The Ultimate Guide To Men’s Highlights: Styles & Maintenance

The Ultimate Guide To Men's Highlights: Styles & Maintenance

Are you curious about men’s highlights but unsure where to start? You’re not alone. Many men are discovering the transformative power of highlights to enhance their hair color, add dimension, and create a modern look.

However, navigating the various techniques, styles, and maintenance requirements can be overwhelming without guidance.

This comprehensive guide explores men’s highlights, covering everything you need to know to achieve the perfect look for your hair type, skin tone, and personal style.

We’ll explore highlighting techniques, from subtle sun-kissed streaks to bold, contrasting colors, and help you determine which approach best suits your needs.

We’ll also provide essential maintenance tips to keep your highlights fresh, vibrant, and healthy between salon visits. You’ll learn how to care for your highlighted hair like a pro.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to embrace a new level of style and self-expression. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Basics of Men’s Highlights

Highlights are a popular hair coloring technique that involves lightening specific sections of hair to create a multi-dimensional, natural-looking effect.

This process uses bleach or high-lift color to strip away the hair’s natural pigment, resulting in a lighter shade.

Highlights can be strategically placed to enhance the hair’s texture, complement skin tone, and create a sun-kissed appearance.

In contrast, hair dye involves changing the overall color of the hair by depositing color pigments. While hair dye can cover grays or completely transform hair color, it lacks the depth and dimension that highlights provide.

Key Differences Between Highlights and Hair Dye:

  • Highlights target specific sections, while hair dye covers all of the hair
  • Highlights create a multi-tonal, natural look, while hair dye results in a uniform color
  • Highlights can be customized to suit hair type, skin tone, and personal style

Choosing the Right Type of Highlights

When it comes to men’s highlights, there are several techniques and styles to choose from, each offering a unique look and level of maintenance. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular options:

1. Foil Highlights for Precision and Natural Looks

Foil Highlights for Precision and Natural Looks

Foil highlights are a classic technique that involves wrapping individual sections of hair in foil before applying a lightener. This method allows for precise placement and control over the highlighting process, resulting in a natural, blended look.

Foil highlights are an excellent choice for men who want a subtle, gradual change in their hair color or those looking to enhance their natural hair color with strategically placed lighter strands.

The foil technique is versatile and can be adapted to suit various hair types, lengths, and textures. It’s particularly effective for men with shorter hair, as the foils can be easily hidden and maintain a neat appearance throughout the growing-out phase.

Foil highlights also offer a wide range of color options, from subtle, barely-there blonde to bold, contrasting shades that create a striking visual impact.

2. Balayage: A Hand-Painted Technique for a Sun-Kissed Effect

Balayage is a freehand highlighting technique that has gained popularity recently and for good reason. This method involves hand-painting lightener onto the hair, creating a gradual transition from darker roots to lighter ends.

The result is a natural, sun-kissed look that mimics the effect of hair lightened by the sun over time.

One of the main advantages of balayage for men is its low-maintenance nature. Because the highlights are painted on in a more organic, less structured manner, there is no harsh line of demarcation as the hair grows.

This means that men can enjoy their highlighted look for longer periods without the need for frequent touch-ups.

Balayage is particularly well-suited for men with medium to long hair lengths, as the technique allows for a seamless blend of colors and a more natural grow-out phase. It’s also an excellent choice for men who prefer a more subtle, understated highlighting effect.

3. Low Maintenance Options: Subtle and Natural Shades

For men who prefer a low-maintenance hair color routine, subtle and natural highlight shades are the way to go. These options involve adding just a touch of lightness to the hair, creating a barely-there effect that enhances the hair’s natural depth and dimension.

Some popular low-maintenance highlight shades for men include:

  • Ash-blonde: A cool, muted blonde shade that complements most skin tones
  • Caramel: A warm, golden hue that adds a subtle richness to brown hair
  • Sandy blonde: A light, neutral blonde that creates a sun-kissed effect

4. Adventurous Choices: Bold Colors and Unique Placements

For men who want to make a statement with their hair, bold colors, and unique highlight placements can be a fun and adventurous choice. These options involve incorporating unconventional shades or placing highlights in unexpected areas, creating a look sure to turn heads.

Some daring highlight choices for men include:

  • Platinum blonde: A bright, icy blonde shade that creates a striking contrast against darker hair
  • Electric blue: A vivid, eye-catching hue that adds a punk rock edge to any hairstyle
  • Neon green: A bold, unconventional color that is perfect for men who want to stand out from the crowd

When it comes to unique placements, men can experiment with highlighting techniques such as:

  • Under lights: Placing highlights underneath the top layers of hair for a subtle peek of color
  • Frosted tips: Lightening just the ends of the hair for a throwback 90s look
  • Chunky highlights: Creating thicker, more defined sections of color for a high-contrast effect

Best Practices for Textured, Fine, or Thinning Hair

Men with textured, fine, or thinning hair may face unique challenges when highlighting, but they can still achieve a great look with the right techniques and products.

For textured hair, such as curly or coily, choosing a highlighting technique that won’t disrupt the natural curl pattern is important. Balayage or hand-painted highlights are often the best option, as they allow for a more natural, organic placement of color.

It’s also crucial to use a gentle lightener on the hair and follow up with a deep conditioning treatment to maintain the health and integrity of the curls.

Fine or thinning hair can benefit from highlights that create the illusion of depth and volume. Opt for a fine weave or baby lights technique, which involves applying thin, subtle highlights throughout the hair.

This will add dimension and movement without overwhelming the hair or making it appear sparse. It’s also important to use a volumizing shampoo and conditioner to help maintain the hair’s body and thickness.

Highlight Ideas for Dark, Brown, and Blonde Hair

The best highlight shades and techniques for men will vary depending on their natural hair color. Here are some ideas for dark, brown, and blonde hair:

Dark Hair

Dark Hair

  • Caramel or toffee highlights: These warm, golden shades add depth and richness to dark hair, creating a sun-kissed effect.
  • Mocha or espresso highlights: For a more subtle look, opt for highlights that are just a few shades lighter than the natural hair color, such as mocha or espresso tones.
  • Ash brown highlights: Cool, ashy highlights can help to neutralize any redness or warmth in dark hair, creating a more balanced, natural look.

Brown Hair

Brown Hair

  • Golden or honey highlights: Warm, golden shades can brighten medium to light-brown hair, giving it a healthy, radiant glow.
  • Beige or champagne highlights: For a more understated look, try beige or champagne highlights, which create a soft, natural-looking contrast against brown hair.
  • Cinnamon or auburn highlights: Men with warm, reddish undertones in their brown hair can enhance this warmth with cinnamon or auburn highlights.

Blonde Hair

Blonde Hair

  • Platinum or ice blonde highlights: Add platinum or ice blonde highlights to light blonde hair for a bold, striking look. This creates a cool, modern contrast that is sure to turn heads.
  • Butterscotch or honey blonde highlights: Warm, golden highlights can add depth and dimension to blonde hair, creating a more natural, sun-kissed effect.
  • Sandy or beige blonde highlights: For a more low-key look, opt for sandy or beige blonde highlights, which blend seamlessly with the natural hair color while still providing a subtle boost of brightness.

The Process of Getting Highlights

Getting highlights for the first time can be both exciting and intimidating. Here’s what you can expect during your salon visit and some tips for finding the right stylist:

What to Expect During Your Salon Visit

Your stylist will conduct a thorough consultation when you arrive for your highlighting appointment. They will assess your hair type, texture, and natural color and discuss your desired look and maintenance preferences. 

Once you and your stylist have agreed on a highlighting plan, your stylist will begin by sectioning your hair and applying a protective barrier around your hairline and ears. Then, they will use foils, a hand-painting technique, or a combination of both to apply the lightener to specific sections of your hair.

The process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the highlights’ complexity and the length and thickness of your hair. During this time, your stylist will monitor the progress of the lightener and adjust the development time as needed.

After the lightener has been processed, your stylist will rinse your hair and apply a toner or gloss to refine the color and add shine. They may also apply a deep conditioning treatment to help nourish and protect your newly highlighted hair.

Tips for Finding the Right Salon and Stylist

Finding the right salon and stylist is crucial for achieving the best possible highlighting results. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Look for a salon specializing in men’s hair color or has experience working with male clients.
  • Read online reviews and check out the salon’s social media pages to understand their work and clientele.
  • Schedule a consultation before booking your appointment to meet with potential stylists and discuss your goals and concerns.
  • Ask for referrals from friends, family, or coworkers who have had positive experiences with highlighting.
  • Consider the salon’s location, hours, and pricing to ensure it fits your lifestyle and budget.

Maintenance Tips for Men’s Highlights

Proper maintenance is key to keeping your highlights fresh, vibrant, and healthy. Here are some tips for shampooing, conditioning, and refreshing your color-treated hair:

Shampooing and Conditioning for Color-Treated Hair

Look for shampoos and conditioners that are sulfate-free. Sulfates can strip the hair of natural oils and cause the color to fade more quickly. Instead, opt for products that contain gentle, nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and keratin.

When shampooing, focus on massaging the product into your scalp and roots, avoiding scrubbing or rubbing your hair too aggressively. Rinse thoroughly with cool or lukewarm water, as hot water can open the hair cuticle and allow the color to escape.

After shampooing, apply a moisturizing conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, avoiding the roots. Let the conditioner sit for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Use a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask once a week for an extra boost of hydration and protection.

How Often to Refresh Your Highlights

On average, men with highlights should expect to visit the salon for a touch-up every 6-12 weeks. This allows enough time for the hair to grow slightly, creating a natural, blended look while maintaining the highlights’ overall vibrancy and definition.

If you have opted for a more low-maintenance look, such as subtle balayage, you may be able to go longer between touch-ups, as the grow-out will be less noticeable.

However, if you have chosen a bolder, more high-contrast look, you may need to refresh your highlights more frequently to prevent harsh lines or visible roots.

Ultimately, the best way to determine your ideal touch-up schedule is to consult your stylist and discuss your specific needs and goals. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your hair type, color, and lifestyle.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered the essential aspects of men’s highlights, from understanding the basics to choosing the right style and maintaining your look.

By familiarizing yourself with the various techniques, such as foil highlights, balayage, and low-maintenance options, you can decide which approach best suits your hair type, color, and personal style.

The key to achieving the perfect men’s highlights is working with a skilled stylist who can assess your needs and create a custom plan that complements your features and lifestyle.

Following the best practices for maintaining your color-treated hair, including using the right products and scheduling regular touch-ups, you can keep your highlights looking vibrant, healthy, and stylish.

Whether new to men’s highlights or a seasoned enthusiast, this guide can help you navigate the exciting possibilities and find the perfect style that showcases your unique sense of fashion.

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