This post has been a long time coming! I have had so many people (especially on my tumblr: Fuck Yeah, Fantasy Hair!) ask me how to achieve pastel colored hair. There may very well be pastel colors available for purchase now, though if there are, I have never seen them. All of the fantasy/rainbow hair colors I’ve seen and worked with are very saturated. So how do we get pastel hair color? We make it! (Note this only works with semi-permanent hair colors like Special Effects, Manic Panic, RAW, etc. which do not use a developer to process)
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. Now that you’re hair is gloriously light and ready to receive color, we’ll mix up a nice pastel shade.
What You’ll Need
- A bowl
- An applicator brush
- Your starting color of choice (I’m using Paul Mitchell Hot Pink, but the color and brand are up to you!)
- A white conditioner (I’m using Paul Mitchell Super Strong Conditioner, which is my favorite to use for this because you’re adding protein back in to your hair along with the color, but what you use is up to
- And optionally a whisk for mixing and maybe 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 15-20 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, 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 images from Pinterest.
1. How To Trim Your Own Bangs
2. How To Suicide Roll Bangs (great for growing them out!)
3. The Color Wheel And How It Applies To Hair Color
4. Review: Paul Mitchell Super Strong Shampoo
By Kelsi Eldredge