If you were a fan of the unicorn highlighters or mermaid hair hues that took over 2017, then you’re in for a treat. A new beauty trend has arisen and it's as fantastical as it gets. These photos of opal hair color prove that too much rainbow is never a thing, especially when it's in gorgeous pastel form. I'd recommend prepping your hair with a deep conditioning treatment (or two) now because this hair color technique is to dye for.
Opal, the national gemstone of Australia, is a mineraloid that forms in rock fissures and looks like a mixture between a pearl and any of the holographic fabric that Zenon or Protozoa wore in Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s the best Disney Channel Original Movie ever made, with the exception of Haloweentown or Brink.) Featuring iridescent speckles of pastel pink, purple, green, yellow, and blue, it looks so otherworldly that it seems unfathomable that it could form naturally. But the world is a beautiful place and gives us many magical wonders. So magical, that we’d be remiss not to draw inspiration from them and use it to shape our own creations and identities.
Which is exactly what hair stylists, aka creative geniuses, have done with the opal, using its stunning appearance to inspire an equally arresting hair color. In my opinion, the multifaceted hue is akin to what a piece of paper covered in light swirls of colorful watercolor paint looks like. Dreamy, delicate, and whimsically pretty.
Popsugar spoke to Aura Friedman at Sally Hershberger to understand exactly how the color is achieved. It’s a legitimate work of art, so the process is expectedly complex. First, she lightens a client’s hair to a pearl hue, which is just shy of gray. "It could either be prelightened to a platinum or pale yellow or it can be painted with heavy highlights and prelightened that way," she explains. After toner is applied, layers of color are then added in, resulting in a gorgeous abalone-esque melting together of color. "For me, an opal or any iridescent color has these nuances of color with very subtle hints of the greens and the pinks," says Friedman, who knows a thing or two about the opal considering it's her birth stone. "It's not a 'come and slap you in the face' kind of color."
Indeed, it’s as soft as it is bold; while certainly multi-color, it doesn’t look overly punk or cartoonish. I think my 85-year-old Grammie might even approve of it, which is saying something. (She despises my tattoos and almost had a heart attack when I dyed my hair cotton candy pink in college.) Friedman explains that the dye job “reflects a different color every which way you look at it. If you tilt it one way you see more of the pink, and if you tilt it another way you see more of the green." This subtlety is what gives it this cool, almost sun bleached vibe that I love so much. Although it was never worn, Friedman once dyed a wig opal for Lady Gaga, who is the queen of gutsy hair colors.
As the uncountable number of women who have tried out opal hair prove, the color isn't just for celebrities. In fact, it looks incredible on literally everyone I've seen who was brave enough to try it. Take a look below and you'll see what I mean.
While the hair trend can manifest in subtly different ways (from deeper oil slick iterations to those that more closely resemble über faded tie dye), at its baseline, it remains the same. If you're wanting to add an ethereal kick to your look, opal hair just might be your answer.