Oil Slick Hair is a More Subtle Way to Wear The Rainbow Hair Trend

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Craving a hint of rainbow color in your hair but not ready to dye your ‘do from roots to tips? The oil slick hair trend is a worthy option for your next hair transformation. Characterized by ultra-fine babylights of color, this hair trend resembles the shifting shades of an oil spill. While it can be worn by anyone, given it’s often created with rich, jewel tones, it looks especially brilliant on neutral and warm complexions and those with rich natural hair colors.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking to switch up your hair color, ahead you’ll find 15 ways to rock the oil slick hair trend along with the top facts to keep in mind when considering the color.

Choosing a Shade: The trick is to ask for colors that compliment your base hair color and skin tone. “You should ask for your colorist for jewel colors highlighted in your hair,” suggests celebrity hairstylist and Better Natured brand ambassador Marcus Francis. “Focusing on burgundy, emerald, deep purple, royal blue. Ask to alternate the colors between foils to help create an abalone- like blend of colors.”

Maintenance Level: Moderate. Given oil slick hair is a type of color-treated hair, it will require proper color-care products (read: those made without sulfates). However, since it’s created with a foil or balayage technique, grow out will be subtle. “To keep this beautiful effect rich and vibrant it's so important to keep the color-treated hair moisturized with the right products,” Francis says. “Better Natured has a few products to really help maximize the life of your color. The color care shampoo and conditioner are staples to include in your hair care regime, and if your hair texture is on the more coarse or thick side, the moisturizing shampoo and conditioner really help to keep your locks from becoming fragile and dry.”

Goes Great With: Dark hair. “This trend actually works better for darker hair to help amplify the darkness that it actually has,” says Francis. “The shadows the dark hair creates to help the added color make for richness in the hair.”

Similar Shades: Rainbow and jewel-tone highlights

Price: While it varies based on the salon you go to, you can expect to spend between $100 and $300 to achieve this colorful hair look.

Rainbow Oil Slick

As Francis points out—and as this photo confirms—oil slick hair looks especially pretty when paired with waves. We love how this take on the colorful hair trend presents more of a peek-a-boo approach to the bright shade.

Blonde Oil Slick

Just because oil slick hair works best on darker base colors doesn't mean blondes can't still get in on the fun. Here, Australian hair colorist Sheree show us how it's done.

Long Oil Slick Hair

If you prefer a bolder take on oil slick hair, ask your colorist to go beyond peek-a-boo babylights in favor of a colorful fade from mids to ends. As you'll notice here, the request will look especially stunning on those with ultra-long locks.

Autumn Oil Slick

Oil slick hair doesn't have to be a full rainbow. Here, you can see how opting for a single color palette can create a unique take on the trend. Where this is a great option for autumn, imagine all the possibilities for winter, spring, and summer.

Gray Oil Slick Hair

Gray babes can get in on the rainbow fun, too! Here, Sheree shows how an in- between layer of an oil slick can give a mane a certain je ne sais quoi.

Ash Blonde Oil Slick

In between bright blonde and light brown you'll find a pretty ash blonde shade. And, you best believe this dusty shade can be a beautiful backdrop for a little oil slick fun.

Galaxy Oil Slick

This oil slick rendition gives us all the icy, witchy vibes. With hints of emerald, amethyst, ruby, and sapphire, it looks rich as can be.

Oil Slick Bob

Oil slicks don't have to start at mids—this style proves extending them from roots to ends can look equally as magical.

Oil Slick Waves

Hoping for a brighter, bolder take on the trend? Go beyond basic oil slick babylights and ask your stylist for a neon, jewel-toned balayage from roots to ends. Just keep in mind that if you take this route, maintenance will be higher than traditional oil slick manes.

Neon Oil Slick

While many oil slick hair colors are created on neutral bases, you can also achieve the color over top of a bolder jewel-toned based. Here, you can see how pretty pairing the vibrant shades over a shiny eggplant base can look.

Mother of Pearl Oil Slick

This oil slick hair color idea is so well blended that it almost looks holographic. Obsessed? We sure are. And, while we're swooning, let's touch on how well this color trend pairs with gemstone accessories. Whether you choose a barrette, clip, or jewel-adorned headband, it will only add to your dreamy hair look.

Oil Slick Balayage

There's no denying the black hair looks especially beautiful with a hint of gemstone-inspired highlights. Case in point: This long mane colored by Sheree.

Pastel Oil Slick

If you're not ready for ultra-bright jewel tones, dip your toes into the rainbow hair color trend with pastel highlights. Given their more subtle nature, they pair especially well with lighter hair colors.

Cool-Toned Oil Slick

The beauty of oil slicks is that you can choose the colors you want to cater to. While full rainbows are undeniably gory, so are singled-out cool tones, as is the case here.

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