Colors of the Rainbow

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, it’s not uncommon to see candy-colored ombres, pastel pixies, or neon locks here lately. Vivid hair color is definitely a trend I support, as I’m currently rocking my own green and blue color. Not only are these wild colors beautiful to look at, but they are so much fun to create! They also take time to achieve, and plenty of TLC to maintain. If you’re interested in making the leap into vivid hair, or need tips on maintaining your current color, keep reading!

The first thing you need to know about vivid hair color is that it is one of the most high-maintenance color services available. In most cases, to achieve the bright, pastel or neon colors stylists must use direct dye hair color. These colors do not chemically alter the hair shaft, they simply deposit color, acting as a stain. Since they aren’t permanent, these colors tend to fade very quickly. While some fade to a pretty pastel, others aren’t as forgiving and must be refreshed often. If it’s your first time going vivid, don’t be surprised if your appointment lasts several hours or even requires multiple appointments.  If you aren’t ready to invest some extra time and money in salon appointments and quality products, this look probably isn’t for you.

  • Not ready to commit to a whole head of bright colors? Try adding a few foils around your face or some peek-a-boos to test it out. If you like it, you can always add more at your next appointment!
  • Some shades of reds, grays and even soft pastel shades can be achieved using semi or permanent color, toners or color booster additives. Discuss which route is best to take during your consult with your stylist.

The second thing you need to know is that in order for vivid colors to show up, the hair must be lightened. So unless you’re already blonde, this is going to be (at least) a two-step process. When the hair is lightened, you must break through every layer of pigment to reach pale blonde. The level the hair needs to be lifted to varies by color and manufacturer, but generally it’s a pale blonde for brights and white blonde for pastels.

  • If you have dark hair, several layers of hair color, or stubborn red undertones, it may take more than one appointment to lighten you to the necessary level. Please be patient, as rushing this process can cause damage or breakage. Going vivid the healthy way might take a little longer, but will save the integrity of your hair, which is most important.
  • If you can’t seem to get rid of that stubborn red undertone without compromising the hair, you should stick to darker, warm colors that will benefit from it. Reds, oranges, and magentas will work well.

Now that you’re lightened, it’s time for the fun part! From here you can go as simple or intricate as you want. When choosing your color let your imagination run wild. Your inspiration can come from anywhere: nature, beautiful animals, even food or your favorite cocktail! The great thing about direct dyes is that they are inter-mixable, so your stylist can create a wide array of shades. No matter what look you want, whether it’s a mermaid ombre or Tequila Sunrise colored tresses, it’s possible.

  • Keep in mind that many stylists charge for additional color or charge per hour. A single color requires less product and time, and will usually be more cost effective. Looks that involve several colors or advanced techniques and knowledge require more time and product, therefore the cost may increase.

Well, you have your brand-new, salon-fresh vivid look. Now what? You can use the following tips to get the most out of your color and keep it looking beautiful.

Rinse hair with cool/cold water.

  • I know, this is the one no one wants to hear, but there is a reason I listed it first. It works. The outer layer of the hair is the cuticle, with a texture similar to the bark on a tree. The cuticle is opened with heat, which is why we sometimes process chemicals and deep conditioners under the dryer. Hot water also opens up the cuticle, allowing hair color molecules to rinse right out of the hair shaft. Using cooler water closes the cuticle, locking your color, as well as conditioner, into the hair, and smooths the hair shaft for shinier healthier hair. Cool water also helps prevent dark colors bleeding onto lighter colors in dimensional color, especially if you have a mix of  blonde with vivids.

Opt for a non-traditional shampoo

  • For the first few shampoos I liked to use a cleansing conditioner on my own fresh vivid color, then alternate it with  my color-safe shampoo. A cleansing conditioner is a creamy, no-lather product that removes dirt, oil and light buildup in 1 step without stripping color or drying out the hair. My hair always feels amazingly soft after and it really preserves the life of my color. If you have heavy products such as gel or firm-hold hairspray use your color-safe shampoo. In my experience the cleansing conditioner wasn’t able to remove very heavy product build-up and left my hair a little sticky after blow drying.
  • Use dry shampoo to extend time between traditional washing. Dry shampoo absorbs oils and adds body and texture to the hair. Blast some on your roots, work in with fingers and brush through. If your hair is especially oily, try using dry shampoo before bed, letting it absorb oils overnight. Re-apply in the morning if needed.

Use products specially for color-treated hair.

  • Look for a good salon-quality shampoo and conditioner regimen that is safe for color-treated hair. Many people prefer a sulfate-free shampoo to cut down on color fading. Some companies even offer styling products that help lock in color and prevent fading.

Restore lost protein and moisture

  • If you had to pre-lighten, chances are that you incurred a little damage or dryness. Using an at-home conditioning treatment weekly will help re-hydrate dry hair and smooth the cuticle. If you have breakage, opt for a conditioning treatment with protein. You can also use leave-in conditioners and strengthening leave-in products to combat damage.

Protect against  heat/sun exposure

  • I’m sure you know that hot styling tools can cause damage and cause color fade, but you may not know that the sun can also fade your salon-fresh color. Using a thermal spray when styling will prevent color fade and damage from hot tools. If you are outdoors often, use hair products with UV protection to color fade from the sun.

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