19 Looks That Prove Chunky Highlights Are the Coolest Hair Trend Around

When it comes to switching up my hairstyle, I can get a little shy. In fact, I've had the same hairstyle (long, bleached, middle-parted) for nearly 10 years. And what's really quite funny is that despite the fact my hair has looked the same that whole time, the techniques I find myself asking the hairstylist for have varied drastically over the years. First, I was asking for ombré, then balayage and now it tends to be something a little more curated. Something along the lines of "babylights but kind of balayage and don't forget the root stretch, please?" Yep, navigating the world of hair colour can be quite the minefield. And frankly, I'm a little fed up of the same old, same old.

Luckily, there's a new hair colour trend on the block, and it's set to spice things up a little. That's right—it's the '90s chunky highlight. But before you start experiencing flashbacks of zebra-like orange stripes courtesy of your favourite box dye, fear not. This time around, the chunky highlight has had a bit of a makeover. Combining the original concept with other techniques such as balayage, babylights or face-framing, the humble chunky highlight is back—and I'm kind of loving it.


(Image credit: @ANOUKYVE)

Whether you fancy keeping things chic and warm-toned or lightening everything up with some icy streaks (if so, I highly recommend Redken Blondage Express Anti-Brass Mask, £29, and Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Repair Shampoo, £18, for keeping yellow tones at bay), there’s a style of chunky highlight for you. Keep scrolling for some serious chunky-highlight inspiration.


Alexis Foreman
(Image credit: @ALEXISFOREMAN)

Subtle but still very effective, Alexis's slightly thicker sections of caramel colour blend perfectly with warmer brown tones to create the ultimate winter 'do. 


(Image credit: @SOFIAZIADAA)

One cool stripe of warm, chunky blonde around the face is surprisingly versatile. Wear it down in a middle part, slicked back into a low ponytail or flip it over with a big, bouncy blow-dry.


Aimee Song
(Image credit: @AIMEESONG)

Aimee's ombré style combines the usual concept of dip dye with some chunkier highlights for a softer finish.


Janka Polliani
(Image credit: @POLLIANI)

Janka's thick chunks of caramel blonde give off serious cool-girl beauty vibes.


Kim Kardashian West

Kim's chunky highlights might look subtle, but those light streaks teamed with a choker are the stuff that '90s dreams are made of. 


Symphani Soto
(Image credit: @SYMPHANISOTO)

Tonal streaks through thick, curly hair can create the illusion of even more volume and texture. I am loving this.


Lotte Williams
(Image credit: @ASOS_LOTTE)

Lotte's face-framing chunky highlights (otherwise known as "Rogue blonde") are seriously on-trend right. And seriously cool, too. 


Celeste van Joost
(Image credit: @CELMATIQUE)

Everything about Celeste's look is goals. The popping pink eyes, the buttery-soft skin and, of course, the light streaks through her hair. 


Jennifer Lopez
(Image credit: @CHRISAPPLETON1)

Caramel tones in a sleek, straight bob? J.Lo, I salute you.


(Image credit: @LAURENNICOLEFK)

Proving that highlights don't always have to be honey blonde, this warm-brunette style showcases chunky strips of auburn tones to create a beautifully blended look.


Sabina Socol
(Image credit: @SABINASOCOL)

Chunky highlights, but make them French-girl chic, right? Sabina's stretched roots and chunky streaks of bright blonde are at the top of my inspo board right now. 


Chic Ama
(Image credit: @CHICAMASTYLE)

Chichi's contrasting blonde streaks take the blunt bob to whole new heights. 


Renata D'Agrella

Chunky pieces of face-framing blonde against dark roots and lengths (otherwise known as the money piece) are all the rage right now.


Anne-Laure Mais
(Image credit: @ANNELAUREMAIS)

At first glance, Anne-Laure's blonde lengths might not look obviously highlighted. However, her face-framing icy blonde streaks totally fresh up her balayage. I'm taking notes.


(Image credit: @BEYONCE)

Loose beach waves combined with chunky highlights around the face? Beyoncé, you have outdone yourself.


Anna Winck
(Image credit: @ANNAWINCK)

A contrasting streak of blonde through brunette hair? I'm all in if it looks this good.


Brittany Xavier
(Image credit: @JUSTINEMARJAN)

Turns out I'm not just taking notes from Brittany on how to master TikTok. I'm totally here for her contrasting highlights, too. 


Maria Macfarlane

Everything about the contrast between the brunette and blonde tones in Maria's hair is so right.

Next up, 15 pictures that prove French bobs are the chicest hairstyle to have right now.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous.

Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics.

While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best.

When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.