We'll be honest: Not every rainbow hair color is universally flattering. But lucky for us, purple is. Whether you're a born-blonde or brunette, with naturally coarse or ultra-fine hair, there's a violet hue for you.
Of course, if you're nervous about a full-on, allover dye job, taking the plunge with purple highlights is a great place to start, and our two colorists Nicole Tabloff and Karissa Schaudt, agree.
Meet the Expert
Purple Highlights Fast Facts
CHOOSING A SHADE: If you're not willing to get regular color touch-ups, choose a lighter lavender shade, which will fade more naturally than a deep violet.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL: High. Be prepared to touch up your highlights every six to eight weeks, depending on your shade.
GOES GREAT WITH: Monochromatic purple eyeshadow, neutral makeup.
PRICE: $50 to $150, depending on your natural hair color and the number of highlights you're looking to achieve.
Below, see 35 vibrant violet purple highlights styles that are totally wearable.
Cool-Blonde and Lavender
Pairing vibrant purple with blonde hair can create quite the contrast. For a “lavender-vanilla latte” look like this one, your colorist will add in “slices” of a lavender dye. While this color looks soft and relatively subtle, professional colorists make sure to use ultra-saturated and pigmented formulas (and most importantly, don’t fade) like this one from Aloxxi Hair.
Purple highlights on black hair can be eye-catching, as evidenced by this midnight purple 'do. Paired with a metallic purple lip? You've officially owned the room. "This color is so dark that when light hits it, it reflects pieces of deep blues and purple," says Schaudt. "This color requires deposit only—I suggest pairing it with natural levels of dark brown."
When you pick the perfect purple, you'll know it. These long, brown beach waves were upgraded with saturated-yet-subtle mulberry highlights—and you can keep your hair touchable and soft (post-dye job) with a good post-color regimen that includes things like weekly deep-hydrating masks and the right shampoo.
Thinking of ways to get creative? Try an unexpected ombré, like this violet-to-gray, layered shag. The colorist masterfully used jam-hued dye on the roots then applied a smoky gray on the midshaft and ends. "This is done like a root melt and grows out nicely with the deepest shade towards the root," notes Schaudt. "I’d suggest this on short to medium hair to maintain a healthy look."
If you’re looking for light purple, peek-a-boo highlights, it's a good idea to make sure your colorist picks a tone that's complementary. Cooler blonde tones (like this one) pair better with lavender than warmer, yellower ones—so make sure you have the right hue in place if you’re already blonde.
Beautiful things happen when green and purple meet. "These colors look best on a light to dark brown base that's cool," notes Tabloff. Your stylist will likely pre-lighten strands using a classic full head of highlights, then use the same highlighting technique on blow-dried hair, alternating the two colors.
Looking to take the dip-dyed hair trend one step further? Play with purple. Schaudt says this is a look that's best done on medium to long hair and with base colors that are naturally dark brown to black. To show off the glossiness of your eggplant ends, throw in some glamorous curls.
"This purple works best on darker bases with a neutral or cool undertone," says Tabloff. "To achieve this rooted look, you'll first have to pre-lighten pieces with a foilyage technique and, if necessary, color the hair left in between a cool darkest brown. Next, after shampooing and towel drying, apply a deposit-only color in a deep warm violet over the hair and process."
Take your every day, straightened 'do up a notch with a vibrant purple ombré. And if you don't already have a short style, now's the perfect time to make the chop—when all the attention's on your newly dyed ends, you probably want to make sure they look soft, healthy, and gorgeous.
This beautiful purple balayage only looks effortless. In reality, a colorist had to lift and lighten her natural hair color, then tone it down with Calura Gloss in different violet hues before styling it in sleek, touchable beach waves. (So, yes, a lot of effort did go into this, and it looks amazing).
Peekaboo violet highlights give off a cool-girl vibe, especially when styled in an updo. "This could be done on straight to curly hair but looks best paired with dark brown to black hair colors," Schaudt explains. Make like Regina King and leave the ends out for some extra drama.
Multidimensional and Berry-Hued
Purple and brown hair are a match made in hair heaven. And, you don't have to choose just one shade to incorporate into your new 'do. This natural brunette opted for allover highlights and lowlights in different shades of red, mahogany, Pulp Riot "Velvet," and "Fireball." The result is a perfectly blended, multidimensional swash of berry hues.
Mix up your regular box braids with unexpected hues. We love the dark-to-light gradient happening here with different shades of lavender, white, and pastel purple. "Leaving out the roots or tips can add a more dramatic effect to this look—the most contrast will appear on those with darker [hair] undertones," notes Schaudt.
When you have brightly colored strands, shampoo your hair no more than twice a week to ensure the color stays vibrant. Use a product specifically made for color-treated hair, like the Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo ($19).
Is it pink? Is it purple? It's brilliant, according to Tabloff, who says that this hue works best on a dark base of either warm or cool. Throw on an emerald smoky eye like Kerry Washington, and you're red carpet-ready.
Believe it or not, these streaks are only temporary—so they're perfect for anyone nervous to take the plunge and make an actual colorist appointment. For a low-lift switch-up, this makeup artist went for Lime Crime Makeup's hair color spray in Lollipop. According to Schaudt, this'll look the most dramatic on straight to slightly wavy hair.
Give your ends the VIP treatment. With muted, nearly invisible highlights throughout, you can go for the bold with saturated, vibrant tips—like these gorgeous mauve ones. Perfect for anyone with long tresses or just a person who may or may not want to experiment with dyeing hair extensions.
"This color is full of pigment, meaning your hair needs to be in healthy condition to maintain it, and strong enough to lighten and then deposit the tone into," notes Schaudt. "The amount of shine you’ll get when pairing this hue with black will be gorgeous." Pop your hair into a high ponytail for a genie-like vibe à la Justine Sky.
Ask for a melting technique if you're looking to blend your base color with something bright, like this gorgeous grape-soda hue. (Color-melting is great if you're low-maintenance since it still looks soft and natural even when it grows out. Less touch-ups, less problems).
Subtle and Muted
Add some flair to your average beach waves with subtle streaks. Pick a shade that can subtly blend with your natural hue—in this case, a soft wine shade that complements her dark brunette locks perfectly. With this 'do, Schaudt says you'll first balayage the hair and then deposit a reddish-purple tone on top. "This can be done on any texture of hair with little damage—it's definitely a go-to if you already have balayage hair!" she says.
Liven up your usual highlighted beach waves with some soft, light-purple strands. (This client chose subtle streaks before taking the plunge into full-on purple.) We’re obsessed with the way the hue pairs perfectly with both the highlights and lowlights in her ‘do.
Tousled and Subtle
Put a spin on your naturally low-maintenance, wavy hair with subtle streaks. The violet shade blends perfectly with her natural hair color (just add a good texturizing spray for styling). "By foiling chunky highlights and depositing a deep-sea purple, it’s impactful in all the right angles," says Schaudt, who recommends this look for those with textured or curly hair.
Pops of Purple
With naturally dark hair, you can quickly achieve purple highlights that blend well into brown or black tresses. The bob here has super-subtle streaks of plum—they complement the curled, angled cut perfectly. "This is a three-dimensional color, which means there’s natural hair and two additional highlighted colors," says Schaudt. "This can be done on any natural hair color, but it's paired best with curly hair."
Piecey and Plum-Hued
A rich, deep plum color is the perfect complement to a rich, deep natural shade of brown. Note how the piecey layers of the cut—and tousled, wavy style—add dimension to the look.
Just the Tips
You don’t necessarily have to go all out and make a major statement. Dip-dye your tips or get subtle lowlights to get an understated style—especially if you have brown hair that doesn’t provide too much contrast.
Depending your natural shade, your colorist might have to do some overall toning and lightening before they can even begin on purple highlights (which could take multiple sessions). But when the result is as gorgeous, cohesive, and tonal as this? It’s worth the wait.
Feel like taking a beauty risk? Forget lavender, plum, and other easy-to-pull-off purple hues—bright, saturated purple highlights instead could be perfect for satiating your bold side. Just make sure you have the right color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, so it doesn’t lose its pigment.
Not ready to go full-throttle with purple highlights? Try these subtle pastel lilac babylights—Tabloff says it'll work great on almost anyone from the lightest cool blonde to strawberry to a light cool brown. "This is great for someone looking to change up their classic balayage but doesn't want a huge commitment due to the light tone fading that typically occurs well before their next visit," she says. "The key to achieving this look is the lightened pieces must be the lightest blonde."
You can do anything with a solid base color. Case in point: This natural brunette opted for both blonde and purple highlights. It gives her straight hair (and sleek braid) a rich, dimensional look. "This shade can be achieved and looks best on someone with texture to their hair," recommends Schaudt.
Don’t be shy. Go for the bold with borderline-neon tresses—in this case, magenta highlights and a choppy, layered ‘do. Allover neon can be a little intimidating, so that you can ease into it with adventurous streaks instead.
Tabloff says to avoid using your expensive light-colored towels and sheets because these purple hues can (and will) bleed on them.
Upgrade an otherwise neutral dirty blonde with a combo of lavender and platinum highlights. Long layers and beach-wave styling bring out the multidimensional mix of colors. "This is perfect for someone looking for a subtle pop of purple," says Schaudt. "Because it’s subtle, it’s most noticeable on blondes with wavy to straight hair—just ask to add this beautiful blend into your regular highlight appointment."
Touchable Long Bob
We’ll always give two-thumbs-up to perfectly tousled long bobs. And we love the look of rich, saturated purple mixed with a warm dirty blonde—the subtle-wave styling is just the boysenberry on top of the sundae.
If you’re already rocking (or growing out!) bangs, consider experimenting with a purple balayage like this one. With a straight style, natural roots, and contrasting bangs, you can bring the drama while knowing you can ultimately grow it out if you get sick of it.
Shades of Purple
"This is a mix of clear, gray, and violet purple," notes Schaudt. "It must be deposited on white hair, so it appears slightly translucent." While anyone can rock this, it would be less maintenance (and damage) on someone with naturally light hair. It's so rocker chic.
If a purple smoky eye were a hair color, this would be it. Love the look? Let your stylist know you'd like a variation of purple-leaning grays and blondes. Tabloff says the process of achieving this color will require a heavy balayage technique to achieve a variety of blonde throughout the hair.