Why choose one or two hues for your next look? Rainbow hair is so much more fun! Rock the whole rainbow with these prismatic looks that infuse your strands with rich, bright colors. See the best and most unique rainbow hair color ideas in this guide along with tips and tricks to make your rainbow color last.
What Is Rainbow Hair?
- Make a bold style statement with multi-colored hair
- Opt for smooth gradient color, ombre, or chunky color highlights
- Customize rainbow hues with your favorite shades
Rainbow hair and fantasy hair colors in general have been trendy for a bit. Right now, we’re seeing a major surge in popularity of rainbow color-splashed strands using modern color techniques.
There’s no doubt that rocking rainbow-colored hair makes a bold statement! This multi-colored look is impossible to miss and always draws tons of compliments.
Rainbow hair refers to any look where the hair is dyed with multiple fantasy colors – bold, bright, or even subtle pastel shades. That’s the general definition, but rainbow hair is super versatile and includes tons of different looks.
Designing Your Rainbow Hair Color
- Choose the color application method (highlights, ombre, gradient balayage, etc.)
- Choose your rainbow colors for a unique look
- Consider mixing color techniques for creative results
With so many color application techniques and options for different shades and hues, planning out your rainbow hair color look can be a little overwhelming. Knowing what your options are makes the process so much easier!
The first thing to consider is how you want your color placed and applied. What types of looks are most appealing to you? You might like smooth, gradient rainbow colors that blend and diffuse into each other seamlessly.
Bold rainbow ombre colors give you an interesting vertical contrast with different colors blending out on the root, midshaft, and end sections of your hair.
Chunky or fine rainbow-colored highlights throughout the hair is another popular choice when you want to infuse as many shades and colors as possible into your mane. For those who aren’t quite ready to jump in with both feet, peekaboo or partial rainbow hair color makes a great, more subtle option.
You can always mix and match different color techniques for a truly unique result as well. Ombre color in the back with chunky rainbow stripes around the face makes a great combo.
Large sections of your favorite tones with fine rainbow babylights or gradient sections is another pretty option. But the different color application techniques are just one way you can tweak and customize your rainbow hair color to make it 100% you.
Your color and shade selection is where designing your custom rainbow color look gets really fun! For purists, there’s the classic rainbow color scheme – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
For those who prefer a subtle and understated rainbow look, soft pastel tints like baby blue, lilac purple, and seafoam green make beautiful options. If you’re all about the vivid and bright tones, you might opt for rich violet, hot magenta, brazen orange, and electric blue.
And if you’re looking for the most flattering rainbow color scheme for your undertones and complexion, you can choose a group of shades that match your skin’s color “temperature” (warm or cool).
If you have warm undertones (look better in gold than silver and have a peachy or golden skin tint), you could opt for warm rainbow colors like red, orange, yellow, and pink.
If you have cool undertones (look better in silver than gold and have a pinkish or bluish skin tint), a cool-toned rainbow color scheme would be perfect with shades of purple, blue, and green.
20 Unique Rainbow Hair Color Ideas
Getting a little inspiration from some of the prettiest and most unique rainbow hair colors will help you gather some ideas to use in your next look.
From finding pretty color combos you might not have considered using to seeing how different color application methods can transform the results, take a look and see what pops out in these unique and gorgeous examples!
1. Soft Rainbow Gradient
Choosing more subdued hues as the base for your rainbow color gives the look an understated, chic vibe that still pops. With a pale, silvery violet base as the foundation, deeper violet, orange, red, and magenta tones really stand out. This is a great look to pair with a long pixie or chin-length bob.
2. Rainbow Pinwheel Color
Vividly bright shades of blue, magenta, violet, aquamarine dress up a yellow-blonde base to form a beautiful rainbow pinwheel. This color is applied in diagonal strips from the crown to create the pinwheel that looks gorgeous from every angle.
3. Layered Prism Hues
This is a unique way to wear bold rainbow colors without any of the shades “disappearing” into your mane. The color is applied in layers, with different shades peeking through on the top, middle, and bottom sections so you can style your hair to showcase different colors.
4. Bold Rainbow Ombre
This cool take on rainbow hair color fuses similar shades together without fully melting them into each other. Leaving a stark line of contrast between the ombre shades is unique and ensures every shade packs a punch. Deeper shades are on the top section while lighter shades finish up the look at the midshaft to ends.
5. Ultra-Bright Rainbow Colors
Vivid bright colors make rainbow hair really fun and bold, even if you’re not using the entire spectrum of shades. Here, electric blue, violet, orange, and red fill out the upper layers of this style while the bottom-most layers are left in their natural brunette shade.
6. Edgy Multi-Colored Undercut
Take your multi-colored strands to an entirely new level with an edgy long undercut that leaves the top and back long with short, shaved sides in front. The colors transition from bright magenta and red on top to peacock teal, yellow-green, blue, and violet in the back.
7. Soft Pastel Gradient Rainbow Hair
Lilac, blue, seafoam green, teal, and yellow-green tones dominate this soft, pastel rainbow look. The color takes on a fantasy, ethereal feel with the absence of loud, bright colors. These gradient colors seamlessly blend and transform into the next hue for a gorgeously understated look.
8. Multi-Colored Layers With Shaved Designs
Shaved designs make rainbow hair looks even more unique and eye-catching. The shortest layers on top are violet, cascading into red, yellow, blue, and teal on the longer layers of this short tapered style.
9. Prismatic Watercolor Rainbow Hair
This look is pure artistry and shows off the full color spectrum. Silvery blonde makes a muted base color to allow the different shades to steal the spotlight. Color is applied in blended patches to create a watercolor effect that’s absolutely unique and stunning.
10. Chunky Alternating Rainbow Highlights
Arranging different colors around the hair with thick, chunky highlights creates a lot of contrast without the smooth graduation between the colors.
This keeps each color pure and bold. Red, violet, orange, yellow, and shades of blue alternate in vertical stripes that look amazing in a short bob with blunt bangs.
11. Color Spectrum With Black Lowlights
This look features bold black lowlights to create a nice contrast with the pure and vivid tones that almost fully encompass the color spectrum. Every color except blue gets a chance to shine in this pretty take on rainbow color with a little darkness in between.
12. Ash Blonde Multi-Colored Ombre
Cool-toned ash blonde at the roots through the midshaft makes this look suitable for cooler undertones, but the bright rainbow colors really brighten it up and add a little warmth. Fantasy colors rise up closer to the roots in the front for face-framing rainbow color that fascinates.
13. Gradient Deep Rainbow Tones
Deeper tones give rainbow hair color a totally different look and are a little more subdued than bright, vivid colors. But this color definitely stands out!
Tight gradients around the face transition from blue and yellow-green to deep shades of red, violet, and orange. Violet and red are the most prominent tones here, so pick your favorite shades and fill out the back and sides with them!
14. Bright Prismatic Pastels
Shades of purple, red, blue, and green light up this striped color look with energy and vibrance, even with slightly muted pastel tones. Softer versions of rainbow colors can suit fairer skin tones very well and look great in a striped chunky highlight application.
15. Cool-Toned Rainbow Gradient
Cool seafoam green and icy violet and blue shades make up the cooler colors of the rainbow – a perfect color scheme if you have cool undertones and want the most flattering colors. These hues have a pastel look with tons of vibrance and icy undertones that compliment pink or blue undertones so well.
16. Multi-Colored Gradient Stripes
Orange, ice blue, bright violet, red, and yellow take turns alternating in broad stripes applied vertically around the head. The colors melt into each other with gradient transitions to keep the striped look uniform with layers. We love that the root color is deeper and more saturated than the washed-out colors at the ends.
17. Silver Peekaboo Rainbow Shades
A precise and edgy haircut will only elevate and accent rainbow-colored strands! This silver pixie fade features a brilliant rainbow just under the top layers so it can be styled to stand out or peek through. The shortest sections of the fade bring the bright colors forward and are always visible for a stand-out style.
18. Rainbow Ribbon Color
Ribbons of color weave up through the strands in this unique and brightly-colored look. Chunky gradient highlights in blue, pink, red, and silvery violet contrast with large patches of the yellow-orange base color. Waves and curls add even more interest and place contrasting colors next to each other for a bold, statement look.
19. Warm Rainbow Shades With Ash Blonde
Warm undertones look so great with warm colors like red, orange, and yellow. Make a partial rainbow-colored look that stands out by using the tones that best flatter your complexion! Leaving room between the color ribbons allows the ash blonde base color to show through and subdue the color a bit.
20. Mardi Gras Rainbow Ombre
Short strands diffuse from a rich violet color into yellow-orange, teal, and violet again for a rainbow colored look that reminds us of Mardi Gras. The stark contrast between the gradient colors is perfect for messy styles that direct the hair in different ways to show off the varying shades!
More Things to Consider
Now that you’ve got some pretty ideas in mind for your rainbow hair color, let’s talk details. Rainbow hair color is great, but it’s not going to be the ideal choice for everyone. Here’s what you need to know before you commit to multi-colored strands.
- It can really damage your hair. Dying your hair rainbow colors involves a lot of processing. You’ll have to bleach your hair first to ensure the bright colors show up well, which is damaging by itself. Then, semi-permanent colors are applied to your hair and allowed to process after bleaching. Since rainbow looks involve 4+ colors, it ends up being a lot more damaging to hair than simple bleach and tone or all-over color processes.
- Baby your hair after dyeing to repair some damage. After getting rainbow hues, you can repair and reverse some of the processing damage by treating your hair to some extra TLC. Using hair masks for damaged hair, washing less often (and always with sulfate-free shampoo), sleeping on a satin pillowcase, and protecting your hair from heat damage with a good heat protectant are all ways to baby your hair after dyeing it.
- Rainbow colors can be really expensive. Paying for your new multi-colored look might be the most shocking part of the process! Basic rainbow shades applied in chunky highlights might cost you around $100-$150, but intricate techniques like ombre and complex color gradients can run all the way up to $400. Short hair is typically cheapest to dye, while longer hair requires more dye and usually costs more.
- Fading is unavoidable. With rainbow colors, you’re going to deal with fading, no matter how careful you are to preserve the color. Semi- and demi-permanent dyes fade the fastest, but even permanent colors will fade after about 6-7 months. Use sulfate-free shampoo for colored hair to preserve your color as long as possible and don’t skip root touch-ups every 4-6 weeks to keep your color looking fresh.
- Have a color plan when you’re ready for a change. If you start to tire of your rainbow locks, don’t panic. Getting rid of rainbow-colored hair requires a methodical process to avoid damaging your hair or tinting your new color with wacky shades. First, let the color fade a bit (usually around 6 months). Then, have your stylist neutralize the brightest colors with their opposites on the color wheel. Finally, choose a medium or dark shade of brown to gently fade those colors and cover them up. Brown is the best shade to cover up faded and neutralized fantasy shades.
There’s no doubt that rainbow hair colors are trendy with enough options and versatility to still be totally unique. While these prismatic, multi-colored looks aren’t for everyone, they’re definitely alluring to the bold, dramatic statement-makers of the world.
Use the styles and colors in this guide to inspire your new rainbow-colored look, but don’t stop there. Get creative with your colorful ‘do and design a custom rainbow look that is totally and unapologetically you!
Whether you decide to rock the entire color spectrum, your favorite shades only, or the most flattering group of warm or cool tones to compliment your complexion, you’re going to smile everytime you look in the mirror with your new rainbow-colored hair.