8 Rainbow-Inspired Beauty Trends That Brightened Up 2016

Rachel Grumman Bender
From highlighters to hair dye to eye shadow, rainbow-hued beauty products dominated 2016. (Photo: Alexander Straulino/Trunk Archive)
From highlighters to hair dye to eye shadow, rainbow-hued beauty products dominated 2016. (Photo: Alexander Straulino/Trunk Archive)

One thing is for sure, 2016 was the year of the rainbow. This whimsical makeup and hair trend took the beauty world by storm, flooding our Instagram feeds and YouTube with bright, happy hues.

Several beauty makers clearly found their pot of gold by peddling every product imaginable with a rainbow theme, from highlighters to hair dye to nail polish. Not that we’re complaining since the playful, multicolored trend gave us a chance to channel our inner Rainbow Brite.

Read on for the top magical and mystical rainbow-inspired beauty trends and products of the year.

Rainbow highlighters

Bitter Lace Beauty’s Prism rainbow highlighter nearly broke the Internet when it made its debut earlier this year. The luminescent product instantly went viral and is still sold out on their Etsy store, but thankfully, multiple imitators have followed suit, like this Color Icon Rainbow Highlighter from wet n wild ($6) and this handmade, highly pigmented one by JoiCosmetics on Etsy ($14).

Rainbow lashes

We wouldn’t bat an eyelash at this trend, which involved either patiently applying mascara in a variety of shades or using multicolored lash extensions for a major pop of color. Looking to give multicolored lashes a whirl? Do a test run with these rainbow false lashes from Ricky’s ($8).

Rainbow eye shadow

A beautiful example of the rainbow eyeshadow trend that swept 2016. (Photo: Getty Images)
A beautiful example of the rainbow eye shadow trend that swept 2016. (Photo: Getty Images)

Swiping on multicolored eye shadow — from bold, pigmented hues to more subtle, pastel shades — was one inventive way to work rainbows into your makeup routine.

Makeup artist Erin Parsons also got in on the popular rainbow eye shadow trend, creating a look for Gigi Hadid that Parsons described as “intergalactic mermaid unicorn power ranger.”

Rainbow eyeliner

A more subtle version of the rainbow eye shadow trend could be found in this gorgeous multicolored liner:

Rainbow hair

Instagram was almost overrun by rainbow hair in a stunning array of shades (Instagram alone has nearly 350,000 posts under the hashtag #rainbowhair).

A photo posted by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Apr 16, 2016 at 2:21pm PDT

But for those not ready or able to take the full color plunge — after all, not everyone can show up at work with multicolored hair — the hidden rainbow hair dye job emerged. It looks like regular hair on the surface, but lifting up the top panel of hair reveals strands covered bright or pastel shades underneath, such as this one perfected by U.K. stylist Jaymz Marsters:

「Prismatic」 『Flash Back』

A photo posted by Jaymz Marsters (@jaymz.marsters) on Sep 14, 2016 at 6:44am PDT

Rainbow hair glitter

And let’s not forget rainbow hair glitter, like this fishtail braid doused with some Major Moonshine Glitter Gel:

Rainbow lips

Some trendsetters literally wanted to “taste the rainbow” by painting their lips in shocking hues, like this glittery version:

• Efeito Arco-íris Inspiração – S.A.G • #rainbow #lipstick #rainbowlips #rainbowcolors #sag #alternative #alternativefashion #altbr

A photo posted by Sisterhood Alternative Girls (@alternativgirls) on Dec 12, 2016 at 12:28pm PST

Rainbow nails

Unhas inspiradas na Rainbow Dash. ???? #nails #rainbowdash #rainbownails #colorful

A photo posted by Lissa IS (@lissa_is) on Dec 12, 2016 at 8:29am PST

But likely the easiest way to test drive the trend was to grab some nail polish and swipe on a range of bright, beautiful colors, plus a glitter top coat. After all, who wouldn’t want to have a rainbow at their fingertips? For a low-maintenance version, you can try these nail decals from luckystarstyle on Etsy ($2 for a set of 10), which have a cool rainbow waterfall effect.

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