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If you’re ready for a new look, you may be thinking about frosted hair or highlights.  However, if you’re like many people, you may be a bit confused about just how these two hair treatments are different.  While there are some similarities between frosted hair and highlights, they are indeed two distinct treatments and will each have a different impact on your appearance.  Continue reading to learn more about each treatment and determine whether frosted hair vs highlights is the right choice for you.

Frosted Hair vs Highlights

While there are a few similarities between frosted hair and highlights, there are also a number of key differences between the two treatment types.  Look at the lists below to get an overview for how frosted hair and highlights are similar and different.


  • The hairs are not all colored the same hue
  • Blends with the hair’s natural color
  • Easier to maintain than hair that is dyed all the same color
  • Can provide depth to enhance appearance
  • Good to use with dull or faded colored hair


  • While frosted hair offers a more muted look, highlights are often much more noticeable
  • For highlights, the hair is sectioned off and positioned on tin foil before the color is applied.  With frosting, a plastic cap with holes goes over the scalp.  The stylist pulls strands of hair through the holes in the cap.  The stylist will bleach the strands outside the cap and leave those inside the cap their current color.
  • While frosted hair involves bleaching smaller chunks of hair, highlighting involves coloring larger chunks of hair.
  • Highlights often require bleach and other hair colors to create variations in tones, while only bleach is necessary for frosted hair.

Is frosted hair the same as highlighted hair?

No, as you can see from the list of differences above, frosted hair is not the same as highlighted hair.  Frosted hair and bleach both use different application methods and produce different results.  For iced hair, smaller chunks of hair are bleached, providing a salt and pepper-like color contrast with your natural hair color.  Highlights involve coloring larger chunks of hair at a time. Often, different colors of dye along with bleach help to create the different tone variations to define the look.

woman wearing gray scarf

About Frosted Hair

What is frosted hair?  The process for frosting hair involves bleaching some of the strands to create contrast with the original hair color.  A special frosting cap goes over the scalp, and the stylist pulls some strands of hair through the cap to bleach.  

Frosted hair tips are another option to consider.  For this treatment, the bleach only goes on the tips of the hair, creating an interesting contrast with the rest of your hair color.

Is frosted hair back in style?

You may remember frosted highlights, particularly frosted tips, being popular back in the later 1990s and early 2000s.  Is it back in style?  Can you still get your hair frosted?  Yes, frosted hair is back in style, with many choosing it over getting their hair highlighted.

Is frosting hair the same as bleaching?

Frosting hair involves bleaching some, but not all of the strands.  The stylist pulls some of the strands out of the frosting cap and only bleaches those strands, not all of the hair.  This is what creates the contrast with the other hairs on your head.

Is frosting hair the same as bleaching?

What does frosting do to your hair?

Frosting your hair creates a contrast between the bleached hairs and the other hairs on your head.  This contrast is similar to a salt and pepper look, because the bleached hairs can be much lighter depending on the natural color of your hair.

Can I frost my gray hair?

Yes, you can frost gray hair.  Using this technique for hair that has some gray (but hasn’t gone completely gray yet) can help make it less obvious that your hair is going gray.  It will help blend the gray into your hair for a more attractive look.

About Highlights

There are so many hair color terms that it can be confusing to keep everything straight.  Highlighting is a hair treatment procedure that involves applying hair color or bleach to different strands of hair.  The goal of highlighting is to make these strands look lighter than the color of the rest of the hair.  This can create an attractive contrast and definition to the hair.

To apply highlights, the hair is sectioned off and some of the strands are placed in tin foil.  The bleach or lighter hair color goes on these sections.  Sometimes, bleach and/or multiple dye colors work together to create different tone variations to enhance the finished look.

Are highlights the same as dying your hair?

No, getting highlights is not the same as dyeing your hair.  Dyeing your hair implies that coloring all the strands, while highlighting only involves coloring or bleaching select strands.  With highlights, some of your strands will be lighter than the rest of the hairs on your head.

Can highlights ruin your hair?

Bleaching or coloring your hair always comes with some risks.  They can change the structure of your hair or cause it to become overly dry.  The more times you color, bleach, or have highlights done, the more likely it is for the hair to become damaged.

Which is better hair color or highlights?

There is no one right or wrong answer to this question.  You just need to think about which look is more appealing to you.  Applying a single color in a salon will likely be less expensive and less damaging to your hair, but highlights can add more definition and dimension to your look.  You just need to weigh the pros and cons and have a discussion with your hair stylist to determine which treatment method is best for you. 

Does your hair go back to normal after highlights?

Everyone’s hair is different, so the impact of highlights on your hair can vary.  For some individuals, their hair will return to their natural color when the highlights fade.  However, the highlighted portions for others may remain lighter than their natural hair color.

Are highlights the same as dying your hair?

Frosted Hair vs Highlights: Closing Words

What do you think?  Now that you know more about what frosted hair and highlights are and how they are different, which hair treatment would you like to try?  Consider your current hair color and which treatment would best complement the overall look you’re trying to achieve.  Be sure to come back and tell us which treatment you chose and how your hair turned out!

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