I got stuck in the world of loving vivid hair
Vivid hairstyles, also known as fashion colors, unicorn hair, crazy rainbow hair, and many, many other terms I’ve heard used. To start my love for this new world, I started by asking my fellow hairstylist Tanya Hawkins about dying my hair bright and funky colors. It all started at our previous salon in downtown Madison, WI…
Tanya specializes in many specialty and vivid colors(being a skilled colorist this makes sense), which are all the rage right now, and I got hooked, always working with her on what color was next for one of our after hours, late night hair sessions. From hot pink, to mermaid blues & violets, very briefly back to a ‘natural’ shade of blonde, rose gold, back to hot pink, and currently working towards a shade of a “berry good” blend of purple, and rosy peach, I’m hooked on having wild colored hair. However, because many of my clients and even I fell into it (not on purpose, but it is so addicting), there was some things I didn’t exactly know ahead of time that would have saved both me and my clients. So I asked Tanya, along with some other hair stylists we’ve had the pleasure working with, what clients typically don’t know when they come in wanting fashion colored hair. So if you’ve been thinking about diving into a full rainbow of color choices, get your notebook out we have some important topics to cover.
Why is rainbow hair color different?
To start, let’s go over what makes rainbow hair color unlike more natural shades you’d get your hair colored at any salon or maybe even in a box. According to Tanya’s words, to get vivid, bright, loud, or any combo of the rainbow hair color, you need to go through a different type of process from traditional hair color. Let this serve as a warning: additional steps and care are required!
For vivid hair colors to achieve bests results, it is best on to start on lighter hair, bleached blonde, pre-lit, lightened, pre-lightened or however you’d like to describe “very light hair color.” This is where many people who attempt to become a beautiful rainbow at home, make mistakes and/or ruin their hair. Luckily, there are some products that can make the lightening process safer, like Blank Canvas by Pulp Riot, which are truly only available through a licensed professional. At #MMCstyle Salon in Madison, we take the learning process seriously and our process will be done safely with a professional who has had the right training and continues to attend classes to extend the abilities. You may be saying “WHAT?! this is the greatest insurance policy ever” and you’d be right to do so, we take the worry and hassle off your hands.
However, more the just starting with a light hair color base, vivid colors are semi-permanent, which means they sit just at the surface of the hair. In addition to starting correctly, using proper hair care products applied correctly in the first place is so incredibly important! If you don’t start correctly, you will be washing your hair color down the drain along with more money to fix it, which leads us to our next topic…
It costs more
Oops, I spend much more on my hair since I started doing vivid colors than I spent on it before, but it’s for a tremendously good reason in my biased opinion. The time it takes to apply vivid colors is longer and takes expertise. “Lightening properly takes time and care,” Tanya agrees. “Not overlapping where bleach has already been applied in the past is also important to the health of your hair to help prevent damage and breakage.”
Typically, a few shades are used to add depth and dimension so that the end result doesn’t look flat or amateurish,” Tanya explained (another good reason to see a professional). “Placement takes thought and precision.” All in all, the vivid hair colors usually take a little longer overall and especially if you’re going for a layered look, more than one color, balayage, ombré, etc.
While vivid colors will cost more than your typical hair color, they don’t have to be outrageous and it all depends on your hair when you walk in for your appointment or can be discussed during your consultation prior to your appointment. When your hair is already light, their is the possibility of skipping the lightening process. If your hair is already dyed, on the other hand, Tanya said “you are looking at multiple visits to lighten your hair and then achieve the rainbow you desire. In some cases if the guest’s hair is box dyed at home we take even more time to lighten the hair since box color is harder to remove and the results from a lightening session cannot be guaranteed.” Seriously, in this situation, before your hair gets any further damage, leave it to the pros, judgement free and here to help…plus at #MMCstyle Salon, we don’t mind a challenge.BOOK CONSULTATION
Get used to cold showers
The best way to save on your vivid color hairstyles staying bright and lasting much longer is to use cold water in the shower. We admit, it’s not the most fun, but it if you can use the cold water on your hair and then switch over…well lets just say this one takes a little practice but can pay off decent dividends, allowing you to stretch your appointments out a little further.
Warm water opens the hair’s cuticle, or top layer, and since vivid colors sits on top of the hair the more you blast that cuticle open with hot water the more color is also removed. Both Tanya and I stand firmly behind a great conditioning regimen to all our clients to help their colors last. Use conditioner and cool water as much as you like and try to use a shampoo much less, only a few (2) times tops during the week, you can still scrub your scalp with the conditioner to loosen grime and grease but it strips the color less and the cold water helps to keep the cuticle closed.
Tanya added that when you do shampoo, make sure to use one that is sulfate free and added that it’s important to “nourish the hair before and after the service. Rebuild the hair before you destroy it and once it has been damaged by a service, make sure you try to bring it back to good health with a good shampoo and conditioning regime.”
Some colors fade quickly
When I had my blue tips, it seemed like they faded way faster than my pink fades now. While I thought it might have been attributed to dry ends losing color faster, now that I have some new Deviant Purple from Pulp Riot in my hair now, I’ve was curious, will the new purple fade faster than some of the placed in. I asked Tanya, if she thought I’m crazy for asking.
Tanya reminded me “It all depends on the base of the color,” she said. “Colors like deeper pink or magenta usually have a red base which means they stain the hair more and hold longer. I would say deeper colors always last longer.” She told me that for Pulp Riot (the brand of vivid color she uses on my hair) they say that their darker jewel tones last up to 40 shampoos, whereas pastels last up to 20. “This all depends on the health of the hair,” Tanya cautioned. “And includes every time you rinse and do a conditioning cleanse.”
Tanya also noted that the way you’ve treated your hair in the past can impact fading. “If you are someone who has bleached your hair a lot, your color will also bleed out fast, so it will go from vivid to dull very quickly,” she said. It all boiled down to another 2020 reminder of even I, Mallory Cook, need to pay attention to my hair regimen.
Colors may last longer in winter
When winter rolls around, especially if you live somewhere like Madison, Wisconsin, you may notice that your vivid colors are lasting longer. No, I don’t mean because you can go longer without washing your hair since you’ll be wearing badger stocking hats and cheeseheads everywhere, including deep into to the playoffs hopefully (but there is that).
One of the things I always anticipated, but didn’t pay enough attention to, was how much impact the sun would have on my hair! Of course, I know that my hair lightens in the summer to give way to natural highlights, if and when I get out in the summer, but from summers past, I can attest I’ve come home with some extra blonde streaks in place of some of my pink and then I certainly realized just how powerful the sun is. That’s one reason (maybe the only reason) I’m looking forward to winter with shorter days and a weaker sun. This is, luckily, another one that’s not totally in my head.
As hairstylists, we definitely notice when the sun fades color faster, but using a leave in conditioner before exposure helps maintain the color better. Please be aware or pre-book more frequent color touch ups if you plan on being out in the sun a lot!
It’s time to give up white sheets and towels
This one’s pretty straightforward, but it’s worth mentioning because you really only think about it once it’s happened to you. Just like your hair will fade in the sun and water, it will rub off over time. With this in mind, you probably don’t want to spend your evenings on white sheets or dry off with white towels when your hair is pink or blue.
Tanya told me, “I always warn my clients but sometimes they tell me they have permanently pink pillow cases.” And this, my friends, is why when on vacation, I may be the one bringing my own pillowcase from home, usually placed nicely around my own pillow too of course.
It’s possible to keep your hair healthy
Lightening can certainly be hard on your hair over time, there are ways to maintain the health of your hair and your wallet, too. “If you treat your hair nicely at home, use the right products, etc. most of our mermaid clients come in for a lightening session at 8-12 weeks (which is typical of natural colors),” Tanya backs me up on. Also, in between appointments, many of our clients will schedule a vivid hair color refresh, where we can apply the fun colors over their hair as is and do not lighten. I can personally attest to this method as it’s what I’ve been doing as well (someone remind me after this that I’m due for a refresh).
Another option, if you don’t need your hair totally lightened and just want to remove some of your current color, is to use a color remover to remove old vivid’s. Tanya and I did this once on my hair when I wasn’t quite due for lightening, but when my color had faded more than usual and we wanted to “prep the canvas” a bit before adding the next round of vivid color. After using the color remover and adding another round of vivid colors, my hair color was more vibrant than if we had just layered fresh vivid’s on top, but I avoided the damage of bleaching again too soon. Not to crush over the point, but this is why seeing a professional is so useful, even to someone that may think they can do it just as well themselves.
Not all brands of color are created equal
“But wait,” I can hear you saying, “Why can’t I just go to my nearest beauty supply store and buy the same fun colors?” Aside from the issue of lightening the hair first, the kinds of colors available to the average consumer aren’t the same as what you’ll get in a salon. Higher quality salon brands use the best ingredients with the safest standards. They don’t stain the hair as much and are more naturally derived. They also are removed more easily and last longer. Cheaper brands often use metallic dyes which are more harsh on the hair and can be difficult to remove. Add many different allergic reactions possible to the mix and you’ll derive quickly to the answer that professional grade products are just plain better for you, along with being vegan, gluten-free and animal cruelty-free.
Why does removal matter? With vivid hair color it’s what you see is what you get. I always here Tanya explain, If someone’s hair is green and they want to change to red the stylist needs to think back to the color wheel and work with the pigment they see. Do you feel confident enough with your color wheel skills to alter the pigment in your hair appropriately when you want a change? I do, because I’m quite confident in my skills, but the many conversations between us both along with years of experience fixing issues always leads us down the road of at home coloring doesn’t make one feel very confident, so why worry?
Not all stylists are created equal
You want any specialist you see to be on the cutting edge of their craft, and vivid colors require just that. That’s why it’s important to choose a stylist who is continuing to learn. “It’s super important because in any fashion and beauty industry there are constantly new trends and styles,” Tanya said. Tanya and the rest of our hairstylists at #MMCstyle Salon attend formal education through our distributors and here at the salon along the color brands we use and their direct education in person and online. I also attend classes and seminars on my own, along with going to industry hair show on both coasts along with Chicago. The internet, and social media sites like Instagram in particular are changing the game, but also making it a little scary for just anyone to attempt a “how to” video, which we all agree shouldn’t be done for hair color, leave the “how to’s” to at home styling ideas.
However, before you could get education from attending a class from a product company where usually they just push their brand and their methods. Or by continually going to a huge show where there was little to no interaction with the other artists and more sales reps. Now most of the classes we schedule and attend we host or have fewer attendees, which makes for an intimate environment where we can all share from personal experience and learn new techniques.
Choose to go to an artist that is experienced and certified with the color line that they use in the salon so you know you are having someone work on you that knows the product line very well to avoid unnecessary damage and processes and will have your hair’s health in mind.
It’s addictive at every age
There’s just something about the way vivid colors make me feel the most like myself. It’s why I keep going back for more (and trying new colors). And I’m not the only person who has become addicted to fun, bright colored hair. Tanya said, “It’s super addictive. Once you get a taste and you realize how fun and low commitment it can be, you just keep wanting more. I have had many clients who start off wanting just some peek-a-boos underneath their hair, or even a single piece. And many of these guests are now full heads of vivids and have been for years.”
And if you think that vivid haircolor is just for young women (or those going through a midlife crisis), think again! I have had clients as young as 10 and my oldest over 80. Some switch it up every time, others have a signature shade, and most frequently me and my client will come up with a plan for transitioning their color every few months in order for them to get the best possible results when making a change and the most “oohs and ahhs.”
This trend isn’t going anywhere and it is becoming more acceptable to have these vivid hair tones in your hair! It can be so beautiful on people, the way the different color tones look against their eyes and skin. Trying on all different shades can be empowering and beautiful! If you’re in doubt, theirs no pressure, schedule a consultation, come in relax and we’ll come up with a plan unique to you and only you!
Join the unicorn club
If you’re looking for a change, either because you’re nearing one of those scary milestone birthdays or you’re just ready to try something new, vivid hair is a really fantastic option. It’s a collaborative process between you and whatever stylist you choose, so make sure you choose a good one (I count myself very lucky to have found Tanya as fortuitously as I did and super excited to have her working at the salon).
Each session really is like creating a work of art together. We talk about the long-term direction of my hair, where I’m hoping we can go in that day’s session, and then she takes my ideas and turns them into a vision, then turns that vision into reality, all while I coast through my phone or flip through magazines and Instagram pictures. It’s such an easy way to put a new spin on your look, make a dramatic bold statement, and express your personality. Plus, it’s a lot less permanent than getting a tattoo. So go ahead, join the vivid unicorn, mermaid, rainbow, etc hair club. It’s a lot of fun over here. Book Online Today.
WARNING – These looks “MAY” take 6+Hours, Multiple Stylists, Multiple Trips (or any combo of)
A few examples of what can be created and what you may envision…however, these are not made at home, not done quickly, not out of a box and all were perfectly taken pictures. At #MMCstyle Salon, we will create the right hair color style for your lifestyle, complete without filters.BOOK CONSULTATION