Pastel Colours & Fashion Bright's - What it Really Takes
From the pastel pinks to the creative ombre's showcasing all kinds of mermaid inspired colour combinations, pastels and brights have been around for a while now and this season, its all about GREY, all 50 shades of, from a slight silver to deep steel, violte hints to blue hues.
This trend isn't going away, and has transformed from a rather risky colour choice reserved for the extroverts among us, to a salon staple everyone wants a piece of. Due to their popularity, seeing someone with grey, pink or baby blue hair is no longer as shocking as it used to be, and vibrant reds and violets are just as accepted as the more traditional blondes and brunettes.
But with the rise in popularity, also comes the rise of false rumours and false hopes about what it really takes to have, and to look after your pastel hues and fashion brights. In this blog, we delve deep into what it really takes to keep your fashion colour looking fresh and vibrant while keeping your hair in good condition.
Fail to Plan - Plan to Fail
Preparing for your colouring service is just as important as your aftercare, and its important to make sure your hair is ready for what can be a long and demanding service. Start prepping about 2 weeks before the service; go easy with the styling and try to lay off any heated styling equipment such as straighteners and tongs; treat your hair twice a week with an intensive mask such as Biolage HydraSource mask and run a good quality, highly concentrated oil through your mid length and ends as often as possible, we stock a variety of oils both in Biolage Equisite Oil and Oil Wonders ranges to suit your individual hair type; and if previous chemical damage is a factor, we would recommend booking in for a ProtoPak treatment a day or two before your service to help even out porosity and give your hair some added strength ready for the lightening process.
Choose Your Colour
Although sticking around the pastel side of the colour depth spectrum means the colour will fade quicker, giving you more opportunities to swap and change your tone, some colours are better at this than others. The 'red' side of the spectrum; pinks, purples and yellows fade the quickest, brilliant if you want the flexibility of playing around with your colour more often, but not so good if you want something to last longer than a few shampoos. The 'green' side of the spectrum however; blues, greens and cool violets tend to stick around for a bit longer but can cause 'staining' issues making it difficult to change your colour as often, but good if you're looking for longevity. It's also worth thinking about what is really achievable in your initial lightening process, if your hair will only lift to yellow/orange, you can still achieve a vibrant colour, but you're better off sticking to deeper pinks and purples. Pastels won't take properly and at most give you a toned blonde, and blue is a big no no. Blue is potentially the most difficult colour to achieve for some, since your hair needs to lift to almost white to apply, putting blue on top of yellow = yup GREEN, a dirty turquoise if you're lucky. If your hair does lift to a chilly pale yellow, then you have the monopoly, choose what you will, just be careful to plan ahead if you are thinking about diving right in to the deep, vibrant colours, these will take longer to fade and depending on the shade and your hair condition, may stain your hair for longer than you hoped, if you want something versatile, go for a pastel shade.
Reality Check - There's Going to be Some Heavy Lifting
The actual pastel colours and brights don't damage the hair, they will either contain no peroxide at all or be very low strength, which is why they can be re-applied so often without a worry. However, before the colour can be applied, your hair must be pre-lightened to palest yellow/almost white so we have an even canvas to work with and hair light enough to achieve the correct vibrancy and tone. This is of course done with a lightener, (scary word) BLEACH and is the most damaging part of the process. However, providing you don't have a lot of chemical or heat damage already, look after your hair with good quality products and prepare your hair properly with the advice above, you shouldn't have any issues.
We are qualified and trained to use lighteners and will always choose a formula as low as possible to acieve the desired lift while maintaining the condition of your hair. Please do not try and lighten your hair at home.
Condition is Key
As mentioned above, whether or not it is possible to achieve your desired colour, the quality of the end result and how long your colour will last will greatly depend on the condition of your hair.
Existing chemical or heat damage will increase the risk of damage during the lightening process as well as greatly reducing how long your colour will last and increase how quickly it fades. Having your hair in good condition is paramount.
If you have previous highlights or lightener on your hair, achieving your desired colour may still be possible, but with condition in mind, may mean how long your colour lasts is greatly reduced.
Your stylist is trained to give you professional advice on the products that will ensure your hair is in the best possible condition, we aren't just 'selling'.
Stylist Top Tip: Use a SPF - this may sound strange or very simple to some, even in the dead of winter, dermatologists recommend SPF protection for your skin to prevent aging and skin damage, well we recommend the same for your hair. When aging of a colour ultimately means colour fade, its worth considering. Biolage ColorLast Shine Shake is a really easy to apply spray that not only contains SPF protection against colour fade, it also feels amazing on your hair, smoothing ends and increasing shine; it's a win win.
Fade Out - How Long Your Colour Will Last
Another reality check; the lightening process is permanent but the colour is not; your pastel or bright will fade, much quicker than a regular permanent colour and usually within a few shampoos.
How quickly will depend on the condition of your hair and the tone and depth applied. As already mentioned, previous chemical or heat damage will quicken the fading process, depending on how porous your hair is or how well it 'holds on to colour'.
Whether you choose a delicate pastel or vibrant bright will also make a difference. The deeper, truer or more vibrant the colour is, the longer it will take to fade.
Depending on your hair condition and aftercare, colours roughly fade at the same rate, but depending on what the starting point is, or 'how much colour there is to fade' will result in how long that fading process lasts. So if you start with a deep, vibrant purple or true blue, it will gradually fade lighter and lighter each time you wash your hair, fading to a pastel purple or baby blue, then on to a cool blonde. If your starting point is already a pastel shade, it will follow that same process but will fade straight to a cool, slightly toned blonde.
This whole process can take anywhere between 2 and 12 washes, so washing your hair really regularly isn't recommended and if you are always blow drying, straightening, tonging and backcombing while using styling products that can dry your hair and drag your colour out such as hairspray, your colour won't be hanging on for long.
Ultimately, how long your colour will last depends on 5 things; your hair condition, the depth and tone of the colour you choose, how often you wash your hair, the quality of the products you use at home and how strenuous your styling routine is.
Stylist Top Tip: Cold Washes Help - it might not be the most pleasant experience, but washing your hair with cool water does help your colour last longer. Hot water opens up the outer layer of your hair (the cuticle), and since this is where most of the colour molecules of the pastels and brights sit, allows them to escape, resulting in more colour fade. Cool water (as cool as you can bear it) keeps the cuticle closed so keeps those molecules locked in.
The Most Important Thing - AFTERCARE
By now you've probably guessed that keeping your colour looking good and your hair in good condition is high maintenance, you'd be right, it's very high maintenance and requires A LOT of commitment.
As mentioned, the lightening process is permenant, and like any other colouring service, you need to visit the salon every 4-6 weeks for a root retouch which will pre-lighten your regrowth ready for your colour. Leaving your roots for longer causes all kinds of problems such as 'banding', which is far more difficult to correct than it is to get.
During your root retouch visit, we will reapply your colour, however, if you've done the math, you'll know that by the 4th-6th week, your colour would be completely faded out, or if you've been a deeper colour, may still be at the pastel phase.
What we usually recommend is a maintenance visit every 2-3 weeks in-between your root retouch visit, but you may need to reapply more often if your colour and condition demand.
We have our dedicated Toning Menu especially for this purpose, and a toner also features on our Express Service Menu, so you can keep your colour refreshed for £15-£20 and you're in and out within a hour.
Stylist Top Tip: Ask us to Bottle up some toner for you - we understand that visiting the salon every 2-3 weeks isn't possible or desirable for everyone, so as an alternative, we have no problem bottling up some product for you to take home to apply in the shower. It can either be a complete formula you can apply straight from the bottle or a 'neat' version of the pastel you can add to your conditioner for a quick refresh. We do have some conditions to this however; this isn't possible with every colour and it must be done on the same day as your salon visit, in exactly the same way the DIY stores advise you to buy all the paint you need for the same room on the same day to account for slight variations. For some colours, you can buy these at various outlets for yourself to use at home, again this isn't always possible as a great deal of colours are professional use only, and what you may think is the same thing, may not be and lead to a variety of complications. Your Stylist can advise on this.
As well as regular salon visits, the products you are using at home are hugely important to maintain both your colour and condition. For a first timer with very little chemical or heat damage, the Biolage HydraSource is ideal to keep your moisture levels up and keep your hair looking healthy. If your problem is fragile, breakage prone hair, the Biolage FiberStrong will provide you with that added strength needed to avoid any serious hair snappage, and if you have a colour history as long as your arm and aren't exactly a bleach virgin, we'd recommend the Biolage KeratinDose for chemically treated and damaged hair to give you everything you need to maintain a high demanding fashion colour without compromising condition. Most of the products recommended are all geared towards keeping your hair condition at it's best, without that, not only will your colour be a flash in the pan, your hair may be too!
As for colour maintenance, on top of your salon visits, the incredibly popular TotalResults SoSilver Shampoo can add an extra week or so to the longevity of most pastel colours, simply shampoo and tone for 10-15 minutes to refresh cool tones and neutralise any brassy tones popping through from the lightening process.
I can absolutely guarantee that using cheap or 'designer' supermarket shampoos and conditioners, or the popular 'anti-dandruff' shampoo WILL fade your colour much faster than what it should, and you will notice very quickly the condition of your hair deteriorating. The vast majority of clients we see with excess damage and rapid colour fade are those using supermarket products, and the remaining minority having problems are over styling with heat and/or aggressive styling such as excessive backcombing or hair-spraying.
We can only do so much in salon, but as careful as we are, what you are doing at home will be the make or break.
Stylist Tip: Listen to your stylist when we recommend aftercare! - I cant stress enough how important using the correct products and looking after your hair at home is. Part of what you pay for when visiting the salon is the expert advice and guidance we are trained to deliver - get your moneys worth! Why pay £30-£90 for a professional service only to ignore the advice and ruin it with a shop bought shampoo? One of my favourite sayings: You wouldn't spend a small fortune dining in a Michelin Star restaurant on a beautifully prepared, cooked and presented starter and main course, only to finish your meal with a desert bought from the local supermarket; why is your hair any different?
So Is It Worth It?
Well that's a very personal question!
Yes, maintaining a fashion colour is expensive, time consuming and hard work, but it is inside this colourful realm where the most creativity and personal expression is unleashed and the effects that can be achieved are amazing.
A lot of people are turned off by the bleaching process, but as mentioned, with the right preparation and aftercare, there's no need to worry.
The other main turn off is the colour fade and lack of longevity pastels and brights provide, but this really isn't such a bad thing. Think about it this way; you love your colours and like to play around with different tones and depth, you jump from blonde to brunette, highlights to ombre all within a 12 month period, within those services you need sections of hair pre-lightened, pre-pigmented and lots of toners to control old tints, and eventually your stylist says 'its just not possible' or 'you need 5 inches cut off!'. Apart from the damage done to your hair in all the lifting and tinting, its very unlikely you would achieve your desired colour.
But with fashion colours, once the hair is lifted, that's it! you can pretty much have any pastel or bright you want, and because the colours fade so quick, you can swap and change your colour every few weeks (within reason) if you wanted to, ideal if you like to try out new colours and techniques regularly, you're rarely tied down.
And because the initial full head bleaching is a one-off, followed only by lightening the regrowth, you aren't re-bleaching hair over and over like you would be if you were changing permanent colours a lot, and since the colours can be applied as regularly as needed without causing damage, it is far less damage than regularly changing traditional colours.
If you're a fashion follower, you need these colours in your life, they aren't going away just yet. and with colours, tones, depths and techniques to suit everyone, there's always going to be something for you, even if its just a sneaky flash in the fringe!
Laura, Senior Stylist & Manageress
(Who has not only created countless pastels and brights, but also coincidently has been playing around with her own various shades of blue for the past 3 years)
What Do You Think?
Are you a fashion follower currently flaunting the latest pastel hues with some of your own tips and tricks to conquer the trials and tribulations of fighting the fade? Is it something you have been thinking about for a while but worried about things you have heard or seen? Or are you a classic colourer who sees no need to have such a wild change? We want to hear from you! Post your comments or questions below...