Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.
Hair color is not just about choosing a plain shade and never moving outside your comfort zone. The best hair color ideas showcase your inner personality and vibrancy to the outside world. They are not just a style, but also a reflection of the unique and wonderful person within.
If you've been feeling a little drab and out of sorts, changing your color is one of the easiest ways to get in touch with yourself by drawing on who you are as a person and channeling that through your hair for everyone to see.
Take inspiration from the following ideas and individualize them to your heart's desire. Or if you're working on a budget, many of these styles are also possible to achieve in the comfort of your own home.
Balayage is a method of highlighting hair using a freehand technique. This means that material like foil or meche isn't used to separate the hair, and the hair isn't usually sectioned. Instead, dye or lightener is essentially painted onto the hair by hand.
The result of this is that the highlights that are produced using a balayage style look very natural and can even mimic the way your hair would look if it had been naturally lightened by the sun. It adds depth and interest to a hair color in a way that doesn't look as calculated and artificial.
It's also one of the most popular hair color ideas for anyone who doesn't want to have to spend a lot of time on upkeep, or large amounts of money on more traditional highlighting techniques. This is because the style is subtle and the freehand placement doesn't cause it to become more noticeable as your hair grows out. Instead, balayage gradually transitions into a soft ombre look over time.
Style method: Balayage is created by selecting hair by hand and coloring it lighter using either dye or lightener. The highlights created can also be toned afterwards, but are often left as is for a warm, sun-kissed natural look.
Best candidates: The people who look best with balayage are those who have longer brown or dark blonde hair—especially if your hair is wavy. However, most hairstyles can benefit from balayage if it is done properly.
Maintenance: The balayage style is one of relatively few hair color ideas that has very low maintenance involved, and it can be allowed to gradually grow out over time without touch up. It can also be touched up with a root application.
In fact, this kind of application can even be used on darker roots to soften their appearance between lightening if you're maintaining a color that is lighter than your natural hair.
See the video from Kenra Color below for a good guide to some of the different looks and techniques you can achieve with this style.
Ombre and Sombre
Ombre is another trendy color technique, as well as one of the other hair color ideas that are based on the use of balayage. This style is similar in its natural look and low maintenance, but differs in that it is focused on the ends of your hair only.
The result of this is that the hair color is darker on top and lighter at the ends, while a similar style called sombre is inverted. Commonly, this is done as a shift from a darker brown color to a shade of blonde. Other colors can be used if desired though, and this is what makes the ombre style highly customizable.
Anything from a lighter natural shade, to bright colors like red, violet, or even blue or green are possible, and this makes for a style that is easy to tailor to your individual taste. Experiment at will and you're bound to find a look you love.
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Style method: Hair dye or bleach is used to lighten the ends of your hair. How long the ends are made is up to you. You also have the choice of how light you want it to be, whether you want a natural color or a vibrant color, and even whether you would prefer the lightened hair to be toned or left warmer.
Best candidates: Ombre suits wavy hair really well. It also suits straight hair though, so you shouldn't preclude yourself from trying these kinds of hair color ideas just because you prefer sleeker hair. As long as your hair is at least shoulder length, it can be dyed in the ombre style.
Maintenance: Ombre is a low maintenance hair color idea. Because the effect is applied only to the ends of your hair, it isn't impacted by new growth. As your hair grows, the effect simply sits lower on your style, meaning you are never really required to touch it up if you don't want to.
Of course, you can also have it retouched further up the lengths as it grows to keep a more intense look, and if you are wearing a bright colored ombre, this will fade and may need to be refreshed with semi-permanent dye or toner if you want to keep it looking vibrant.
Check out the video below for a look at how effective use of this style can really transform darker hair into an incredible, highly fashionable look.
Graduated ombre is very similar to other hair color ideas that incorporate an ombre or balayage look, with the exception that the style becomes increasingly lighter as it moves down the lengths of your hair.
This gives it a gradient look and is accomplished by either applying the dye or bleach more heavily to the tips, applying to the tips first and sweeping up, or using different strengths of product and blending it together with the brush. The exact technique depends on what your stylist prefers and how intense you want the gradient to look.
This hair color idea is well-suited to the use of semi-permanent dyes. By applying a bright temporary color like purple over the top of the lightened hair, you can then achieve a look that goes from a darker brown, to a purple, to a brighter purple as it moves from root to ends. The same scenario exists for any other color, like red, blue, or green.
Dip dye styles are gaining more traction these days as one of the trendiest modern hair color ideas. They are also easy to apply, quick to retouch, and take minimal time to achieve. They're so easy that they can be applied in the comfort of your own home without a great deal of hairdressing experience or knowledge.
As the name suggests, this hair color idea consists of hair that is actually dipped into dye. In most cases, this dye will be a bright semi-permanent color and applied to lighter hair to create bright ends in your style.
To do this yourself, tie up long hair into a ponytail so that the entire length of your hair falls in one direction and is held together. Dip the end of your bound hair into your chosen color to coat the end with dye and then remove it and allow to soak in for at least 20 minutes.
This has the potential to be messy, so protect surfaces and flooring where you're working or you may very well end up dyeing expensive furniture and fixtures in the house to match your hair.
Pastel Hair Colors
Pastel colors are one of the trendiest new hair color ideas out there. Light, fun, and versatile, they are a whimsical addition to any hairstyle.
The hallmark of pastel hair color is that it is a pale, muted shade. Any color from the rainbow can be applied in this manner, and even any blend in between. This is what makes the style so easy to individualize.
It is a very light hair color though, and even if you naturally have blonde hair already, chances are you will need to lighten it first as pastel colors can only be applied over pale yellow hair. This means that it is one of the more difficult hair color ideas you can try, and you are best to avoid it if you have darker brown hair or if you are worried about damage.
It is also difficult to achieve if you have dyed your hair with dark dyes, or if you have hair that is resistant to lightening. As such, the style is best suited if you have naturally light hair, or your hair at least hasn't been dyed and is in good condition.
Maintenance is another factor that can affect your decision to try a hair color idea like this, and pastel colors need to be toned regularly to keep them looking the right color. Without this maintenance, the shade will fade quickly back to an off-colored platinum blonde result.
If you want to work with all of this however, there is no other hair color style that draws as much attention and has anywhere near the phenomenal 'wow-factor' that pastel hair colors do. They can be fun, beautiful, or even quirky, with the intended result completely up to you.
Fashion shades are the more vibrant cousin of pastels. These colors are bright, intense, and usually less natural in appearance.
Many hair dye brands like Fudge Headpaint and Matrix SoColor feature shades like this. Deep violet shades, rosewood blonde, mahogany blonde, and bright copper colors are all fashion shades as they are not found in natural hair. Instead, they are intense dyes that show how beautiful unnatural hair can be.
One of the most popular fashion shades these days are violet colors. These can be anything from burgundy or mahogany colors that have a more subtle tone, to violet brown, blonde, and rosewood. You can also mix dye to produce your own unique look.
- How to Dye Your Hair
Hair dye can allow you to change your entire style with ease. Discover how to dye your hair for salon quality results.
- How to Take Care of Dyed Hair
Dyed hair needs specialized care to keep it looking and feeling its best. Find out how to take care of dyed hair and maintain your new color.
More Hair Color Ideas
Your hair is only limited by your inspiration and imagination. There are many other styles you can try and you can even mix techniques to further create your own result.
Want to know more about any of these hair color ideas or looking for a new style for your own hair? Leave a comment for tailored advice...
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Maffew James
Estene from Usa on July 31, 2019:
How does one go about doing something as gorgeous as quartz crystal when she has nasty dishwater blonde or light brown hair?? Do we have any hope or just bleach??
Estene on July 31, 2019:
I just saw a new color and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's quartz crystal-- I'm sure light blondes only need apply to get it, but what about us nasty dishwater blondes, or light/med browns? Do we have any hope of something as stunning as quartz crystal hair??
samantha on May 04, 2018:
YOU help so much