Just in time for festival season, the pastel hair trend is getting a multi-dimensional makeover. One-tone ice cream hues are over, and in their place are three new techniques you’re going to want to try this summer: ghosted hair, where soft silvers are layered over icy blue and purple pastels; kaleidoscope hair, which is just like it sounds—a rainbow of shimmering pastels layered throughout your hair; and rose brown, a rich multi-tonal pink for brunettes that’s applied throughout the hair—no bleaching required. “These trends create a subtle change in an otherwise one-dimensional color,” says Ronnie Dag, co-owner and stylist at Palm Sunday salon in Toronto. “You can try shades and colours at once without it looking too busy, because the colours are so soft.”
If you’re hankering to try one of these new trends, there are a few things to consider first. “Every head is different and everyone has a different skin tone,” says Marie-Eve Faucher, Redken artist and owner of Hidden Gem salon. “It’s really important to look at what you want to enhance or camouflage before deciding on [tone and] placement of colour.” For this reason, she recommends a colour consultation before taking the plunge.
Something else both Dag and Faucher say to keep in mind: pastel colours are supes high maintenance. Between multiple sittings to pre-lighten your hair, root touch up appointments (every four to six weeks) and revamping your care routine, it can be pretty time-consuming—not to mention pricey. So once you do take the plunge, you’ll want your new colour to last, and pastels are notoriously short-lived looks. But there are a few ways to extend the life of your colour. Here are five expert tips for preventing your new look from getting washed down the drain.
Ace your base
“Pastels can fade more quickly on unhealthy hair,” says Faucher. And because they need to be applied to a platinum-blonde base for the most dramatic effect, she recommends a strengthening treatment or a bonder during the lightening stage to avoid unnecessary damage. “The better your base colour is the better your pastel will look and the better it will fade. The hair you apply your pastel shade onto should be an even blonde and most of all, it should be in decent condition. If it takes a few appointments to get a gorgeous, healthy blonde as a base, take the time as that will be the colour it will fade back to once your pastel goes away.” If you’re a brunette and going platinum isn’t in the cards for you, the rose brown trend is an easy way to get in on the pastel craze, or you can swap out baby pinks and blues for something a little deeper like indigo or emerald green.
When you’re ready to go full-on My Little Pony with your locks, your hairdresser will be able to help choose the most flattering shade of pastel for your skin tone, walk you through how to care for your new colour and ensure the dye job is even and saturated. Faucher uses Redken Shades EQ, a conditioning demi-permanent gloss that slowly fades over the span of a few weeks, while Dag uses a combination of Pravana and Elumen. But if you prefer to take a DIY approach, brands like L’Oréal Paris and Overtone have launched at-home pastel dyes and masks that allow you to refresh from the comfort of your bathroom.
Stock your shower
Achieving the perfect pastel look is a marathon, not a sprint. Even once you’ve got the colour down, there’s still post-treatment maintenance you’ll need to do to keep your hair looking fresh. Faucher advises using a sulfate-free colour-safe shampoo to slow down the fading process and to stock up on hydrating masks that will deeply condition and nourish parched, over-processed strands. For ashy pastels and silvers, lathering up with a purple shampoo once a week will help maintain your cool strands and prevent brassy tones from settling in. In addition, the less you heat style your hair, the longer your colour will stay put. If you do use hot tools, a heat protecting product is a must. “Heat is pretty much the enemy of vibrant colours,” says Faucher.
Get friendly with dry shampoo
If you’re in the habit of washing your hair every morning, you might want to hit the breaks on your daily lather, rinse, repeat. “To allow the colour to fully penetrate your hair, avoid washing it too frequently so that the cuticle remains closed,” says Dag. “Often times pigment used in pastel dyes are easily buffed off by over shampooing,” she says. Basically, stock up on your fave dry shampoo because you’re going to want to stretch out each wash for as long as possible.
You wouldn’t spend hours in the sun without an SPF on your skin (we hope!), so treat your hair with the same courtesy. “Use a deep conditioning treatment with UVA and UVB protection, which will help prevent fading under the sun,” says Faucher. Dag recommends throwing a sunscreen hair mist in your bag that you can easily spritz on throughout the day. And sun damage isn’t the only outdoor aggressor to keep in mind when hitting the festival scene: Dag advises against lighting up, as smoke can stain lightened hair, leaving behind a less-than-desirable yellowish hue. Not chic.