10 Subtle Hair Color Ideas to Freshen Up Your Look
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10 Subtle Hair Color Ideas to Freshen Up Your Look


February 19, 2021

Are you one of those people who have a Pinterest board full of bright hair color ideas, but never really got to try any of them because they might look too bright or attention-grabbing? Or are you constantly in awe of those people who can rock bold hair colors in public? Do you want to do the same but are still unsure whether you have the courage?

Try one of these subtle hair color ideas that will surely fulfill your desire for a fresh new look without it being too loud and flashy!

1. Peek-A-Boo Hair

Dyeing only the bottom layer of your hair does not only give you the fix you need for your hair color desires, but it also spares you from some hair damage if you leave the top part alone. It's also easy to do by yourself but make sure that you've done enough research first before you dye your hair by yourself, and try to limit your hair dye DIYs to things like these that won't require salon-level skills to work with.

It's also a wonderful idea to do this before you take the full plunge to a full head of the color you want, so you can see whether it suits you or not.

On occasions where a bright hair color won't be acceptable, you can wear your hair in a low bun to hide the color.

2. Subtle Balayage

Meaning “to sweep” in French, balayage is a freestyle dye technique where your hair is highlighted to look natural and sun-kissed with the gradations that it's distinct for. The balayage in the above image is a subtle, partial balayage. It's a softer form of the technique where the dye is only painted on one part of the hair.

A balayage, in general, is known to be very low-maintenance, requiring minimal touch-ups. Simple, soft and beautiful, these highlights will look amazing showing through your locks.

3. A Single Streak

Dyeing a single streak of your hair will give you a nice pop of color that'll brighten up your face!

To make it look more blended with the rest of your hair and to avoid a chunky appearance, you could have the streak dyed right under the top layer of your hair, so it'll peek through and appear seamless with the rest of your hair.

For a change, try several colors on one streak!

4. Oil Slick Hair

This is for all the dark-haired girls out there!

Oil slick hair is a very beautiful idea if you want a multicolored look without having it look too flashy. It requires a little bleaching to make the colors show through, but it's definitely worth it because of how pretty it is. It wouldn't be too noticeable in a low light setting, but once you go under sunshine or bright light, the colors will appear to cascade down your hair subtly.

This one is worth a try!

5. (For Naturally Black Hair) Brown Hair Without Bleach

For those of you who have really dark hair and are disappointed because most coloring processes require bleach, don't worry!

It's possible to lift your hair color several shades lighter without the use of bleach, resulting in a beautiful brown color. The way it works is simple: when blonde hair dye (NOT lightener/bleach, there's a difference) is applied directly to black hair, it'll lift a small amount of pigment from the hair, thus creating a color that is lighter than the natural hair. It won't turn blonde because your hair isn't pre-lightened before.

If you don't want all-over color, you can use the same process but make it into an ombré, balayage, or highlights.

6. Colored Roots

Popularized by the singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, colored roots are a unique and unusual way to add color to your hair.

You can go for a smooth transition blend, or go for a bright contrast with a clear demarcation line between your dyed roots and the rest of your hair.

7. Dyed bangs

Remember the TikTok E-Girls of 2019 rocking this dye and popularizing it all over the internet?

Being a self-proclaimed e-girl myself, I definitely recommend this style as it is subtle, easy to maintain, trendy, and has a great face-framing ability. You could easily achieve this look at home as long as you're careful and have read about bleach and dye usage safety.

8. Babylights

This one might require a professional to do because of its complexity, but for a tiny tinge of color that's spread out all over your hair without it looking too chunky, babylights are worth considering.

They're a more subtle version of highlights, suitable for people who prefer a lighter dye application that's as well-balanced as highlights.

9. Dip-dye

If you were a teenager during 2012-2014 and were especially invested in the Tumblr girl scene, then you'd be familiar with this.

Dip-dyed hair is known for its clear and contrasting demarcation line, looking as if the tips of your hair have been “dipped” into the dye. Can we bring this back in 2021?

10. Half-and-half Ombré

Harley Quinn's iconic hair!

Two contrasting colors on the bottom half of each side of your head is perfect for when you need a funky and fresh look that's unusual and different from a traditional ombré.

Which one of these subtle hair color ideas is your favorite? Try it out for yourself and add a little color to your life.

Tiara Georgina
100k+ pageviews

Writer since Sep, 2019 · 12 published articles

Tiara is a journalist at The Teen Magazine. Explorative and genuinely curious about life and all it has to offer, she dives into a whole variety of topics in her writing, mostly concerning pop culture, beauty, and mental health. Currently residing in Leiden, The Netherlands, she is experienced with writing articles for her school's publication in the beauty section and experimenting with makeup and skincare. She is passionate about coming up with fresh ideas and turning them into helpful, informative, and eye-opening content for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Aside from writing and makeup, she also enjoys art, reading, traveling, cosplaying, learning new languages, playing video games, and watching animated shows.