It’s not that we easily give in to sartorial peer pressure, but when it comes to trying out brand-new trends, you’ll find us hard pressed to say no. And so, since it feels like literally everyone is coloring their hair a pastel hue, from former Disney stars, including Miley at the Met Gala, to those hate-to-love-’em Kardashians, it’s almost too easy to imagine our tresses through a candy colored filter. But getting the soft-hued look — and keeping that delicate color in tact — isn’t as effortless as your Instagram faves make it out to be.
For the 411 on all things pastel hair, we turned to Anha Durakovic, SF-based hairstylist and the creative mind behind the temporary pastel conditioner brand Tinge. With 16 years of hairdressing under her belt, four of those spent running Tinge with her boyfriend Zach Bruce, Anha knows the ins and outs of turning your locks into a full-on unicorn mane. Before you step into the salon or DIY, read up on these five things you should know before joining the ranks of the pastel pretties.
1. Work Your Way to All-Over Color: You’ve seen the buzz over celebs who’ve taken the pastel plunge with their full heads of hair. It’s insane. On top of the obvious head turning such a transformation might cause, going straight to an overall color, especially for girls with virgin hair (hair that has never been colored), can be an incredibly emotional (and expensive) experience. Anha recommends that first-timers dip their toes into the trend, “Start with a peekaboo piece. Like doing a chunk underneath or a chunk on the side or a streak in the front or in the bangs,” she says. “I’m almost 100 percent successful at talking someone who’s curious into doing a piece or just a few pieces that she can place in the interior of the hair. It’s low maintenance. You don’t ever have to touch it up if it’s underneath because you never really see the roots. And then [once that piece is bleached], you can just play with that piece of hair over and over again with different colors.”
2. Start With a Bleached Base for Best Results: Bad news for dark-haired girls, and even you brondes out there: going pastel is much more of a commitment for you. The process doesn’t just include picking your favorite shade and slapping it on your mane. You have to bleach your locks first to get the brightest version of the color you love. “The hair has to be porous [in order to absorb color]. When you bleach the hair, you’re removing the color molecules that are already in the hair so that you can actually deposit the color,” she said. Ahna recommends the color-stripping treatment for everyone except those lucky few with virgin blonde hair, which is is naturally porous.
3. The Color You See Isn’t the Color You’ll Get: Remember that whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing? The same applies to the color of hair dye formulas, pastel or otherwise. “[The color] will be much lighter [on your hair] than what you see in the container,” she says. “It takes a lot of color molecules to make the hair dark, so the [product] appears darker in the container.” If you’re DIY-ing your hair, be sure you peep a hair swatch to make sure you’re actually buying (and dyeing) your dream hue. If you’re seeing a colorist, make sure you’re specific about what shade you want as your end color — and don’t freak out when you see them slop on a deeper-looking dye.
4. Rethink Your Haircare Routine: Dyed hair has different needs than your au natural locks. So the hair products you use will change along with the hue of your hair. That’s especially true for shampoo, which can make or break your freshly dyed color. “Using a good sulfate-free shampoo is gonna keep the color longer,” she said. Even with a standup color-protecting shampoo in your shower caddy, your color will fade more and more with each wash, so try spacing out your shampoo schedule as much as possible to keep that color vibrant (remember, dry shampoo is your friend!).
5. Upkeep Ain’t Easy: It’s inevitable: you’ll only look like a bubblegum head for so long before your color starts to fade. That’s fine for those who embrace the resulting smokier tone and growing roots, but for those looking for consistent color, upkeep ain’t easy. “If some people wash their hair once or twice a week, they could go to the salon every two weeks to get [the color touched-up],” she said. If you wash your hair more aggressively, that could lead to a once-a-week stylist visit, which, from experience, can burn a serious hole in your schedule and wallet. To curb the effort, you could bleach a smaller, more manageable portion of your hair, like a classic ombre, and color just that lower portion. This is especially where DIY-ing the look becomes a bit of a godsend. To keep a temporary or semi-permanent hair dye like Tinge vibrant, you can typically apply more color to your hair with every other wash. Once again, DIY FTW!
What hair care questions do you have, about going pastel, chopping off your locks or anything else? Tell us in the comments below.
(Photos via Tinge)