Are underlights the new highlights this summer?

Lightening up your hair for summer is hardly ground-breaking, but if you’re looking for a fresh look for the season, hair underlights can make a fun statement.

High contrast colour techniques like money pieces and chunky highlights have been gaining popularity, and now hair underlights have entered the game and are even more eye-catching.

Underlights involve a burst of colour coming from the under layers of your hair rather than the crown of your hair.


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What do underlights look like?

According to technical colour and styling director at Xiang Hair Amanda Lunedei, underlights are a modernised version of the “top deck” Y2K trend.

“It involves only highlighting the under section or bottom layer of your hair and this can be in a natural colour that contrasts to your base colour, or you can experiment with a variety of vibrant colours for a more dramatic effect,” Amanda says.

“It’s also known as peek-a boo highlights because it can be hidden or shown off depending how you style the hair.”

Rather than being applied at the top layers of the head, this colouring technique is applied underneath so you don’t see the full colour effect unless you pin certain layers of the hair up. It’s a great way to add a bold colour to your hair without fully committing to it.

Hair colourist, stylist and educator Zebulen Howell says underlights can be used to create dimension in the hair, but in a way that gives more natural depth for a softer regrowth.

“Typically, the technique is used in the same way as a highlight with foil,” Zebulen says.

“Another technique I use is painting a gloss using Shades EQ by Redken in between my highlights to create depth.”


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Who should try underlights?

Zebulen says this technique is great for anyone who wants to add depth and is sick of having strong regrowth.

“Adding a few low lights over your part line can create a beautiful dimension and prolong your frequent visits to the hair salon.”

Amanda says underlights are a great option for anyone wanting to experiment with colour in a very low-maintenance way.

“The technique is so subtle that when you wear your hair down your natural colour will fall over the top and hide any real evidence of the under lights, making it perfect for clients who work in quite conservative places,” she says.

“It’s also a great option for your chameleon clients who are always looking for something new when they walk through the door.

“There are many colourful temporary colours that can be added to the underlights and be washed out by your next appointment ready for a new look every time.”

What to ask your hairstylist

Most hairstylists will be familiar with the term underlights, otherwise ask for concentrated highlights strategically placed below the parietal ridge.

“I would recommend underlights for any client new to the colour world,” Amanda says.

“It’s a great way to have some fun and feel different without any real commitment and it can help clients begin to understand what it’s like to have colour in their hair and what it requires in terms of haircare and maintenance.

“It’s also great for anyone wanting to change up their look for summer as ponytails are huge in summer and a great way to show off some really cool vibrant colours hiding underneath.”


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Written by Charlotte Brundrett.

Main image courtesy of @_edwardsandco.