SOS there’s a new hair color trend on the block and it’s making us feel some serious nostalgia for Nokia flip phones and clunky Doc Martens. The trend in question is none other than the 90’s highlight, a hairstyle originally made popular by icons like the Spice Girls and Olsen twins. In contrast to softer techniques like balayage and babylights, these thick and stripy highlights are unapologetically bold and anything but subtle. The style features purposely non-blended streaks of color and stark shade differences. In fact, this “rogue” highlight is considered a nod to 90’s feminism due to its strong and dramatic look. Most commonly, the highlight is bleached blonde, but it can easily be adapted to any color in the rainbow.
Recently, everyone from Kylie Jenner to Beyoncé has been spotted wearing some variation of this face-framing color. The trend seems to have started back in March when Jennifer Lopez debuted caramel-blonde highlights on her light brown hair. The star helped bring this look back from the dead, from a time when it was reserved for the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Kelly Clarkson. However, this time around the 90’s highlight has been given a chic and contemporary upgrade. Combining the original style with balayage and face-framing techniques, the chunky highlight is back better than ever.
While straying from your natural hair color can be a big step (we get it), these chunky highlights are seriously chic. From chunky blonde streaks to pops of bubblegum pink, there’s plenty of ways to try out this powerful retro style for yourself. And although face-framing fringe might involve more upkeep than dip-dyed or balayage styles, this seriously cool style is worth it in our opinion. Here, we’ve rounded up the best face framing highlight styles for different hair colors and hair types to inspire your next appointment.
Best face framing highlights ideas
1. High contrast bleach blonde
This chunky blond highlight is the work of NYC colorist Elizabeth Hiserodt. She used a retro bleach-and-foil dye job to achieve this look on writer Sable Wong. This is a great example of how the stark contrast between a chunky blonde piece over a black root creates a high-drama style.
This look from hair stylist Alexus Estelle shows how a rogue blonde streak can be applied over any base shade of hair. Everything about the strong contrast here is so right.
Channel your inner rock star with this edgy highlight look from Francas Hair Gallery. The strategically-placed blonde highlights frame the face perfectly and add some high-contrast hues against the darker strands.
There’s a reason highlights will never not be a thing. Case in point: fashion influencer Brittany Xavier’s contrasting highlights. This face-framing pop of blonde color is giving us fresh Dua Lipa vibes and we’re totally here for it.
Bella Thorne’s chunky face-framing highlights first appeared on her Instagram back in May. The star took the retro highlight trend out for a spin by pairing blonde highlights with her dark brown hair.
2. Warm golden tones
No one does the 90’s highlight revival quite like Beyoncé. Queen Bey’s version of the trend includes a buttery golden highlight around her face and loose waves. The result makes her deeper brunette locks pop in the best way possible. If you have short hair but want to take this look for a spin, we suggest trying our highlights collection.
Beauty guru and YouTuber Jackie Aina is giving us hair goals with this face-framing strand. The chunky, light caramel highlight clashes beautifully with her darker locks to result in a serious style statement.
Talk about nostalgia. Kylie’s chunky blond highlights are making us feel like we unknowingly took a trip in a time machine back to the 90’s. The lighter highlights frame her face perfectly and enhance the caramel and cocoa shades in her hair.
3. Face framing bangs
Created by London-based hair stylist Katie Freedman, this edgy short cut offers the ultimate bold style. The look features a platinum highlight and longer, face-frame bang.
As one of the first to embrace the 90’s highlight trend, Dua Lipa debuted chunky blonde streaks in her dark brown hair to mark the beginning of her ‘Future Nostalgia’ era. While the singer is known for switching up her style often, she kept this retro look around for quite a few months.
4. Bold colors
Curious about how to wear wild hair colors? This fun look from hair stylist Harriett Muldoon shows us how pastel pink hair is done. The thick pink highlight frames her face perfectly, providing an unexpected contrast to her blonde strands.
Life is too short to have boring hair. This look from hair stylist Hannah Yoo shows how getting a little adventurous with your hair color can lead to beautiful results. Also, the cool teal blue shade proves that the 90’s highlight trend can be easily adapted to any color.
These high-contrast pink highlights by hair stylist Justine Bianca are effortlessly cool and endlessly inspiring. If you’re looking for something super bold for your next dye job, then this look is for you.
As Kate Elizabeth says, “dye ur hair pink. just do it.” This Youtuber and Instagram influencer makes a convincing case for dyeing your hair a rainbow color. She also opts for a pop of fun pink color at the front of her wispy blonde locks.
5. Subtle streaks
From first glance, blogger Anne-Laure Mais’ hair might not look noticeably highlighted. However, her face-framing streaks are totally brightening up her balayage. Plus, the icy shade of blonde is super modern.
Created by celebrity hair stylist Andrew Fitzsimmons, these beige-brunette highlights are reminiscent of the iconic 90’s and early 2000s. Kim surprised everyone with this nostalgia-inducing look, which she wore for a KKW Beauty campaign. And as if the chunky highlights weren’t enough, she also sported a choker and 90’s-inspired brown-toned lipstick.
This look from stylist Anna Winck shows that a chunky 90’s-inspired highlight can still look great, even after it grows out a bit and your natural roots are showing. Her contrasting streak of blonde through brunette hair looks positively effortless.
Model Kaia Gerber is among many celebrities that have been experimenting with this bold hair trend recently. She went for a DIY approach, recreating the look at home by herself by lightening pieces of her hair with hydrogen peroxide. The result gives her light brown hair cool dirty blonde streaks.
6. 90s nostaglia
Only JLo could rock a decades-old look and have us seriously considering trying it out for ourselves. Styled by celebrity hair stylist Chris Appleton, her stark blonde-and-brunette stripes kicked off this nostalgic hair trend back in March and made face-framing streaks popular once again.
The great thing about highlights is that they can easily freshen up any hair style without as much commitment as a full-on dye job. Influencer Chic Ama’s chunky blonde highlights take the bob to a whole new level. The bold blonde streaks are pretty much the equivalent of power dressing for your hair.
Written by: Mikayla Uber