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 blonde (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. To help your stylist nail the color, Nick Stenson, artistic director at MATRIX, describes violet ice as "a cool-violet pastel that is built upon a pale silver."
Choosing A Shade: "Ask your stylist for a soft, sheer pastel that will fade to a beautiful ice blonde 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.
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 blonde 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 blonde 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 blonde shades including ice, silver, lilac, and lavender."
Platinum Violet Ice
What's cooler than a piece-y platinum pixie cut with pale violet highlights? "In the majority of cases your colorist will need to pre-lighten the hair with a decolorizer and then work to neutralize any visible yellow with a violet shampoo like Matrix Total Results So Silver Shampoo ($14)," says Stenson.
All-Over Violet Ice
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).
Gradient Violet Ice
This gradient braid starts out icy violet and ends with a vibrant purple. "Another general rule of thumb I like to use when choosing a violet is the warmer the skin, the cooler the color and vice/versa," says Stenson. While not a hard-and-fast rule, it can help you and your colorist determine the right shade for you.
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.
Be prepared to spend at the salon. "I would put this in the 'luxury' scale of hair color," says Stenson. "If you’re offered this type of color service for 'cheap' it’s probably too good to be true. The pre-lightening process alone could take 2-3 appointments in some cases before the final color is applied."
Gray Violet Ice
Make like Billie Eilish and try gray with just a hint of purple. "I always send my guests home with Matrix Total Results So Silver Shampoo ($14) and Conditioner ($14) in addition to the Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Color Lamination Spray ($25). These two products keep the hair from turning yellow and hold the color in even longer."
Dimensional Violet Ice
Dark roots and a variety of purple tones make this curly style seem dimensional and full of life. Be mindful of protecting your texture when going pastel, cautions Stenson. "The pre-lightening often needed can easily reduce curl pattern and further dull naturally dry hair. If you trying to maintain your curls, I would recommend partnering with your stylist to talk about incorporating extensions or even a lace-front wig that could be custom colored if you want to achieve violet-ice without sacrificing your hair’s awesome natural texture."
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.