Your Complete Guide To Pastel Haircolor
Pastel Haircolor 101: Everything You Need To Know About The Process
We wish giving clients their dream pastel shade could be as easy as saying no to weeknight plans—and sometimes it is! But in reality, achieving a barely-there hue is a process just like an other haircolor application. So we’re here to break down the journey to pastels with the help of BTC Team Members and Insta-famous pastel colorists. From discussing longevity during the consultation and neutralizing stubborn pigments to choosing a color and at-home care, here’s your complete guide to pastel haircolor!
What To Discuss In The Consultation
Here’s the thing about pastels: Most clients don’t know just how quickly they fade. So to avoid disappointment, be clear from the start about the longevity and maintenance involved. After assessing her client’s hair and talking about its history, Megan Schipani (@shmeggsandbaconn) will ask, “What’s more important—longevity or having that color when you leave today? Would you rather have something low-maintenance or something that you have to maintain at home?”
If You Can Sense Some Hesitation…
Mike and Melody Lowenstein (@rossmichaelssalon) have two solutions that can help!
- If a client already has dimensional hair with some bright blonde pieces, apply a rose gold overlay. It’ll last just long enough to give her a taste of pastel and should help decide if it’s what she really wants.
- If you want to skip a color application all together, opt for something quicker. “We keep probably 20 to 30 custom colored tape-in extensions here,” shares Mike. “So I can take 5 minutes and put two or three locks of pastel color on the underneath side of their hair if they want to give it a try. It’s totally noncommittal.”
Start With A Clean Canvas
Depending on the client’s starting level, it may take multiple sessions to achieve their desired pastel tone: one for lightening and one for color. For Kenra Professional Platform Educator Cassie Siskovic (@cassiskovic), the lightening session includes prelightening AND pre-toning in order to achieve a clean, Level 9/10 canvas:
- Cassie’s prelightening motto is low & slow. She typically works with 20-volume developer but she’ll go as high as 30-volume developer for clients with preexisting pigment.
- Then, she’ll pre-tone with Kenra Color Express Tones VP + SV to remove any underlying pigment and to neutralize unwanted warmth.
Let’s Talk About Pre-Toning
We’ll let you in on a little secret: You don’t always have to pre-tone. It depends on the client, their hair and their desired pastel shade. But Megan says she usually pre-tones for cooler shades and leaves the hair un-toned for warmer shades. “I personally like to work with the underlying tones because I think that if you work with what’s there and you enhance it, it tends to fade out prettier,” she shares. More on that later in the article! 😉
Neutralizing Fashion Colors
For clients who want to transition from one fashion color to another, you don’t need to worry about warmth and yellow tones. You’re going to have your hands full trying to neutralize stubborn pigments like blue and green, which you can easily do with the help of color-depositing shampoo.
- When getting rid of green, Kristina Cheeseman (@kristinacheeseman) will rinse with Tressa Watercolors Intense Shampoo Rose Gold and then she’ll go in with a direct dye remover if needed.
- When removing blue tones, Kristina will rinse with Watercolors Intense Shampoo Pink to neutralize and then she’ll have the client rock a wearable purple tone for a bit. Why? Because purple fades much nicer than blue.
- If a client has faded pink strands and wants something new, Jeffrey Robert (@jeffreyrobert_) will do one of two things: Rinse with Watercolors Intense Shampoo Green to create a warm champagne blonde OR rinse with Watercolors Intense Shampoo Silver + a few drops of Watercolors Intense Shampoo Green to neutralize.
Choosing A Color
Of course, picking a pastel shade depends on what the client wants. And if her hair perfectly lifts to a Level 9/10, you have the creative freedom to give her any color. But if she doesn’t, here are some solutions Megan recommends:
- If she reaches a yellow Level 9/10, either pre-tone so you have a clean canvas or work with the warmth and stick to colors like pink, orange or yellow to ensure a nice fade.
- “There’s going to be situations where you can’t lift your client’s hair that light because of previous color or because of the health of the hair, so in those situations what I like to do is usually offer a darker shade of that color,” shares Megan.
- If her hair won’t lift past a Level 8, avoid shades of blue and green. The hair will have a ton of yellow in it and when mixed with blue or green, the fade will be super unflattering. Stick to warm colors, book another lightening session or go with a more vibrant color and let it fade.
- If she wants something more wearable, lavender or pastel pink would be her best options. Both fade to a really pretty blonde AND Megan says shades of pink are universally flattering.
Note: Linh Phan (@bescene) says he likes to create pastels with Schwarzkopf Professional IGORA ROYAL because permanent haircolor lets him tweak the formulas to the exact shade of pastel he’s aiming for, giving him more control when formulating and applying. “I also love the way the permanent pastel shades fade,” he shares.
Maintaining A Pastel Hue
The journey to pastel doesn’t end at the salon. At-home care is just as important if she wants to extend the life of her haircolor so Megan says to either create your own mix of conditioner and direct dye or send her home with a color-extending product like Joico Color Butter, Aloxxi InstaBoost, Paul Mitchell Color Craft™, Watercolors Intense Shampoo, Celeb Luxury® Viral Colorwash or oVertone Coloring Conditioner.
Better yet, give her a kit like Mike and Melody! Not only do they send clients home with a list of tips for proper care, but they also include PRAVANA’s Intense Therapy Lightweight Healing Regimen Cleanse Shampoo, Intense Therapy Lightweight Healing Regimen Nourish Conditioner and Intense Therapy Lightweight Regimen Treat Masque. AND they tie the cost of the haircare kit into the final price!