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Getting highlights always poses a risk: You won’t get what you’re looking for. We’re not here for the streaky and stripe-y, but the natural and sun-kissed. That’s why when we heard about the hottest hair highlighting technique trending right now, called mid-lighting, we were intrigued. Allegedly, it serves as the proverbial middle ground, the happy medium, needed to take your hair color from flat to fab. Here’s what we know.
The game, in a refreshing turn of events, is actually in the name. A mid-light is the color that blends your base color to your highlight, creating a natural finish that doesn’t look straight from the bottle. So if you’re a natural brown-blonde base, but want to lighten things up with butter blonde highlights, some golden or honey blonde mid-lights will do the trick.
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Mid-lighting makes things like base bumps (i.e. when you have to lighten your base color so that the highlights you want actually blend) or the alternative, cringe-worthy striped highlights that result from your base color being too dark for your highlights, totally unnecessary. The mid-light is like the middle child, often overlooked yet unmatched at the art of keeping the peace while being biologically sandwiched between two dissimilar siblings.
Perfect for blondes, brunettes, and redheads alike, mid-lighting just might signal the end of all bad highlight jobs. (It’s about time.) Here are our favorite mid-light muses we’re taking to the salon this year.
Colorist Matt Rez convinced us of the power of mid-lights on his Instagram alone. "Having enough warmth, not only does it tie the look together, but it gives it more of a pop because it is a balance of tones. You have your warm, your neutral, and your cool," he told Instyle. Blending light butter blonde highlights with warmer blonde mid-lights ensures a balanced finish that doesn’t make the hair color look too obvious on a dirty blonde base.
Why not put a few strokes of honey here, a few ribbons of dark caramel there? Tortoiseshell hair is a mixture of dark shades and touches of warm caramel, honey, and gold—meaning it’s basically made for mid-lighting.
This bright beige borders on the trending hue, cream soda, thanks to the mix of warmer golden blonde mid-lights and platinum blonde highlights. The trick is starting with a neutral bronde base that’s neither too warm nor too cool in tone.
Can you successfully blend shades of deep rust, chestnut brown, and warm golden blonde without it sending everyone into a tailspin? Yes, apparently. This multi-dimensional color catches the light in a big way.
This perfect blend of neutral brown and warm blonde makes us just as ready for sun-kissed summer days as breezy autumn nights. It’s a transitional color that caters to natural brunettes that want to lighten things up.
This fiery approach features heavier strokes than some mid-lighting, but the combination of the deep red base with bright copper mid-lights and warm strawberry blonde highlights hits all the right notes.
This blonde blend is all about keeping the tones cool and neutral, though mid-lighting often calls for a slightly warmer tone to tie it all together. In this case, subtle honey and dirty blonde mid-lights connect ashy roots to pearl blonde highlights.
It doesn’t get any warmer than this combo of deep chocolate, chestnut brown, and rich caramel. That’s a lot of personality packed into a classic short bob cut, and we’re thinking this is the perfect shade for fall.
This blonde blend is fizzy and light. Warmer blonde base tones are blended into buttery mid-lights and champagne blonde highlights for a bright finish we’re loving for summertime.
This rooty caramel color melds a warm chocolate base and bright blonde-caramel ends with neutral brown and deep caramel mid-lighting. Some babylights at the roots tie it all together.
This sun-kissed blend is all about keeping things super warm and natural. The darker base needs lighter brown and dirty blonde mid-lights to marry golden-honey blonde highlights. Without it, the mane screams “fresh from the box,” not from the beach.
Make even the deepest mocha brown look naturally sun-kissed (and not stripe-y!) with chestnut mid-lights that give way to warm toffee and golden caramel balayage highlights. The upper root section gets some love too, making it look less stark than a gradient ombré finish.