Oil slick hair featuring iridescent tones has become one of the hottest hair color trends. This in-depth guide will walk you through everything you need to know to get the magical multi-dimensional effect. To learn more about this popular new color trend, we consulted hair color specialists Angela Sassoon and Dorothy Decker.
What is Oil Slick Hair?
Oil slick hair refers to hair colored using a specialized technique that results in shiny, rainbow-like tones reminiscent of an oil spill on water. Themes of nature and the unexpected beauty found in environmental curiosities inspired the reflective color effect.
By layering and blending deep jewel-toned dyes like blues, greens, violets, and teals, stylists can create an eye-catching oil slick effect. When the light hits the hair, it radiates metallic, opalescent shades that seem to shift colors depending on the angle. The resulting look is entirely unique and customizable.
Tracing the Origins of the Oil Slick Hair Trend
The creative oil slick hair coloring technique first emerged in the 1990s pioneered by experimental stylists in the punk scene and underground hair shows. It was a product of models, musicians, and artists embracing radical self-expression through beauty, building on the rainbow hair phenomenon.
Back then vegetable dyes, semi-permanent options, and other alternative formulas were used to try to get the multidimensional color effect on bleached and pre-lightened hair with mixed results. The vegetable-based dyes didn’t always grab well or result in the desired saturation.
The look had a major revival in the 2010s thanks to advances in vivid tone technology from companies like Pulp Riot and Pravana. With high-quality acid dyes, stylists could reliably create saturated oil slick colors that visibly popped on brunette, black, and darker hair as well without having to overly bleach it.
It remains an edgy yet artistic hair color choice option for those looking to make a statement and amplify their personal style. Celebrities like Billie Eilish, Cardi B, and Lizzo have all experimented with oil slick hair. When executed well, it has a magical quality!
Oil Slick Hair: The Mesmerizing Trend Explained by Experts
Oil slick hair is a trending hairstyle that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is a unique and colorful way to add some personality to your hair. Here are a few expert opinions about oil slick hair:
- According to hairstylist Chelsey Pickthorn, oil-slick hair is a more subtle way to wear the rainbow hair trend.
- Hair colorist Jenna Perry explains that oil slick hair is a trend that isn’t just for blondes.
- NYC-based hair colorist Olivia Casanova describes oil slick hair as a trending hairstyle with attractive ink color and a unique oil spill appearance.
- According to visionary and longtime color trend-setter Aura Friedman, the mesmerizing glow of the swirls of gasoline in the water served as inspiration for hair colorists, who then created the trend of oil-slick hair.
- Brooke Burbee, Colorist at Blackstones Hairdressing, explains that oil slick hair is the perfect mermaid hair color for brunettes.
How to Achieve Vibrant Oil Slick Hair Color
Getting those mesmerizing oil slick tones is a meticulous process best left to experienced colorists. Here are the steps involved:
- Consult an expert colorist who understands advanced color theory, formulation, and the intricacies of vivid application. They can analyze your hair’s undertones and customize the shades to complement your complexion.
- Lighten hair first if your base is dark brown or black. This pre-lightening allows the colors to really pop. Lighter bases like platinum blonde also create a vibrant starting canvas.
- Use a customized blend of dyes like Manic Panic, Pulp Riot, or Pravana – the colorist will layer and map out the cool and warm tones, deciding which shades interact well together. Metallic additives can accentuate the slick effect.
- Application techniques include painstakingly painting the colors directly onto hair strands or neatly separating sections with foils. The colorist blends and diffuses tones using fine-tooth combs, brushes, and even their gloved fingers.
- Process under heat to open and swell the hair cuticles, allowing optimal saturation. Timing ranges from 20 minutes to over an hour.
It’s truly an art form entrusting your colorist to freehand paint mesmerizing oil slick hues to life directly on the canvas of your hair. The results are striking!
Caring for Your Oil Slick Hair Color
To keep the colors as brilliant as the day you left the salon chair, be diligent about at-home care:
- Use sulfate-free shampoo to avoid stripping color. Lukewarm water also prevents fading.
- Wash hair less frequently than normal. Over-washing opens cuticles causing color to escape.
- Do a weekly glossing treatment to saturate the hair with reflective shine and prolong vibrancy between washes.
- Expect to need a touch up around every 4-6 weeks as the bright fashion tones fade. Book these appointments in advance.
Proper maintenance is crucial for keeping oil slick hair looking like you just stepped out of the salon. Follow your colorist’s home care plan to protect your investment.
Oil Slick Hair Inspiration From Runways to Real Life
Oil slick hair is truly wearable art. Here are some examples of the technique brought to life on different hair lengths, styles, and complexions:
Short Oil Slick Styles
- Pixies and bobs glow with oil slick accents focused around the face and ends.
- Rainbow money piece strands stand out against dark short hair.
- Closely cropped cuts let the color be the star.
Long Oil Slick Styled Looks
- Vivid ombre transitions from roots to tips on long locks.
- Braids, ponytails, and updos pop by only coloring sections.
- Blended color melts from warm purples to cool teals.
Sleek and Straight
- Sleek, glass-like sheets of color shine when stick straight.
- Blunt one length cuts better show off color dimension.
- Middle parts and slicked sides suit the oil effect.
Soft Waves and Curls
- Bouncy curls contrast beautifully with the oil tones.
- Beachy waves encourage blends between colors.
- Diffused curls encourage iridescence.
FAQs About Caring For and Styling Oil Slick Hair
How long does the color last?
Around 4-6 weeks depending on your hair health. Gloss treatments extend wear.
What maintenance is required?
Less frequent washing, weekly glossing, touch ups every 4-6 weeks. Minimal heat styling.
Can you curl or straighten?
Yes! Use ample heat protectant and lower temperature settings.
Is it damaging to hair?
Lightening required plus multiple vivid tones can be drying. Use repairing treatments.
Can I try semi-permanent first?
Yes, test a small underside section with semi-permanent dye to sample the colors.
How is oil slick hair removed?
With clarifying shampoos meant to strip direct dyes. Will take several rounds of removal. Go slow.
Should I avoid certain ingredients?
Sulfites and hot water can cause rapid fading. Silicones may prevent color absorption – do a remover wash first.
How soon after can I re-color?
Wait one week minimum. Two weeks better for compromised hair to recover. Do conditioning treatments.
Achieving Your Own Oil Slick Hair Transformation
Have fun getting creative with your colorist designing your own one-of-a-kind oil slick hair! The glossy, holographic effect is mesmerizing and makes a bold statement. Discuss the color combinations that appeal to you. Show inspiration pictures. Be sure to maintain it properly so you can rock luminous locks for 4-6 weeks! Just remember it’s a commitment requiring special care. Take the oil slick plunge!
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.