Pastel hair, more flair. Once reserved for runway models and pop stars, this sweet, sweet fantasy hair color trend has gone mainstream. And regardless of whether you’d sport a whole unicorn mane or just a few pastel pieces here and there, you might be considering how baby blue, pale pink, or cool lavender hair could transform your look. We’re all for fashion shades, but one thing they are not is low-maintenance. So here’s what you need to know after you’ve started pinning candy-colored #hairinspo…but before you call your colorist.

Pastel Hair Tips & Tricks

  1. Make an appointment with a professional.
    Coloring your own hair is great if you’re after, say, auburn. Mermaid locks are a little more complicated, and the multi-step process fashion shades require should not be attempted at home. Because you’ll almost certainly need to bleach your hair before your pastel hair color is even applied, it’s best to consult a colorist and share your vision with them first.
  2. Expect to book multiple sessions.
    The easiest type of hair to take pastel? Naturally blonde hair that has never been colored. The hardest? Dark, color-treated strands. But either way, pastel hair is a process, so clear your afternoon and don’t expect results from a single visit. Your colorist will likely lighten your hair, see how much color has lifted, and go from there. If your hair is already light, it may be possible to get pastel hair in one appointment…we’re talking one 4-6 hour appointment.
  3. What you see isn’t necessarily what you get.
    That color you see in the bottle? Not what it’s going to look like on your head. When you visit your colorist, be very specific about the shade you’re looking for. If you request a cotton candy pink, don’t be surprised if they reach for a darker-looking hue. The color will appear lighter in your hair than it will in the tube or bowl.woman with pastel hair colors
  4. Start with just an accent of color.
    Before you make your way up to unicorn hair, make sure you actually have an appetite for the candy-colored locks trend. The best way to do that is to start small. Try adding color to just your ends, or a couple of pieces here and there to see how you like it. The fun part is that once those strands have been bleached, it’s much easier to experiment with different pastel colors to find your favorite.
  5. The upkeep is real.
    Since pastel colors fade more quickly than natural-looking colors, you can expect to put major effort—time and money—into this high-maintenance look. You’ll likely be visiting your colorist at least once every six weeks for a touch up. Since bleaching your hair makes it more prone to breakage and split ends, regular trims will also help keep your look fresh. At home, you’ll want to use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, though it’s best to wash your hair as infrequently as possible (1-2 times a week, max), with a final rinse under cold water to seal in your fashion shade as much as possible. And put away your hot tools away for now—even when used sparingly, they can be overly damaging.woman using sulfate-free conditioner for her pastel hair
  6. Match your conditioner to your hair.
    To help maintain pastel hair at home, ask your stylist to mix a little of your color into a moisturizing conditioner. You can apply the tinted conditioner as a mask or leave-in treatment to refresh your color. Or, find a colored conditioner that closely matches your shade to keep your locks looking vibrant and healthy. But if you aren’t a fan of regular salon visits, you may want to sit this trend out.
  7. Replace white towels and pillowcases.
    If you love fluffy white towels and crisp white bedsheets, pastel hair is not for you. Expect your newly-vibrant hair to bleed and transfer color the first few times after you shower. Wrap your hair in a dark towel, don’t wear white tees, and invest in some black or navy pillowcases.

Have you tried the pastel hair color trend? If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, which color would you choose?