31 Amazing Examples of Dark Hair with Highlights for Incredible Contrast

Avery Hunt
Avery Hunt Hair Colorist

Dark hair with highlights is a hair color trend done by painting radiant streaks on dark strands. This is how you combine the depth and gloss in one creation, resulting in a dimensional finish.

Connecticut-based hair colorist Meeghan Truss has been highlighting hair for several years. She shares the first two aspects that need to be considered when thinking of brown hair color ideas.

She explains, “Always talk budget and maintenance with the stylist. The worst hair mistake you can make is committing to a color you can’t maintain.”

As with any color service, maintenance may require a woman to return to the salon every 4-6 weeks, depending on how quickly her locks grow. Coloring the base dark and adding highlights isn’t ideal at all. The regrowth will be noticeable, and the process can be very pricey.

Highlighted dark hair can benefit from a purple shampoo the most, as suggested by Truss. “Dark hair tends to lift on the brassy side. A professional purple shampoo will cancel out the warmth and gold tones.”

Some ladies may have a lighter base but want hair highlights, too. Truss recommends lowlights in these cases. “The stylist can work some dark pieces into the existing blonde.” She adds, “It gives the contrast and dimension most women want to achieve.”

Before your next hair appointment, check out these inspirational photos of the best dark hair with highlights!


#1: Cute Ash Brown Highlights on Dark Hair

Ash brown highlights on dark hair offer a neutral tone that flatters any skin complexion. For ladies who want to switch things up without going too drastic, here’s a color trend to try! I used babylights to create this low-maintenance shade. Babylights are micro-highlights with fine, thin weaves that give your hair a seamless blend. They show less dimension and almost a solid look compared to a balayage.

Mid-Length Dark Straight Hair with Thin Highlights
Instagram @pkseurahuone

#2: Dark Straight Hair with Thin Highlights

If your hair is dark and straight, you should consider thin highlights. Summer is the best time to try these thin highlights if you’re looking to brighten up your hair. A warm, luscious caramel tone would match well with your dark hair. Keep your hair moisturized with Morocconoil’s oil treatment.

#3: Dark Caramel Brunette with Highlights

Getting highlights is a great way to show off light-reflecting color on dark hair. You don’t always want to go blonde when your hair is dark. Ask for a rich caramel with mahogany notes to create a beautiful, complimenting color. It will also be lower maintenance with the low contrast.

#4: Black Cherry Highlights on Layered Curly Hair

A black cherry highlight on dark curly hair is a great way for ladies to add a bit of brightness and depth to their look. Remember that when going for a dark color, it’s important to invest in color-safe products. Also, use tools to help reduce heat damage and keep curls looking hydrated. When choosing this look, it’s best to wear a black cherry shade. It shouldn’t be no more than two shades lighter than the base color for a seamless blend and grow out.

#5: Sexy Long Dark Hair with Caramel Highlights

Sexy, long dark hair with caramel highlights will make everyone envious of you! Don’t forget to ask for face-framing pops of blonde to ensure your features pop. Brown hair color with highlights looks better with some waves to show off the dimension.

Gorgeous Dark Brown Hair with Brunette Highlights
Instagram @hair.by.jessv

#6: Gorgeous Dark Brown Hair with Brunette Highlights

Dark brown hair with brunette highlights is a gorgeous natural hair color you will love. When dyeing your chocolate brown hair with highlights, you must use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners to maintain the longevity of your color. Our hair is one of our best features, so we must take care of it!

Alluring Dark hair with blonde balayage highlights
Instagram @romeufelipe

#7: Alluring Blonde Balayage Highlights

Blonde balayage highlights in long dark hair are perfect for ladies wanting a trendy style without maintenance. The root area stays a more natural color while the rest is brightened. This allows for further-spaced appointments.

Related: Best balayage highlights ideas.

Yummy Dark chocolate brown ombre hair
Instagram @baxehairstyles

#8: Yummy Dark Chocolate Brown Ombre Hair

Consider dark chocolate brown ombre hair if you are looking for a high-contrast hair hue! The warm blonde on the mids and ends will pop out with the rich dark chocolate base color. This color is perfect for women with warmer skin tones desiring a natural-looking finish.

#9: Ombre Highlights for Dark Natural Hair Color

Try ombre highlights for dark natural hair color if you’re bored with your current hair hue! This color combination is a great way to brighten your tresses while keeping them natural-looking for a perfect grow-out. This color can be styled with waves or left straight.

Trendy Brown hair with highlights and lowlights
Instagram @hairshegoes.id

#10: Trendy Brown Hair with Highlights and Lowlights

Try brown hair with highlights and lowlights if you want to change your hair. Adding highlights and lowlights will add dimension to your hair hue. Finishing your hair with beach waves will show off the different tones of your crown!

Beautiful Dark brown hair with blonde highlights
Instagram @lashandblow.uk

#11: Beautiful Dark Brown Hair with Blonde Highlights

Dark brown hair with blonde highlights is a great way to add flair to your brunette hair—the ribbons of blonde blend perfectly with a rich brunette base, especially when styled with some waves. Nothing is boring about this look!

Polished Dark hair with silver highlights
Instagram @getnellafyd

#12: Polished Silver Highlights

Silver highlights are great for women with darker hair. They create a bold contrast against the base compared to lighter bases. When going for an ash tone, hair must reach pale yellow to get its true tone. Use Olaplex No.3 weekly to keep the locks healthy and shiny.

Modern Dark Brown Hair with Highlights
Instagram @hailtothehair

#13: Modern Dark Brown Hair with Highlights

The light shines on dark brown hair with highlights. To add movement and depth to really dark hair, add caramel highlights for contrast. The light will bounce off the dark brown highlights and make your hair shine like never before!

Bold Blue highlights on dark hair
Instagram @el.remedio

#14: Bold Blue Highlights

Having blue highlights is a beautiful, bold statement. Blue is a tricky color to achieve and maintain. It takes more maintenance than most colors, as it can easily fade to green. It fades quickly, so more appointments are typically required. At home, tinted shampoos can help with the upkeep to maintain the bold and pretty color.

#15: Contrasted Black Hair with Highlights

Black hair with highlights is a beautiful option for women wanting to add contrast. Dark tresses against any color always make a statement. With dark hair highlights, this style idea gives the locks a dimension and a great variation of colors.

#16: Vibrant Purple Highlights

Purple highlights throughout dark hair are a cute and fun change from a solid dark color. Adding these painted highlights can be a subtle change or a bold move. Purple doesn’t always show up great indoors, but it’s a great eye-catcher when outside in direct sunlight. It’s also one of the easier fashion colors to maintain.

#17: Sweet Honey Blonde Highlights for Dark Hair

Honey blonde highlights are a great way to warm up dark hair. Not everyone wants ash blonde or platinum blonde highlights. Many women still want to keep the warmth of a beautiful honey blonde that glows in the sunlight.

Dark hair with blonde streaks and caramel balayage
Instagram @hairbybritny

#18: Blonde Streaks + Caramel Balayage

Blonde streaks and a caramel balayage for dark hair color are great for a higher contrast style. Women who want to brighten their hair can easily add balayaged blonde streaks. It helps break up the color and adds interest to your hair.

Amazing Burgundy highlights with dark hair
Instagram @demiraehair

#19: Long Bob with Amazing Burgundy Highlights

These burgundy highlights on a bob cut are a beautiful way to add some flare to dark hair. Hair must be lightened first, and then the burgundy is added for pops of fun color throughout.

This is great for women who want shine and high contrast to darker hair. Reds, like other fashion colors, can fade quicker than normal, so talk with a stylist about at-home care.

#20: Stylish Highlights for Dark Curly Hair

Adding highlights to dark, curly hair makes the curls stand out against each other so well. Highlights highlight the curl pattern and make the spirals pop. Women who love their curls will benefit from adding the contrast.

#21: Trendsetting Platinum Highlights

Platinum highlights are a beautiful way to brighten any head of hair! Going this blonde isn’t always easy, but it’s always beautiful. Platinum is the most high-maintenance blonde because it requires more appointments than normal. Plus, you still need intense at-home maintenance. Be sure to ask a stylist about the maintenance before taking the plunge.

#22: Subtle Partial Highlights on Medium-Length Hair

Partial highlights on medium-length hair are perfect for women who need the look of an all-over color sesh. Especially when you don’t have the time to spend hours in the chair. Partial highlights give the illusion of full color, while the darker pieces underneath offer depth.

Gorgeous Dark hair with light brown highlights
Instagram @sonder_kelly

#23: Gorgeous Dark Hair with Light Brown Highlights

Dark brown hair with light brown highlights is perfect for a subtle change. A shade or two difference in the base color and highlight color gives enough contrast to your hair. Having subtle brown highlights is an excellent choice for low-maintenance colors.

Feminine Dark hair with Blonde Highlights
Instagram @sonder_kelly

#24: Feminine Blonde Highlights

Wear blonde highlights on dark hair to achieve a bolder style. The color melt allows your natural base to work with your skin tone. The added blonde offers a brightening effect to not just your hair but also your complexion.

Natural Dark Hair with Yummy Caramel Highlights
Instagram @nailblaze

#25: Yummy Caramel Highlights on Natural Dark Hair

Caramel highlights give warmth to natural brunette hair. Lightening hair will always throw off warmer tones. So, these highlights will blend beautifully with your color, keeping a natural dimension.

Ash blonde highlights on darker long hair
Instagram @awedeewolff

#26: Ash Blonde Highlights on Dark, Long Hair

Ash-blonde highlights with darker have a smokey tone. It has a marbled effect that flatters natural bases, especially ones that haven’t been colored before. It enables the correct lift and longevity to your color, too.

Related: Best blonde highlights hair ideas.

#27: Classic Auburn Highlights with Copper Undertone

Auburn highlights are perfect for ladies who love copper tones and who have a brunette base. The combination of tones works perfectly and creates a rich reflection on medium skin tones. Discuss with your stylist about melting the color from a natural base for a seamless grow-out.

Dark brunette hair with sun-kissed highlights
Instagram @sadieface

#28: Dark Brunette Hair with Sun-Kissed Highlights

Dark brunette hair with highlights gives a sun-kissed effect. It’s a great way to add dimension to golden buttery blondes, subtly warming the skin tone. Discuss with the colorist how much lighter you should go depending on your preference for upkeep when getting dark hair with highlights.

Dimensional Highlights on short dark hair
Instagram @hailtothehair

#29: Dimensional Highlights on Short Dark Hair

Highlights on short dark hair give a lot of dimensional effect and depth, especially if styled with a wavy hairstyle. This suits women with fine, thin hair, providing an illusion of a fuller, thicker density.

#30: Mature Grey Highlights

Grey highlights give a subtle, color-melting effect that brightens dark tresses. Dark hair with highlights is for ladies looking for a fun color that can’t wear vivid pink or red shades. If you’re uncomfortable with black roots, this color may not suit you.

#31: Amazing Red Highlights on Dark Hair

Red highlights on dark hair create a bold, fiery color with an edgy dimension. Colorist Summer Ramsey of Upstate, SC, is the creator of this awesome shade of locks. “This would be perfect for women who want a pop of color without being overwhelmed. It has a perfect balance, depth, and dimension,” says Ramsey. For the upkeep, she suggests “shampooing less and opting for dry shampoo.” These keep the color’s vibrancy, for sure!