Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Idiot's Guide to Pastel Hair

I have to start this with a disclaimer of sorts - I am not a hairdresser. I have, however, been dyeing my hair all the colours of the rainbow for at least ten years and, more often than not, successfully. Last time I went to a hairdressers, they buggered my hair up completely and all for the paltry sum of £150. Therefore I feel well within my rights to write this tutorial as hair colouring at home is really not that hard to do.

To start with, unless you have very, very light blonde hair to start with, you will need:

Bleach kit
Conditioner (or "clear" which you can buy online. Conditioner works just as well. It's really used to dilute the hair colour.)
Hair Dye (I'm using Directions La Riche dyes - LINK)
Ceramic or plastic Bowls
A plastic mixing brush (I've used a household paintbrush before now as long as there's no metal parts to it.)
This is the kit I use.

 Step 1: Bleach

My hair is pretty fried by colouring as well as being naturally wavy, annoying thick (I use 2 or 3 bleach kits to cover my whole head) and has a fluffy texture. When it dries it poofs out like Marie Antoinette's dress. I am so blessed. : / Sometimes I think that the hair is still on my head out of sheer stubbornness alone because it puts up with a lot of abuse.

Everyones hair acts differently to being so abused. I'd recommend doing a tester streak first to see how your hair acts and what condition it's left in after being bleached. Bear in mind that hair normally has to be done twice to get an even base colour. First bleaching, more often than not, results in ginger hair. You will have to live with it for a few days before bleaching again. If you do it again straight away it might really fry your hair. I don't want to frighten you, but there have been cases of bleach actually cutting through hair, so treat it nicely. Stick some conditioner on for a few hours in the evening for a couple of days and give it a break.

I never do this process on really clean hair. Don't wash it for a day or so before bleaching. The natural oils in the hair protect it a little from the destructive qualities of the bleach.

Another reason why tester strips are a good idea - some people experience burning scalp from the bleach. Put a dab of bleach behind your ear to make sure your scalp isn't going to burn like a fucker or have an allergic reaction. If your test strip ends up very dry with split ends, lighten your hair gradually over a few months with ashy (cool toned) colours. What I want to emphasise is that you can't go from, say, black to blonde hair in one day. Some people say they have, but they haven't. Not without completely destroying their hair in the process. I say they be liars!
So, The best home kit I've found is Jerome Russell's B Blonde. In this and similar kits, you get the following:

You have your powder bleach sachet and cream peroxide in a little bottle. Put on some plastic gloves and mix these together following the instructions. Once on the hair, most bleach takes about 25-forty minutes to develop. Don't be tempted to leave it on for longer than the maximum time stated. The shampoo included in the kit above is for rinsing the bleach out.

The colour you should aim for is a pale yellow like the inside of a banana. As I said, this can take one or two more bleachings to achieve, so patience is a virtue here. Also, often the roots of your hair can go pale blonde because of the heat from your head accelerating the chemical reaction, while the mid-lengths can be darker. In short, it's a pain in the arse.

This is the pale blonde colour you're after. Please note, it's not white. You can't get white hair through bleaching, only through a combination or bleaching and toning. A toner is lilac toned rinse. The purple in the toner counteracts the yellow in your hair, making it platinum. You can make your own by mixing a tiny dot of purple hair dye to some conditioner, or your can buy them, such as Manic Panic's Virgin Snow or Directions White Toner. Redken also make some.

Step 2. Dyeing

 To make your own pastel dyes, you'll need bowls, conditioner and some dye. Ta da!

Put some conditioner in a bowl and then add tiny amounts of dye in, bit by bit, mixing until it's your preferred colour. You probably won't need very much dye at all because it's pretty potent stuff. You can put the mix on dry or even slightly damp hair. The drier the hair, the more colour it will absorb.

I'm going for a sort of My Little Pony effect so I made a few different pastel colours from Carnation Pink, Turquoise, Lagoon Blue and Lavender. I dyed from the nape to ear line in pastel turquoise (which goes a bit minty coloured) and the rest of it pastel carnation pink with some lavender and pastel blue sections. I left it on for a good couple of hours before washing it off.

Here's the result without any products or styling to show you the hair as is. Can I just say that Frizz-ease is a saviour?

Looking After Your Hair

Wash with conditioner - You might find that your hair acts differently than it used to. You might not need to wash it as much for example. When you do wash it, you can use conditioner instead of shampoo. Conditioner does actually have cleansing properties and it's much more gentle on your hair than shampoo.

The joys of cold water - Wash your hair with cold water if you can bear it. It helps stop the colour fading and makes your hair more shiny.

Deep heat treatments - If you have a lazy Sunday, slap some conditioner, hot oil or coconut butter on your hair, plait it or pile it up on your head and put some heat on it. You can do this by sitting in the sun for a few hours or putting a slightly damp towel in the tumble dryer or in the microwave for a minute (yes, really) and then wrapping the hot towel around your head. The heat makes the hair shaft absorb more of the conditioner.

Avoid heated stylers - I don't use curlers or straighteners very often because my hair, while being quite strong, doesn't really appreciate being further damaged by heat. If you do use heated stylers, make sure you use a protective shield spray on your hair first and keep the stylers on as low a heat as possible. Most of the time I do pin curls or plait my hair to make it more wavy since it's kinder on the hair. I really recommend VintageVixen's tutorial on pin curls - HERE

Combatting the fade

Any coloured hair fades from the sun and washing. What I do is put a teeny spot of dye in with my conditioner once a week and leaviing it on for a couple of minutes. This seems to keep the colour up.


Bleach kits give instructions on how to retouch your roots. It involves separating your hair into sections and very carefully applying bleach to the roots only, leaving it to develop and then colouring as above, trying to match the colours as best you can. What I tend to do is put conditioner on the lengths of my hair when bleaching my roots do to avoid bleaching out the colour on the rest of my hair when washing the bleach out.


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Could you please update those pictures, I've only stumbled across your blog and I'd love to see what color u got. Thanks

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