But today’s pastel hair color shades have evolved. They’re subtler, more nuanced, which can be credited to two factors. One is the fact that there is a wide variety of new hair colors available, all of which can be applied straight up, or mixed to create a virtual rainbow of precious pastel shades. And the second pastel hair color update can be credited to a spectrum of interesting new application techniques that lift these shades from basic to downright sophisticated. (Yes, pink hair can now be sophisticated!)
Here’s what’s happening in pastel hair colors and techniques this season!
Pastel Peek-A-Boo Highlights
If you have trouble committing—to yoga class, to the idea of having kids, to the career you trained for—this trend is for you. Rather than jumping in with a full head of pale pistachio color, incorporate pastels as accent color within your normal hair color. You can have your stylist apply them like foil highlights around your face and throughout the top sections; she might treat them like hand-painted balayage pieces on the center and ends of your hair or she may create an ombré look, concentrating the pastel hair color just on the ends.
Shadow Root Pastel Hair Color
Here’s a technique that evokes a natural look in your pastel hair color. Yes, we know there’s nothing natural about pink hair, but hear us out! If you were to study natural color, you’d notice that it tends to be darker at the roots and lighter as it progresses toward the ends, with lots of variation in those center and end sections. That’s how hair color fades naturally, with exposure to the sun, to thermal irons and dryers, to dozens of shampoos over time. So the idea with shadow root pastels is to create that same dark-to-lighter progression. But instead of dark blonde morphing into light blonde, it might be a matter of purple, morphing into lighter and lighter strands of dusty lilac and baby pink. See? Natural, only in shades of pastels!
Color Melt Pastel Hair Color
Why settle for one pastel hair color when you can have two? Or three? With color melting, your stylist will mix up multiple shades of pale-as-a-whisper hair colors, and combine them seamlessly along each section of hair. They could be complementary colors, like pale mint, melting into bunny’s nose pink; or they might be analogous shades like a blend of powder blue, pale blue green and silvery jade.
Is It Pink Hair or is it Peach Hair?
Both, kind of. The hottest pastel hue this season is a shimmering blend of cool and warm pink hair tones. It’s nursery pink all grown up and ready to go out. There are a number of iterations, from barely-there blush to a richer, rosy gold hair color. The best thing about this hair color is that it’s universally flattering—there’s a version for every complexion!
Strawberry Mint Pastel Hair Color
It’s a winning combination at the ice cream shop, and now it’s promising to become the go-to pairing for spring pastel hair color designs. Individually these soft pastel hues are delightful. Together, they add up to a truly sweet treat. Hint—a little bit of these shades can go a long way, your stylist should us a light hand when applying these colors.
Mermaid Pastel Hair Color
Here’s another trendy blend—cool, shimmering, under-the-water shades of pale lavender, ocean blue and/or sea glass green. Think of the flicker of a mermaid’s tail as it reflects the sunlight. These hair colors are silvery pale—in fact, your stylist may even add a pale silver or gray shade to the mix!
Lilac Hair Color
Like the season’s golden pink hair tones, lilac is another pastel hair color that’s all grown up. Think lilac crossed with stainless steel and you’ll get an idea of the overall vibe of this cool shade. Do it as a color melt and you win! You’ll be sporting the chicest pastel hair look of the season.
The Dark Side of Pastels—Damaged Hair
Here’s How to Do Damage Control
Ironically, achieving a delicate pastel hair color usually requires some heavy lifting. Meaning, in order to end up with a clear, even pink or mint or lilac, it’s necessary to remove all of the original color in your hair first. And that requires a lightener or bleach. Improper lightening is the start of damaged hair, which is the last thing in the world you want if you’re sporting a whispery pastel tone. (Or ever really.) Here are six tips for keeping your pastel hair healthy and gorgeous.
1. Start from a Position of Strength.
If you try to enter in to the pastel process with damaged hair, there’s only one way to go. More damage. That’s why your stylist will start off with an honest assessment of your hair health, evaluating things like elasticity (if it’s stretched, does it return easily to its original shape or does it break?) and dryness. If it’s too brittle or thirsty, it’s likely she’ll put you on a shape-up regimen of hair conditioning treatments for a few weeks before she hits you with the bleach.
2. Bond with the Bleach.
By now you’ve probably heard about bonders—those amazing additives that hairdressers are adding to color formulas to repair broken hair bonds and prevent damage while your hair processes. These are truly miracles of modern hair color so if your stylist isn’t bonding with your color, ask her to please do so.
3. Fake It.If you’re having a hard time making up your mind about a pastel shift, or if you’re tired of one pastel hair color and itching to move on to the next, consider giving your hair a breather with some colored, clip-on extensions.
4. Shampoo GENTLY and Less Often.
Now is the time to switch to a sulfate-free shampoo if you haven’t already done so, because sulfates are stripping agents that can make your pastel hair color fade faster. Another smart move—switch out your regular shampoo from time to time with a cleansing conditioner—a low-lathering, fast-rinsing product that will refresh your hair and scalp without disturbing your color.