Anyone who knows me knows I love to change my hair color. I have had many different shades over the years and have a learned a thing or two about what to expect. When embarking on the journey to brilliantly colored unicorn hair (or mermaid hair – whichever better defines your spirit) there are some things you should know about what to expect and how to take care of it. I do want to make sure to preface this with the statement that I’m not a professional hair stylist by any means! I just happen to love coloring my hair and have picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way.
Since I started adventuring into the world of creative color, I’ve gotten a ton of questions, compliments, and comments about it. I thought it might be a good idea for me to help spread my love and knowledge of this fun fashion choice by putting some of my thoughts together here.
When you’re thinking about going for unicorn hair, it’s great to look at Instagram and Pinterest for ideas of what color you want but there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re browsing:
- Lighting can change everything! Hair color, especially vibrant, creative color, will look different depending on the lighting in which the photo is taken. Natural sunlight is going to make your hair color look completely different than the light in your bathroom or the light in your office. Keep this in mind when you’re working with your colorist. Don’t believe me? Ask them! They will tell you the same thing. For example, right now my hair is dark green with turquoise roots. It’s more on the blue side of the green spectrum. When I am outside, it all looks very blue green, like the ocean. When I’m in my bathroom, it looks more yellow, like army green. And when I take selfies, sometimes it even looks black!
- A lot of the time, the photos you’re seeing either aren’t the intended color but a happy accident (Either that, or they took multiple sessions to get to where they are). Many of my favorite hair colors were unintentional. Some of them took more than one session to get to the color I wanted and frankly, that’s normal! You may be thinking, “If I show my colorist a color, that’s the color I expect to get.” Well here’s the thing: everyone’s hair is different. It colors differently, lightens differently, and holds onto color differently. You can’t reasonably expect that you’ll get that exact tone every time!
- Building off my last point, it’s important to keep in mind your hair type and natural color. If you have naturally very dark hair, you may not be able to go for a pastel color that is cooler in nature (like blue or lavender) because of how light you’ll have to go. To get those tones, you have to get your hair almost white blonde so the yellow of the blond doesn’t pull through the color and turn your blue to green. If you have naturally lighter hair, you may have an easier time going from your natural color to a pastel. In other words, be thoughtful of where your hair is before you go in to see your colorist and ask for something extreme. They can only bleach and tone your hair so much in one go! A good colorist will be honest with you and tell you whether or not they can’t get your color there right away and what it will take. Even going blonde requires a lot of commitment.
- Keep in mind that your hair color will fade and your hair will grow out. If these are things that bother you there are a couple things you can do to manage them. I like to get shadow roots done on my hair (that’s where the hair is darker at the root and then melts into lighter colors). I find that this minimizes the appearance of grow out.
One thing I can’t recommend enough is to always do a consult when you’re going to a new colorist! This will help set your expectations for cost, time, and color. If they don’t outline these points for you on their own, ask! It’s better to be prepared than to be shocked later. Why do I say that? Because it can be hard to determine how much time and money it’s going to take to get the color you want at a salon if you’re not able to do it yourself (I’ve tried–disaster. Plus, there was always a spot on the back of my head I’d miss). So here are a few points on what to expect.
- Coloring your hair isn’t cheap. And creative color is even more expensive. Why? Because most of the time, it takes double processing meaning have to have to start by bleaching your hair before they can get to the creative color.
- When going into the salon for creative color, be prepared to spend a good amount of your day there. Again, most of the time you’ll have to double process your hair which means depending on how light your hair needs to get and how dark it is to start, you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time with bleach on your head and then another chunk of time with the creative color on. This plays into point number 1 as well- creative color costs money because it takes a lot of your colorist’s time! So please…BE RESPECTFUL. Don’t go in with a time limit and don’t go in expecting to pay only $100 for brilliantly colored hair. It’s rude. That being said, if you have a budget you’re trying to stick to, be honest with your stylist. They will tell you what you can and can’t achieve with that budget.
- Remember that creative color requires maintenance. If you want to keep your hair vibrant you’ll most likely need to go see your stylist more often than you would with regular demi-permanent or permanent hair color. I get my hair colored every 6-8 weeks depending on how much it fades. Each color or tone will wear differently on your hair and will require a different level of maintenance.
Being prepared for how to care for your unicorn hair is just as important as being prepared to get it done! There are some things you can do to keep your hair vibrant and beautiful for as long as you can. And there are also things you can do that will have you waving goodbye to your new color as it finds it’s way down the drain of your shower.
- DO wash your hair is cool or cold water. Hot water pulls the color out faster and will dry your hair out as well. Washing your hair in cold water will help keep the color in your hair. Think of your hair like your face: heat makes the pores bigger so stuff can get out! The same concept applies to your hair- if you wash it in hot water the color will fade MUCH faster. If you don’t want to get your body wet with cold water, try either washing it in the sink or do what I do: Point the shower head as close to the wall as you can and lean over into the stream so only your head gets wet. I highly suggest investing in a shower cap.
- DON’T wash your hair every day. First off, it’s not good for your hair or scalp, regardless of whether it’s colored or not. Second of all, vibrant color is usually applied as a direct dye, which isn’t demi-permanent or permanent, and it will fade with each wash. Direct dyes, or veggie dyes, have very little developer in them so it’s more like adding a layer of color to your hair rather than bonding the color to your hair chemically as with permanent or demi-permanent color. This means the more you wash it, the faster it fades. If you feel like your hair needs to be cleaned everyday because you work out or are prone to greasy hair, try just conditioning it in the shower or using dry shampoo. There are tons out there! I personally really like R + Co. Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste because it also works as a styling paste. Another great product I love is Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, which absorbs the oil at your roots and gives great volume and texture with little effort.
- DO use color safe shampoo and conditioner. I can’t stress this enough. Shampoo and conditioner that isn’t color safe will immediately pull the color from your hair. Trust me, I know from experience. I love EVO’s Normal Person Shampoo and Ritual Salvation Conditioner.
- DON’T apply a ton of heat to your hair by using straighteners, curling irons, and blow driers all the time. Heat can bring out the yellow undertones of your hair. I usually let my hair air dry and then only curl or flat iron it once in awhile. I know this isn’t attainable for some depending on your hair type but using the cooler setting on your hair dryer may be a lifesaver for your hair!
- DO pay attention to what brands and colors stay in your hair better. I’ve tried all different brands and colors throughout the years and I find that Pulp Riot stays in my hair the best and lasts the longest for me. Once you know what works for you, find a colorist who uses that color brand and let them know you love it.
- DON’T freak out when you see the water turn bright colors when you wash your hair! That’s totally normal with direct dyes and you’ll just have to get used to it. It will seem like a lot more color is coming out of your hair than actually is. You may also want to have a designated pillow case for your new bright colored head to rest on. The color WILL rub off on your pillow and sometimes your skin if you’re like me and have a bad habit of falling asleep on your hands.
Keeping all these points in mind, I often intentionally try to fade my creative color right before I head in to see my stylist. This is especially effective if I’m doing a drastic color change like pink to green. To do this, I basically do the opposite of all the points outlined above! Ha!
I hope this post helps prepare you for your newest fashion adventure! It really is more fun that I can express. I love the feeling of walking out of the salon with a new color. I know people are going to stare because it’s different. Who cares? I know it’s not always going to match what I’m wearing. Whatever! I love the way having unicorn hair makes me feel about myself and that’s all that matters!
A few final thoughts: keep in mind that it’s your hair, if you ever find a colorist isn’t doing what you want or isn’t listening to you, it’s time to move on. No hard feelings. It’s your body and your hair so you decide who handles it and whom you give your money. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
I’ve put together a list of some other hair products and such, which I love below. And be sure to follow me on Instagram as @lostherskittles to see what color I choose next!!
- If you’re looking for an amazing colorist in the Seattle area, I would recommend my colorist Kylie Rose, co-owner of Timothy and James Hair in Fremont. Kylie has done may last 3 rounds of creative color- the bright pink in the first photo of this post, the dark coral, and the green I have now. To see more of her amazing work, check out her instagram, as well.
- If you’re looking for an awesome barber who does great work with undercuts I would recommend Ryan Potter, co-owner of Timothy and James Hair. Ryan did the feather in my undercut in the last photo of this post.
- Anything by Amika! Their products smell amazing and I love their shampoo and styling products.
- Arctic Fox hair color – love this color brand. It smells great and the color holds beautifully.
If you’re looking for more recommendations or want to know who did the other colors featured in this post, feel free to reach out to me in the comments or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org