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

photo of women with oil slick hair

When it comes to hair color, we’re about embracing our playful sides more than ever before, which means there’s no better time to try rainbow hair. Since rainbow hair usually requires a light base color to work off of, however, it always seemed like a natural brunette’s only option was bleaching their entire mane—until now!

If you’re looking to try rainbow hair without completely ditching your precious brown locks, you’re going to love oil slick hair. Keep scrolling for everything there is to know about the multi-colored hair trend created specifically with brunettes in mind.

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.

How is oil slick hair done?

Unlike most fashion hair color trends, the perfect oil slick hue doesn’t require a full head of bleach. Instead, colorists incorporate a vibrant blend of shades onto a dark base color. If your strands are super dark and you’re looking for the most vibrant oil slick look possible, however, your colorist will have to use bleach to lift your hair to a light brown shade before applying the color.

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.

Is oil slick hair hard to maintain?

Fantasy shades are notoriously difficult to maintain, and oil slick hair is no different. You’ll need a customized at-home hair care routine as well as regular salon appointments to keep your hue in tip-top shape. Expect to head to the salon every four to six weeks for touch-ups to keep your oil slick color vibrant.

When it comes to switching up your hair routine, start by swapping out your regular shampoo and conditioner with a color-protecting system like Kérastase Reflection Bain Chromatique Shampoo and Reflection Fondant Chromatique Conditioner. This multi-protecting system prolongs hair color while adding shine and protecting against environmental aggressors.

While oil slick hair doesn’t require a ton of bleach, your mane may still feel a bit dry or damaged after your salon appointment. We suggest adding a weekly hair mask like Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Ultimate Reset Restorative Hair Mask to your routine to repair and nourish damaged hair deeply.

Since heat styling and salon color don’t always mix well, you’re going to want to pick up a salon-quality heat protectant to protect the vibrancy of your hue. We recommend Pureology’s Colour Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray.

How much does oil slick hair cost?

Depending on your salon’s location, your colorist’s skill level, and the specific placement of your oil slick hue, it can cost anywhere from $150 to $300. We recommend booking a consultation prior to your appointment as well as researching your chosen salon to determine what fits your budget.

What is the best way to try 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, we recommend bringing a few inspo photos to your colorist. If you’re looking for ideas, keep scrolling for nine of our favorite ways to try oil slick hair.

The Best Ways To Try 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.

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 @giannadoll13.

Cool-Toned Oil Slick

Ask your colorist for this gorgeous blue, green, and purple blend if you’re obsessed with cool-toned hair colors.

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

If you’re craving an oil slick look with intense shine, metallic hair color is for you. Amp up the radiance of your hue with a few spritzes of shine spray like Redken Shine Flash Hair Spray.

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 using a weekly hair treatment like Biolage Advanced Recovery Deep Treatment Multi-Use Hair Mask to nourish chemically-damaged, over-processed hair.

Good hair day by @inspiredbymeg.

Peekaboo Oil Slick

Peekaboo oil slick hair isn’t so obvious at first, but that’s the point entirely. Your peekaboo highlights will shine through when you tousle your hair with your fingers or wear a half-up hairstyle, making it one of the more subtle ways to try the trend.

Good hair day by @katiesheltonhair.

Oil Slick Bob

You don’t need waist-length strands to pull off oil slick hair. The whimsical color creation looks equally as stunning paired with an on-trend bob.

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

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