Lighten Up: Brunette Highlights 101

Highlights aren't just for blondes, people! Whether you go for a bold golden-honey hue or a more subtle, caramel color, highlights can give dark brown and black hair a serious dose of dazzle. We got tips from Jason Backe, head colorist at New York City's swanky Ted Gibson Salon, on how to choose the right streaks shade and keep them looking fabulous.
ESSENCE.COM Dec, 10, 2009

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Mary J. Blige’s expertly placed golden highlights brighten up her rich brown haircolor. “Blonde highlights should always be woven in from the interior,” advises Backe. “If they’re placed right at the part or hairline, they look dated.”

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Vanessa Williams brightens up her look with radiant, amber-toned streaks. “To keep your hair looking healthy,” says Backe, “ask your stylist to apply a deep conditioning treatment after the color.”

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Melody Thornton’s striking, copper-esque highlights are striking paired with her tawny complexion.

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Alicia Keys went for a few barely-there highlights framing her face—and the results are so, so pretty. Ted Gibson Brazen Brown Shampoo ($24.95) helps illuminate rich, nutty tones in brown hair.

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Halle Berry goes for casual elegance with these skinny, toffee-toned highlights.

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Iman’s sunny streaks look luminous with her warm complexion. “If you have lighter skin, try golden highlights,” says Backe. Medium to dark complexions should go for deeper auburns and caramels.

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Model Jessica White enlivens her chocolatey locks with a combination of pale golden and deeper bronze streaks. Raaoorr!

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Woven through the top layers of her dark brown hair, Beyonce’s luscious, caramel highlights add dimension and drama to her style. “To keep your color from fading, hit the salon between appointments for a gloss treatment,” says Backe. “Or, cover your roots with a marker—I always recommend Touch Back Marker.”

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Woven throughout her shoulder-length ‘do and bangs, Serena Williams’ delicate, coppery highlights give her overall look a soft, flirty feel.

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Vanessa Simmons works a did-she-or-didn’t-she moment with a few subtle, cinnamon-hued streaks. Looking for a natural way to subtly change your haircolor? Backe suggests henna. “It’s a plant, so it’s all-natural and conditioning,” he says. “But because henna stains the hair, you can’t then apply regular highlights or color. Not a good idea for commitment-phobes!”

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