5 Reasons Oil Slick Hair Color Is For You


Next time you’re pumping the petrol into the tank, look down. See those iridescent swirls of color on the pavement? Kind of pretty, right?

Kind of pretty, right? It’s glowy streaks like those that hair color pros have been inspired by for the latest trend, oil slick hair. Based on those pavement palettes of indigo, purple, emerald and magenta, hair colorists have come up with a dramatic and very cool effect for hair.

So yes, oil slick hair is a thing. Is it your thing? Here are five reasons why the answer is probably a yes!

1. You’re Bored With Your Dark Hair

Sometimes it seems like your light-haired friends have all the hair color fun. They change it up constantly with fun pastels or bright colors, highlights, balayage or ombré. But if you have dark hair, the options are more limiting. You really have to bleach nearly all of the color out of your hair in order to put in a new color that shows up. For you, oil slick hair is the answer. There are lots of color combinations, but in general, oil slick hues are in the magenta, purple, green and/or cobalt families, and to get the full effect, they must be integrated into a rich, inky base. Like yours. It’s the dark base that provides the dramatic backdrop for the colors, as well as the contrast they need to shimmer.

2. You’re Not That Keen on Using a Lot of Hair Lightener

You can opt for a little or a lot with oil slick color. Meaning you may opt to add a few subtle highlights of indigo or emerald into your ebony base. That means your hair stylist will only have to lighten a couple of sections. But of course, you can go for the full effect—a stormy swirl of cool, jewel shades. But in either case, because the petroleum palette is relatively dark, your stylist won’t have to bleach your hair too heavily to get the desired effect. For added insurance, ask her to include one of the new bonding systems in your formulas to prevent damage and restore your hair health while it’s processing.

3. You Don’t Want Hair Color That’s Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

This is where you have one up on all those blondes who seem to show up each day with a new shade of pink or mint green or Tiffany blue hair. Those shades are lovely, but within four or five shampoos…poof. They’re pretty much gone. Your oil slick colors, on the other hand, will have loads more staying power—months in some cases.

4. You Don’t Want to Spend Your Life in the Salon

Again, you have it all over hair color clients with lighter hair when it comes to touching up the oil slick. Because you’re keeping your base color the same, it won’t matter how much your hair grows—it won’t need touching up at the roots.

5. You’re Kind of a Badass

Admittedly these aren’t hair colors found in nature. And you’re good with that. Really good. Because at last you have found a hair color palette that both flatters and expresses the real you. And that’s the beauty of oil slick hair. It won’t shock your conservative employer or your mom’s stuffy friend, but it does tell the world you’re unique and confident!

A Few Tips for Rocking Your Oil Slick Hair Color

1. Bring pictures.

There are many design possibilities, as well as many varying color possibilities. So it’s best if you and your hair stylist start on common ground. Show her the oil-inspired hues you’re leaning toward and confer together on where and how lightly or heavily they should be placed throughout your hair. Maybe your color should skew more green and purple, like a duck, or favor a heavier concentrations of blues, like a storm-tossed sea. And let her get creative! Maybe she has some other ideas, like adding a few steely gray or pale pink strands to the mix, to make the look your own.

2. Play around with clip-in extensions.

Still on the fence? With clip-in extensions, you can definitely give the whole oil slick hair a test drive. Start with a few subtle slivers of blue-green or dark fuchsia. If you like the effect, add a few more. When you’re sold, call your stylist and book an appointment for the real deal.

3. Make sure it shines.

Shiny hair is essential for oil slick perfection. A cool water rinse after you shampoo and condition your hair will help. (It will also help your hair color last longer.) Boar bristle brushes are brilliant shine enhancers. Apply a hair treatment oil to your damp hair before styling. If your hair is super dry or dull, work a bit of the oil into strands before bed, wind it up in a bun and let the oil soak in overnight. 

4. Use products for color-treated hair.

Even though oil slick hair color doesn’t require as much chemistry as more intense color effects, your hair still needs to be handled with care. Choose gentle shampoo  and conditioner formulas that are salt- and sulfate-free and designed especially for color treated hair. If you use thermal tools like dryers and irons, turn down the heat. High temps are notorious for stripping away hair color. And always use a good heat protectant spray with your irons to keep hair to prevent thermal damage.