Service Spotlight: Types of Dimensional Haircolor

Gorgeous, multi-dimensional haircolor is popping up everywhere these days. Modern techniques allow for amazing tonal variation and depth of color. But it’s important to know the difference between different methods if you think you’d like to try out a new look on your next salon visit. Read our cheat sheet to find out what it’s all about!

Highlights and Lowlights

This is the more traditional method of adding depth of color. You may have been getting highlights or lowlights for many years. The process usually involves using foil wraps to isolate carefully chosen sections of the hair, then painting lightener (in the case of highlights) or a darker color (for lowlights) on these selected sections. For very short hair, a cap with holes may be used—the chosen strands are pulled through the holes so they can be treated all together.

Highlights and lowlights can be used together for a particularly interesting, natural look. Your stylist can also get lots of different effects by varying the size of the sections. Sometimes these are called chunks, pieces, or slices. The final result can be very subtle or more bold, depending on the look you want.


In the last few years, balayage has taken the salon world by storm. This freehand color-painting technique takes a lot of study and practice to get right, but once the stylist is proficient in it, the results are fantastic. Because the color is painted on by hand, the stylist can choose random strands to color, which means the overall effect tends to be more subtle and natural looking than traditional highlights or lowlights.

An added benefit of balayage is results that last longer. Because there isn’t such an obvious line where the color begins, you can wait more time between touchups.


Ombré hair color was especially popular last year, and it shows no sign of slowing down in the new year. The term comes from a French word that means “shaded.” It involves placing darker color near the roots, and then gradually lightening through the mid-length of the hair to the ends. The look can be extremely dramatic (think black roots and blond ends), far more subtle, or somewhere in between. The most subtle type of ombré is sometimes referred to as sombré.

Like balayage, ombré haircolor is great for those who want a low-maintenance style. For a really cool effect, try a bright color like pink or green on the lower part of the hair.

Color Melt

A color melt is somewhat similar to an ombré, but it uses three or more colors to blend each new color into the next. The colors are overlapped so they blend seamlessly into one another. Color melts can be in tones of natural colors like blonds and browns, or they can be done in fun colors like blues and purples.

Hopefully this helps give you a better idea of the types of dimensional color out there. Remember, you can always bring pictures of the look you want to your stylist if you aren’t exactly sure what it’s called!