What Is Partial Highlights for Dark Hair?

Partial Highlights by morasalon in Cherry Hill, NJ

Partial highlights are a fantastic way to add dimension and lightness to dark hair without committing to a full head of highlights. This technique focuses on applying color to specific sections of the hair, often around the face or crown, to create a natural, sun-kissed look. It’s a versatile option for those looking to refresh their hairstyle subtly, whether they want a soft glow or a more pronounced contrast. Ideal for anyone hesitant to make a dramatic change, partial highlights offer a low-maintenance, cost-effective way to experiment with hair color.

What are Partial Highlights?

Partial highlights involve coloring specific sections of hair, typically focusing on the top layer or areas around the face. Unlike full highlights that cover the entire head, partial highlights target select sections to add dimension and lightness. This method can create a sun-kissed effect or emphasize facial features by strategically placing lighter tones.

The application process varies. Foil highlights use small sections of hair wrapped in foil with color, allowing precise placement and even distribution. Balayage, a freehand technique, involves painting color onto the hair’s surface for a more natural, blended look. Both methods aim to create a contrast with the natural hair color, enhancing texture and depth​.

Partial highlights are a versatile choice for those wanting to experiment with color without a drastic change. Depending on the color and placement, they can be subtle or bold, suitable for various styles and preferences.

Color Options for Dark Hair

These color options allow for various looks, from natural and subtle to bold and dramatic, catering to different preferences and styles.


Caramel highlights add warmth and dimension to dark hair, creating a rich, golden hue contrasting beautifully with a dark base. This shade is versatile, complementing various skin tones and enhancing the natural richness of dark hair​​.


Honey highlights offer a soft, sun-kissed look, lightening the hair subtly. This shade is ideal for those seeking a natural, blended appearance. Honey tones work well with both warm and cool undertones, making them a popular choice for dark hair​.


Red highlights, ranging from subtle auburn to vibrant red, provide a bold and striking contrast against dark hair. This option is great for those looking to make a statement, adding depth and vibrancy to the overall look​.


Blonde highlights can vary from subtle golden streaks to more pronounced platinum tones. This color choice adds a dramatic contrast and can significantly brighten dark hair. Blonde highlights are perfect for creating a striking, high-contrast look​.

Ash Brown

Ash brown highlights offer a cool-toned option, providing a sophisticated and muted contrast to dark hair. This shade is ideal for those who prefer a more understated and elegant appearance​.


Violet highlights introduce a fun and edgy element to dark hair. This bold color option can be both subtle and vibrant, depending on the intensity of the shade used. Violet highlights are great for those looking to experiment with unconventional colors.

Styling Partial Highlights

Styling partial highlights can significantly enhance their visual impact, creating dynamic and eye-catching hairdos. Whether you prefer waves, straight styles, updos, or layered cuts, the proper styling technique can beautifully showcase the contrast and dimension of partial highlights.

Waves and Curls

Waves and curls are excellent for showcasing partial highlights. The movement in the hair helps to reveal the different tones, adding dimension and depth. Using a curling iron or wand, you can create loose, beachy waves or tight, defined curls, highlighting the lighter strands and creating a dynamic look​​.

Straight Styles

Straightening the hair can also accentuate partial highlights. The sleekness of straight hair provides a clean canvas where the contrast between the dark base and lighter highlights becomes more pronounced. Flat irons can help achieve this look, and adding a shine serum can enhance the overall effect​.

Updos and Braids

Updos and braids are ideal for highlighting the different tones in your hair. Styles such as buns, ponytails, and intricate braids can show off the highlights by weaving them through the hair, creating visual interest and texture. These styles work well for both casual and formal occasions​​.

Layered Cuts

Layered haircuts enhance the visibility of partial highlights. Layers create different levels within the hair, allowing the highlights to catch the light at various angles. This adds volume and movement, making the hair look fuller and more dynamic​.

Texturizing Sprays and Mousses

Using texturizing sprays and mousses can add volume and definition to your hair, making the highlights stand out even more. These products help to create a tousled, effortless look that emphasizes the contrast between the dark and light sections of the hair​​.

Pros and Cons of Partial Highlights

Evaluating the pros and cons of partial highlights can help you decide if this technique suits your hair goals. While partial highlights offer low maintenance and a natural look, they also come with some limitations, such as less dramatic changes and potential blending challenges​.


  1. Low Maintenance: Partial highlights require less frequent touch-ups compared to full highlights. Since only sections of the hair are colored, regrowth is less noticeable, making maintenance easier and more cost-effective.
  2. Natural Look: Partial highlights can create a more natural appearance, adding subtle dimension and brightness without drastically changing hair color. This is ideal for those seeking a soft, sun-kissed look​.
  3. Less Damage: With fewer sections of hair being treated, partial highlights cause less damage than full highlights. This helps maintain the hair’s health and integrity, reducing the risk of over-processing​.
  4. Versatility: They offer versatility in styling and coloring. Different techniques and colors can be used to achieve various effects, from subtle to bold, allowing for personalized looks​.


  1. Limited Coverage: Since only parts of the hair are highlighted, the change might be too subtle for those seeking a more dramatic transformation. Partial highlights might not provide the same overall brightness and dimension level as full highlights​.
  2. Blending Challenges: Improper placement or technique can lead to uneven or unnatural-looking highlights. A skilled stylist must ensure the highlights blend seamlessly with the natural hair color​.
  3. Color Fading: Highlighted sections may fade faster than the rest of the hair, particularly if lighter colors are used. Over time, this can lead to a less cohesive look, necessitating additional maintenance and toning products​.
  4. Potential Cost: While generally less expensive than full highlights, partial highlights still require professional application and periodic touch-ups, which can add up over time​​.


Partial highlights are a fantastic option for those looking to add subtle dimension and brightness to dark hair without committing to a full head of highlights. They offer benefits like low maintenance and a natural look, but they also have some limitations, such as less dramatic changes and potential blending challenges.

Ready to transform your look with stunning partial highlights? Visit Mora Salon today and let our expert stylists create a custom color that enhances your natural beauty. Book your appointment now to experience the perfect blend of dimension and lightness for your dark hair!


Recent Posts

Call Now Button