vibrant and vivid creations
New to fashion color? This is a required read for your journey!
In my opinion, the number one perk of playing with fashion hair color is that you can be transformed into a magical rainbow unicorn, and honestly what is better than that? Taking care of your hair, for one thing. If it’s well maintained and cared for, fashion color is an amazing way to express your flare for creativity. If you’re thinking about a big transformation, here are some questions to ask yourself before you make a decision:
What is my budget? First and foremost, let’s address time and cost. After underselling my experience and time for years, I just try to be straightforward about it now. If you want your whole head to be an explosion of melting vibrant colors, then set aside several hundred dollars. Fashion colors can be simple or complex, but almost always require several steps to achieve the end result. Most stylists charge hourly, and this process can take anywhere from 4-8 hours (longer, in some cases). This can result in a higher price point for these services- but think about it. Even if you just want a panel of hair painted, it has to be lightened and prepped and then colored on top of that. We’re talking a minimum of 2 1/2 - 3 hours just because it is a double process, however projects can take hours upon hours sometimes, which is why you should expect to pay an hourly rate to your stylist rather than a base price. Also, don’t forget to set aside a little extra for some good products (scroll down for more info on that).
Don’t want to invest in the whole head of hair? Work environment too conservative for the My Little Pony look? Try some peekaboo panels or accent pieces! There is a lot you can do and keep it hidden but still have fun, and if it’s worth it to you, you can commission a masterpiece on your head. Don’t be afraid to talk to your stylist about what you can afford! Let them customize a great look for your budget, or figure out a schedule to split up the cost.
What is the process? Hair needs to be lightened to pale yellow and possibly toned after. This is a very important step of the process and time and cost depend on how easily the hair lifts to that light blonde. If you want silver hair and you are a level 3 brunette naturally, be prepared for a few blonding sessions first. If you want silver hair and you are NOT a natural level 3 brunette (i.e. it’s created in-salon, or - gulp – from a box), get ready for the long haul. This is because, as we know, lightening hair is tough on your tendrils. Giving hair a break in between processes helps your hair recover. Treatments in between can also help restore necessary nutrients and fill in damage. If you have ANY residual color on your hair from a previous service, even if you can't see it, that can add significant time to the lightening process.
If you’ve been layering black box color on your hair for years (or even salon color- because color CAN'T lift color, it needs to be lightened with bleach), maybe think about something a little less ambitious than silver for the first go around, or be prepared to spend some time with yellow hair in between and pay a higher price to reach your goals...
This is not an easy process. I've overestimated what can be done in a day, thinking I would have some sort of breakthrough miracle cure to the curse of layers of box color and ended up feeling like a failure as a stylist. In one example, 10 hours of work later (after mistakenly quoting a price that would’ve been fair for about 3-lesson learned), it just wasn’t budging. Purple would’ve been nice….and achievable in 2 long visits. That client just wasn’t prepared for the price and I wasn’t prepared for the process. Now I know that it will likely require two full sessions of foils back to back (known as a Platinum Card), several hours, with a high price tag for just the blonding. It's also important to keep those roots touched up. Going more than 7 or 8 weeks between touch ups can require much more time at the salon making sure it lifts evenly. More than an inch of growth often adds an extra lightening process.
And the upkeep? It depends. Fashion color lines are constantly updating and inventing new ways to keep color vibrant longer. Since most fashion color is deposit only (it doesn’t use an activator), the color sits more on top of the cuticle, staining it. It’s often filled with yummy stuff to help condition as it colors too, hopefully helping its staying power. Pre-lightened (bleached) hair is already more porous so it will grab on to that color better, and the lighter the hair, the brighter the colors (there is a fine line though- too light can be too porous). Pastels will always fade faster. They are more translucent than more rich, vibrant colors. But help exists! In-salon treatments and repair boosters help strengthen during the process, which means less fading. Toning shampoos will help extend the life of pastels and vibrant colors from home.
Lots of toning shampoos and conditioners are helping colors last longer, or even update color in between salon sessions. Sadly though, without any home maintenance in between appointments, many fashion colors will be gone within 3-6 weeks. That being said, I have several clients who have really upped their at home care routine, and they can keep their color looking vibrant for several months. If you’re willing to cut shampoos down to 1-2 times a week, wash in the coldest water possible, and (again), get some good products, you can really help extend the life of your color.
Home Hack: Got buildup from waiting for those washes? Try apple cider vinegar for a clarifying rinse that will balance hair PH levels. Try 1 part cider to 1 part water. It’s soothing and gentle! Add a few drops of lavender oil to cut the vinegar scent and sooth your scalp!
Okay, so what about those products? No parabens and no sulfates, period! Parabens can cause icky buildup on both your hair and your scalp. Sulfates rough up the cuticle and cause unnecessary fading and dryness. Quality products make a huge difference. I’m not here to criticize or recommend specific brands, but I don’t endorse drug store products. They are more often than not filled with, well, fillers…stuff you don’t need. Even cheap sulfate and paraben-free lines have higher water and alcohol contents, thinning out the good stuff, messing with your PH, and causing you to go through it faster without letting the small amounts of the beneficial ingredients really do their job. Salon brands will last longer, making them more cost efficient than you might expect. After a lightening process, you are going to want moisture and strength (think fruit extracts, amino acids and plant stem cells). Salon brands will have higher quality ingredients that get into your hair and help your scalp, rather than just sitting on top and faking shine and silky softness (eye roll). Invest in in-salon or at-home conditioning masques. Also, get yourself an awesome dry shampoo and a heat protectant if applicable to help extend the life of your style, and possibly a UV protectant as well, if you're outside in the sun a lot. When you're making a big investment for the color process, you should definitely be including the cost for proper products in that budget.
*Listen to your stylist about products and aftercare! Color cannot be guaranteed without proper home care
What NOT to do:
- do not wash in hot water
- do not use cheap products with sulfates or parabens - invest in what your stylist recommends!
- do not swim without protecting your hair (no pools, no oceans - chemicals and salt both remove color or cause discoloration FAST) - consider getting a swim cap or keeping it up out of the water. Protect it from the sun, too!
- Do not use excessive heat (keep that hot tool turned down as low as possible)
-Checklist: Cold water, Sulfate Free Shampoo, Paraben Free Conditioner, leave-in conditioner, dry shampoo, heat protectant, restorative oil, repair masque
I realize that this is a lot of possibly intimidating info, but it can often take clients by surprise, and it's much better to be prepared and know what you’re getting yourself into before you start the journey. Once you’ve got a clean, light palette to start with, your options are limitless, so go crazy (and keep up with your root touch ups)!
Here's what I hope you'll take away from this as you start thinking about what fabulous things you want to do with your hair next:
Know your budget and ability to maintain your color process. Talk with your stylist first about expectations and maintenance.
Be prepared to spend as much time (and money) as it takes to reach your goals, especially if you are lifting through previous color.
Be HONEST about your previous color services. Not being upfront might make it difficult for your stylist to achieve your goals within your budget.
Invest in the products your stylist recommends. Follow a strict regimen at home- cold water, less washing (1-2x max per week), low heat (and always with a heat protectant), protect your ends with oil and masques!
Prebook your maintenance appointments so that you can stay on schedule and keep those roots light for less time and money
2. Communicate with your stylist about your goals, lifestyle, and expectations so that your hair works for you!
PRICING: $75/HR plus cost of product.
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