From ombré to sombré to underlights, we see hair color trends morph constantly, and usually taking on quirky names. But one pattern throughout them all has been their gradual increase in subtlety. Gone are the days of single process color and (thankfully) stripey, skunky highlights. And now, the most subtle of them all has become popular enough to earn itself a name: babylights.

Seen on celebs like model Karlie Kloss and Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike, babylights are delicate white blonde highlights that are strategically woven into the hair so they stay extremely natural looking—basically, how a child’s hair looks when it’s lightened after a long summer spent playing outdoors.


First day back to work with this handsome fella @harryjoshhair ❤️

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“My clients often bring in photos of their children for inspiration, asking me to make their color look that fresh and natural,” noted Joel Warren, Master Colorist and Co-Founder of the Warren-Tricomi Salon. “The application process is very similar to highlights, the difference is the amount of hair in each foil and the separation between,” Warren explained. “For babylights, you use just a little bit of hair and create smaller separations between foils so the highlights blend with the base color.” The result is a very natural-looking, beautiful blonde color that still adds dimension you’d expect from any good dye job.

And brunettes, don’t worry — you can get in on the trend, too. Warren explained that your colorist can use the same pattern and technique, but with a darker shade. “Instead of a very severe blond, we create very subtle, natural-looking highlights.”

For the record, I’ve had babylights before there was a name for it — every time I go to get my hair highlighted, I emphasize how subtle I want my color, explaining that it should look like I just got back from a three-month trip to Bermuda. But now, looks like I’ll be able to walk into the salon and explain what I want with just one word.