Up until a few months ago, my whole style was centered on the bright-red hair color that my San Francisco-based hair stylist and I had nicknamed “Jessica-Rabbit Red.” I love being red but I was beginning a new life: moving to Los Angeles, starting a new job and writing a new book. It was time for a change. And so I bid adieu to Jessica Rabbit and hello to Jessica, my new L.A.-based stylist who would take me from red to a pastel-lilac-silvery pink we like to call “Crystal-Ball Unicorn.”
Perhaps you, too, have been bitten by the “crazy hair color” bug and are itching for a fresh look. You should totally do it! But before you do, make sure you’re down for all that comes with this wild beauty adventure.
1. You probably aren’t going to get the exact hair shade that you want.
Even if you do, it won’t last long (more on that later). Bring a photo of your ideal color and talk to your stylist. They know more about hair and chemistry than you do, so encourage them to be frank with you regarding what can be realistically accomplished in your first visit. Some hair colors, especially if you’re a brunette going pastel, can take a few sessions to get you to your desired shade.
2. Plan to go back to your stylist frequently, and enact a color-maintenance strategy for between visits.
With great hair color comes great responsibility. Slight departures from your normal hair color, such as a smattering of highlights, may fade out gracefully, but dramatic hair color requires upkeep to look on point. Luckily, bold and pastel hair colors are so popular right now that the market has exploded with pigment-infused conditioners and styling products that will keep your shade looking fresh.
3. With new color, your hair texture will change, and so must your cleansing, conditioning and hair-styling regimen.
I have been blessed with my mother’s thick, strong and straight Italian hair. At least, that was the case until I started getting it bleached and colored. The wear and tear of processing not only makes my hair more brittle and breakable, but also brought out its natural curl.
Though your hair might not change as much as mine did, you should expect to have to revise your current regimen. You will definitely need to invest in a very good hair treatment and conditioner, especially for the days immediately following your appointment. Your hair will need hydration and lots of tender love and care to help it bounce back.
P.S.: If you’re changing your hair color dramatically, you might want to adjust your makeup and fashion routine choices too. For example, certain colors look very different on a brunette than they do on someone with sky-blue locks.
4. Crazy hair color is crazy expensive.
You’re going to be investing a lot of money in your hair from this point forward. Not only are cut and color appointments more expensive (and longer), but you will need to drop cash on maintenance steps and new hair products. If you don’t have the extra funds right now, consider waiting until you do to make the change. Don’t sacrifice quality to save money—you’ll regret it if you do!
5. Your hair color is going to look differently from week to week and even day to day.
See the photos above? This is the cold and bitter truth behind pastel hair color. These snapshots were taken 5 weeks apart—between the morning after my appointment and more than a month later. My hairstylist has the reputation of being one of the best colorists at the top-rated salon in Los Angeles (though she’s too humble to say that herself), so this hair color is absolutely top-notch. Still, you can see the dramatic difference in color and texture over time. It’s important to note that I used a pigment-enhancing conditioner once, but then chose to allow the color to fade out to blonde. Had I continued to use the products more often, the fading would not be so dramatic.
The difference in lighting and angle in these photos is important to note too, because your hair is not going to look the same in every setting, especially with pastel colors. If you’re getting your hair done before a wedding or other special event, think about how much time will pass between your appointment and the big day. Talk to your stylist so they can adjust the pigment accordingly. And if you want the event photos to be just right, try some test photos in a staged environment to confirm your gentle-tangerine shade doesn’t photograph as construction-zone orange (unless that’s what you want)!