How to Choose Highlights

Highlights are a fantastic way to give your hair a quick update for spring – and there are so many options! Highlight techniques are extremely versatile and can completely change your look or give you a subtle shift into the color you want.

Because of their popularity, colourists have come up with numerous techniques for creating highlights, and sometimes it can get confusing. These terms below will help you understand the difference between various kinds of highlights, as well as help you describe what you want to your stylist. Looking to have your highlights done in Toronto? See our scheduling page.


Reflective highlights

Maybe you just want your hair to have a little bit more dimension and sparkle without straying too far from your natural hair color.
This is a great option for light brunettes who want to lift their hair to look like a natural bronde.

Similar to reflective highlights are baby lights. These mimic the more subtle highlights that children get, by brushing on super-fine highlights for a baby blonde look.

“Chunky” highlights

Thicker highlights are for those looking for something bolder and are less concerned about having their hair look natural or blended. If you want your highlights to be much lighter than your natural hair color, then be prepared for more obvious contrast compared to thinner highlights.

There could be a risk of looking “skunky” if the contrast between colours is high, especially when combined with the “slicing” technique rather than weaving. To avoid that you can choose highlights that are just a few shades lighter than the rest of your hair, or request that your chunky highlights are done with a balayage technique, rather than slicing.

Ombre Highlights

You can use highlights to create a smoother transition between roots and previously coloured hair. Ombre highlights will help blend in any contrast between new growth and old colour, or you can use them to create a totally new ombre effect. One of the benefits of ombre highlights is that the upkeep is lower and it makes your hair look naturally sunkissed.

Ribbon highlights

This coloring technique is ideal for those with curly or wavy hair, or those who often style their hair with a curling iron or rollers. Designed to follow the coil of your curls, the hand-painted balayage technique is well suited for this kind of highlight. Since this highlighting technique involves coloring full strips of hair, from grown-out roots through to the ends, you’ll want to book a professional colorist to get this look. Large loose curls or hair-dried waves are one of the best ways to wear hair with this style of highlight.

Frosted Highlights

If you want an all over salt and pepper look, then “frosted” is the term you want to use. These highlights involve blending very light, bleached strands in with darker strands. Frosted highlights are not defined chunks or streaks, they are super fine.

You may have also heard of “frosted hair tips” has also been used for guys or those with shorter hair who want the ends of their hair to be significantly lighter than the roots.


Also known as hair painting, balayage is a dyeing technique that involves hand painting the highlight or lowlight color of your choice directly onto your strands. The area of color tends to focus towards the end of strands, to give a gradual lightening look. Most commonly, this technique is used to paint blonde shades onto darker hair for a truly natural-looking, sun-kissed locks. Balayage highlights give you and your stylist a lot of creative freedom, so look at pictures and colours together for a better idea of what look you’re trying to achieve.

If you’re unsure what kind of highlights are best for you, consult with your stylist to find which techniques will achieve your desired look and go best with your color of hair. If you’re looking to have your highlights done in Toronto, book an appointment with us today!