8 Highlighting Techniques for Long Hair

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Chunks and panels and low lights, oh my! With all the different highlighting techniques out there, it's hard to keep them all straight, let alone know which one's right for your hair. If you're puzzled when it comes to the latest trends, it's time to brush up on your highlighting 101. --Written by Sophia Darby

Skinny Highlights

Actress Jennifer Aniston's barely there highlights are among the most requested types of highlights today. The key to her oh-so-natural color is having your stylist create super-thin highlights throughout the entire head. The base color should be a dark blond, and your highlights should be no more than one level lighter than your base for the best results.

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Tone on Tone

Actress Kate Hudson's perfect blond hue is thanks to the addition of strategically placed low lights in her tone-on-tone blond. Often, ladies with highlights have them added for so long that their natural, darker color fades away. Reintroduce depth and tone to overly blond hair by having your stylist put in a mixture of lighter and darker highlights and low lights into your existing hair color.

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Ombre and the City

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker's iconic locks are famous thanks to the amazing highlighting technique she sports. Called ombre, it's the technique of using bleach on brown hair to gradually transform the ends to a lighter blond shade. To create this look yourself, start about halfway down the length of your hair and paint on bleach and 20-volume developer, sparsely. The bleach application should cover more hair the farther you get down the hair's length until the ends are completely covered. Work quickly and rinse as soon as you've lifted the hair three or four shades.

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Big and Bold

If you're looking for a bold highlighted look, try singer Fergie's thick and light technique. Thick strips of hair are highlighted three to four levels lighter than the base color to create a striped look across the top surface of the hair. Use highlighting foils for this technique, separating small chunks of hair, evenly spaced apart, and coating them with a color that's three to four levels lighter than your base shade and a 30-volume developer. Rinse after 30 minutes.

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The Color Purple

Singer Jordin Sparks' peek-a-boo highlights show off a splash of purple within her inky locks. This is fun way to play with color, without having to make a drastic change or commitment to upkeep. Popular colors can include purple, pink or blue. To get the most vibrant results, have your stylist bleach the small sections first, then apply the bright colors to make them super vivid.

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Hint of Highlights

Actress Jenna Ushkowitz proves that highlights don't have to pop up everywhere to be effective. Here highlights roughly three shades lighter than her base are created from the mid-shaft down, and placed only around her face. Those caramel-colored highlights brighten her hair, without dominating her natural hue. Use a level-eight caramel blond color and 40-volume developer in foils to achieve this look. The color should be applied only around the face and about halfway down the length of the hair.

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Flash of Color

Singer Imelda May proves that, when it comes to hair highlights, sometimes less is so much more. Make a bold statement with your hair by creating one thick, contrasting streak of color at the front of your hair. This faux forelock is sure to get noticed, especially if you put it in a bang area that's styled in an adorable wave like Imelda's.

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Panels of Color

Singer Lauren Alaina works the paneling highlight technique to the max. Large panels of lighter color are strategically placed in the bang and crown to draw attention to these areas. For best results when emulating this look, keep the lighter color in the same color family and within three levels of your base color.

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