From Rihanna to Nicole Richie; Gwen Stefani to Demi Lovato; Sienna Miller to Kelly Osbourne—celebrities have been experimenting with wild haircolors in droves of late. It’s not unusual to see a whole rainbow of shades on the red carpets…or even in just one starlet’s personal photo catalog (witness: Katy Perry, who’s tried virtually every shade under the sun, including odd but arresting ones such as Kelly green and bright teal).
Are you thinking about going purple, pink, blue, or perhaps even silver-gray (a color that’s ultra hip and not reserved for the senior citizens anymore)? There are certain challenges to achieving extreme color—and, when all is said and done, it’s not a look for everyone. Here are some tips that will help you determine if the process is possible for your hair, personality, and sense of style.
Give it a Trial Run
Before taking the permanent plunge into hot fuchsia, cool purple, bright orange, or whatever color is tempting you, why not give it a quick—non-permanent—dress rehearsal to make sure you love it? The color you’re eyeing may seem like a great idea until you see it against your skin tone, or realize it clashes with all the clothes in your wardrobe.
Luckily, there are easy ways to “go on a date” with extreme haircolor without full commitment. You can try a wash-out hair spray, hair mascara, or just clip in some falsies. A few streaks should be enough to help you determine if the shade is right for you.
Assess Your Hair’s Health
In order to get true, undiluted bright colors, most hair must be stripped to a very light shade. If your hair is light blonde naturally, you can achieve a decent result without bleaching—everyone else must submit to the process, which is unquestionably tough on tresses.
If your hair is in excellent shape and strength, you can go forth with the full head of color, if that’s the look you’re interested in. If it’s even somewhat damaged, consider working with a few streaks of color instead—you can get the fun effect of an unnatural cool shade without much of a pounding on your locks.
You can attempt layering extreme color over darker shades, but as might be expected, the end amplification of the shade will be much lesser than if the hair was lightened at first.
Leave it to a Professional
Achieving a perfect result with bright, unusual colors can be quite difficult to do on your own. A professional can help greatly with the first step—bleaching the hair properly to both set a stage for the color and also make the hair porous to “grab on” to the dye. Without this initial step, your beautiful new shade may fade much quicker than you’d like.
Your hairstylist knows the right amount of processing time for a perfectly vivid ending; don’t underestimate this skill. It’s very easy to misstep how long the dye should remain on your hair to achieve what you want.
A pro can also help you determine your overall hair health, help you decide how far you are ready to go with color, and also assist with selecting a hue that works perfectly with your skin tone and lifestyle. He or she can also provide tips on how to maintain the color
So, you have enjoyed having a candy-colored head of locks for a few weeks, but are now ready to go back to business as usual. How difficult the process of returning to your natural color will be depends, again, on how light or dark you were to start with.
If you are a natural blonde, all you may need to do is use a special mild bleaching shampoo designed to strip the color from your tresses. If, however, you had to lighten your dark hair to go crazy-colored, you will have to take extra steps. The color must be taken out, then dyed back to your regular shade.
If you feel your hair isn’t ready for all the processes necessary to return to the natural darker shades, you can always rock a more pastel/faded version of your brighter iteration. Regular trims and cuts will get you back to your natural self quicker than you might expect.