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Two-Tone Hair | 10 Ideas & Style Guide

If you’re planning to go with two-tone hair, take the time to browse through our 10 style ideas. From subtlety to pronounced highlights, we’ll explore how to use this chic hairstyle best. Read on to learn all you need to know.

What Is Two-Tone Hair?

Image titled Style Guide Two Tone Hair featuring a cutout of a woman with such a style floating on a blue square patterned background

Two-tone hair is an effect where you play with a pair of colors in your strands. While there is no one-set rule for the style, it is typically lighter on the bottom and dark at the top. 

Usually, your natural hair color is the darker shade on the top. Then your stylist will use a hair toner to lighten the hair at the bottom. Some go with a color that runs at the bottom and another at the top, blending the pairing.

It’s like highlighting with a superior blend. But the rules have changed for styling. How you choose to two-tone is up to you. You can dye the bangs and leave the rest of the hair alone.

Or go X-Men Rogue and create a single streak in your long locks. Compared to other styles, two-tone hair is low maintenance. You never have to worry about roots growing out the way you might with traditional coloring. 

10 Ways to Rock the Two-Tone Hair

In the trendy world of two-tone hair, starting as blonde, redhead, brunette, or gray isn’t the point. The point is to find yourself in complete self-expression and freedom, as these 10 two-tone hairstyles prove. Ready to get started? So are we — let’s jump in.

1. Frame Your Face

Woman with two toned hair in bright blonde and black trim with red lip in a side profile image

photoagent/Shutterstock

In the end, the best hairstyles provide a perfect frame for your face. Hairstylists can cut bangs or layer your hair around your face to give it a frame. But did you know color is another way to frame your face and draw attention to your best features?

Go two-tone to up the drama around your face. You can keep it subtle with simple highlights like a light blonde fringe around your face or lighter bangs. If you like to use your hair to make a statement, think about trying a strong contrast in color around your face.

Like in the photo above, you can go high drama with black and white contrast, but the style works with almost any combination of colors.

Read Next: Money Piece Highlights

2. Classic Ombré

Classic Ombré two tone hair idea on a woman with brown roots that blend into blonde tips

Oksy001/Shutterstock

Ombré is one of the most popular styles for two-toned hair. You can do so much with ombré, experimenting with different colors, vibrancies, and styles. Ombré probably owes a lot of its popularity to its versatility.

The color pattern looks great on long or short hair, curly or straight hair, and many different styles. The basic concept for ombré is to use one hair tone on top that gradually fades into a second color on the bottom. While the colors blend into each other, there is a clear difference between top and bottom. 

Classic ombré uses a darker natural color on top and a gentle fade to a lighter color on the bottom. But, again, if you want to play around with it, you can use any color combination. Ombré works well with two complementary color tones, and it can be fun to play with soft, pretty pastels.

3. Flip the Ombré Script

Two tone hair idea we titled Flip the Ombré Script on a woman with platinum silver hair with dark pink ends

VAndreas/Shutterstock

You also go big, bold, and dramatic with ombré. Try flipping the script and doing a light color on top, fading into a darker, more dramatic color on the bottom. This look can accentuate your face since the lighter color frames your face and the darker color provides a base. 

Some people like to stick with natural colors like soft brunettes and blondes. But this style, in particular, can be fun with more dramatic dyes. Try a bleached white on top, fading into a rich color on the bottom.

Or, go with bright colors like teal and pink or black and red to express yourself. The options with dark-on-top ombré are endless, and the result is always a hairstyle that turns heads.

4. Balayage

Black woman with heavy eyeliner and eye shadow with two tone balayage curly hair in a messy updo

NeonShot/Shutterstock

Balayage and ombré are somewhat similar but not the same! As discussed above, ombré delivers a contrast between the top and bottom – you can see the change halfway down the hair strands.

The contrast is more gradual with balayage, with some highlights higher up the strand and some ends not highlighted at all. You usually have a dark hair color as the base, and then a stylist will work highlights of a lighter shade in streaks throughout your hair.

The effect looks like natural highlights throughout your hair strands while getting overall lighter toward the bottom, and it gives a rich sense of body throughout your full hair strands. 

Balayage looks gorgeous on curly hair, accentuating the natural movement and bounce. It’s also an excellent style for afro hairstyles to show the depth and volume of your curls.

Read Next: Balayage vs. Highlights

5. Half and Half

Woman with half and half two tone hair with one side blonde and the other side brown

Irina Bg/Shutterstock

Are you going for something truly unique? Try this half-and-half look, with one color on the left side and a sharply contrasting color on the right. The key to this look is a solid middle part, which helps frame your face and emphasize your natural symmetry.

It works great for any length and style – long and straight, bobbed, curly, afro, you name it. You probably don’t want to try this one at home since the line needs to be perfect. Get a professional who can keep the sides well separated to keep the contrast.

You can go with blonde and brunette if you want natural colors. Or, amp up the drama with two strongly contrasting colors. Try combinations like white and black, pink and blue, yellow and green, or truly any color combination.

6. Two-Toned Braids

Image of a woman in a studio with two tone hair in red and black box braids

frantic00/Shutterstock

For women with afro hair or tight curls, two-toned braids are a gorgeous statement. Braids are a great protective hairstyle that keeps your ends from breaking and allows you to grow your hair out over time. You can also style braids in so many ways for every type of occasion.

Braids are enormous statement-makers and can be pulled up in dramatic updos or worn down for a free sweeping look. While braids can be your natural color, a new color, or multiple colors, two-toned braids are elegant and fun at the same time.

The two tones help highlight the contrasts in braids and add depth. You can either do separate braids for each color or blend the two colors into each braid. Often, stylists will use your natural hair color as the base tone and bright second color to highlight the rich textures of your braids.

Read Next: Types of Braids

7. Streaks of Drama

Lady with a short bob haircut closes her eyes and lets her two tone hair in blue and red flow over the left side of her face

Sundraw Photography/Shutterstock

While ombré and balayage often produce a subtle contrast, you can also opt for streaks of colors throughout your whole head. Streaks often get a bad rap for the early 2000s “bad highlights” look, but they can be such a standout way to express yourself if done well.

Streaks are a go-to look for rocker chicks and artists alike. With two-tone streaks, you can alternate bright colors and emphasize your cut. Streaks look especially good with A-line bobs and pixie cuts. The color contrast highlights the texture and asymmetry of your hair.

Pick two colors and streak all your strands for a pop of personality. You can go with subtle tones for streaks, but we love the bright, dramatic colors. Try red and purple, orange and pink, or two similar tones like red and pink.

8. Highlighted Tips

Very thin woman with highlighted tips thrown up into a messy bun made up of her long two tone hair

Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock

No matter your hair color on top, going for bright blonde highlighted tips can add drama to any hairstyle. Throw it up, and the blonde creates a frame or halo glow around your head. Wear it down, and the tips add contrast, interest, and even the illusion of more body and volume. 

This style differs from ombré in the sense it only accentuates the tips of your hair. Your roots can have a rich depth of color, either from dyes or just your natural hair color. The bright blonde tips add drama to the ends of your hair and help hide any breakage or damage. 

This look is great on straight, curly, wavy, or afro hair. You really can make it work with almost any hairstyle as well, and it just adds a little drama to every day.

9. Over-Under

Woman with blonde and purple two tone hair in a black shirt holding her chin with her left pointer finger

Focus and Blur/Shutterstock

While it may sound a bit like ombré, the underneath hair coloring technique is quite different. With this technique, a stylist will color the interior layers of your hair – think, the layers covered up by the rest of your hair.

So while ombré creates a contrast between top and bottom, underneath color creates a contrast between over and under. What’s fun about this look is the color underneath is almost like a little secret popping through.

Of course, this depends on how you cut it. You can use this style with long, straight, unlayered hair, and the underneath color will only show through a little bit. Or, you can use it with layered hair, a-line bobs, curly hair, or truly any style. 

Some people go with a black or very light color on top and a pop of neon or vibrant blue, red, purple, teal, etc., underneath. But you can also layer two intense bright colors together for an electric eye-catcher.

10. Unicorn Hair

Gal with purple and blue two-tone hair in the color of a unicorn standing in a dark room looking to her right with a serious look on her face

PushAnn/Shutterstock

Just like galaxy hair, unicorn hair is a trendy look that typically combines a vivid pink with a striking blue. You can combine the two colors in many different ways – ombré, balayage, over-under, streaks, etc. The overall effect gives you a pretty, fantasy-world look. 

We love the fact that unicorn hair gains depth over time. You can get it refreshed as some color fades, and the pinks and blues will become a rich tapestry of tones and hues. Unicorn hair looks great with almost any hair type but looks good styled with either a sharp pixie or flowing beachy waves. 

Things to Consider

Two-tone hair coloring requires choosing the right patterns and colors. Here are a few tips and considerations for taking your two-tone hair on all the right journeys.

The Two Shade Rule

The two-shade rule helps you get the most flattering results. You begin by knowing the natural color of your hair. That’s your virgin color. If you’re already coloring your hair, you don’t count that color. You look at your regrowth and go from there.

Choosing Your Shade

Traditionally, go with a color that’s two shades lighter than your hair. If you can’t choose, always go with the lighter. For darker colors, start a shade darker to get an idea of what darker hair will look like. Take into account colorants won’t lighten hair that’s been previously colored. That’s why it’s best to darken hair gradually.

Dark to Blonde

The idea that blondes have more fun extends to two tonings. Dark to blonde is a complex process, though, and requires more than mere coloring. Go too high on lightener, and you might end up with brassy hair, or orange. Before making any dynamic changes in this direction, do your research, including talking to a hairstylist. 

Is Two-tone Hair for You?

A while ago, a person might’ve stuck to compatible hues, such as dark brown going to blonde. Today, it’s whatever you want it to be. Blonde to silver, black to emerald, half and half. The sky’s the limit, and all the colors in the spectrum are at your disposal. 

You can develop subtle blends and stark contrasts. Your hair can be as complex or simple as you desire. The story is for you to tell us. That’s the rule. The two-tone is a chic hairstyle that incorporates personality more than almost any other traditional style.

If you want to check out the two-tone look and you’re on the fence, go with temporary coloring. It’s a great way to determine if permanence should be on the agenda before making a final decision.

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