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It’s 2020, and the days of chunky, skunk-like highlights have become a distant (albeit unforgettable) memory, right up there with low-rise jeans, flip phones and trucker hats. These days, colorists have mastered the art of achieving a seamless, “sun-kissed” look with no harsh lines in sight. Keep these tips in your back pocket once salons are open again! Check out our top tips for achieving natural-looking highlights for any hair type that are sure to be coveted this season as a return to low-maintenance trends are a reaching an all-time high! 

Tip #1: Be realistic

Know exactly what you want before your colorist touches your locks. Come equipped with photos that depict the type of look you want, but remember that everyone’s hair takes color differently, and what looks natural on someone else may look extreme against your shade. Lastly, tell your colorist about your hair history (i.e. recent processing, chemical treatments, etc.) to ensure that your strands remain in the healthiest state possible. 

Tip #2: Start small

If you want to avoid that dreaded “zebra” look, it’s best to take things slow. Much like the sun wouldn’t immediately lighten all of the hair after a single beach day, you shouldn’t aim for a headful of golden highlights in one sitting. Instead, concentrate on highlighting a handful of strands at a time. Aim for skinny pieces and opt for a color that’s 1-2 shades lighter than the client’s base to achieve the most natural finish. 

Tip #3: Add dimension

When it comes to achieving a sun-kissed look, single-process dye jobs are an absolute no-no. Opt for an array of light, medium and dark tones that complement one another. This will mimic the appearance of a lighter base while still offering plenty of dimension. At a minimum, your colorist should use at least two shades to create a natural blend with your base color. 

Tip #4: Don’t over-commit

Unless you feel like sitting in the salon chair every 3-4 weeks to touch up your strands, it’s best to consider every low-maintenance option possible. For example, rather than opt for permanent color, try out a semi-permanent shade instead. Not only will it allow you to go longer in between appointments, the color will naturally fade, providing you with a seamless transition as your hair grows out. Another option? Opt for a “lived-in," smoky root. You’ll still have brightness and dimension, but you won’t have to worry about harsh lines of demarcation if you miss an appointment.

Tip #5: Location is key

The sun doesn’t lighten your hair in sections that are perfectly equidistant from each other, therefore, your highlights shouldn’t be perfectly placed either. Instead, opt for pieces spread randomly throughout your head to achieve a true “sun-kissed” effect. 

Tip #6: Get a gloss 

To help you extend the life of your highlights and keep them looking as fresh as possible, incorporate a glossing treatment into your beauty routine. Not only will a gloss help you go longer in between touch-ups, it will also add insane shine and enhance your color.