Men's Hair - How To Achieve Natural Looking Highlights

Young man in hairdressers with foil in hair, portrait
Serge Krouglikoff / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Antonio Gonzales, stylist at Orlo Salon in New York City

There has been much advice about hair color for men but one topic I don’t hear enough about is creating natural looking highlights for men with short hair. Guys, listen up! If you want natural looking highlights and you see your hair stylist coming at you with a hand full of foils, there is going to be nothing natural about your color. You will probably end up with highlights that look like stripes or as if someone accidentally spilled some bleach on your head.

The solution is Baliage. This is a technique of painting the hair in small strokes giving the stylist more control creating an overall appearance that is more natural and convincing. Here is the difference between the two.


1) Foils are square and the head is round so it’s difficult to avoid the appearance of lines or stripes in the hair if using foils.

2) When the hair is short it’s only possible to place one color in each foil instead of two (one light one dark). On some men two colors can actually make the overall appearance more natural.

3) If the hair is very short and foils are used on the back and sides, you end up with blond dots. Anyone for a game of connect the dots?

4) With short hair, foils can also fall out while the color is processing, so you may hear the stylist say "oh not to worry, that one is not needed." Well, if it’s not need then why is it there in the first place!

5) For men with medium length hair foils can end up looking to Feminine or dated.


1) Because the head is round it follows the shape of the head and you can carefully place color where needed.

2) With this technique you are able to blend colors to keep a balance of colors. For example, if a client returns for more highlights you can place some of their natural color back in so he does not look too blond.

3) You are guaranteed not to end up with "tiger stripes" using this application, creating a look that is more natural and masculine.

4) This is a great way to blend grays for the man who is coloring his hair for the first time. There is control and gray coverage can be a gradual process.

5) For men with medium length hair Baliage looks more masculine. The idea is to naturally blend colors without creating a look that is processed or has an over done finish.

Antonio Gonzales is a stylist with Orlo Salon in New York City. Get more hairstyling tips at Antonio's Website,