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

photo of women with oil slick hair

We’re braver and bolder with hair color than ever before, which means there’s no better time to try a rainbow hair color! Since rainbow hair usually requires a light base color to work off of, however, it seems that brunettes have been overlooked—until now. 

Looking to get in on the rainbow hair color trend without completely ditching your precious dark brown hair? Keep scrolling for everything there is to know about the oil slick hair trend. 

Shop The Best Products For Oil Slick Hair

Good hair day by @twyllajane.

What is oil slick hair? 

Inspired by the inky effect of a layer of oil floating on top of water, the oil slick hair trend blends dark, iridescent shades of blue, purple, magenta, green, and red. Unlike most fashion hair color trends, the perfect oil slick hue 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, however, your stylist will have to use bleach to 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 with a color-protecting system for fast-fading hair colors like the Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid. We also recommend the line’s Total Results Keep Me Vivid Color Lamination Vibrancy Spray to help prolong the life of your color. This formula helps seal the color within the hair for ulta-nourished, high-reflect color. 

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 Redken Iron Shape 11 Thermal Holding Heat Protection Hairspray. This lightweight thermal heat protection hairspray is perfect for use with flat irons and curling irons up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit to protect your hair, add shine, and reduce frizz.

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. No matter which way you choose to wear oil slick hair, however, we recommend bringing a few inspo photos to your colorist. If you’re looking for ideas, keep scrolling for seven of our favorite ways to try oil slick hair. 

The Best Ways To Wear Oil Slick Hair 

Good hair day by @naste_aiva.

Oil Slick Ends

You don’t have to give up your brunette locks to wear oil slick hair. If you’re wary of high-commitment color and frequent root touch-ups, oil slick ends are the perfect solution.

Good hair day by @krazy4hair and @cutbyivis.

Oil Slick Highlights

If you’re bored of blonde highlights, ask your colorist for oil slick highlights to add dimension to your mane with a bit of edge. 

Good hair day by @shelbydoinghair.

Blue And Purple Oil Slick

If you’re all about cool-toned hues, ask your colorist for this gorgeous blend of blue and purple. 

Good hair day by @constancerobbins.

Oil Slick Ombre

Ombre is here to stay—and we never get tired of seeing the gradual blend of colors on our Instagram feed. If you’re looking to try oil slick hair without constantly worrying about root touch-ups, you can’t go wrong with an oil slick ombre. 

Good hair day by @francescomocci_.

Oil Slick On Black Hair

Black hair has a reputation for being one-dimensional, but it works as a perfect contrast to the vibrancy of oil slick hair. 

Good hair day by @cosmoalliejo.

Metallic Oil Slick

Craving an oil slick look with intense shine? Metallic hair color is for you. 

Good hair day by @uggoff.

Vibrant Oil Slick

The subtle life isn’t for everyone. Go all out with your oil slick hair and ask for a full-on rainbow look. It’s important to note that a look as dramatic as this one will require your colorist to use more bleach on your strands. We recommend a weekly hair mask That Make Good Hair Easy like the Redken Extreme Strengthening Mega Hair Mask to help minimize the look and feel of damage. 

Interested in trying oil slick hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.