May 30, 2023

person with purple hair dancing happy

We’ll be honest: Some rainbow colors are harder than others to customize to your unique undertones. But luckily for us, purple works for everyone. Whether you’re a natural blonde or brunette, with coarse curls or ultra-fine strands, there’s a violet hue for you.

Of course, if you’re nervous about a full-on, allover dye job or want something a bit more subtle, taking the plunge with purple highlights is a great place to start—and our two expert colorists, Nicole Tabloff and Karissa Schaudt, agree.



CHOOSING A SHADE: If you’re not willing to get regular color touch-ups, choose a lighter lavender shade, which will fade more naturally than a deep violet.

MAINTENANCE LEVEL: High. Be prepared to touch up your highlights every six to eight weeks, depending on your shade.

GOES GREAT WITH: Monochromatic purple eyeshadow, neutral makeup

SIMILAR SHADES: Dark purple hair, blue highlights

PRICE: $50 to $150, depending on your natural hair color and the number of highlights you’re looking to achieve.

Below, see 35 vibrant violet purple highlights styles that are totally wearable.

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Cool-Blonde and Lavender

Blonde hair with purple highlights

Pairing vibrant purple with blonde hair can create quite the contrast. For a “lavender-vanilla latte” look like this one, your colorist will add in “slices” of a lavender dye. While this color looks soft and relatively subtle, professional colorists make sure to use ultra-saturated and pigmented formulas (which don’t fade as easily), like this one from Aloxxi Hair.

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Midnight Purple

Missy Elliott wears an asymmetrical haircut with purple highlights

Purple highlights on jet black hair can be eye-catching, as evidenced by this midnight purple ‘do. Paired with a metallic purple lip, you’ve officially owned the room. “This color is so dark that when light hits it, it reflects pieces of deep blues and purple,” says Schaudt. “This color requires deposit only—I suggest pairing it with natural levels of dark brown.”

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Purple Haze

Dark hair with purple highlights in loose curls

When you pick the perfect purple, you’ll know it. These long, brown beach waves were upgraded with saturated-yet-subtle mulberry highlights—and you can keep your hair touchable and soft (post-dye job) with a good post-color regimen that includes things like weekly hydrating masks and the right shampoo.

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Ultraviolet Waves

Wavy shag haircut with silver and purple highlights

Thinking of ways to get creative? Try an unexpected ombré, like this violet-to-gray, layered shag. Colorist Aja masterfully used jam-hued dye on the roots, then applied a smoky gray on the mid-shaft and ends. “This is done like a root melt and grows out nicely with the deepest shade towards the root,” Schaudt notes. “I’d suggest this on short to medium hair to maintain a healthy look.”

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Peek-a-Boo Lavender

Long blonde hair with purple balayage highlights

If you’re looking for light purple, peekaboo highlights, it’s a good idea to make sure your colorist picks a tone that’s complementary. Cooler blonde tones (like this one) pair better with lavender than warmer, yellower ones—so make sure you have the right hue in place if you’re already blonde.

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Petrol Purple

Beautiful things happen when green and purple meet. “These colors look best on a light to dark brown base that’s cool,” notes Tabloff. Your stylist will likely pre-lighten strands using a classic full head of highlights, then use the same highlighting technique on blow-dried hair, alternating the two colors.

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Dipped Eggplant

Brandi Rhodes with purple dip-dyed hair

Looking to take the dip-dyed hair trend one step further? Play with purple. Schaudt says this is a look that’s best on medium to long hair, with base colors that are naturally dark brown to black. To show off the glossiness of your eggplant ends, throw in some glamorous curls.

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Vibrant Violet

Jordin Sparks with long, dark hair and purple highlights

“This purple works best on darker bases with a neutral or cool undertone,” says Tabloff. “To achieve this rooted look, you’ll first have to pre-lighten pieces with a foilyage technique and, if necessary, color the hair left in between a cool darkest brown. Next, after shampooing and towel drying, apply a deposit-only color in a deep warm violet over the hair and process.”

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Sleek Ombré

Mirror image of a sleek lob with purple highlights

Take your everyday straightened ‘do up a notch with a vibrant purple ombré. And if you don’t already have a short style, now’s the perfect time to make the chop—when all the attention’s on your newly dyed ends, you probably want to make sure they look soft, healthy, and gorgeous.

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Deep-Wine Waves

dark hair with subtle purple highlights

This beautiful purple balayage only looks effortless. In reality, a colorist had to lift the natural hair color, then tone it down with Calura Gloss in different violet hues before styling it in sleek, touchable beach waves. (So, yes, a lot of effort did go into this, and it looks amazing.)

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Deep Violet

Regina King wears braids with purple highlights in a bun

Peekaboo violet highlights give off a cool vibe, especially when styled in an updo. “This could be done on straight to curly hair but looks best paired with dark brown to black hair colors,” Schaudt explains. Make like Regina King and leave the ends out for some extra drama.

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Multidimensional and Berry-Hued

Purple and brown hair are a match made in hair heaven, and you don’t have to choose just one shade to incorporate into your new ‘do. This natural brunette opted for allover highlights and lowlights in different shades of red, mahogany, Pulp Riot “Velvet,” and “Fireball.” The result is a perfectly blended, multidimensional swash of berry hues.

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Purple Braids

Mix up your regular box braids with unexpected hues. We love the dark-to-light gradient happening here with different shades of lavender, white, and pastel purple. “Leaving out the roots or tips can add a more dramatic effect to this look—the most contrast will appear on those with darker [hair] undertones,” Schaudt notes.

When you have brightly colored strands, shampoo your hair no more than twice a week to ensure the color stays vibrant. Use a product specifically made for color-treated hair, like the Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo ($23).


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Deep Magenta

Kerry Washington with plum purple highlights at the Met Gala

Is it pink? Is it purple? It’s brilliant, according to Tabloff, who says that this hue works best on a dark base of either warm or cool. Throw on an emerald smoky eye like Kerry Washington, and you’re red carpet ready.

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Spray-In Streaks

Dascha Polanco with silver hair and temporary purple highlights

Believe it or not, these streaks are only temporary—so they’re perfect for anyone nervous to take the plunge and make an actual colorist appointment. For a low-lift switch-up, this makeup artist went for Lime Crime Makeup’s hair color spray in Lollipop. According to Schaudt, this’ll look the most dramatic on straight to slightly wavy hair.

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Saturated Ends

Give your ends the VIP treatment. With muted, nearly invisible highlights throughout, you can go for the bold with saturated, vibrant tips—like these gorgeous mauve ones. Perfect for anyone with long strands or just a person who may or may not want to experiment with dyeing hair extensions.

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Velvet Purple

Justine Skye wears a high ponytail with purple highlights

“This color is full of pigment, meaning your hair needs to be in healthy condition to maintain it, and strong enough to lighten and then deposit the tone into,” notes Schaudt. “The amount of shine you’ll get when pairing this hue with black will be gorgeous.” Pop your hair into a high ponytail for a genie-like vibe à la Justine Skye.

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Grape-Soda Chic

Dark, sleek hair with purple highlights

Ask for a melting technique if you’re looking to blend your base color with something bright, like this gorgeous grape soda hue. (Color-melting is great if you’re low-maintenance, since it still looks soft and natural even when it grows out. Less touch-ups mean less problems.)

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Soft, Silky, and Subtle

Bright blonde hair with subtle purple highlights

Pastel purple lowlights look amazing with cool blonde hair (and they’ll only show if paired with a light blonde). It’s super light, so very temporary. Style a balayage-esque dye job with soft, silky waves—our favorite smoothing serums and curling irons should help.

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Subtle and Muted

Woman with muted purple highlights

Add some flair to your average beach waves with subtle streaks. Pick a shade that can subtly blend with your natural hue—in this case, a soft wine shade that complements dark brunette locks perfectly. With this ‘do, Schaudt says you’ll first balayage the hair and then deposit a reddish-purple tone on top. “This can be done on any texture of hair with little damage—it’s definitely a go-to if you already have balayage hair,” she says.

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Beachy Streaks

Liven up your usual highlighted beach waves with some soft, light purple strands. (This client chose subtle streaks before taking the plunge into full-on purple.) We’re obsessed with the way the hue pairs perfectly with both the highlights and lowlights in her ‘do.

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Tousled and Subtle

Woman with tousled shoulder-length hair and subtle purple highlights

Put a spin on your naturally low-maintenance, wavy hair with subtle streaks. The violet shade blends perfectly with her natural hair color (just add a good texturizing spray for styling). “By foiling chunky highlights and depositing a deep-sea purple, it’s impactful in all the right angles,” Schaudt says, recommending this look for those with textured or curly hair.

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Pops of Purple

Angled, curled bob with purple highlights

With naturally dark hair, you can quickly achieve purple highlights that blend well into brown or black strands. The bob here has super-subtle streaks of plum—they complement the curled, angled cut perfectly. “This is a three-dimensional color, which means there’s natural hair and two additional highlighted colors,” Schaudt says. “This can be done on any natural hair color, but it’s paired best with curly hair.”

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Piecey and Plum-Hued

A rich, deep plum color is the perfect complement to a rich, deep natural shade of brown. Note how the piecey layers of the cut—and tousled, wavy style—add dimension to the look.

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Just the Tips

You don’t necessarily have to go all out and make a major statement. Dip-dye your tips or get subtle lowlights to get an understated style—especially if you have brown hair that doesn’t provide too much contrast.

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Tonal Tresses

Blonde shoulder-length hair with bright purple highlights

Depending on your natural shade, your colorist might have to do some overall toning and lightening before they can even begin on purple highlights (which could take multiple sessions). But when the result is as gorgeous, cohesive, and tonal as this, it’s worth the wait.

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Neon Bright

Feel like taking a beauty risk? Forget lavender, plum, and other easy-to-pull-off purple hues—bright, saturated purple highlights instead could be perfect for satiating your bold side. Just make sure you have the right color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, so it doesn’t lose its pigment.

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Lilac Babylights

Not ready to go full-throttle with purple highlights? Try these subtle, pastel lilac babylights—Tabloff says it’ll work great on almost anyone from the lightest cool blonde to strawberry to a light cool brown. “This is great for someone who’s looking to change up their classic balayage but doesn’t want a huge commitment due to the light tone fading that typically occurs well before their next visit,” she says. “The key to achieving this look is the lightened pieces must be the lightest blonde.”

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Multidimensional Braid

Loosely braided brown hair with blonde and purple highlights

You can do anything with a solid base color. Case in point: This natural brunette opted for both blonde and purple highlights. It gives her straight hair (and sleek braid) a rich, dimensional look. “This shade can be achieved and looks best on someone with texture to their hair,” Schaudt says.

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Magenta Magic

Don’t be shy. Go for the bold with borderline-neon color—in this case, magenta highlights and a choppy, layered ‘do. Allover neon can be a little intimidating, so you can ease into it with adventurous streaks instead.

Tabloff says to avoid using your expensive, light-colored towels and sheets because these purple hues can (and will) bleed on them.


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Lavender Layers

blonde hair with purple highlights

Upgrade an otherwise neutral dirty blonde with a combo of lavender and platinum highlights. Long layers and beach-wave styling bring out the multidimensional mix of colors. “This is perfect for someone looking for a subtle pop of purple,” Schaudt says. “Because it’s subtle, it’s most noticeable on blondes with wavy to straight hair—just ask to add this beautiful blend into your regular highlight appointment.”

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Touchable Long Bob

Soft blonde lob with purple highlights

We’ll always give two thumbs up to perfectly tousled long bobs. And we love the look of rich, saturated purple mixed with a warm dirty blonde—the subtle-wave styling is just the boysenberry on top of the sundae.

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Straight Streaks

If you’re already rocking (or growing out!) bangs, consider experimenting with a purple balayage like this one. With a straight style, natural roots, and contrasting bangs, you can bring the drama while knowing you can ultimately grow it out if you get sick of it.

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Shades of Purple

Raven-Symone with silver and purple hair and an undercut

“This is a mix of clear, gray, and violet purple,” Schaudt says. “It must be deposited on white hair, so it appears slightly translucent.” While anyone can rock this, it would be less maintenance (and damage) on someone with naturally light hair. It’s so rocker chic.

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Smoky Lavender

If a purple smoky eye were a hair color, this would be it. Love the look? Let your stylist know you’d like a variation of purple-leaning grays and blondes. Tabloff says the process of achieving this color will require a heavy balayage technique to achieve a variety of blonde throughout the hair.