At this point, rainbow hair color is more than just a trend, it’s grown into a category of its own. Now, it’s just as common to see someone rocking pastel or neon hair as it is blonde or brown. It’s easy to see why: It’s fun, it makes a statement, and is fairly temporary in the realm of major hair changes. Rainbow hair also evokes a certain cool-girl vibe that we as a culture can’t seem to shake—while it’s not a scandalous when Lady Gaga steps out with pink hair as it was when Kate Moss did it in the ‘90s, it’s equally as badass.
As technicolor hair gets more and more socially acceptable, there are infinite options out there, making it even harder to decide what look to go with. That’s where we come in. We rounded up the coolest rainbow hair color ideas to try right now. Scroll on for all the inspo you could ever need, but first, a few things to consider before taking the plunge.
Rainbow hair won’t last forever.
The one major downside to bright colors? They are fleeting, so try not to get too attached. Since the pigment sits on your hair’s surface, expect funky colors to last about a month, tops. “Certain colors will fade out quicker than others—blues will go fairly quickly, yellow longer and then reds will stay for a while,” says celebrity hairstylist and NatureLab Tokyo ambassador, Laura Polko. “These rainbow styles often fade really nicely into pastel colors so touch ups depend on the vibrance you want. Frequency of touch ups also can depend on how open you are washing your hair. If you are looking for really strong vibrant rainbow colors, I would say touch ups every 1-2 months.”
Prepare to bleach.
If you don’t already have blonde hair, you’re most likely going to have to bleach your hair to achieve your desired color, especially for pastels. Jewel tones like purples and greens can add a cool tint to dark hair if you don’t want to risk the damage.
You’re going to have to change your routine.
Unless you’re already a bleach blonde, chances are you’re going to have to switch up your hair routine a bit. Limiting how often you wash your hair and using cool water when rinsing will help slow down the fading process and increase longevity. NuMe ambassador and colorist Devin Rahal recommends using a vinegar rinse instead of your usual shampoo and conditioner. “Just like when staining eggs, it helps lock in color & balance out the pH of your hair (getting it back to normal),” he says.
Or, stick with a color-safe shampoo and conditioner, says colorist Bradley Leake. “Healthy hair will hold the rainbow color longer so making sure your strands are healthy is very important. Color Wow Color Security Shampoo is gentle and leaves the hair clean and product free while protecting the hair & color for long lasting results. Healthy hair will always hold the color longer so making sure to do treatments or give your hair done love prior to rainbow colors is very important.”
While pink has been the cool-girl go-to for years, colorist Bianca Hillier. says to expect blue to tale over. However, there’s a reason it’s not as common as pink, since it’s a little harder to nail. Hillier says it looks great on pale skin but can bring out any redness you have, so be careful if that’s a concern of yours. It can also tinge green if your hair isn’t lightened enough, so be sure to ask your colorist to fill your hair to knock out any yellow tones before going in with your shade of blue. Hillier recommends an Olaplex treatment with all major hair changes, but especially one like this where bleach is involved. All the work is worth it though, as there’s no denying the finished look is cool as hell.
“Amethyst is a fun hair color that balances strength with delicacy,” says colorist Jeremy Tardo, who particularly likes this shade on dark complexions. “It’s bold yet still feels soft. This orchid tone shows a warmer side of violet.” If it’s temping you, just remember you’ll have to completely bleach your hair before going for a warm pastel violet.
What’s better than one vibrant tone? Two of course. Bright pink and purple are twice as eye-catching (and so pretty) when paired together.
4. Neon Rainbow
A rainbow of neon shades makes bright blue look even cooler than we thought possible. Placing the ombré by your cheekbones will also make your eyes pop.
5. Red Face Frame
Two bright streaks around your face came back with a vengeance last year—this time called either money-piece highlights or e-girl streaks, depending on which side of the millennial–Gen Z divide you fall on. According to Tardo, they’re still going strong. “Expect to start seeing more creative takes on the look like Bella Hadid’s two-toned streak,” he says. Tardo says this is such an easy trend to get in on since it’s super fun and trendy but doesn’t actually require coloring most of your hair. “Ask your colorist for a bright bit of color in the front,” he says. “If you want to increase the high contrast look, you can request a solid color on the rest of your hair too.”
6. Rainbow Braids
Rainbow braids not only look cool as hell, they’re a great way to play with color without damaging your hair.
7. Sprinkles of pink
“Adding very subtle pastel hues to ice blond hair is cool way to change up the vibe,” says Tardo. “Opt for temporary or semipermanent hair colors that will fade out. This way you can go back to rocking platinum afterward. This is a great if you want to add a bit of interest to light hair without a long-term commitment.” He says to ask your colorist for baby pink scattered throughout platinum to help with the fade-out.
8. Hidden Rainbow
If a full-on rainbow feels a little much, add just a touch of rainbow hair dye under your first layer of hair, so it can be easily hidden .
9. Rainbow Spun
“Right now we’re seeing a lot of rainbow hair as people are more inclined to experiment, since many are staying at home,” says ays Aura Friedman, master colorist at Sally Hershberger Salon. “Just the other day I saw a woman around 60 years old with multicolored, bright beautiful hair, and she looked absolutely fabulous.” While any color goes, she’s particularly into a mix of shades right now, which can be a little harder to do yourself at home. “Bring examples to your stylist to show exactly what you’re thinking,” she says. “From an inspiration photo to a scarf you look great in, showing your stylist your ideal color palette will help them create a look that’s perfectly suited and unique to you.” To preserve the bright colors, use a dry shampoo and wash as few times a week as possible.
10. Half and Half
This half and half situation couldn’t be cooler. Plus, it’s only half the effort. A win-win!
11. Pretty Peach
Peach hair popped up as the unexpected It color for fall, and it’s not slowing down any time soon. “Peach is so pretty on so many different skin tones,” says Mark DeBolt, celebrity colorist and co-owner of New York’s Mark Ryan Salon. “Because it’s such a warm color, it makes skin and eyes glow and makes your hair look so healthy.” There are tons of takes on the trend, from strawberry blonde to neon peach, but our favorite is this peachy-pink rose gold on singer Charlotte Lawrence. DeBolt suggests asking your stylist for a peach glaze instead of going the DIY route, but try Lime Crime’s Unicorn Hair Tint in Sushi if you’re confident in your hair dyeing skills.
12. Pastel Rainbow
As it turns out, you can still pack a major punch on a little real estate. For another fun take on the face-frame, try this muted rainbow.
13. Hot Pink
Doesn’t just looking at this shade make you smile? It’s a tad brighter than traditional pastel pink, but it’ll fade to a more muted shade in just a few washes, so it’s better to start a little more intense than you want. (Be sure to check out our guide to dyeing your own hair pink fist.)
14. Rainbow Array
For a super magical effect, ask your stylist to sprinkle a mix of rainbow tones throughout your base shade.
15. Faded Denim
Blue hair sounds intimidating, but chill it out with a little gray, and you get this cool grungy shade that’s easy to pull off. Since blue stays in your hair much longer than pinks, you won’t have to worry about fading, so ask your stylist for a muted shade that looks like it’s started the fading process already. This is also a great option if you don’t want to completely bleach your hair.
16. Blue Raspberry Swirl
Why stick to one shade when you can try two? Wigs are a great way to play with more adventurous colors, like this pretty lilac and blue ombré situation, without the commitment.
17. Neon Dip
While we’ll never know if blondes really have more, it’s certainly true when it comes to bright hair colors. To get super bright shades like this rainbow ombré, going platinum is a must. But trust us, the results are worth the extra effort.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.