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This post has been a long time coming! I have had so many people ask me how to achieve pastel colored hair. There are a few pastel colors available for purchase now, but this is my preferred method of creating a custom DIY pastel hair color. (Note this only works with semi-permanent hair colors like Special Effects, Manic Panic, RAW, etc. This will NOT work with any hair color that requires mixing it with a developer to process.)
Update: Paul Mitchell, the company I most highly recommend as a professional hairstylist, recently started selling their products at Loxa Beauty – it’s the only place approved to sell authentic PM products online.
Before coloring, you’ll want to make sure that your hair is lightened to very pale yellow, as close to white as possible. If you’d like to tone it with a platinum/purple toner so that you are working on a white “canvas”, you can. As always, I recommend that you leave the bleaching to a professional. If you have a previous color in your hair, you’ll want to fade it out as much as possible, which I’ve covered how to do that in this post on how to fade your hair color! Now that you’re hair is gloriously light and ready to receive color, we’ll mix up a nice pastel.
– A color bowl and applicator brush
– Your starting color of choice (I’m using Paul Mitchell Inkworks in Hot Pink, but the color and brand are up to you! I’ve had great experiences with both Special Effects and Manic Panic colors.)
– A white conditioner (I use Paul Mitchell Super Strong Conditioner, which is my favorite to use for this because you’re adding protein back into your hair along with the color!
– Latex or Nitrile gloves
– And optionally a whisk for mixing and a towel or some paper towels.
MIXING THE COLOR
I’m starting off with just a tiny amount of hot pink color in my bowl. Depending on how light you want the color to be and how much of your hair you are coloring, this will probably end up being enough to color your whole head! This is what it looks like straight out of the bottle.
Now add a blob of white conditioner to the bowl and mix it up with the hair color. It may help you visually to spread a small amount of the color on a towel, paper towel, or piece of foil as I am doing here.
Keep adding conditioner until you’re satisfied with the shade. See how that tiny amount of color ended up being an entire bowl full? And it’s not even pastel yet. So you can see, if there are pastel colors available for sale, this method is MUCH more economical – a bottle of color will last for TONS of applications if you’re diluting it with conditioner. Plus, letting the mix with the conditioner in it sit on your hair for 20 mins will leave your hair feeling much better than it did before.
APPLY AND RINSE
Once you’ve got the color you want, apply evenly and make sure hair is well saturated. Let it process for 20 minutes or whatever the hair color manufacturer recommends. As I mentioned before, I like using the Paul Mitchell Super Strong Conditioner because it’s adding protein goodness back into your hair for the whole time that it sits there with the color. This always leaves hair feeling softer and smoother. After it’s done processing, rinse well with COOL water, and don’t shampoo.
If you truly want a light, pastel shade, you may want to do the opposite of what I did and start with a bowl full of conditioner, slowly adding a drop or two of color instead. But as you can see, you don’t have to mix it down all the way to a pastel, you can stop anywhere along the way. When I had bright pink hair, I used to use either Paul Mitchell Hot Pink or Special Effects Atomic Pink with a decent amount of conditioner added to it, as I found it to be too dark and magenta looking when it came straight out of the bottle.The lighter the color is, the faster it’s going to fade, and mixing it with conditioner does inhibit the color’s ability to stick to the hair (that’s kind of the point), so it’s important to take good care of it to make it last as long as possible. Want some pastel hair inspiration before you start? Check out this collection of pastel hair images, and follow my hair color inspiration board on Pinterest (below)!
As a profesional hairstylist, I use and recommend Paul Mitchell products. You can purchase them online at Loxa Beauty.
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By Kelsi Eldredge