The oil slick hair color trend has officially caught our eye. If you’re thinking about trying the prismatic, multicolored sheen of oil slick hair, this guide has all the info, tips, and examples you need to make it happen!
Learn about the oil slick color trend, different ways to rock it, the colors you need to use, and tips to achieve prismatic tones that look iridescent. Plus, see tons of cute examples and get inspired to try this dye trend – it’s all here in our guide!
What Is Oil Slick Hair?
- Oil slick hair features prismatic colors with an iridescent sheen
- Violet, blue, orange, yellow, green, and pink shades are often used
- Repeating color patterns give colors an oil-like rainbow sheen
The latest color trend gets its inspiration from an unlikely source: Oil puddles on the ground. A blend of oil and water on the ground refracts light in a prismatic, rainbow explosion of iridescence. Oil slick hair uses this phenomenon as inspiration for its rainbow-hued, iridescent look.
Oil slick hair resembles rainbow or unicorn hair color. But while rainbow hair can be made up of strips or streaks of different hues, oil slick color usually features repeating ombre color patterns – often using vibrant shades of blue, violet, orange, yellow/green, and pink – that mimic the prismatic rainbow colors that occur when oil forms a film on top of water.
This effect requires a skilled stylist to pull off, but it’s not extremely difficult to do. The balayage and ombre techniques help stylists paint swathes of different colors in a repeating but natural-looking pattern throughout strands.
For the most cohesive, blended oil slick color, the shades need to seamlessly transition into each other. If you’re going for a more realistic effect – much like the way actual oil on water refracts light – you can opt for staggered horizontal “strips” of color that randomly bend and curve around the head.
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Who Should Try Oil Slick Hair Color?
Who does the oil slick color trend suit? Everyone! Since this multi-colored look can include both warm and cool colors, there’s no limit to who can rock the trend – and look amazing while doing it.
That said, you can definitely make some tweaks to make sure this look suits you perfectly. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
- Use your undertones to determine the main colors. If you have cool undertones, your focal colors should include cool shades like violet, blue, and green. Keep warm colors to a minimum and away from your face for the most flattering effect. The reverse is true for warm undertones – rely on the bright yellow-green, pink, orange, and even red tones to form the basis of your oil slick color. Keep cool colors (violet, blue, green) to a minimum.
- Pick a flattering base color. You can choose a blonde, brown, red, or black base color, but make sure you pick a shade that looks good on you. You’ll probably need to bleach the colored sections to a light blonde to allow the vibrant oil slick tones to shine through, but if you’re letting any of your base color show through, it’s important to have one that suits you! Blonde lightens the overall look, while brown and black add depth and contrast better with deeper colored shades.
- Make sure the color fits your lifestyle. If your workplace or school doesn’t dig the bright colors as much as you do, you could find yourself in a tough spot with oil slick color. There are ways to make oil slick color a little less bold while still adopting the colorful, iridescent effect! Try peekaboo highlights that can be covered when you want or choose subtle shades of violet and blue that blend well with a deep brown or black base.
15 Trendy Oil Slick Hair Ideas for 2022
Now that you’re familiar with the features and characteristics of trendy oil slick hair, let’s look at some photos and examples to inspire your own multi-colored look!
These are some of our favorite examples of the different shades and color techniques you can use to pull off the oil slick hair trend flawlessly. Which one’s your favorite?
1. Mermaid Oil Slick
Pale, cool tones are the heart of this look that reminds us of a mermaid’s strands! It’s got that stunning, iridescent gleam that really makes oil slick color stand out. Adding in pretty bohemian braids shows off the colors even better!
2. Rainbow Burst With Dark Roots
This version of trendy oil slick hair leaves a dark root intact for easier maintenance and blends the base color throughout for a more natural – but still very fun – look. For a more realistic oil slick look, apply the colors in a gradient rather than strips.
3. Violet-Orange Prism Color
One of our favorite unique takes on the trend, this violet-orange combo takes on an iridescent sheen with perfect color application and a light blonde base. Vibrant light orange and pale violet bordering on magenta add the oil-like sheen with only 2 fantasy colors.
4. Peacock Oil Spill
A long-top pixie cut is the perfect foundation for color that pops, like this peacock-hued oil slick color! Choose cool tones – teal, violet, and the slightest touch of warmer yellow-green – to fan your feathers with pride and jump on the oil slick trend with short hair.
5. Muted Multi-Colors
This is the White Claw of oil slick hair – it’s muted and subtle, but still on-trend and everyone loves it. Pale lilac fades into orange and yellow, which transitions cleanly into green with lilac tips to repeat the pattern. It definitely says oil slick, but while other looks scream it, this one whispers.
6. Blonde Crystal Rainbow
A blonde base is perfect for allowing the bright, vibrant oil slick colors to shine through like light through a crystal. If you don’t want your fantasy colors getting lost in a darker base – or are already working with blonde – this is a beautiful way to rock the trend.
7. Multi-Colored Explosion
Red isn’t often used in oil slick hair color, but we think it brings a liveliness and energy that perfectly suits the style! The deeper colors in this iridescent ombre are so smoothly blended that the look takes on a polished effect.
8. Dark Iridescence
Here’s a unique version of the oil slick trend! Swathes of blue-black, teal blue-green, and crimson color twist the trend into something a little darker and more mysterious. Missing the usual violet, light blue, and orange/yellow tones, we love the shadow and depth of this look!
9. Indigo-Orange Oil Slick
This bold version of oil slick color uses stark contrast in the ombre to build a stunning and eye-catching look. A rich, violet root blanches into pale creamsicle orange and ends in a burst of bold, citrusy coral orange. The colors are reminiscent of an oil slick, but this look doesn’t require as much time or skill to blend together with a simple ombre pattern.
10. Rainbow Ombre Space Buns
Prismatic space buns are sure to make a statement! This color is off the root (so it’s much lower maintenance) and space buns give you an easy way to style your multi-colored strands. The oil-like iridescence in the colorful twists will make the colors pop next to your darker base color.
11. Color Pop Oil Slick
If you love the typical colors used to create the trendy oil slick effect, try working them in with larger pops of color! Yellow, orange, violet, and blue are stunning and bright when applied in with ombre and reverse ombre techniques.
12. Iridescent Light Colors
Step into the light with this fresh, brightened-up color! Coral orange, pale magenta, and pastel green hues wind through blonde strands for a prismatic, iridescent effect. Leave blonde sections to shine through and contrast nicely with those pale but bright colors.
13. Prismatic Oil Slick
Take the oil slick trend and make it bolder for a fun twist. Bright violet, pink, and blue are the focal colors while peekaboo pale orange and lilac shades balance out the look. A dark brown or black shadow root will contrast with the bright colors for the ultimate vibrance.
14. Pink, Blue, and Iridescent Platinum
Let your skilled stylist have a little fun with this intricate color technique with an oil slick effect. Horizontal strips of pink sandwich a rich, indigo-blue color around the midshaft. Near the ends, pink and violet take over with large sections of iridescent platinum in between. It requires precision but looks so uniquely gorgeous.
15. Tri-Color Oil Slick
Magenta, violet, and yellow-green peridot tones brighten up brunette base color with an oil-like sheen. Place your color in well-blended swathes throughout to keep bright bursts of color the focal point. Add in a little blue for a more realistic oil slick look!
Color Tips and Things to Consider
Before you fully embrace the oil slick hair trend, we have a few important tips and things for you to consider. Keep these in mind to ensure you’ll love the results!
- Skilled stylists only. Oil slick color isn’t as simple as basic highlights, all-over color, or even balayage. It requires some skill and stylist experience with vibrant colors, multi-step dye processes, and color application techniques. Don’t bring your inspiration photos to a fresh beauty school grad and expect perfect results. This is definitely a job for a master colorist!
- Assess your hair health before deciding. If your hair is damaged from chemical processing, heat, or physical wear and tear, you should hold off on a multi-step color process like oil slick color. Tug on a strand to see how strong it is and how easily it snaps. Does it quickly snap off with the slightest tug or stretch a *lot* before breaking? It’s probably damaged. If you notice an extremely dry, mushy, or gummy texture and process or heat style your hair a lot, you need to repair the damage and wait to try a color process like this.
- Know the colors and color pattern you want. Don’t leave it up to your stylist – this one’s up to you! Browsing through examples like we included in this guide will help a lot. Pick out the colors you want in your oil slick look and decide which color pattern you like best. You might like a realistic “tie dye” oil slick with defined edges to each color, a well-blended iridescent ombre, or highlights in the oil slick color family scattered through your base shade. Figure it out ahead of time to show your stylist exactly what you want.
- Start using color-safe shampoo, stat. Once you get your new colors, you’ll want it to last as long as possible! Vibrant colors are notorious for fading fast, so immediately switching to a sulfate-free shampoo for colored hair is the best thing you can do. Sulfates strip color faster, so a gentle shampoo is key to preserving rich color longer.
- Understand the maintenance requirements. Even with sulfate-free shampoo for colored hair, you can’t avoid fading forever. Vibrant colors are going to fade and become less vibrant over a period of 4-6 weeks, even with the best of care. Prepare to head to the salon every other month or so for touch-ups. Otherwise, you’ll have to live with faded color for a bit before transitioning into another all-over shade – or a new, multicolored look!
So, Is Oil Slick Hair in Your Future?
Oil slick color is on-trend, vibrant, and so unique. No two multi-colored looks turn out exactly the same, so you’ll have a distinctive, individual color that’s impossible to perfectly duplicate.
If you’re on board with the vibrant colors, the iridescent effect, and increased maintenance requirements of oil slick color, we think you’re going to love the way it looks! Just make sure you’re working with a skilled stylist who really knows their color application techniques.
It’s helpful to ask around and check social media pages on local stylists who specialize in color. This way, you’ll get to see their work and find out who’s the best stylist for the job!
Oil slick hair won’t be trendy forever, so if you love the look, now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon. You might just find that iridescent ombre color is the perfect fantasy color look for you and continue finding pretty color combos to try in the future!