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Face-Framing Highlights (or Accent Highlights) vs. Partial + Full Highlights

by Madison Reed April 18, 2024


Image by Madison Reed

Are you looking to add a pop of color to your hair but feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options out there? Don't worry, we've got you covered! When it comes to highlights, there are three main techniques to consider: face-framing, partial, and full highlights. Each of these methods can result in a gorgeous transformation, but it's all about finding the one that suits your style and preferences the most. Ready to dive in and discover the differences between them? Keep reading to find out which highlight technique is the perfect match for you!

Face-Framing Highlights

Face-framing highlights feature delicate strands of lighter hues that are strategically placed at the front of your hair, creating a luminous effect that beautifully accentuates your face. They’re a great way to refresh your look without too much effort – after all, you color just a few strands of hair. Plus, they’re highly customizable, as you can use this technique to see a fun pop of color, not just blonde. Think red, copper, and more! 

Face-framing highlights are considered partial highlights since they focus only on certain strands. A great example of this is money-piece hair, which was extremely popular in 2023. Add to that the fact that they are typically less expensive (due to less product being used and quicker application), and you’ve got a great option for a quick and easy glow up.


Partial Highlights

Partial highlights typically refer to a half head of highlights – between a face-framing highlight and full highlight. 

Partial highlights are a great way to add dimension and lightness to your hair without straying too far from your natural color or ending up with too much of a solid blonde look.


Full Highlights

Full highlights are applied all over, from top to bottom. This will achieve the most lightness throughout your hair, including the back and underside of your hair.


Understanding the Difference Between Each Service

Okay, so we’ve explained the basics of face-framing highlights vs. full and partial highlights, but we didn’t delve into too much detail – let’s change that! We’ll start with the pros and cons of each, and then move on to some gorgeous ideas you can bring to your colorist at your next visit to a Hair Color Bar!

Face-Framing Highlights

Face-framing highlights are great because they are less expensive, quicker to apply, and require less maintenance. There is also the benefit of less chemical processing on the hair since fewer sections are being lightened. It’s perfect if you want to give your hair some rest after a period of more extensive highlighting or bleaching.

A downside to face-framing highlights is that they are only focused on select strands or areas of the hair, so the least amount of coverage or lightness is achieved. But if that’s the look you’re going for, it’s a great choice to help brighten the strands around your face.

Accent HLs + Seal

Partial Highlights

Partial highlights are typically the go-to for adding overall lightness through the top and front of your hair without doing a full head of highlights. 

On the other hand, since partial highlights typically aren’t applied to the underside of your hair, the lightness will not be as visible if you often wear your hair in a ponytail or bun.

Partial Highlights - Toned with Palmi - Madison Reed Hair Color Bar Review

Full Highlights

Full highlights are something to consider if you are looking for a much lighter result overall, or you want to lighten the underside of your hair as well as the top, sides, and back of your crown.

Keep in mind that you typically do not need to get full highlights every time you highlight your hair. Since the regrowth underneath is not as noticeable as it is through the top and front, it may be best to alternate between face-framing, partial, and full highlights.
Full HL + Roots + Seal


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Face-Framing Highlights vs. Full Highlights vs. Partial Highlights – Our Ideas

Now let’s get to the most exciting part of this post: our top ideas for face-framing vs. full vs. partial highlights! What’s going to look great for each of these styles?

  • Face-framing highlights:

    • Ash blonde with medium brown: this combination is all about creating a strong contrast. For this option, we recommend chunky face-framing highlights.

    • Caramel: if you’re a brunette, you can choose caramel blonde face-framing highlights. They’re somewhat on the subtler side, so they’re perfect if you want a visible, but less dramatic change in your looks.

  • Partial highlights:

    • Face-framing highlights: – they’re a type of partial highlights, after all.

    • Top section half highlights: applied only to the top part of your hair, these highlights add extra dimension, no matter which colors you use.

    • Mohawk highlights: these include highlighting only one section – a strip of hair going down the center of your head. This looks great with a brunette base color.

  • Full highlights:    

    • Classic blonde highlights: you can either go for a stronger contrast with light blonde or a toned one for a darker blonde color.

    • Silver gray highlights: to embrace your natural grays or seamlessly mix the first grays into your hairstyle.

The Takeaway

We hope this cleared up some of the questions you may have had about highlighting your hair. So, what do you think? Will it be face-framing highlights, partial highlights, or full highlights for you? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check out our highlighting kit – it’ll help you achieve your desired look in the comfort of your home!

You may also read: Blending Gray Hair with Highlights and Lowlights
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