For many, beginning to go gray tends to present two presumed options: either you start dyeing your hair to cover it up, or you let nature fully do its thing and let the gray take over. In reality, there is a third choice that’s as chic as it is overlooked — herringbone highlights. The up-and-coming hair trend embraces the process of going gray by blending the gray hairs into the natural color. As a result, the woven effect is reminiscent of a herringbone pattern, a zig-zag design often found in floor or wall tiles.
Celebrity hairstylist and International Colour Creative Director for evo hair Tom Smith tells TZR that the trend is “an update on classic foil highlights that is adjusted to celebrate natural grey hairs by including them in part of the design rather than striving to cover them up.”
“As people are trying to find new ways to blend their gray, this type of placement will allow for a more seamless and blended growth due to the diagonal placement of the foils,” adds Lola Valentine, hairstylist and Digital Education Manager for Schwarzkopf Professional USA.
“An experienced colorist will add one or two highlight colors into the clients existing two colors (their natural base plus their grey/colorless strands),” Smith explains. “This can be a mix of warm or cool tones depending on the natural base color and the shades are scattered around; inspired by the irregular placement of the natural grays rather than a mechanical alternating placement.”
Gray hair has grown in popularity over the last few years, particularly when it comes to blending techniques like herringbone highlights. Celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston have been loving the trend, an undeniably graceful and chic way to welcome gray hairs with ease.
Smith uses the below (which features celebrities beside three different types of herringbone flooring) to determine which tone works best for them. “I use images of parquet wooden flooring to help show a suitable palette and help the client visualize,” he says. “Are they more of a warm oak tone, or a cooler beech tone, etc.?” He also created a TikTok that breaks down this approach to herringbone highlights.
If your colorist is not familiar with the term “herringbone highlights”, Smith says you can simply ask them to incorporate your gray hair into fine, blended highlights that allow grays to look intentional and celebrate their brightness.
The only challenge of this trend that Smith notes? Not letting any negative associations with gray hair stand in your way. “For decades, society has told us it is unacceptable to be seen with gray hairs and it is synonymous with getting older or putting less effort into one's appearance. This is no longer the case but the feelings can be very ingrained.”
It’s obviously easier said than done, but Smith says that working with an experienced colorist can help you incorporate your grays in a way that makes you feel your best.