Fresh off the back of the silvery gray hair takeover and a well-overdue obsession with pastel strands, we present to you the ultimate fusion that's both edgy-cool and rocker-chic. Introducing balayage in all shades of lilac, lavender, and indigo: This trend combines the soft technique of hand-placed highlights with a hot and versatile hue. Think of it as the answer to a bold hair shakeup that all of us who normally “play it safe” have been waiting for.
Intrigued? To get the full lowdown on what’s involved and how much maintenance it all takes, we touched base with Hershesons colorist Katie Denn in London and Felicia Dosso from Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York.
Dosso says purple balayage includes individually painted strands of hair that, after lightening, are glossed and toned to a purple or violet shade. While the balayage technique has been around for years, it's become "extremely popular" because of how low-maintenance it is.
As for the purple color, Dosso says glossing balayage tends to be a fun and easy way to have cool-girl hair. It creates an "edgy look without over-processing it." she says.
“These kinds of colors require the hair to be lightened first to an almost blonde shade so that there’s no undertone coming through from your natural hair,” explains Denn. “For that, your stylist will most likely need to bleach sections where the purple is going to fall, unless you already have very fair [or platinum] hair.”
In terms of what shade is right you for, it depends a lot on your own personal tastes, of course, but the color of your hair can be a factor, too, Denn says. “Ash purples and lilacs are perhaps the most trend-led shades, as they’ve followed on from the tones of gray we’ve been seeing, although with darker hair you could go for something deeper. Personally, I’d steer away from the reddish and pinker tones, and stick more closely to shades of true purple and ash lilacs.”
When it comes to drastically changing up your hair color, perhaps try a wig first to see if it works with your skin tone. If you try it on and feel like you need to add makeup to make it work, chances are it will be a lot of work to maintain.
But, never fear: If you're ready to take the jump, we've got you covered when it comes to this cool fusion. Keep scrolling for the ultimate guide to the purple balayage trend, plus some hair inspiration photos, too.
Meet the Expert
• Katie Denn is a hair colorist at Hershesons in London.
• Felicia Dosso is a hair colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York.
How to pronounce it: Balayage is pronounced bah-lee-ahge.
Choosing a shade: Look for grey or ash lilac tones. Someone with cool undertones can wear all violets, Dosso says, whereas someone with warmer undertones can wear warmer tones of the violet spectrum, like lilac.
Maintenance level: Keeping a purple tone is high-maintenance, but balayage is more low-maintenance, only needing touchups every six months, according to Dosso. Toning hair or going for a glossing treatment (or trying an at-home gloss) is a matter of preference, though she suggests doing so every few weeks to maintain the purple color.
Price: Typical coloring starts at $200, but it depends on the salon.
Royal Purple Balayage
Ashlyn at Salon 5th Ave in Arkansas City, Kansas, really has the purple balayage trend down. With a vivacious mix of deep and lighter purples on a naturally dark base, these waves look like pure royalty. The Matrix colors used, Royal Purple ($16) and Admiral Navy ($21), clearly back this up.
Shiny Purple Waves
Dosso says purple balayage turns out best on a medium-to-light brown natural base. These shiny purple waves, which almost seem to glow in color, offer a prime example—you can even see how the natural base sharpens those vivid purple tones.
Silvery Purple Lob
It's all about personal style. This lob takes a more understated approach to the trend with subtle silver and lilac hues. The expertly blended look has us almost second-guessing the true shade here.
Cool Purple and Warm Blue
The style doesn't always have to fade to silver. Take this beautiful look, which flawlessly transitions to a deep navy hue, for example. Feel free to play with different variations when it comes to the purple balayage trend.
Because this style has to be pre-lightened, make sure to stock up on extra moisturizing masks and treatments per Denn's advice, but don't forget about oils, as well. Coconut oil, and jojoba oil offer amazing hydrating properties to keep hair soft and strong.
Purple to Silver Waves
Luckily, purple balayage tends to work on everyone. Instead of working with certain undertones every time, Dosso thinks it's more a matter of personality. Like with these long, purple-to-silver waves, it takes confidence to be able to rock a bold color.
Traditional Purple Ombré
Traditional ombré goes from dark to light, like with this low-maintenance look by Gracie Kundra at Evolve Salon and Spa.
This bob keeps things interesting with an allover ashy purple tone on the base and lighter, brighter highlights blended throughout.
The colors used here would do well with a glossing treatment every few weeks to maintain the color. Denn recommends also using a silvery shampoo like Pro: Voke Touch of Silver ($6), which she says is great for maintaining the ash tones.
Fading to Silver
This dark-to-light ombré begins in a deeper purple before fading to a silvery lilac for a super pretty look you can maintain at home to a certain degree. Look for color-enhancing glosses and temporary tints, but know the only way to truly keep the brightest color is through re-dying strands.
Moisturized, Healthy Curls
When it comes to curly hair, it's important to keep curls moisturized, especially when they're a vibrant sunset purple like here. Dosso recommends Olaplex treatments at least once a week to keep hair healthy, as the product "works to rebuild the injured disulfide bonds, which will ultimately leave you with healthy, shiny hair," she says.
Vibrant Violet Lengths
These long, flowing waves are a stunning violet hue and also incorporate a few natural undertones. With such vivid color, Denn recommends using a Crazy Color Conditioning Shampoo ($12), which will help boost the shade as it begins to fade. Be careful of using these all over if you’re blonde, though, as it’ll alter the color of your hair overall. She recommends only using this treatment on the sections where you want to brighten the purple to be on the safe side.
Darker Purple Ends
If someone has too fine of hair, or previously damaged hair, Dosso always advises them to do minimal lightening until their hair is healthier. With an amazing deep purple balayage like this one, hair needs to be healthy and strong, or the style won't work well.
Dosso recommends treatments like Olaplex ($28), saying they're amazing for "strengthening damaged hair and getting it back into a healthy enough state to color."
Go for Temporary Color
If someone doesn’t want to commit to a full purple balayage, Dosso recommends starting with products like Overtone, as the glossing conditioner comes in many shades (like this lilac and blue mixture). After the pigment is added to your hair as you condition it, it rinses out after a few shampoos.
Silver and Lilac
With this silvery shade transitioning into a pretty lilac, it probably requires a good glossing treatment every few weeks, as both experts have mentioned above.
Balayage can start as high or low as you want, though the higher you start, like with this all-over purple, the more drastic of a change you’ll feel.
A great way to start the transition to purple or a bright color, in general, is by incorporating small amounts of low-commitment color into your natural hair. Stylist Matt Fugate gave Lana Condor subtle purple accents using Overtone's Purple Deep Treatment ($29) on platinum dyed extensions.
The silvery-purple tones here give a metallic effect and offer an ashier take on the purple hair trend.
Can't decide to go more pink or purple with your balayage? This ombre magenta shade is rich, vibrant, and a happy medium between pink and purple.
The frosty-lilac, ombre tones here look effortlessly placed for a soft faded look as your hair grows out.
How long does purple last in hair?
Like other colorful shades, purple tends to fade rather quickly, though the rate varies depending on your hair's porosity, how often you wash it, and other factors. You can generally expect it to last for anywhere from 4-8 washes if you used a semi-permanent dye.
Why did my purple hair turn green?
Color can sometimes oxidize and turn out differently than expected, especially if your hair has been overprocessed. If you experience a color mishap, it's best to see a pro. You can ask your colorist for a color correction service to get any unwanted tones out of your hair and reapply your desired shade.
How do you maintain purple balayage?
When you have any pastel or colorful shade in your hair, it's always a good idea to shampoo less frequently and with lukewarm or cool water to help preserve the tones. Similarly, you'll want to cut back on heat styling and use a product with UV filters to protect your hair from heat and UV damage that can fade color. You can also use a toning shampoo or conditioner to boost purple tones as they start to fade.