Mother-of-pearl or just pearl hair color is the gorgeous new trend in the hair color world. This is a complex new take on metallic and pastel hair shades that pushes hair colorists to their peak, since it requires a lot of work, bleaching, careful mixing, and incredible attention to detail when painting the hair.
The effect is astounding multi-dimensional pearl hair that reflects shine in every direction, and makes every woman appear like a goddess of the sea. It’s no surprise that this hair trend follows in the footsteps of other fantastical hair trends like unicorn hair and mermaid hair.
It’s important to know what you’re getting into before asking your hair color technician for pearl hair, because let me tell you, it’s a real commitment. So that’s why we’re covering all the bases: what is pearl hair, how to achieve it at the salon (because you really don’t want to try and do it at home), how to maintain mother-of-pearl hair, and how to adapt your style to this gorgeous new hair color.
To get you inspired, we’ve also collected the best pearl hair color photos, so you can show your stylist your favorite take on the look.
Pearl Hair Color Trend: Contents
• What Is Pearl Hair Color?
• How to Achieve Mother-of-Pearl Hair?
• How to Maintain Pearl Hair Color?
• Fit Your Fashion to Your Pearl Hair Color
• Pairing Pearl Hair with Makeup
• 53 Iridescent Pearl Hair Color Ideas
When people talk about pearl hair colors, they’re talking about hair colored in metallic pastel shades that create the effect of the shiny surface of a pearl, or the inside of its shell (in which case mother-of-pearl hair is probably more appropriate). These are usually shades like platinum, silver, pink, lavender, and blue.
High-shine gunmetal shades do a great job of channeling black pearl hair colors, especially when a hint of green is mixed in. Cream gives a more pearly effect, while dark silver and purple are perfect for the edgier mother-of-pearl hair.
Pearl hair colors can be done in styles like balayage, ombre, highlights, and color melt, although sometimes just dyeing the hair in one solid color can also work, as long as the shade is just right.
If you’re not a professional hairdresser or colorist, you should probably avoid trying to dye your hair a pearl hair color by yourself. Pearl and mother-of-pearl hair colors require the work of not just any stylist, but a truly skilled color technician, because they require a lot of time and work.
In order to get flawless pearl hair without causing too much damage, allow your colorist to take their time. This doesn’t mean a long day at the salon – it means long days at the salon!
The hair must first be bleached until it is as light and colorless as possible, otherwise the metallic pastels simply won’t show. For many people this will require bleaching the hair multiple times – you might want to break it up into a few bleaching sessions, waiting a few days in between and doing lots of hair strengthening keratin treatments.
Once your hair has been sufficiently bleached, your stylist should tone it to get rid of that warm brassiness that often accompanies bleaching. Once that’s done you can now start thinking about your favorite pearl hair color.
You can choose the perfectly pearly shades and the specific style that’ll suit you with the help of the examples we’ve collected below. Once your hair has been dyed, that’s when the real work starts, though.
Once your hair has been bleached and dyed so radically, it needs a lot of that tender love and care. You’re best off avoiding heat styling as much as possible, and using heat protecting sprays and lower temperatures if you must.
Shampooing with overly hot water also becomes a no-no. You also want to avoid hair-stripping shampoos with harsh sulfates, and in general you’ll want to shampoo as little as possible.
When you do have to use shampoo, a purple-toned shampoo will be much more gentle on your hair and it’ll also help prevent your pearl hair color from fading by keeping it cool toned.
Regular hair masks will help keep your hair conditioned. Alternate moisturizing masks with healthy hair oils and keratin-based treatments that’ll truly help fortify your hair.
A few weeks after dyeing your hair it’ll seem like your roots have already grown out – you might want to plan ahead and book a root touch-up with your stylist for 4-6 weeks after the initial dyeing session. If you don’t want to have to pop in to the salon that often, then opt for a balayage or sombre hair style that leaves the roots undyed, and is much more forgiving when the hair starts growing out.
Pearl hair colors come in many different ways, so there are many different ways to ensure that your style fits them.
When it comes to clothes, pearl hair looks just as good with more severe, high-fashion looks as it does with a flowy boho-chic style or a casual look. The key is to avoid colors that’ll clash severely.
Greens, yellows, blues, purples, and pinks all go beautifully with pearl hair, but red and orange can clash severely. Black, of course, goes with anything!
When it comes to your makeup, the same principle applies – reds and oranges as lipstick, blushes, or eyeshadow are best avoided, unless you’re rocking a warmer, creamy take on pearl hair. Neutral and cool tones are a much safer choice, with lavender, rose, and pink being the perfect choices for the lip and cheek. Definitely do not forego the blush, as pearl hair can seriously wash out the skin.
You can get creative with the eye makeup and use the same colors I recommended for the clothes, along with a variety of metallics, or you can keep them looking simple and natural looking.
The eyebrows are probably the trickiest part when it comes to fitting your makeup to pearl hair. You can choose to get creative by using one of the crazier shades that you’ve got in your hair (lavender eyebrows, anyone?), but if that’s too out there for you, then the safest choice is a cool taupe that leans towards a little bit gray. It’ll still look natural, without clashing at all with your hair.
Now that you know everything about how to achieve pearl and mother-of-pearl hair, it’s time to get inspired! Which is your favorite look?
1. Sleek Femme Pearl Hair
You can opt for a soft and feminine pearl hair effect by spicing up silver hair color with streaks of pastel pink and purple – of course that a 1940s style curl is a must!
2. Pearl Hair Hurricane
A veritable cascade of pearls! These exceptionally long and curly locks in shades of silver, blue, and pink also show how well pearl hair colors can be integrated with darker roots.
3. Cool & Sleek Mother-of-Pearl Balayage
This purple-dominant balayage has that perfect mother-of-pearl hair color thanks to the cooler tones used and the darker roots. It shows that sleek styling also fits this gleaming color choice.
4. Pearly Gates Hair
This soft pearl hair looks dainty and gorgeous thanks to lush curls and shimmering pastels. It’s that cotton candy type of pearl hair that will make you look like a princess.
5. Pearl Fatale Hair
This darker take on mother-of-pearl hair colors shows that the ocean can be a sultry, dangerous place, and styling it in such sleek waves screams femme fatale of the sea.
6. Scene Girl Pearl Hair Color
If you’ve already got a bit of that scene style, you’ll drool over this bright and high-impact take on curly mother-of-pearl hair with lots of purple and blue. It’s one of the slightly darker versions of magical pearl hair colors you’d definitely love to try.
7. Creamy Pearl Curls
Thanks to the warmer shades of platinum used in this gorgeous ‘do, the effect is pearly and especially expensive. Streaks of soft lavender add a lot of dimension to the pearl hair color.
8. Peek-A-Boo Pearl Hair
Cool lavender curls are dominant in this sleek pearl hair color look, but the shades of cream and magenta peeking at the ends keep everything playful. Pair it with casual summer looks or a little black dress for a show-stopping appearance at a party.
9. Dark Pearl Coils
The tight curls in this mother-of-pearl hair look, paired with darker shades of gray, purple, and blue lend this hairstyle a witchy feel that’s perfect for anyone who wants pearl hair without an overly feminine effect.
10. No-Nonsense Platinum Pearl Hair
This is a simple cream pearl hair look, with a dominant platinum hair color that is quite cold. Accents of a warmer cream shade lend a more organic feel to to the style.
11. Purple Pearl Magic
When mermaid hair meets mother-of-pearl hair, the result is positively magical! These brighter shades of purple, pink, and blue are impossible not to admire with these long, healthy curls.
12. Blue Pearl Ice
This simple one-shade pearl hair color has lots of dimension thanks to lush curling and a lot of shine. Otherwise, it’s all about that light, ice blue shade.
13. Pearly Pink Hair Cascade
These ultra soft waves are the perfect styling complement to pearl hair that is predominantly a pastel blue with hints of cool lavender peeking through. Wear it with a nude pink lipstick for a sweetheart look.
14. Marbled Pearl Hair
This cool marble hair painting technique works perfectly with shades of silvery-platinum, peach and purple. This subtle pearl hair color absolutely must be shown off with the help of a half-bun right atop the head.
15. Frosted Pearl Hair
Pearl hair in cooler shades, like this silver, purple and blue take on the style, has an undeniably futuristic effect, while the clean retro styling brings it to a retro-futurist place we cannot get enough of.
16. Tousled Pink Pearl Lob
Pearl hairstyles start reminding us of cotton candy the second they’re tousled, which I guess means they’re versatile? Anyway, enjoy the playful effect on these pink and purple locks.
17. Hot Pearl Curls
Neutral purple and warm blush pearl hair is hard to resist. The combination of shades is extremely eye-catching, especially in this horizontal hair painting ombre technique.
18. Rainbow Mother-of-Pearl Hair
This is a fun and flirty take on pearl hairstyles, and the secret to it is an ultra-warm and fun shade of yellow that contrasts against the purples, blues, and silvers. Darker roots keep everything dimension and more striking.
19. Through the Pearl Prism
These thick and lush curls can only be created with a massive curling iron, but they’re the best way to show off the prism effect one can achieve by carefully painting pearl hair with pastel hints of yellow, pink, green, and blue.
20. Tousled Ice Cold Pearl Hair
These messy waves are fun and tousled, taking away from the seriousness of cool silver, purple, and blue hair colors. When you want a silver hair color with a twist, consider this mother-of-pearl hair!
21. Frost Bitten Pearl Curls
Yet another dangerously cold pearl hair balayage, with darker shades of silver and just the barest hint of blue and purple streaking. Darker roots flawlessly melt into a beautiful mix of mother-of-pearl hair shades, like silver, subtle blue and a touch of forest green.
22. Entering the Pearly Gates
This angelic take on pearl hair colors gives us divine vibes, thanks to lush curls and the softest hint of pink and purple running through ultra-pale silver color.
23. Pearl Bombshell Hair
If you add extra shades of pastel yellow to your pearl hair color, it can be a great way of straddling blonde and platinum. This curly multi-dimensional look is graced with cool platinum and silver shades and darker roots to ensure a painless grow-out.
24. Steel & Pearl Piecey Waves
This mother-of-pearl hair color seems edgier thanks to longer dark roots, and a brave blend of cool lavender and a warm cream. It’s also one of the most wearable options on this list.
25. Pearly Pastel Dream
Sleek styling choices are great for bringing out this really unique hair painting technique. The pearl hair effect is achieved with a top layer of blue followed by cream, then a mix of pinks and purples.
26. Taste the Pearly Rainbow
These ultra soft pastels are painted on the hair in a rainbow effect, while copious silvery platinum and extremely sleek styling keep us firm in pearl hair color territory.
27. Solid Pearl Curls
The perfect shade of platinum that is just cool enough can give an amazing pearl hair effect without too much effort. It is absolutely lovely here when the hair is styled into loose curls.
28. Deep Underwater Pearl Hair
There is something dark and intriguing about this unique take on pearl hair colors. The balayage of metallic purple, blue, and magenta seems just a bit sinister, as it complements the shiny silver main part of the hair.
29. Pearl Blonde Balayage
If you’re wanting a super wearable take on pearl hair colors that is a bit more natural, this is a great example! Brunette roots give way to a shiny balayage of platinum and darker blonde. Keep in mind that the only way to keep the pearl effect is by maintaining high shine!
30. Cool Silver Underwater Pearl Hair
Simply gorgeous curls in a silver shade are already an excellent pearl hair color choice, but the blue and purple streaking add just a hint of underwater edge.
31. Pearly Hair with Turquoise Flare
This fun take on pearl hair colors breaks the mold by adding that hint of bright turquoise to the top, just below the roots. Without it you’d have a more classic mother-of-pearl hair look with platinum and lavender shades.
32. Two-Tone Purple Pearl Hair
This pearl hairstyle has a subtle effect with a darker shade of purple near the roots and blends seamlessly into the darker silver that is more dominant in this hairstyle.
33. Icy Lavender Pearl Curls
This is a take on the mother-of-pearl hair trend that is ice cold and perfect for winter, as long healthy curls gleam with a lavender-blue shine.
34. Pink Mother-of-Pearl Balayage
It’s hard to get pink hair to look sophisticated, but the secret is classy curls and a ton of dimension. This gorgeous look was achieved thanks to a blend of different peach and pink shades.
35. Mother-of-Pearl Vertical Color Melt
Mother-of-pearl hair color is like a more sophisticated take on rainbow hair, since the colors are oh-so-delicate and dreamy, and the color mix is unique and subtle. It positively shines in these sleek waves.
36. Soft Pearl Gray
A simple cool gray look reminds us of those gorgeous gray pearls that are unfortunately not quite as popular as creamy pearls. The sleek curls and hint of cool tone keep this mother-of-pearl hair color super sophisticated and sexy.
37. Cool Blue to Silver Pearl Melt
Here you have another cool take on pearl hair colors that’d work well for winter, with dark blue at the roots gorgeously melting into a shimmering silver in the subtlest way possible.
38. Creamy Pink Pearl Curls
This warm, creamy pink shade is the perfect feminine take on pearl hair colors, but it’s undeniable that all that shine comes from effectively nourished hair and multi-dimensional curling.
39. Pearly Iceberg Hair
The long and sleek styling of this cool mother-of-pearl hair brings to mind a dangerous iceberg, about to sink every ship in sight. Note how well the cool undertones of the hair dye work with the darker roots.
40. Moon Pearl Lob
This curly long bob is a fun and modern take on cool pearl hair colors, with curls of silver and blue working perfectly together for an ethereal effect.
41. Pearl Barbie Waves
The mix of creamy blonde shades for that important pearl hair touch, along with streaks of bubblegum pink make for a girlish look perfect for any adult barbie doll.
42. Icy Mother-of-Pearl Locks
The ashy roots and blend of blues and lavenders in this silvery platinum hair reflect a mother-of-pearl shell beautifully, although the lighter shade does still bring pearl effects.
43. Pearly Blonde Waves
This light, creamy blonde shade is another natural take on pearl hair colors that are great for those who can’t commit to blues and pinks. It’s wearable, it’s cool and definitely trendy!
44. Mother-of-Pearl Mystic
Darker purples, magentas, and violets lend a definitive mother-of-pearl hair effect to this look. The darker roots ensure a painless grow-out, but they also lend a ton of dimension to this gorgeous balayage.
45. Pearly Pink Balayage
Now this is how you combine natural brown with pearl hair colors! A warmer pink shade keeps things firmly in the pearl range, but also blends beautifully with the warm brown roots.
46. Moonlight Pearl Hair
For some reason this pastel rainbow colormelt gives me instant Sailor Moon and girly anime vibes. It’s a perfect summer style for those girly girls who don’t let that stop them from breaking rules and being eccentric.
47. Black Pearl Balayage
In this darker take on pearl hair colors, a gunmetal gray is the dominant shade, with hints of green really bringing to mind the look of black pearls. The sleek curls keep the ocean inspiration front and center.
48. Silver Pearl Lob
Combining pearl hair colors with retro styling always leads to a super eye-catching look, including in this high-shine silvery hairdo. Pair it with a red lipstick and black eyeliner for that Marilyn Monroe effect.
49. Neon Mother-of-Pearl Hair
This is a bright, futuristic take on mother-of-pearl hair colors, with a contrasting mixture of neon turquoise and pink shades keeping things fun and exciting. The layering of horizontal lines of shades really stands out as unique and volumizing.
50. Sleek Mother-of-Pearl Hair Colormelt
This is a subtler colormelt with horizontal layers of shades, with dark roots melting into a light ash blonde, giving way to unique pearl hair shades of blue, purple, and pink in sleek styling.
51. Northern Pearl Fantasy
These pastel blue curls are straight out of the North Pole, shining bright in a multi-dimensional effect. This is also a great winter hair color to embrace.
52. Candied Pearl Melt
This pastel mix of pink, mint blue, and warm ash is simply delicious and fun, and it works so well with this long curly styling. This mother-of-pearl hair look displays what it’s like to make cotton candy shades meet pearly accents.
53. Anime Mother-of-Pearl Hair
The intense volume in this wavy long bob, paired with the bright pearl hair color shades of purple and pink means that the anime girl vibes are undeniable. Fun and bright, you cannot go wrong with this kind of look!
Photos via Instagram