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There are plenty of things you can do to your hair to add something extra without getting a major cut or double-process color change. For example, hair-color techniques like lowlights, balayage, and highlights are a few options to consider. Still, while the latter two have become go-tos for people who want to spice up their color without completely committing to something new, there’s a little more confusion around lowlights and what they really are.

For the sake of not sounding like a hair novice – and, most importantly, not ending up with something you don’t want – at your next color appointment, we’re taking it upon ourselves to share the ins and outs of the coloring technique. Because despite the fact that lowlights and highlights have similar names, they are very different. To learn more, keep reading.

What Are Lowlights?

“Lowlights are when color is deposited back into hair that needs depth or contrast,” Karissa Schaudt, colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, tells POPSUGAR. Hair can become flat looking, too light, or too brassy for a number of reasons, and lowlights are a great way to fix that.

Lowlights can be as subtle or bold as you’d like them to be. Your stylist will either use foils or balayage to give you lowlights using a demi-permanent color. Where your stylist puts the color will determine the look. “My preference is to highlight around the face by keeping the lowlights in the crown and underneath sections,” Schaudt says.