By Victoria Moorhouse
Updated Mar 16, 2018 @ 6:30 pm
Credit: Getty Images

"It looks good!" Kind of stripe-y!" That's the response I once got from a friend years ago after I asked her what she thought of my hair color. I'm glad she didn't think it looked horrible, but that's the last thing I wanted it to look like. My goal? A natural, dimensional, blended, sun-kissed blonde. Instead, I was dealing with bright blonde highlights on a base that was way too dark. If only then I knew about what a thing called "mid-lights" can do for your hair. After chatting with celebrity colorist Matt Rez, I'm convinced they're the secret to your best hair color yet.

"A mid-light is the color that ties the base color, or what would be your low-light, to your highlight," says Rez. Think of mid-lights as connecting pieces of hair sandwiched between your base and your highlights—i.e. what stops your hair from looking stripe-y.

"It creates more dimension, so it gives the color more movement," says Rez. Not only that, but it looks incredibly natural because sun-kissed hair is never just one, or even two, colors.

For example, if your base is a dark blonde and your highlight is a baby blonde, the mid-light would fall in the "golden-blonde" realm. Often, the mid-light has a warmer tone, which can scare those prone to brass, but Rez says it's all about control.

"Having enough warmth, not only does it tie the look together, but it gives it more of a pop because it is a balance of tones. You have your warm, your neutral, and your cool," he says.

Mid-lights can take the place of a process called a base bump, or lightening your natural base color first before adding in highlights. Unfortunately, this can end up looking really artificial, fast. "Base bumps unfortunately overpower the highlight after two to three weeks because it starts to look too warm," he says. "A mid-light is a controlled amount of a base bump. It doesn’t eliminate the natural. You’re still keeping the natural interweaved with the look."

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These connectors not only give you a hair color that looks better, but it sets you up for less (yes, less) maintenance because there's less contrast between the base and the highlight.

Sounds like the secret to not sitting in your salon chair all summer long, too.