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17 Pastel Hair Color Ideas We Can’t Wait to Try

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Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images

Whether quarantine got you hooked on experimenting with at-home hair dye or being out in the world again is making you want to make your debut drenched in a bold new hair color, pastel shades should always be a top contender. These airy colors (sometimes referred to as unicorn hair or rainbow hair) are bright enough to make an impact while still being soft and evergreen. What's even better is that they often begin to look cooler as the color diffuses over time. 

While pastel rainbow hair is relatively simple to DIY at home, your natural hair color is super important to consider first. If you have dark hair or even medium blonde hair, note that pastel shades won't look as vivid when layered over these tones. To get that pure pastel saturation, you'll need to start with a base of platinum blonde hair, which is a color you should definitely not try to achieve as an amateur hairstylist. 

To bleach the hair while keeping as much of its strength, hydration, and overall health intact requires time, skill, and a delicate touch. For darker shades, the lightening process can sometimes even take weeks to fully complete. However, after you've worked with a colorist to go platinum, having fun with bright colors at home is a massively fun way to experiment with your look. 

If you're considering sporting a shade of rainbow hair sometime soon, scroll on down for 17 different pastel hair color ideas. 

1. Dramatic Roots 

A photo of Bebe Rexha with pastel pink hair and dark pink roots
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

One of the hardest parts about going from brunette to platinum blonde to a pastel shade is that your roots will create a stark contrast as the hair grows. Instead of continuously doing root touch-ups, how about embracing your natural color, like Bebe Rexha? A smooth gradient like this adds interest to the overall look while still keeping the style relatively low maintenance. 

2. Bubblegum Pink Roots

A photo of Katy Perry with bubblegum pink roots
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

On the flip side, you could also opt to make your roots the area where you concentrate most of the pastel color. Katy Perry's reverse ombré offers some fun pink color up top, but then beautifully blends into a soft blonde. If you'd like to be able to disguise your pastel hair from time to time, this is a great option. Throw it up in a messy bun hairstyle and most of the pastel hair will be instantly hidden. 

3. Contrasting Pink

A photo of Regina Hall with pink and dark hair
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

If you have dark hair, there's no need to go fully blonde. Instead, you might choose to simply focus on the areas where you want to add color. Here, Regina Hall shows us how stunning pink hair can be when it's layered atop rich brown hair. 

4. Glossy Pastel Pink

A photo of Zara Larsson with glossy pastel pink hair
Photo by John Phillips /Getty Images

If you are absolutely loving your bleach-blonde color, add just a touch of pastel color to achieve this soft cotton candy shade. Zara Larsson's feminine look is made even more gorgeous by all that sheen! To boost your hair's shine factor naturally after coloring it, try using the renowned OLAPLEX No.3 Hair Perfector, which can dramatically help to repair damage and protect the hair's structure. To immediately add a glossy effect, you might also try applying a product like R+CO's High Dive Moisture & Shine Créme to damp hair before styling. 

5. Rose Gold Realness 

A photo of Debby Ryan with rose gold hair
Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Who says pastel hair color has to overpower your natural hair color? Here on Debby Ryan, the two shades coexist peacefully and beautifully, with the pink color acting in some places more as a highlight than as the dominant shade. Not sure if pastel hair is right for your vibe? Start here to see how it feels!

6. Purple + Blonde

A photo of Nicole Richie with purple blonde hair
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Stay cool this summer by opting for this shade of icy lavender. Here, Nicole Richie shows off another great way to allow both a pastel tone and blonde to share the spotlight. By keeping the purple a more icy, cool shade, you have a bit more of a grace period when it comes time to touch up the roots. Plus, the gradient looks amazing when it starts to grow out. 

7. Turquoise Tresses 

A photo of Hilary Duff with pastel turquoise hair
Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Summer + pastel shades = the perfect opportunity to fully embrace mermaid hair (just take it from Hilary Duff!). This seafoam green hair will look stunning on every skin tone and seriously makes it look like you just emerged from the ocean as Ariel 2.0. While it'll look ethereal however you choose to wear it, beach waves are definitely one style you should try pairing with this color. 

8. Firework Fusion

A photo of Irene Kim with strawberry blonde hair and blue tips
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

There's so much to love about model Irene Kim’s look here: the low-maintenance natural roots, the saturated strawberry blonde, and the playful pastel blue tips. All three elements work together beautifully to create a cohesive look that just screams summer. Looking to make a grand entrance at this year's Independence Day BBQ? Here's your in. 

9. Colorful Plaits

A photo of Amandla Stenberg with blue and teal braids
Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images

For those with natural hair, playing with pastel doesn't have to be a permanent commitment. Instead, try incorporating bright hues into protective hairstyles like Amandla Stenberg. As you sport this trendy look, you'll also be able to keep your natural hair strong and healthy. A total win-win. 

10. Super Subtle Green 

A photo of Charlotte Lawrence and her light green hair with waves
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

If the previous shade of green is a bit too bold for you, try something subtler like this ultra-soft light green Charlotte Lawrence is sporting. To achieve this look at home, you might try finding a light green you like and diluting it with conditioner. The result will be a lived-in shade that's effortlessly cool.

11. Opposite Attract

A photo of Ke$ha with a split of pastel blue and pink
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Feeling split about which pastel color you want to go with? Why choose? A side-by-side style may seem like a wild choice at first, but it can be wildly fun—especially when both sides are twisted together into a quick updo. Ke$ha’s look is giving us major color inspo. 

12. Lavender Dreams

A photo of Cynthia Erivo with pastel purple hair
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Whether you have fair skin or deep skin, this lilac color will suit both skin tones and everything in between. On light complexions, this pastel purple hair adds a boost of color without overpowering the skin tone. On darker complexions, the light color creates a striking contrast, making the pastel shade appear even more vibrant. Add intricate styling and accessories like Cynthia Erivo has done here and you're destined to be the center of attention wherever you go. 

13. Full-On Mint

A photo of Kylie Jenner with mint green hair
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Ready to feel at one with nature? Transform your entire head of hair into a field of striking green strands. This particular shade of green (we love how it looks on Kylie Jenner) is certainly saturated but still firmly falls in the pastel realm. It's perfect for those who want a bold color that will still have some vibrancy after a few washes. 

14. Beautifully Blended

A photo of Cardi B with a pastel green ombre
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

We are absolutely smitten by how smoothly Cardi B’s dark brown locks flow into a pastel rainbow While you may need a hairstylist's help to achieve ombre hair with a gradient this smooth, the results will be well worth the cost of splurging for assistance. 

15. Stormy Purple

A photo of Justine Skye with purple hair
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

What happens when you layer pastel hair dye over your dark natural color? You just may get this rich, moody version of the pastel hair trend as seen on model Justine Skye. Here's a great option if you're looking to use semi-permanent dyes or if you have damaged hair and want to skip the bleach. 

16. Creamsicle Waves

A photo of Bonnie McKee with curly peach hair
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Pastel hair PLUS a head full of old Hollywood waves? Talk about a killer combo. This curly peach hair from Bonnie McKee is giving us some serious summer vibes. It's playful, vibrant, and a super fun way to add even more individuality to your unique natural hair texture. 

17. Platinum Blue 

A photo of Lady Gaga with platinum blue hair
Photo by Jon Kopaloff /Getty Images

If you're loving the way your platinum hair is looking, try incorporating color more as highlights throughout the hair than as an overall tint. Here's an example of how to do it beautifully: While Lady Gaga's light blue definitely shines, her crisp platinum color also gets its own moment. 

Want to discover all the best beauty looks to match your bold new tresses? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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Article Last Updated June 26, 2021 12:00 AM