Cool Purple Highlights for Medium Black Hair

Emerson designer Jackie Fraser-Swan rocks the purple-highlight look at a spring 2012 fashion do in New York.

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Adding a funky, not-so-expected color in your hair makes a huge difference in your look. The effect depends mainly on the hue of the rest of your hair. Purple highlights in blond hair would appear really bright and noticeable, whereas in your medium-length black hair, purple blends in and appears more subtle -- it might not even be noticeable until you shine light right on your hair, especially if you go with a deeper purple. Consider a few different ideas to help you decide how you want your cool purple highlights to look.


The actual color of your highlights is one of the first and most important things to decide on. In your black hair, a lighter shade of purple will appear brighter and more vibrant, so if you want a really bold, noticeable look, this is probably your best bet. If you want your highlights to blend in more and simply create a purple-tinted shimmer around in your hair, opt for a deeper, darker shade. A rich purple shade looks chic and elegant in your dark hair, and is much easier to maintain to boot.


Decide how big you want your highlights. Thinner highlights are better if you're going for a more natural look, or want lots of separate sections colored. For regular highlights, keep each section no wider than 1/4 inch. For a bolder look, make the highlights thick and chunky. The bigger sections you color, the fewer sections you end up with. You need only a few to make a really big statement. For chunky highlights, make each section at least 1 to 2 inches wide.


To add the color onto your hair -- if you decide to take on the task yourself instead of rushing out to the salon -- foil strips allow you the most precision and coverage. Decide where you want the purple color, pull out a section of hair and lay it over a foil strip. Apply a lightening mixture -- hair bleach -- onto the hair, fold up the foil and repeat this for as many additional sections as you want. Once you finish the bleaching process to strip the dark color out of your hair, you can repeat this process to add the purple color on.


Any vibrant color requires proper maintenance to stay looking fresh and vibrant. Otherwise, you'll notice even after just a week that the color is starting to fade and look worn out or brassy. Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner, and apply a deep conditioning treatment once every couple of weeks. Touch up your roots when you start to see regrowth.


Washing your hair too regularly will make your color fade faster, leaving your hair looking dull and unhealthy. Don't wash your hair more than three to four times a week at most. Don't overdo it with the amount of shampoo, either. A dime-size amount is plenty for your medium-length hair. Only worry about getting suds around the top section of your hair; when you rinse your hair out, the suds will flow through the rest of your hair, cleaning the ends without drying them.

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