Lilac hair: here’s how to nail spring/summer 2019’s hottest hair colour

Posted by
Amber Ascroft
Street style - how to get lilac or purple hair using temporary, permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes

With Pinterest searches for ‘lilac hair’ sky-high, pastel purple’s set to be the ‘It’ colour for SS19. Our handy guide has all the inspiration, products and expert tips you need…

Lilac, lavender, periwinkle – no, they’re not the eye shadow shades du jour but the most in-demand colours for hair ahead of spring/summer 2019. Pinterest searches for ‘lilac hair’ are up a staggering 1077% and there’s over 200,000 posts tagged with the phrase on Instagram.

Over at The Blonds SS19 show, Oribe hairstylist Kien Hoang sent girls down the runway sporting a veritable sweet shop of hair colours – most notably a Parma Violet-worthy purple.

Proving candy-toned locks can still come with a hefty dose of sass, Disney villains like Ursula, Maleficent and Cruella de Vil, served as inspiration. Hoang prepped hair with Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray, £27, then slicked it into a smooth, swishy ponytail with help from Oribe Star Glow Styling Wax, £39. After straightening, he attached coloured hair extensions and cut in chunky layers with a razor. 

Models at Marc Jacobs SS19 also worked multi-coloured tresses in a look dubbed “antique pastels” by stylist Guido Palau. “Everyone can wear this hair. It’s not just for certain hair types. Women aren’t so afraid to change up their hair anymore. I was surprised at the number of models that wanted a dramatic change. They each look beautiful in their own way,” Palau continued.

“Marc didn’t want a ‘fun’ pastel, he wanted an aged vintage pastel – a grown-up pastel. People are embracing colour more and more now. The fear of changing colour is gone,” agreed colourist Josh Wood who was behind the models’ painterly transformations. 

At Marc Jacobs, Wood opted for Redken Flash lift with Bonder Inside – a salon-only service that protects hair as it lifts. “Bleaching isn’t the same as it was years ago. We used to call it the ‘B’ word in a menacing way,” he comments.

Then he followed with a layer of Redken City Beats, another professional product, to add the colour element. “Ask your colourist for one part East Village Violet mixed with ten parts City Beats Clear for a pastel watercolour effect,’ advises Melanie Smith, creative master colourist at London’s Josh Wood Colour Atelier.

Craving a DIY job? “It’s still possible to nail the lilac trend with a home dye kit although your locks will already need to be bleached, softly highlighted or naturally light blonde for the full effect minus any damage,” says Smith.

Choose a semi-permanent purple dye then dial down the vibrancy by mixing it with conditioner. 

To maintain the colour, a purple or ‘silver’ shampoo is a non-negotiable. These boast violet pigment that counteracts orange brassiness in blonde hair although if you leave them in a little longer, they’re adept at depositing a purple veil.

Brunettes: you can give a nod to the trend, too. In fact, there’s a product to suit everyone. Scroll down for our pick of the best…

  • Best pre-colour toner kit for platinum blonde hair

    Bleach London White Toner Kit

    Bleach London White Toner Kit

    Straight-up bleaching at home can be seriously damaging but if you’re already blonde, this game-changing kit will transform your hair into the perfect platinum canvas.

    Containing a tube of colourant, a bottle of peroxide developing lotion, a repairing mask and plastic gloves, it dramatically neutralises any hint of yellow so the purple dye you follow with looks as cool-toned and colour-true as possible.

    Sapphire Driver, Bleach London brand manager and expert colourist, recommends using it before Bleach London Super Cool Colour in Violet Skies, £6 – a semi-permanent colour cream that lasts between two and 30 washes depending on hair porosity. 


  • Best semi-permanent purple hair dye for blondes

    Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Full Coverage Semi Permanent Dye in Pony

    Lime Crime Semi-Permanent Fantasy Hair Color Unicorn Hair in Pony

    Lime Crime’s hair dyes are just as you’d expect from the brand reknowned for its zingy colour pop make-up. With a whopping 29 rainbow shades, there are two varying formulas. The tints offer a gentle wash effect while the full-coverage semi-permanent hues are super-saturated with pigment and last up to ten washes.

    Opt for the latter, in the shade Pony, for a vivid electric violet or mix with plenty of conditioner for a paler lilac cloud of colour. It works best on hair that’s pre-bleached platinum, light or medium blonde, just leave on for 30 minutes and rinse.

    Each formula also comes in a 15ml sachet, for only £1.93, so you can experiment on a smaller area before you take the plunge.

    £12.32 (plus US shipping),

  • Best temporary purple hair dye for brunettes

    L'Oreal Paris Colorista Hair Make-up One Day Colour Highlights Plum Hair for Brunettes

    L’Oreal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup 1 Day Colour Highlights Plum Hair for Brunettes

    If your hair’s anything darker than a mousy light brown, you’ll struggle to find a DIY lilac product that shows up. Instead, opt for a beautiful violet hue that’ll look striking and multi-dimensional against your chocolate strands.

    This tinted gel is specifically formulated to do just that. The bottle’s only 30ml so it lend itself to creating targeted highlights rather than an all-over colour job.

    Billed as ‘make-up for your hair,’ it lasts for one night only, until you shampoo it out. Just comb through wet hair then air-dry or blow dry. There’s also a slightly more blue-toned ‘Violet’ shade as well as variants for blondes.


  • Best violet shampoo for dry, damaged hair

    Charles Worthington Colourplex Purple Toning Ultra Violet Shampoo

    Charles Worthington ColourPlex Toning Ultra Violet Shampoo

    As purple shampoos go, this is pretty intense – you’ll even need gloves to prevent it tinting your fingernails.

    It gets top marks on the damage-repair front. The clever Plex technology reduces breakage by more than 90%, breathing life into over-processed hair. It’s also free from sulphates (SLS), unlike many other silver shampoos, so won’t strip dry hair further.

    Wash it straight out to neutralise brassy orange tones or leave it on for five minutes to impart an ashy lilac tint that’ll catch the light beautifully.


  • Best budget purple shampoo

    Pro:Voke Touch of Silver Brightening Shampoo

    If you’re in the market for a violet shampoo that won’t break the bank, look no further. The epitome of an ‘oldie but a goodie,’ this really does the job. 

    Targeting blonde, platinum or white hair, it’s designed to be used twice a week, keeping yellow brassiness at bay.

    Again, it’ll work in minutes or can be left on for longer, leaving a hint of purple in its wake.

    It has sulphates (SLS) in making it a better choice if you want a good clean. Just be sure to follow up with the matching conditioner or your favourite nourishing formula to keep things silky.


  • Best purple shampoo for boosting shine

    Redken Color Extend Blondage Color-Depositing Shampoo

    At first glance, silver shampoos can seem like ‘much of a muchness’ but you’ll notice a big difference after one go with this professional-grade formula. Hair’s left unbelievably glossy as though you’ve just had a salon treatment.

    It does a winning job of transforming brassy strands. They don’t just look corrected but much brighter and more luminous, too.

    Consider it a fool-proof emergency fix for those times when your colour’s feeling dull, lacklustre and in need of a tweak.


  • Best permanent purple hair dye for brunettes

    Schwarzkopf Live Colour and Lift Permanent in Ultra Violet

    Designed for dark blonde, light brown or dark brown ‘dos, this delivers a dazzling grape hue with magenta undertones. It manages to pop even on deeper hair colours, thanks to the two-pronged approach that lifts and colours.

    It’s intensely vibrant and glossy and the warmer tones will work a treat if you find classic lavender too draining on your complexion. 


Main image: Getty Images

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