Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™
Search HairBoutique
Author: Karen Marie Shelton -
Originally Posted on: July 20th, 2004 at 11:45 pm
Last Revised: October 28, 2011
Copyright - All Rights Reserved.

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit


Black Hair With Subtle Highlights

Black Hair With Subtle Highlights

Dear Karen,

What kind of highlights do you suggest for black hair?


Linda Y


Dear Linda,

There are a variety of options depending upon your ultimate goal.  Do you want to achieve a subtle change building dimension, shine and movement into your hair?

Or do you want to go with a dramatic look with vibrant contrasting colors?  Do you wish to keep your current base color or change that as well?

Only you and your professional hair colorist can decide what your highlighting goal is.

Changing the color of black hair is actually more complex than most people might think.  Therefore I advise you to work with a professional colorist, not a hairstylist who doesn’t specialize in color, to avoid causing any potential color problems or long term damage.

Black Hair With Blonde Highlights

Black Hair With Blonde Highlights

If you want to go with a subtle highlight result your natural hair color will need to be lifted to remove the current pigment.

You could go with a highlight color that is 2-3 colors lighter than your current color in the black family.  Or you could go with more than one color and take it a into a dark red or dark brunette range.

Highlights can be applied through a traditional foil method or a traditional highlighting cap (if your colorist prefers this type of system).  You may also investigate the option for free form painting such as Baylage.

If you want to go with a dramatic look your black hair could be lifted light enough for a contrast color to be painted on.  When it comes to adding back bold colors such as vibrant pink, bright red, purple or blue you can achieve a rainbow of hues with Manic Panic or similar colors.

You can also experiment with having highlights applied to only target areas of your hair.  You might have highlights only applied to your fringe area, around your hairline or even just your tips.

Black Hair With Dramatic Blonde Highlights

Black Hair With Dramatic Blonde Highlights

If you are concerned about whether or not you will love the results you may want to first play with having a few strands of hair extensions applied to your hair in the various shades you are considering adopting.  That will give you a great feel for whether or not the shades you desire would look great or not.

One hair extension client I worked had deep merlot extensions added to her raven black hair.  The result was beautiful.  Also, another client had a deep purple applied to her jet black hair and that was also amazing.

Ultimately the sky’s the limit for adding highlights to black hair.  My only thought is that you find a great hair colorist who is skilled with coloring black hair and that you take your time to make sure you’re happy with your highlight choices.

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Best wishes,

Karen Marie Shelton

Top Photo Credits:  Hair by Salon Exclusive
2nd & 3rd Photo Credits:  Hair by Mary Ann Jensen
Make-up by Matilda Lorenzo for The Day Spa & Salon
Foresgate, Monroe, NJ

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit

By submitting your question, you grant full permission to to publish it. Due to the volume of mail we receive, Karen regrets that she cannot respond to every question personally.

To AskKaren a question, send an e-mail to:

Social Media Network Information

Please follow me on Twitter at: I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets. Visit us at, on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. We would love it if you would Friend us or Favorite us.

Thank you for visiting us at Ask Karen and for leaving your comments. They are very much appreciated. We apologize in advance but must remove any direct advertisements or solicitations.

Comments are closed.
Tweet This


See all questions
Wanna talk?
HairTalk® is the place for you!
Recent Topics: