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/unnatural hair colors I’ve seen and worked with are very saturated. So how do we get pastel hair color? We make it!
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.
- 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.
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 I’ll add a little conditioner to the bowl and mix it up. See how much lighter it is already?
The color that it goes on should be the same as it looks in the bowl. 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, as opposed to looking at it in the bowl.
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.
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, if you truly want a light, pastel shade. 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.
Once you’ve got the color you want, apply as usual and let it process for 15-20 minutes or whatever the 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 left my hair feeling soft and smooth when I was done. After it’s done processing, rinse with COOL water. The lighter the color you start with, 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? Check out this collection of images from Pinterest.