We think it’s official: Best crossover of the year has to be purple hair. What was once the domain of punk subcultures and emo, angst-ridden teens the world over has now become one of this year’s most coveted hair shades. It’s been the look of choice for nearly all levels of celebrity there is: Everyone from your token Instagram influencer to festival vloggers to actual reality TV sensations has had a go at purple hair, giving it the mainstream seal of approval at the crux of its mass appeal.
But what is it about this look that has people booking their color appointments in droves? We asked three renowned colorists for their take on why purple hair has experienced a massive spike in popularity, and why exactly (as if we didn’t know, by looking at these spectacular photos below) it’s, like, the best, biggest OG hue in the unicorn-color explosion. Read on:
Natalie Jean, stylist and colorist, Huntington Beach, CA
“Purple hair has become a huge trend. I honestly feel it’s a great color for anyone with the right tone. Even if you start with a few pops of purple or pink and you’re not fully ready to [color] all over, it’s an easy start to something. Clients normally want to try something that can wash out nicely, and purples are issuing better colors [for that].”
1. Long Ombré
An ombré color job using dark purple hair that lightens into an ashy rainbow is a fabulous way to rock two trends in one.
2. Silver with Lilac
Pastel purple hair, like this beautiful silvery lilac version, is another popular way to wear the look if you’re one for lighter shades. Obsessed with the gas-puddle effect!
A medley of jewel tones—some blue and purple hair mixed with some dark emerald green thrown in—creates a glorious, peacock-inspired shade that’s darkly sexy.
4. Tropical Punch
This magenta hair color creation is terrific for those with warm undertones. The punchy grape tones intermix with plum hair color and a bit of passion fruit orange for a rich, juicy hue.
5. Ice Princess
Another silver purple hair iteration courtesy of lilac highlights creates a more nymph-like vibe, courtesy of platinum tones and a delicate floral crown.
6. Dark and Stormy
…But much richer-looking than that rum-filled drink, that’s for sure. Dark purple hair seamlessly drips into a rich violet and ends with blue and purple hair highlights at the ends. Too smooth.
Dajana Kvakic, stylist, colorist and owner of Prim Hair Salon, Roanoke, VA
“I believe Instagram has made purple popular, with pages dedicated to purple hair and thousands of hairstylists pushing the envelope and encouraging clients to step out of their comfort zone! Purple is also one of the easiest colors to remove, so it’s a great color to rock without heavy commitment. Hands down, the best way to care for your hair is washing sparingly, and always with cold water and a sulfate-free color-protecting shampoo!”
7. Bright Violet
Cool undertones glow against this light blue-violet hue. Dusty pink and mauve highlights give dimension to this pastel purple hair winner.
8. Violet Ombré
Can it get any prettier (or delightfully girlier) than this? Cool violet melds into a soft shell pink and ends with bright orchid peek-a-boo highlights. Because fairy-anime pink and purple hair is ultimate #goals.
This grungier look flips the script on violet hair color—a lot more gray is in play with this black purple hair shade (mostly prevalent at the root), which also takes on a silvery tinge at the ends. Give it an extra healthy and shiny finish with some Suave Define & Shine Serum Gel.
Add another winner to the blonde and purple hair category! This sharply stacked bob, done with peek-a-boo purple highlights, is a clever upgrade to your regular short ’do.
11. Lavender Love
This lovely interpretation of silver purple hair features silver on the top as highlights, and violet as a base color. And don’t even get us started on this beautiful, softly curled lob!
Franco Hernandez, stylist and colorist, Seal Beach/Huntington Beach, CA
“Purple hair creations seem to be the most attention-grabbing, are easy to combine with current makeup trends and seem to fade the best. I also run an Instagram page (@purple.hair.affair) where many stylists showcase their creative purple creations—I have had many stylists say they’ve received clients from their featured photos!”
This predominantly two-toned style features a shock of violet hair color atop a lighter base of silvery-lilac—an electric, confident combo.
13. Smoky Eggplant
Want a shade that’s still comfortably on the darker side of the family? Then this dark eggplant hair color mixed with some smoky, ashy grays and violets is just the thing.
14. Pink Plum Hair
A classic pastel purple hair variation, this pink-dominated hairstyle gets even flirtier and richer with a bright mauve root area.
15. Purple Black Hair
If you want to taste the rainbow but can do without the citrus, this black purple hair color gradient totally checks those boxes. We love the shock of blue-violet in the middle!
16. Berry Ombré
Multiple shades of grape and magenta hair color get equal airtime in this expertly blended creation. Tip: Style in loose waves to emphasize each glorious highlight tone.
17. Smooth Magenta
Whoever said aubergine hair color wasn’t a thing clearly didn’t know who to go to. This rich, solid magenta hue finds even more dimension with some subtle pink balayage.
18. Purple and Violet
Dark purple hair transitions into a cool, quiet violet on the tips. This makes for a trendy look that also fades prettily with time (think icy pinks and grays!).
Purple hair will always be a favorite because the shade is so versatile and looks good on virtually everyone. From the lightest lilac to the darkest plum shades, purple hair can make you feel positively royal indeed! Check out more of our favorite purple hair ideas, as well as some nifty inspirational photos on how to wear them with different hairstyles:
19. Box Braids with Dark Plum
Update your box braids with a deep purple shade. Going for a darker hue like this one is a good way to experiment with colorful hair without totally changing your look. Keep up with the regal vibe by opting for golden hair accessories—you’ll be the box braid queen.
20. Half-Top Knot with Candy-Floss Lilac
If you’re going for a spun-sugar pastel shade, try lilac! This shade can easily lean towards either pink or blue depending on your preference and the undertones you were born with. Because a lot of bleaching is used to get hair light enough for a pastel shade, you’ll need to be wary of damage. At least once a week, protect your color and ease damage by using a hair mask.
21. Raspberry with Choppy Waves
Go nearly red with a stunning raspberry shade. This color has just enough purple in it to keep it from looking like a bright burgundy red. To show off how multi-tonal your color is, try styling with loose waves. Opt for a large-barrel curling iron, or twist hair around a flat iron to get big waves.
22. Periwinkle Ombré
If unicorn hair is what you want, a periwinkle color is the way to achieve it. It’s the perfect mixture of blue and purple that looks seriously stunning on cooler undertones. With a pastel sombré like this, you will want to make sure that you don’t wash your hair every day so you prolong your shade as much as possible. When you do need to wash your hair, choose a color-safe system like TRESemmé Botanique Color Vibrance & Shine Shampoo and Conditioner.
23. Chocolate Mauve
We love this chocolate mauve shade so much! The darker, more purple sister of rose gold hair is gorgeous, especially in the cooler months of the year. This color can flit between lavender and rose so it always looks fresh.