It’s officially Gemini season, and if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that two are often better than one—especially when it comes to pretty hair colors. If you want to experiment with a fantasy shade like pink but can’t imagine fully parting ways with your bottled blonde, we have a feeling you’ll want to keep the color block hair trend (interchangeably referred to as block color hair) on your radar.
“Color blocking is a fun way to freshen up your look and try different colors without giving up your natural base if you don't want to,” says Redken artist Sarah Bramham. “It's also super striking in vivid colors.”
This chunky hair coloring method is like 2023’s way of giving a subtle nod to the thick streaks we saw in the late 90s and 2000s. Here’s what the stylist wants you to know about color blocking hair, her favorite color combinations, and some upkeep advice. Then, keep scrolling to peep our ten most coveted looks, and be prepared to block out an appointment with your stylist.
What is color blocking in hair?
Like the fashion trend, color blocking hair pairs chunks of opposing shades together to create the ultimate standout look.
“Color blocking is a bold placement technique when sections or panels of hair are colored in contrasting colors,” explains Bramham. “You can use any color for color blocking, but contrast is key. While vivid colors are often [preferred], this technique can be done with natural hair colors, too. For example, copper with chocolate brown looks lovely together.”
If you’ve ever thrown on a yellow top with purple pants only to be pleasantly surprised at how well they just go together, the same could be said for color blocking hair. Certain combinations may catch you off guard, so be sure to gather some visual inspo to help steer you in the right direction (we can help with that below!).
How do you part your hair for a color block?
One of the most exciting things about color block hair color is that getting creative with your parting guarantees a unique final look and produces the most dramatic transformation. You can have your stylist apply color diagonally on each side of your part, add a thick streak or two by your temples, or paint equal-sized chunks on both sides of the head.
“Color blocking can be subtle to head-turning,” says Bramham. “If you want to dabble or give it a try without a huge commitment, try color blocking half of the fringe area with either a lighter or darker shade than your natural or regular hue.”
Do you prefer for your color block to be less obvious? It’s totally possible.
“You could even do a few panels underneath your hair or the sides for some peekaboo interest,” notes the Redken pro. We adore peekaboo hair color because when you pick up your hair to throw it into a messy bun or a high ponytail, you’ll reveal the fun pop of color hiding beneath.
Regarding styling, Bramham says that color block hair can be worn straight or with texture. What matters most is that the color placement is added where you normally style and part your hair for a neat and even result.
What is the difference between color block and Gemini hair?
Block color hair and Gemini hair are often confused, but Bramham stresses that there’s a key difference.
“Color blocking can have just one or many panels of varying colors, and Gemini hair is strictly two colors—one on one each half of the head.” Peep the above photo for a Gemini hair visual.
How much upkeep does color blocking entail?
Bramham says keeping up with color blocking is quite simple and requires your usual four-to-six-week touch-up and refresh. One caveat is that the actual application of color may take longer than other coloring techniques since each section or panel must be followed precisely to maintain that chunky, block-like appearance.
How do you care for color block hair at home?
“As with any color, you want to use salon-quality haircare to protect and support the longevity of your color,” Bramham says. “I love Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo because it is sulfate-free.”
The formula features a multi-targeted delivery system with key ingredients to prevent hair color fading and promote health. It’s also acidic, which helps to balance the pH levels of the hair and care for the tone and vibrancy of professional color in between salon services. Follow it up with the line’s Color Extend Magnetics Conditioner for easy detangling, nourishment from root to tip, and shiny, vibrant hair color.
If you opt for color blocking, your colorist will likely use bleach to lift your current hue before applying your new color. It’s worth noting that bleach will always cause some damage, but your technician will do their best to maintain the health and integrity of your strands during your appointment. Regardless, we recommend adding a weekly deep conditioning mask, such as Pureology’s Hydrate Superfood Treatment for Dry Hair, to your routine. The formula moisturizes dry hair with essential nutrients and protects color from the brand’s patented AntiFade Complex.
Ready for some major #hairgoals? Here are our top ten favorite color block styles to keep on your radar.
The 10 Best Color Block Hair Ideas to Bring to the Salon
Craving a cocktail? Bloody marys are the perfect beverage to pull color block hair inspiration from! Somewhere between rich red copper and auburn, bloody mary hair also weaves in asymmetrical chunks of golden blonde to emulate the salt on the rim of the delicious brunch sip.
Platinum Bob with Brown Face-Frame
A platinum blunt bob with brunette color block highlights takes this ‘do to the next level and is reminiscent of the popular money piece. Keep your blonde bright and protected with a brass-neutralizing serum like Shu Uemura Art of Hair’s YūBi Blonde Anti-Brass Purple Heat Protecting Hair Serum.
Salt-and-Pepper Color Block
Do you have grays that constantly crop up near your hairline? This salt-and-pepper block color hair idea is a modern way to transition into your natural hue while maintaining your rich base.
Gray Color Block
Here’s another way to embrace gray hair—or at the very least, subtly experiment with it. Add a chunk of gray on one side of the hair, or do both if you already have clusters of silvers near your temples.
Livening up your brunette locks is as easy as a small splash of magenta hair color. A curl spray like L'Oreal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Curl Expression Curls Reviver Spray can help revive your pattern without a full wash day, which can otherwise prematurely dull your punchy pink hue.
We love the geometric element of these diagonal turquoise panels. If you’re into the mermaid hair aesthetic, this block color hair idea will be a surefire stunner.
Black and White
There’s no arguing that black and white is a classic.
“[The color blocking technique] can be used on any age, but extreme color combinations of white-blonde and black wear better on the younger,” says Bramham. “This is only because very dramatic colors can enhance features we may want to minimize as we age.”
Caramel Brown Color Block
Inspired by sugary packs of chewing gum, bubblegum pink is a sweet shade that never goes out of style. If you’ve spent years in blonde territory, pink block color hair may be just what you need to switch it up—you really can have the best of both worlds.
Half-and-Half Blonde Fringe
Bangs are here to stay; luckily, they pair exceptionally well with bold color placements. Ask your stylist to dye half of your fringe blonde and lighten up a few tendrils around the temples for a new twist on the face-framing highlights trend. Tousle your strands with a few Redken Beach Spray spritzes for an effortlessly textured look, and you’re ready to go!