enhancing formulas target dyed strands. Hair is left feeling soft to the touch and highlights are brilliantly accentuated with radiant shine.
Once a week, follow the shampoo with a color-enhancing hair mask, such as Biolage ColorLast Deep Treatment Pack Multi Use Hair Mask. Powered by plant-based emollients, this enriching mask gives hair color a nice boost while helping strands feel healthier every time you use it.
This at-home hair care will help to minimize the chance of premature fading between appointments, but plan to head to the salon every few weeks to keep your highlights looking their best.
The Best Face-Framing Highlights To Try Now
Sound like face-framing highlights are perfect for you? We’ve rounded up 25 looks so good you’ll want to open your flip phone and make an appointment with your colorist ASAP.
If you’ve toyed with the idea of going blonde but aren’t ready for the commitment that bottle blonde requires, consider caramel face-framing highlights. They’ll instantly brighten up your face while allowing you to comfortably dip your toe into the world of blonde.
When we think of highlights, blonde immediately comes to mind...but you can pull off stunning face-framing highlights with just about any color. Don’t believe us? Check out these rainbow face-framing highlights. Pair them with your natural hair color for a fun pop of color or opt for an all-over fantasy shade for a show-stopping final look.
(Psst. Fantasy shades have different needs than natural hues like blonde and brown. Swap out your regular hair care system for one formulated for vibrant shades like the Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid range. Complete with a shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, and lamination spray, the Keep Me Vivid line has everything you need to keep your vibrant highlights in tip-top shape between appointments.)
If rainbow is a bit too colorful but you love the idea of vibrant face-framing highlights, opt for these purple face-framing highlights. They look especially beautiful against chocolate brown hair.
Whoever said black and brown don’t go together is seriously disturbed. We love this combination of deep onyx with chocolate brown face-framing highlights.
Chunky face-framing highlights are super on-trend these days, but we understand if you’re not completely digging it. As an alternative, try fine highlights that sit a bit lower in just one to three shades lighter than your current base.
Ash Brown Highlights
Highlights are typically a completely different color than your base, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. If you’re looking to add lightness and dimension to your brunette strands but can’t imagine parting with your chocolate hue, opt for these ash brown face-framing highlights.
Platinum blonde is the OG of highlights and for a good reason—it looks fantastic on everyone, no matter your hair type, texture, length, or base hue! If you want to help keep your platinum blonde highlights looking bright and brass-free, swap out your regular shampoo for a purple pigmented formula like Redken’s Color Extend Blondage Color Depositing Purple Shampoo once a week.
Did someone say tequila sunrise? This sunset-inspired look pairs sunshine yellow face-framing color against a base of saturated, vivid magenta.
Warm Golden Blonde
Cool and ashy blonde face-framing highlights are the perfect complement to medium brown shades. Have your stylist subtly incorporate the color throughout for a more blended look.
For those who prefer a barely sun-kissed face-framing highlights look, this one’s for you. Ask your stylist to use a very light hand via baby lights. The effect adds a hint of glimmer and shine.
Looking for a whimsical take on the face-framing highlights trend? Opt for these pink face-framing bangs! These sit against a dreamy blue, but pink bangs will pair well with lots of fashion and natural shades.
Fiery Face-Framing Highlights
Create dramatic contrast and a burst of warmth by blending fiery face-frame highlights against colors such as rich auburn or chocolate brown.
Talk about a major pop! This shocking twist on face framing highlights is definitely one for those who dare to go there.
Soft, pale beige face-framing highlights look beautiful against a cool-leaning brunette. To keep your color from turning brassy, incorporate the MatrixTotal Results Brass Off Shampoo and Conditioner duo into your routine.
For a warmer effect, request a buttery, golden blonde hue in the highlights surrounding your face. This shade works best with base colors that are already on the warmer side, while caramel or honey brown face-framing highlights work better on darker shades.
Preserve some of your natural gray by featuring them at the front of your face. It’s a great way to experiment with new looks while remaining true to your roots (literally)!
This pale walnut hue added around the face makes for a low-key hair upgrade for spring and summer.
Blending those lighter shades all over is a chic way to wear face framing highlights on naturally curly, coily, and wavy tresses.
A chic, pale blue is a great way to frame your face in an unexpected way. It works for a range of base colors, too, including the warm blonde here, ashy blonde, and many shades of brunette.
If you’re more of a pink person, go for bubblegum face-framing color instead. It also works on a diverse spectrum of shades.
Can’t decide which fashion color to go with? Why not a combination of your favorite complementary hues? Your stylist can help you choose the best duo if you’re feeling uncertain.
Add warmth to your locks with coppery face-framing highlights. The contrast looks especially beautiful on chestnut hair.
Yep, you can still do face-framing highlights on already blonde hair. Silvery white platinum adds a nice pop to already light locks.
Yellow on Magenta
Talk about a major contrast! The combination of banana yellow on rich magenta is definitely one way to stand out in a crowd.
If you love the face-framing trend but would rather steer clear of salon color, opt for a face-framing style or haircut. Not sure which one is right for you? Click here for our complete guide.
Interested in trying face-framing highlights? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.