BeFunky Collage

Love rainbow hair, but don’t want to go too wild? There’s a look that has you covered: subtle rainbow highlights. These are merely wispy bright highlights that exist alongside naturally colored hair. They’ll probably show up best in bright lighting.

There are several options for applying these types of highlights. Since they’re more wispy, delicate and multicolored, you may wish to go to a salon. If you want to try this look at home, be sure to highlight only thin strands throughout the outer layer of your hair. Use the foil method by placing a thin strand of hair on tinfoil, painting the dye on the strand and loosely wrapping the strand in foil once you are done. Avoid highlighting caps, as you cannot see as easily where you are placing the highlights.

For dyes, you have several options. The glory of subtle highlighting is that you do not necessarily need to bleach your hair first. You’ll still get color that way, but it won’t be the radiant highlighter shades you’d get on bleached hair. For instance, Manic Panic will show on hair that is levels three to seven in shade (or very dark brown to dark blonde). They even list the shades that show up on non-bleached (virgin) hair: After Midnight®, Hot Hot™ Pink, Enchanted Forest™, Shocking™ Blue, Green Envy™, Infra™ Red, Purple Haze®, Raven™, Vampire™ Red.

You might also try other more permanent dyes on virgin hair, like Splat or L’Oreal’s Pastel Colors. Feel free to experiment on a test strand and find that Goldilocks zone: not too bright, but still showing enough color.

Like any rainbow hair trend, there are tons of ways to wear this look. So if you’re debating how to style your subtle rainbow highlights, below are some top ideas.

  • Red with slight accents: One popular look that comes up a lot is one woman who has bright ruby highlights with golden accents. Then there are some bluish green accent highlights intermixed as well. The eye is drawn to the bright red highlights, and then the blue and yellow colors slowly dawn on you as you realize how much they enhance the look.
  • Subtle highlighted ombre: Go truly subtle with some rainbow hues at the back and bottom of long hair.
  • Subtle pastels: Add the slightest hint of pastel shades to naturally lighter hair.
  • Candy hair: Have very light blonde hair already? Add some bright, pastel pinks, yellows and blues in light wisps.

Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. You can find out more about her at https://www.clippings.me/michellelovrine.