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Rainbows, Unicorns and Happy Hair

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:

How much am I willing to 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. Top stylists charge $100 (and up) per hour and it can take 5-8 hours, longer sometimes, to achieve your goals (or, who knows, it may only take 4…either way, it’s an investment). I still don’t charge enough, but I’m trying to be fair to myself these days while trying to be reasonable with my clients’ bank accounts. 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 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 (I’ll address that later). 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 like? Hair needs to be light. Like, really light. 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’ve been layering black box color on your hair for years, maybe think about something a little less ambitious than silver for the first go around. Or, just have disposable income. This is not an easy process. I tried it once, 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. 10 hours of work later (after mistakenly quoting a price that would’ve been fair for about 3-lesson learned) and 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.

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 hair is already more porous so it will grab onto 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 richer vibrant colors like violets and blues. But help exists! In-salon treatments and repair boosters help strengthen during the process, which means less fading. 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 4-6 weeks. That being said, we put a few rainbow panels in my hair this past winter and they were still there about 4 months after refreshing the colors only once. If you’re willing to cut shampoos down to 1-2 times a week, wash in cold water, and (again), get some good products, you can really help extend the life of your color. 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!

Okay, so what about those products? No parabens and no sulfates, period! Say what you will, but good 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. Yes, 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 (insert eye roll). Also, get yourself an awesome dry shampoo to help extend the life of your style. Personally, environmentally conscious and cruelty-free brands are a must for me. Ok, one endorsement… I can’t live without Kevin Murphy Fresh Hair dry shampoo or their new Bedroom Hair dry shampoo/styling spray. They smell amazing and keep a style going for days. My opinions aside, if you are going to spend a pretty penny for pretty hair, don’t you think you deserve good home care for it? Say yes. The answer is definitely yes. Treat yourself!

I realize that this is a lot of possibly intimidating info, but it can often take clients by surprise! 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!

Got more questions about fashion color? Send me an email and I'll be happy to help!