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Bright Pastel Hair Isn't Cool Anymore, but This Color Is

woman with violet ice hair

When we first caught wind of hair color trends like "opal" and "oil slick," as fun as they were, it was easy to dismiss them as passing fads. That was the summer of 2015, and almost exactly a year later, I sat in a salon chair as a stylist dyed my dark-brown hair pink. That truth alone might illustrate just how confounding the longevity of the pastel hair trend has been, not least to industry insiders. (You can keep telling us that it's "so over," French hairstylists, but our Instagram feeds—and the Versace catwalk—tell a different story.)

Still, all trends evolve, and we've charted the rise of a more muted take on the saturated brights that first dominated the scene. First came rose gold, which offered a sheer wash of pink to blond (and brunette!) locks, followed by blorange, a punchier but nonetheless translucent follow-up.

And now, we're seeing another ultra-pretty take on washed-out color: Violet ice, a crystalline version of lavender, is the next It hue to watch, says Kate Reid, director of color and resident pigment guru at Kevin Murphy.

Choosing A Shade: "Ask your stylist for a soft, sheer pastel that will fade to a beautiful ice blond with wear," Reid advises.

Maintenance Level: High. Pastel tones tend to fade very quickly. Extend the longevity by investing in purple shampoo and conditioner, which will cut any brassiness and fortify the purple tones for as long as possible.

Goes Great With: Cool or pink undertones. Reid notes that purple tends to make golden complexions look very yellow.

Similar Shades: Opal, rose quartz, rose gold, silver, platinum blonde

Price: In the salon, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $800. Get the look for cheap at home with the Manic Panic Pastel-izer ($9) and your dye of choice.

"Metallic blond tones are in big demand, and when fused together with gray-violet reflects, they gain cool dimension," Reid explains. "Soft pastels have a feminine feel to them, and for a seasoned blonde looking for a change while staying fashion-forward, it makes sense to explore soft pastels."

And if it seems like there's a new It pastel every other week, it's actually representative of a larger trend that gives us more possibilities for blond than ever before. "With new advances in color and haircare, platinum hair with maintained structure and condition is finally possible," Reid says. "This opens up new avenues of what we can do with blond as well as a new realm of blond shades including ice, silver, lilac, and lavender."

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Platinum Violet Ice

What's cooler than a piece-y platinum pixie cut with pale violet highlights?

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All-Over Violet Ice

Kelly Osbourne


Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

This all-over pale violet shade makes an old school hairstyle feel ultra-modern. Keep your pastel color fresh between touch-ups with Sachajuan Silver Shampoo ($29).

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Violet Ice Ombre

For a hint of color, opt for an ombre. Keep your roots natural, and have them fade into washed out pastel near the middle of your face.

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Gradient Violet Ice

Lil Mama


Raymond Hall/Getty Images 

This gradient braid starts out icy violet and ends with a vibrant purple.

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Dirty Violet Ice

There's dirty blonde, and then there's dirty violet ice. This look mixes pink and purple for a ruddier color that's no less on-trend.

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Braided Violet Ice

Cynthia Erivo


Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

A gorgeous braid features a whole lot of dimension. Platinum tones mix with various levels of purple for a hairstyle you could gaze at for days.

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Opal Violet Ice

This clever mix of the opal and violet ice hair trends features a host of pastel shades, but the dominant effect is that of pale purple.

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Gray Violet Ice

Billie Eilish


Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Make like Billie Eilish and try gray with just a hint of purple.

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Two-Tone Violet Ice



Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images 

Platinum blonde provides the base for mint green and light violet on this two-tone hairstyle worn by Kesha at the 2013 American Music Awards.

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Violet Ice Bob

Pastel purple is refreshing and fun on an angular bob.

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Dimensional Violet Ice

Jourdan Dunn


Michael Bezjian /Getty Images 

Dark roots and a variety of purple tones make this curly style seem dimensional and full of life.

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Pink Violet Ice

Blend pink, purple, and blonde for what colorist Emily Boulin calls "a translucent 'violet-pink' hue." It looks amazing on a piece-y chin-length bob.

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True Violet Ice

This is the ultimate violet hair color—platinum blonde with an overlay of light purple.

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Ice Cream Swirl Violet Ice

Debby Ryan


Jon Kopaloff /Getty Images 

Violet ice hair and perfect waves give you the look of a swirled ice cream cone.

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DIY Violet Ice

It can be hard to nail the perfect muted pastel at home, but Manic Panic makes it simple with a wide selection of colors and a few drops of the brand's Pastel-izer, which lightens up any at-home dye.

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