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Oil Slick Hair: What Is It And How To Get The Look

photo of women with oil slick hair

Rainbow hair is everywhere. From delicate pastels to dramatic technicolor blends, there seems to be a rainbow look for just about everyone. Since rainbow hair looks usually require a light base color to work off of, it seems blondes really do have all the fun. However, this latest rainbow colored hair trend is all about brunettes.

If you’ve never heard of oil slick hair before, read on for all there is to know and how you can try it for yourself with the help of a salon professional.

What is oil slick hair?

Inspired by the inky effect of a layer of oil floating on top of water, the trend blends dark, iridescent shades of blue, purple, magenta, green, and red. Unlike most fashion hair color trends, the perfect oil slick look doesn’t require a full head of bleach.

Instead, stylists use a dark base color as a canvas before incorporating the vibrant blend of shades. If your strands are super dark and you’re looking for the most vibrant oil slick look possible, your stylist will lift your hair to a light brown shade before applying the color.

How do you care for oil slick hair?

If you’re worried about the potential damage of a color session, don’t panic. Since oil slick hues typically don’t require much pre-lightening, you should see significantly less damage to your strands after leaving the salon than you might for a color like platinum blonde. However, any color change requires you to amp up your hair care routine a bit.

Start by swapping out your regular shampoo and conditioner for a color protecting system like the Redken Color Extend. The shampoo’s formula maximizes color vibrancy while strengthening hair with daily shampooing. To maintain the shine of oil slick hair, a color protecting mask is a must. We love the L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Fresh Feel Mask.

Since heat styling and a fresh hue don’t always mix well, you’re going to want to pick up a salon quality heat protectant to protect your color. We recommend the Pureology Colour Fanatic Multi-Benefit Leave-In Treatment. Created to prime, protect and perfect, this leave-in hair treatment spray provides color-treated hair with 21 essential benefits in one bottle.

Even with the best at-home hair care, regular salon appointments are essential to keeping your oil slick hair looking great. Expect to head to the salon every four to six weeks for touch-ups.

What’s the best way to wear oil slick hair?

Whether you opt for a full head of oil slick strands or a subtle variation, you really can’t go wrong. We love the look of an oil slick balayage or oil slick hair paired with smoked out roots.

No matter what way you choose to wear oil slick hair, we recommend bringing a few inspo photos to your colorist to be sure you step out of the salon chair with exactly what you want.

Interested in trying oil slick hair for yourself? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.