How-Tos > Styling > Graffiti Hair: From the Street to the Salon
Last updated: March 13, 2018

Graffiti Hair: From the Street to the Salon

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Graffiti Hair: From the Street to the Salon

Looking for a technique that allows you to be creative, even on your clients who can’t commit to permanent color? Then you’re about to be all over hair stenciling—it’s basically graffiti for hair. Two of the stylists leading the charge in the emerging trend are Janine Ker, a stylist at Salon Aguayo in Pasadena, Calif. and Jasmine Howard, of Salon Red in Atlanta, Ga. -KH


Janine, who has an extensive background in art, learned a basic version of stenciling a few years ago and has since become addicted, perfecting her technique for clients requesting unique looks for festivals and galas. “It’s a newer trend,” says Jasmine, “but it’s only a matter of time before it’s all over Pinterest.” Another reason to love hair stenciling? It’s so versatile. You can create different-colored highlights or a world of patterns. Here’s how it’s done.

Colorist: Janine Ker; Jasmine Howard


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    Choose a stencil design. You can work from a plastic, pre-made stencil (which can be purchased at craft stores), or make your own using heavy cardstock paper, a cutting board and a sharp X-Acto knife.


    note: When using alcohol-based color, such as Bumble and bumble’s spraychalk, use paper only if you plan on using the stencil once, Jasmine cautions. With multiple uses, the alcohol degrades the paper, causing it to tear.

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    If you’re inspired to create your own design, you can sketch it directly onto your stencil surface, or print out a design and firmly tape it to the surface. “If it’s an intricate design,” says Jasmine, “you may need to use several layers of stencils, especially if it’s a 3D shape.” 

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    Choose a color scheme, and pick up some shades! Janine is a big fan of Joico’sInstaTint. Jasmine loves Bumble and bumble spraychalk and Colorsmash Hair Shadow. “It depends on the look you’re going for,” says Jasmine. “Sometimes I use both!” 

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    Create a foundational hairstyle and secure with hairspray. This can be an updo, topknot, braids, twin buns or even leaving the hair down. 

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    Hold the stencil securely against the surface of the hair. (If you’re going for a more diffused look, hold the stencil away from the hair. This will also increase the size of the design.) When you’re starting out, have someone hold the stencil for you while you spray, especially if you want a sharp-looking design.