21 Exquisitely Creative Hair Color Ideas

No longer relegated to the coifs of regal punk rockers, creative color is all the rage! You can find it everywhere from high-fashion catwalks to Main Street USA. Decadent rich hues and soft pastel shades grace the manes of celebrities, spark up advertising campaigns, and are even worn by the little girl next door. A myriad of color choices await you; from permanent shades, high-intensity pigments, temporary color and even the new ‘hair chalk’ craze.

Galaxy-Inspired

Picture of galaxy vibes color creative hairstyleInstagram @ashmarie.hair

Q&A with style creator, Ashley Olsen
Licensed Hairstylist & Makeup Artist @ Timothy Richard Salon in East Granby, CT

How would you describe this look?

This look was galaxy-inspired! My favorite thing about it is the color placement. Different styles and even movements will showcase different pops of each one of the colors. This is definitely not a hair color anyone could get bored with!

Any advice for someone considering it?

It is super important to take care of the color by using a color-safe shampoo and washing with cold water only! Try to go a few days between washes while also making sure to protect your hair from heat styling.

As long as you can take care of it, I think that this color can work for anyone who has the confidence to rock it!

Muted Pastels

Picture of muted pastel a creative color hairstyleInstagram @courtgannhair

Q&A with style creator, Courtney Alexander
Salon Owner / Stylist @ Tribe Salon in Lebanon, MO


How would you describe this look?

Muted pastels are my new obsession! I have a lot of clients asking for these more muted, earthier tones and I love them. They are so different from your normal fashion colors that you see every day.

I love that it has a metallic feel to it These colors give me a little more creative freedom and are great for clients that want something out of the box!

Any advice for someone considering it?

While I love doing these colors, they aren’t for everyone! Upkeep at home is key to keeping a lasting color. Because they are lighter, fading happens quickly, so a sulfate-free shampoo designed to combat color fading is a must! I like the new In the R.A.W. Line from Biolage.

Infrequent washing in cool water and using a low heat setting while styling can also provide longevity! Be ready to be back in the salon every six weeks to for upkeep. No fashion color is low maintenance, and I’m always upfront with clients who are thinking about doing one. But if you are willing to put in the work of maintaining these colors, they are so much fun!

Bi-Color Bliss

Bi-Color Bliss hairstyleInstagram @adorebyaustin

Q&A with style creator, Austin Nierman
Balayage Specialist @ Adore By Austin in Fort Wayne, IN


How would you describe this look?

This color offers a great opportunity to have a shade we wouldn’t normally feel comfortable by making our favored color the predominant visual feature. Now you can have your cake and eat it too!

My favorite thing is that at first glance, the pink exudes full energetic vibes. Only after a moment do you notice this blue, a calming ocean of chromatic bliss and comfort happening just below the surface. Why have just one color when there are so many to choose from?!

Any advice for someone considering it?

Maintenance is everything for vivid color work! Hot water when washing isn’t an option, and unfortunately, neither is washing it more than three times per week. You must also keep in mind when choosing a shampoo, there are a lot of really great “no poo” and dry shampoo options opposite to the traditional rinse, lather, and repeat types out there.

One of my favorites on the market right now is called Unwash. It is fairly priced for what you get too! These products work by gently removing dirt and excess oil buildup, with excess being the key. It’s gentle enough that the baseline or foundation of oils aren’t stripped from the hair.

This is so important because, after the process of lightening the hair (a necessity for almost any fun colors), there will be damage. To remedy that damage, you must allow your scalp to produce all of the natural oils to help to keep the hair’s cuticle laying nice and smooth. A commitment? Yes. So if that’s for you, this color is so worth it!

Galaxy Colors

Galaxy Colors hairstyleInstagram @imgordonlow

Q&A with style creator, Gordon Low
Senior Stylist in Singapore


How would you describe this look?

These are soft pastel shades intertwining together to achieve soft, galaxy colors.

My favorite thing about this look is how the colors appear differently from different angles or under different lighting.

Any advice for someone considering it?

This look is for someone who prefers a hair color somewhere in between vibrant colors and natural colors. If you are looking a somewhere in between too much and too little, the middle will be just perfect for you.

Ashy Plum into Lavender

Ashy Plum into Lavender hairstyleInstagram @ashglambooth

Q&A with style creator, Ashley Brito
Stylist / Colorist / Make-up Artist @ Posh Hair Studio in Kew Gardens, NY


How would you describe this look?

My client previously had her whole head colored a bright magenta and was looking for a big change. With winter coming around, I thought this would be a bold and exciting new look that was a great way to brighten her up and still be very in season.

I would describe the color as a plum/ash base with icy lavender highlights and a few hints of sky blue. I love this look because up close, you really do get to see all the different tones and dimensions the hair has. It’s a nice way to add a new twist to the grey hair trend.

Any advice for someone considering it?

As far as recommending this to a client, I say go for it! That being said, this is no easy task. There are many factors to consider before going for a look like this. The most important requirement is that your hair isn’t overly processed. This was my client’s fourth session with me. It took that long for me to get her from her natural 3/4 level to a platinum blonde. Realistic expectations are important when considering this look. Any color this light requires a ton of love, moisture, and patience.

Hair texture also plays a big part. For all my curly haired girls, this kind of highlight can really change the integrity of your curl pattern, so always keep that in mind. I will always recommend sulfate-free products for long-lasting results, as well as a good moisturizing treatment. One of my favorite lines to recommend for a heavy highlight like this would be Nou Nou from Davines, as well as the Alchemic silver conditioner and shampoo. This silver conditioner is one of my favorites to send home with my clients. Besides using a product to keep your hair healthy, a purple shampoo or conditioner is great when going silver. It helps to maintain the icy tones in your hair as the toner washes out.

This look requires a color touch up at least every four to six weeks for the base color, as well as the toner. These balayage highlights which do grow out beautifully and do not require as much upkeep. Most clients can get away with refreshing the highlights just once or twice a year because it really does grow out very gradient. Although this color might be too bold for someone in a more professional setting, I would still recommend this type of highlight for everyone, just with a different tone for someone who wants to be more conservative.

Unicorn of the Sea

Unicorn of the Sea hairstyleInstagram @hairlizard

Q&A with style creator, Keri Scherbring
Hairstylist / Owner @ Taffy Salon in Seattle, WA


How would you describe this look?

So many things come to mind with this look. It’s like Narwhal/Unicorn of the Sea hair. It’s a rainbow fish or magical mermaid. It’s a rainbow road shooting through tropical waters!

I love the contrast of the aqua and seafoam gradient against the full rainbow, but I think my favorite thing about this look is how versatile it is. It looks a little different every time you change the part or style which gives you a lot to play with in your day to day styling.

Any advice for someone considering it?

I think one thing to be aware of with any fashion color is that it does tend to fade faster than other colors. If you have a good stylist, they will be able to assess where your hair is at and what color will fade the best over time. It’s important to have a really clean slate when doing colors like this so the fade is as beautiful as when you first came in.

You can help slow down the fading process with cool water, color-safe shampoo, and heat protecting products. I also personally love Overtone conditioners which have pigment in them so you can revitalize your color as you condition. In this case, I would probably recommend a teal tone to use on the bulk of her head.

You have to consider maintenance with colors like this. Ideally, you would touch up your roots within a few months to avoid banding and uneven tones in the future. The more on top of maintenance you are, the better your result will be. Anyone can and should have rainbow hair, within the limits of your workplace and life of course! I definitely encourage people of all ages and styles to try it because there’s nothing more fun than looking in the mirror and seeing a happy pop of color.

Desert-Inspired

Desert-Inspired hairstyleInstagram @forloveandhair

Q&A with style creator, Samantha Sellars
Stylist / Owner @ For Love and Hair in Sherman Oaks, CA


How would you describe this look?

When I created this look, I was really inspired by the colors of succulents and all the tones you can find in the desert. I wanted the foundation to be blue-based with pops of intense colors to show contrast and movement.

My favorite part of this color is how alive it looks. I love that no matter how it’s styled, the color is so fluid.

Any advice for someone considering it?

My advice would be to seriously consider the damage, maintenance, and cost of this type of color. To get the best color results, the hair needs to be nearly platinum so that no undertones have to be dealt with. This means a serious strain on your hair, especially if it’s naturally dark, and multiple sessions of lifting to get the hair light. Not to mention protein treatments to keep the hair healthy.

Fantasy shades like these can fade pretty fast (a lot faster than normal color) so you need to make sure you can commit to regular touch up appointments. For a color like this, touching it up at home yourself is not an option if your goal is to maintain the color pattern.

The next thing to consider is the cost which can run upwards of $350 each session, depending on the thickness and length of your hair. It also can take up to nine hours in one session. If you’re not prepared to spend a lot of money on this, then this isn’t the look for you.

All of that being said, the biggest hurdle is getting your hair light enough. Once you’ve achieved that light blonde color, playing with fun shades and changing your color can be incredibly fun and such a great way to express your inner unicorn.

Soft Lavender and Aqua Tones

Q&A with style creator, Brittini Figueroa
Hairstylist @ Salon Volt in San Antonio, TX


How would you describe this look?

This look is one of my favorites! I would best describe it as a lived-in color using soft lavender and aqua tones.

What I love about this look is the contrast and blend of colors, working from her natural brown at the crown area down to purple and blue at the ends. I used a straight rod style wand to create waves similar to her natural texture. Due to the soft blend, she is able to wear her hair wavy or straight.

Any advice for someone considering it?

While these looks are beautiful and very boho chic, they also require a good amount of maintenance and multiple visits to the salon. I lightened this client about three times to get her ends to a pale blonde so I could make these delicate colors work. They usually last around a month, so make dry shampoo your new best friend! These colors fade with each wash, so washing your hair every day isn’t ideal.

Consider investing in a color protecting shampoo as well. For added longevity, you can request a color a couple of shades darker to give your color more levels of fading. Guests can customize this look by asking for their balayage higher or lower, or by adding some face-framing highlights using the same colors.

My client is a business professional who is able to keep her hair in a bun while in the office during the week, making her hair versatile enough for both her professional and personal life.

Pastel Bob

Pastel Bob hairstyleInstagram @kimakazehair

Q&A with style creator, Kim Williams
Hairdresser @ Salon Republic in Los Angeles, CA


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This client has fine hair with a bob haircut. I love adding loose curls to give her volume and also show off all the ranges of pastel colors.

My favorite part of this look is how adding texture to hair can make delicate colors pop even more and show off any hidden colors that a straight style wouldn’t.

What products do you recommend to create and maintain this look?

I added a volumizing cream from DFI to give this client a big boost of volume along with using the Babyliss Pro Prima 3000 for the perfect undone curls. It’s my favorite tool and the fastest to create any texture curl!

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

What’s great about pastel colors is that depending on skin tone, anyone can pull them off. I recommend lighter skin tones and cool skin tones for the specific pastels I used here since they are considered cool colors.

Luckily for stylists and clients, fashion colors are becoming more and more common and accepted by society as the ‘new norm. Pastel colors are a great transition for clients wanting to simply try out different tones, but not commit to deep or bright tones. Some pastel colors can be so subtle that they can complement any skin tone or lifestyle!

Like most fashion colors, pastels fade faster than permanent color, so it’s best if the client also invests in a dry shampoo to help extend the time between washes!

Bold Simplicity

Bold Simplicity hairstyleInstagram @cutz_up

Q&A with style creator, Simone Ho-Sang
Hairstylist & Colorist @ The Glam Lounge Salon in Ft. Lauderdale, FL


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This is one of my all time favorite creative colors. It’s a statement color. It’s edgy, chic, daring, and says “I’m a risk taker”! I love its simplicity and bold taste at the same time.

What products do you recommend to create and maintain this look?

To recreate this look, you would need a lightener of your choice with 20 vol. Joico’s Peacock Green, as well as a warm blonde from your favorite color line.

For maintenance, a moisture shampoo and conditioner is highly recommended. Adding a light serum before ironing will help achieve this look’s polished finish.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

This type of creative color is for the risk taking client who isn’t afraid of turning heads!

Jewel-Toned Color Melt

Q&A with style creator, Samantha Burck
Hairstylist / Salon Owner @ Samantha B Hair Studio in Arlington Heights, IL


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This as a jewel-toned color melt. My favorite thing about this look is the dimension and interchanging pops of color throughout. The colors all just melt into one another.

What products do you recommend to create and maintain this look?

The products I used to create this look and recommend are by Pulp Riot. I used Pulp Riot Blank Canvas to remove any remaining color before applying the finished product. I used Pulp Riot Nightfall for the base color, a mix of Absinthe and Area 51 for the green, and a mix of Candy and Cupid for the pink.

To maintain this color I recommend Pureology shampoo and conditioner (preferably the Hydrate or Strength Cure) and Pureology Color Fanatic 21 spray for a leave-in product.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

The type of client I recommend this for is someone who is definitely ok with high maintenance color. This is a color that needs to be taken care of well. You must always use cold water when washing and also not wash more then two to three times a week at the most. Professional color preserving products are a must!

I personally think colors like this look the best on someone with a paler complexion for the best pop of color. Since it is a vivid fashion color, the client needs to be ok with embracing the fade since vivid colors don’t last as long as others.

Five Alarm Fire

The heat is off the charts! A perfectly-rich red hue is a powerful way to make a statement when you’re ready to stand apart from the crowd. It’s a high-maintenance look that commands attention and suits a outgoing personality.

Depending on your natural shade, this color can be achieved in a one or two-step process.  Frequent touch-ups are absolutely necessary to reduce color loss and fading.  You can keep this color fresh at home between salon visits by using a color-infused conditioner or gloss treatment.

creative hair color wavy cut creative hair color way cut 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

Ruby-Red hair works best with fair skin and light-colored eyes. Hair is best worn long and straight or with some waves.  However, this look can be quite striking on short hair as well.

Tip:

This shade is the epitome of high-maintenance hair.  Use a color gloss or a color-enhanced conditioner to refresh your shade between salon visits.

Mint Deluxe

A blast of freshness!  This cool minty / sea-foam green tint is a great way to add a some distinction to monotone hair. It’s a bold, punky look that’s fashion forward and edgy. Depending on your natural shade, this color can be achieved in a two-step color process or by simply adding extensions.  If you decide to color, keep in mind this temporary pastel shade will fade quickly. If you desire a longer-lasting hue then colored hair extensions may be the answer for you.

creative short black mint color creative short black mint color 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

These minty-fresh streaks work best on peach, olive or dark skin tones. Dark, straight tresses provide the perfect backdrop to dramatize this look.

Tip:

If you are a color chameleon, try this look with colored hair extensions.

Antique Rose

Delicate rose can be a delight. This soft, metallic mauve offers a feast for the senses. Muted rosy undertones and silvery swirls are beautifully balanced against a deep violet-brown base. Depending on your natural shade, this color can be achieved with color-blocking techniques or via a highlight and toner process. This shade will fade but should still remain lovely in it’s lighter incarnations. As the color evolves, the contrast in colors will gain even more depth and dimension.

creative auburn swirly hairstyle creative auburn swirly hairstyle 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

This rosy hue works best on peachy or light olive skin tones.  Hair is best when worn above the shoulder and textured to enhance the multi-dimensional color and style.

Tip:

Try some vintage-inspired hairstyles for a sophisticated twist.

Apricot Fusion

Take a bite out of this delicious apricot hue.  A subtle yet dynamic pop that’s perfect for the spring and summer seasons. It’s a fun change blondes that desire something new yet wish to remain ‘light’. This super-reflective color is best achieved on light hair in order to avoid brassy tones. When paired with a deep base, the lighter ends give the illusion of fuller, thicker hair.

choppy strawberry blonde creative hair color choppy strawberry blonde creative hair color 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

Fair and warm complexions work best with this eye-popping shade.  Hair is best worn short and choppy or with a razor-finish.

Tip:

Keep this look fresh and modern with some crimped texture or accent braids.

Teal Tickle

This peek-a-boo packs a punch.  This jewel-toned teal sparkles brilliantly against a rich base or a pale blonde. This color is best achieved with special-effects coloring and will require lifting your natural base. You may also experience a slight change in texture so treat your hair with love by deep-conditioning regularly.  Placement is key this to look to maximize the versatile styling options color blocking offers.

creative teal highlights on dark hair creative teal highlights on dark hair 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

This look works great with cool-toned skin.  Hair is best worn short with a modern cut and longer fringe lengths.

Tip:

For more depth and dimension, try a subtle gradient of color from light to deep teal for added contrast.

Royal Radiance

Prestige and intrigue await. This royal blue hue is a lovely way to transition darker locks into late autumn and winter months. A great alternative to merely adding highlights or ‘going lighter’. This look is best achieved with colored hair extensions.  If you’re set on achieving this color on your own hair, it will take some time and expertise. The darker your hair, the more complex the process will be. Consult with your hairdresser for this technically-savvy color accent.

long bangs with creative blue highlights

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

Blue is compatible with cool tones so go for your favorite shade and with the correct undertone. Hair can be worn from short to long with either a few streaks or bold panels of color.

Tip:

Try an updo or a top knot to highlight your special effects color.

Punky Pink

A playfully perky update. This dimensional pink pop is a great way to add ultra-feminine charm to your style. By strategically placing your color in the fringe and face-framing area; you can make a statement without having to color all over. This pretty hue can be achieved with a two-step color process. This shade fades fast but is easily refreshed as well. Intensify the contrast by placing deep magenta tones offset with baby pink for a stunning look.

brunette hair with creative pink highlights

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

Pink works well with a variety of skin tones:  try a cool magenta hue if you’re cool-skinned.  If your skin is on the warmer side, try a soft, baby pink or a lovely coral shade. A great color choice for a variety of length and texture.

Tip:

Soften up traditional pink locks with a coral kick. A perfect on-trend spring choice!

Ice Princess

Stop them cold with this unique steely blue shade.  These cool-toned silver blue streaks are a perfect accent for dark or light hair.  This is also a great way to blend grey hair as this shade will fade to a silver finish. You can achieve this is in a two-step color process or with a few well-placed colored hair extensions. This look is not for the shy but perfect if you’ve been searching for a hair color that’s a bit out of the ordinary – this is it!

creative blue highlights creative blue highlights 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

This icy shade works best with cool-skin tones. Hair is best worn short to medium-length with soft, shaggy layers.

Tip:

Try a blunt cut or an A-line bob to highlight the placement of these face-framing streaks.

Copper Blocked

Danger. . .curves ahead! What a stunning way to accent the gorgeous lines of this asymmetrical haircut. A burst of copper flare is a super-cute way to spice up a rich auburn hue. This shading is easily achieved with color blocking techniques and can be modified to suit your hairstyle. The creativity is in the design and placement to allow maximum versatility in styling.

creative brunette forward swept cut creative brunette forward swept cut 2

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

A warm, fair complexion perfectly suits this lively hue.  A chic, ultra-modern shape is a must to enhance the bold splash of color.

Tip:

Add great texture to this look using a crimping iron or small barrel curling iron.

Purple Passionista

A regal red-violet as plush as velvet!  Historically, purple is associated with royalty and nobility.  While you may not experience people bowing at your feet, you’ll certainly make a powerful statement with this lush hue.

This shade is an easy favorite as it’s easily achieved on dark hair.  It’s absolutely beautiful in it’s many incarnations, from rich violet to a soft lavender tone.  It can be achieved via a one or two-step hair color process or with some extensions. Either way, you’re sure to garner love and admiration from your loyal subjects.

brunette hair with purple color

Best Skin Tone & Hair Type:

This look can work well for a variety of skin tones.  Cooler skin tones work best with violet tones while warm complexions are best with red tones. Hair can be worn short and punky or in long wavy layers.

Tip:

Try coloring just the ends for a fashionable look that grows out with ease.

With so many ways to achieve these out-this-world shades; the hard part is deciding on which color to choose first. Before you take a dip, take a look at your natural hair color level, skin tone and your closet.  Your fashion style plays an integral part in showcasing your personality so keep your favorite wardrobe staples in mind. Most of all, experiment and have fun!