Frosted tips have been out of the spotlight since the 90s, but like other trends from the late 20th century, this look is making a major comeback.
It’s a two-toned look that anyone can rock with confidence, and if you like to be on the cutting edge of trends, now’s your chance to jump onboard.
Featuring a cool and unfinished, raw look, frosted tip highlights are a bold style for guys who want to lighten up their mane without bleaching all over or getting uniform highlights that look a little too perfect.
Learn about what this look entails and how it’s coming back, then see our favorite examples of modern-day frosted tips to inspire your next trip to the barber shop.
We’ll also share tips to consider before you bleach and how to determine if this is the right look for you!
What Are Frosted Tips?
Frosted tips are highlights that only lighten the ends (or increasingly common, the midshaft to ends) of the hair for an ombre effect. Frosted tips first became trendy in the 90s and early 2000s thanks to celebrities like Mark McGrath and Justin Timberlake.
In the 90s and early aughts, frosted tips were typically paired with a short-to-medium spiky hairstyle to accentuate the lighter ends and give the style an edgier look.
Today, frosted tips are back in the spotlight as other 90s trends are coming back around. And for some – ahem, Guy Fieri – they never really went away.
Modern frosted tips are a little softer, less focused on the short-and-spiky look, and often lighten a little more than just the tips of each strand to include more of the midshaft. You’ll see a lot of frosted tips in the coming months as this trend really takes off.
If you’re thinking about trying frosted tips for the first time or just want to relive your 90s glory days, this is an easy look to achieve.
It’s relatively low maintenance, can be as short- or long-term as you want, and suits a variety of styles and hair types. Rocking frosted tips may be on your to-do list, but you need a little inspiration to see how guys are wearing the modernized version of this look today.
Below, you’ll see our favorite examples of frosted tips and a few things to consider to make sure this look will suit you.
10 Frosted Tip Styles for 2023
Frosted tips may bring a specific look or image to mind, but there are many ways to rock the frosties with different haircuts, textures, types, and lengths. Take a look at some of our favorites to get inspired for your upcoming appointment.
1. Curly Frosted Tips With a Fade
Curls and frosted tips go together like PB & J. The spiral shape really highlights the lighter color at the tips and makes it the focus of the style.
Keeping the top longer really makes the curls and tips pop, while the closely-cropped and faded sides make the style a perfect mix of throwback and modern.
2. 90s-Inspired Short Frosted Tips
Remember the bold, fully frosted tips of the 1990s? Rock the style again but better with this example as your inspiration. All-over highlights along the tips of the hair paired with a medium-short hairstyle will have you searching for your Pogs and missing cassette tapes.
It’s super low maintenance, and as your hair grows out, you can trim the tips to shed the style or touch it up to keep the frosted tips going.
3. Platinum Frosted Tips With Mid Fade
If you really want your frosted tips to be the center of your style, go platinum. This light blonde, silvery shade contrasts nicely with a darker hair color and draws the eye to the highlighted tips.
You’ll need a little length on top to make this look work – roughly 3 inches – and go for a mid fade to keep the sides and back short and neatly blended.
4. Heavily Frosted Tips With a Tapered Cut
A tousled, tapered cut on thick hair is a great look, and frosted tips only make it better. Heavy highlighting keeps the tips from looking straight outta the 90s while still hearkening to the trend-setting style we grew up on.
We really like how the highlights extend a little beyond the tips to include the midshaft. This look works well with medium length on top, at least 3-4 inches.
5. Messy-on-Purpose Lightly Frosted Tips
Frosted tips are built for messy-on-purpose styles – you rarely see them paired with a slicked-back or perfectly coiffed ‘do.
The look is supposed to be a little unfinished and raw, so it’s great to pair with tousled styles that look a little bed-head mixed with a little suave. Gel your lightly frosted tips and brush the top in different directions to achieve this casual look.
6. Bald Fade With Bleached Frosted Tips
Coily hair is the perfect canvas for frosted tips and the dense, wiry texture gives the highlights a dip-dyed look. Frosted tips don’t have to be white-blonde, and this example perfectly illustrates that.
Rinse the bleach before it fully lifts to achieve this warm, coppery blonde shade. Pair it with a mid bald fade for a look that’s fresh and neat to balance the bold color.
7. Long Frosted Tips With Bangs
Frosted tips don’t always have to be limited to the very ends – in fact, we love extended frosted tips, especially if you’ve got plenty of length to show them off.
Pair the tips with a 90s inspired hairstyle – medium-long hair tapered and layered with swooping bangs that open up like curtains.
8. Spiked Pompadour With Frosted Tips
Hairstyles with volume are the best option to show off frosted tips. When you spike or style the hair upward, you get a full view of the strands and where the highlighted color begins and ends.
This put-together style has a slightly messy, edgy look thanks to the piece-y texture. Use a little wax or pomade on the ends to style your pompadour and put your tips front and center!
9. Frosted Tips in a Disheveled Tapered Cut
Tapered cuts pair really well with frosted tips since they create a smooth transition in the length of the hair. This cut pairs choppy layers on top with lightly tapered sides for a more disheveled and tousled look.
Choppy layers + tapered sides perfectly complement the lighter ends and give the style a lived-in look.
10. Surfer-Style Frosted Tips
Channel your inner Kelly Slater with surfer-style frosted tips that give your hair a sun-lightened look with a little extra punch. This free-flowing look can be done with hand-painted balayage highlights for a natural look or simple foils for a more uniform and classic look.
Styling is easy with frosted tips on medium-length hair like this – just add a little mousse and tousle it with your fingers.
More Things to Consider
Before you bleach your tips, you have a few things to think about. Frosted tips can be a great look on a variety of haircuts, hair types, and textures, but will this look actually suit you?
Here are a few things to consider before you take the leap:
- What length are you working with? Frosted tips are best suited for short to medium-length hair. Longer hair past the shoulders won’t take on the classic frosted look and will just look like ombre two-toned color instead. In general, you’ll want your hair to be less than 5 inches long on top with a shorter back and sides to pull off frosted tips.
- What’s your current haircut? Your haircut can make a big difference in how your tips look. Longer cuts past your shoulders are pretty much out, so look at short and medium-length cuts that will flatter your face shape and complement frosted tips. Tapered cuts with extra length on top, all types of fades, pompadours, and longer buzz cuts are your best bets with frosted tips.
- Consider your potential styles. Once you’ve got frosted tips, how will you style your hair? Spikes are always suitable as a throwback style, but it’s not an everyday look for most. Gel and mousse will help you lift and shape your hair, while wax and pomade can help you achieve a tousled, piece-y look that’s a little softer than spikes. If your hair is a little unruly or hard to tame, you may want to invest in a hair dryer to style your tips the way you want.
- Think ahead to the grow-out phase. Frosted tips can last for a while since the bleached ends are permanent until you cut them off. But they won’t keep that classic frosted look forever – you’ll have about 2 months before the tips look grown-out. This might be the perfect opportunity to get a trim and leave the frosted tips in the past, or you may want to get a trim and have your tips highlighted again.
- Try some color in your tips. Blonde frosted tips are the original, but it’s fun to shake things up with an unexpected color. Or try multiple colors! After bleaching, add a vibrant hue to add a new dimension to your tips. As the vibrant color fades, you’ll still be left with the blonde bleached tips.
- Bring inspiration photos to your stylist. Frosted tips can mean one thing to you and another thing to your barber or stylist. The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises is to bring your inspiration photos for your stylist to see before they start highlighting. Bookmark this article or save the photos you like best to ensure you get precisely the look you’re going for.
- Don’t get frosted tips if your hair is damaged. Frosting, or highlighting, your hair when it’s damaged is a bad idea. The ends of your hair are the oldest sections of each strand, so they’ve typically taken on the most damage over time from heat, UV rays, chemicals, and rough brushing or styling. If your hair seems really weak, breaks off a lot, feels chronically dry and brittle, or has been bleached or colored in the last 2 months, start using a hair mask for damaged hair and wait a month or two to get frosted tips.
So, Are You Up for Frosted Tips?
We’ve looked at several examples of modernized frosted tips, talked about what this look is all about, and covered a few considerations to keep in mind before you get this style. If you’re up for frosted tips and want to try this throwback look, we say go for it.
If your hair isn’t too long (try to keep it around 5 inches max for the best effect), you know a few ways to style it to accentuate the tips, and it’s not too damaged to bleach, you’re probably a great candidate for tips so frosty, you’ll start craving Wendy’s.
The frosted tips spectrum is wide – you can go full Guy Fieri or choose something a little more modern. The important thing is to have fun with this bold look!
Remember that you don’t have to go white-blonde, you can highlight more than just the tips, and any hair texture and type can suit this two-toned look. If you’re up for frosted tips, we’re behind you!
Here are some helpful guides to check out if you’re planning on highlighting at home or going to a shop/salon to get it done.