Hair trends may come and go, but they never really go out of style. The fads you once 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.
Don't worry—these are nothing like the chunky highlights forever immortalized in your middle school year book. 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 everyone.
Whether your goal is to add lightness to brunette strands with blonde face-framing highlights or depth with dark hair face-framing highlights, here's what to know about this blast-from-the-past ‘do.
What are face-framing highlights?
Face-framing highlights are strands of lighter-colored hair 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 and your preferred placement, and revel in a look unique to your face shape.
Are face-framing highlights partial highlights?
You bet. Partial highlights only cover a specific area of hair, like around the face and part line, while full highlights touch every part of your mane.
How do you section highlights in face-framing?
As a general rule, face-framing highlights should follow the natural part of your hair. After your colorist knows how your hair lies, they will create subsections of hair depending on how thick, thin, or blended you want your highlights to be. Smaller weaves of hair make for a natural, sun-kissed look, while chunkier sections create a bolder hair contouring effect.
How much is a face frame highlight?
Face-framing highlights are less costly than a full head of traditional highlights, but the price of your service depends on your salon’s location, the highlighting technique used, and the length of your hair. A consultation with your colorist is the best way to determine the cost.
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?
Unsurprisingly, 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.
It’s important to note that the bleach required to achieve face-framing highlights will always cause hair damage, but your colorist can help to restore the look and feel of your strands before you leave the salon. We also suggest using a treatment that reinforces bleach-weakened hair bonds at home, like Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Intensive Treatment.
Once a week, follow the shampoo with a color-enhancing hair mask, such as Biolage Professional’s Color Last Deep Treatment Pack Multi Use Hair Mask. Powered by plant-based emollients, this enriching mask boosts hair color while helping strands feel healthier every time you use it.
Pro tip: The more frequently you wash your hair, the faster your face-framing hair color will fade. Rely on dry shampoo to help prolong your visits to the salon to get your color done. Redken Deep Clean Dry Shampoo Jumbo instantly refreshes styles, delivers maximum oil absorption for greasy roots, and allows hair up to four days between washes. Plus, the award-winning formula comes in a new jumbo size, so you run out less frequently.
Even with at-home care, 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 35 looks so good you’ll want to dial up your colorist for an appointment ASAP.
Chocolate with Money Piece
Consider a money piece the crème de la crème of face-framing highlights. These hand-painted streaks add brightness to your mane while accentuating your hair color, skin complexion, and facial features. Ask your stylist about Redken Shades EQ Hair Gloss in 09N Cafe Au Lait, 09GI Hamptons, and 09P Opal Glow to recreate this pop of color.
If you’ve toyed with the idea of going blonde but aren’t ready for the commitment that bottle blonde requires, pick caramel face-framing highlights. They'll instantly brighten your face while allowing you to dip your toe into the blonde world comfortably.
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 lovely 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 on-trend these days, but we understand if you're not entirely digging it. As an alternative, try fine highlights that sit a bit lower in just one to three shades lighter than your current base.
If your hair is close to black, espresso martini is a top choice for subtle face-framing highlights on dark hair. The espresso base paired with light-roast coffee highlights infuses locks with barely-there color that still packs a big depth-enhancing punch.
Ash Brown Highlights
Highlights are typically a completely different color than your base, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Opt for these ash brown face-framing highlights if you're looking to add lightness and dimension to your brunette strands but can't imagine parting with your chocolate hue.
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 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 perfectly complement 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, which can be played up with a luster-inducing spray like Redken Shine Flash Hair Spray.
We also can’t get enough of these subtle face-framing highlights on dark hair. The stylist used Redken Shades EQ Hair Gloss in 07M Driftwood, 09M Sand Dunes, and 08T Silver to procure this standout look.
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 Matrix’s Total Results Brass Off Shampoo, Conditioner, and All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray into your routine. The formulas feature blue-depositing pigments onto hair to neutralize orange undertones.
For a warmer effect, request a buttery, golden blonde hue in the highlights surrounding your face. This shade works best with base colors already on the warmer side. On the other hand, caramel or honey brown face-framing highlights work better on darker shades.
Platinum and Honey Blonde
Love experimenting with cool and warm tones? A platinum face-framing streak delivers contrast and drama if your hair is already a deep honey blonde shade. We love spritzing a targeted purple toning spray like Matrix’s So Silver All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray onto platinum streaks to ensure they remain as bright as possible.
Preserve some natural grays by featuring them on the front of your face. It’s a great way to experiment with new looks while remaining true to your roots (literally)!
Gray Money Piece
They say money can’t buy happiness, but a gray money piece is another way to gorgeously brighten and enhance salt and pepper strands around your face. Painting it with cool, ashy tones in mushroom brown will guarantee a flawless blend.
Walnut with Butterscotch Highlights
This pale butterscotch hue added around the face on a walnut base makes for a low-key hair upgrade for summer.
Blending those lighter shades onto the bangs is a chic way to wear face-framing highlights on naturally curly, coily, and wavy tresses.
Poppy Coiled Highlights
Who says afro curls can’t reap the benefits of face-framing color? Ask your colorist to cloud fiery red dye onto your ends. When curls dry into their natural pattern, their tips will fall closer to your face for a refreshing burst of color.
To keep your coils as healthy and bright as pictured here, pick up Biolage Professional’s Red Poppy Color Depositing Conditioner. This temporary vegan color depositing conditioner adds cool red luster and dimension to strands and is suitable for all hair types.
A chic, pale blue is a great way to frame your face unexpectedly. It also works for a range of base colors, including the warm blonde here, ashy blonde, and many shades of brunette.
If you’re more of a pink person, go for a 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 feel 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 contrast! The combination of banana yellow with rich magenta is definitely one way to stand out in a crowd.
Shades of Cinnamon
This spicy brunette shade is sprinkled with various red notes throughout. No matter your skin’s undertone, cinnamon hair color is a great choice around the face.
Cinnamon Accent Piece
For a more understated cinnamon look that doesn’t require a full head of highlights, ask your colorist to keep your base untouched and lighten the layers closest to your face.
This look features an extra large chunk of bright sandy hair closer to the face and then gradually transitions into a deeper hue at the crown and back of the head.
Bronde may just be your new favorite hair color, a beautiful harmony of brown and blonde. If you’re wary of going too light, testing the waters with an ultra-light streak around the face may be just what you need to get your blonde fix.
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? Find the best professional products at Hair.com to care for your new color.