Experts reveal tips and tricks for temporarily colored hair - from light nuances to wash out to semi-permanent bright colors.
Colorful hair: The new "fantasy" hair color trend as a mood booster.
Overwhelmed by the camp fever? Are you longing for a change? Temporary "fantasy" hair color can help.
"If you're craving a change at the start of the new year but don't want to commit to a permanent color, a temporary or semi-permanent color is a great way to experiment," said Alex Brownsell, co-founder and creative director of UK salon Bleach London. And what's more: a touch of livelier or fantasy color will not only remix your look, it will also make you feel like you were 17 again. "During the lockdown, people bleached and colored their hair on their own like a desperate teenager in the bathroom," explains Douglas Cornwall, Master Colorist at Treehouse Social Club. "In the zoom-based realities that have replaced many works and school areas, there are no longer any restrictions on appearance. That feeling of freedom has sparked the desire to be colorful while the rest of the world is gloomy."
Whether you are looking for a new "fantasy" color or, as Cornwall puts it, in "one-day fantasy" mode, here is the guide from an expert in temporary bright colors at home.
In general, there are two main categories: temporary hair colors, which come in many forms, from gels to conditioning masks, and semi-permanent hair colors. "Temporary colors are the colors that wash in and out quickly and fade after a few washes," explains Brownsell. "Semi-permanent dyes are less maintenance-intensive and last around six to eight weeks, depending on the vibrancy of the color you choose, how often you wash your hair, and the condition and porosity of your hair." For beginners, direct dyes are easier to understand because typically "what's in the bowl looks like what's going to be in the hair," says Cornwall, adding that another benefit is that they are often with Maintenance and shine products are formulated as well as with a base color that adds a "smoky or dusty element" to give a more lively feel.
If you want to take a less risky approach, consider henna hair dyes or softer, pre-diluted tints and color sets. You can also spice up your hair conditioner. "Putting a drop of your chosen direct dye in a bowl of regular hair conditioner is a great way to feel your way," says Cornwall. "It will dilute the intensity and give a gentle touch of the tone." For those who are a little shy, Brownsell recommends trying a pastel semi-permanent dye (Bleach London's Rosé and Awkward Peach are the most popular) or a coloring shampoo for more subtle results.
As a rule of thumb, the lighter your hair, the lighter and more vibrant the color will be, i.e. a strong color is easier to achieve for blondes than for brunettes, red-haired or black-haired people. "For semi-permanent light and pastel shades, you need to apply the color to a light, bleached blonde," explains Brownsell. "If you have dark or untreated hair, these colors will not develop true to color or will not show at all. You must first lighten the hair with bleach and then treat it with toner to create the perfect canvas for the color."
For those new to dyeing, Bleach London has comprehensive home-use guides that will help decipher the process and keep hair safe from damage. This is especially important for curly and wavy hair, which is more delicate and therefore more prone to the drying effects of bleach. If you don't want to bleach your hair, there are a number of products that can help get you started with what you have. "For a long time, only bleached heads or natural blondes could play in the realm of fantasy colors, but some brands like Overtone offer colors that have been specially developed for brown and dark hair," explains Cornwall. "Deep purple for brown hair and orange for brown hair are two epic hues to give a shot if you get nervous about putting bleach on your hair."
Think of your base color as the foundation of your bottom line. "It's like a fabulous canvas that you can put anything and everything on, much like makeup on beautiful skin," says Cornwall. When choosing a color for a client, he considers which colors and tones will most flatter her skin and eyes. "A shade of pink with lavender makes blue eyes look seductive, while a sunset pink adds a touch of warmth to the skin, like your personal golden hour filter," explains Cornwall. For a more natural effect, a popular trick at Bleach London Salon is to use a touch of gold color, like that of Bleach London's "Just Like Honey Super Cool Color", with a dye to create a more diffuse, filter-like effect. "When used on its own, 'Just Like Honey' creates a soft golden color on blondes, but you can try mixing 1 part of 'Awkward Peach' with 3 parts of it for a subtle peach-colored filter on blonde hair", says Brownsell. Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a shade is that warm colors (pink, red, orange, yellow) fade better and faster, while cool colors (blue, green, purple) last longer.
While it's natural to be scared, you don't need to! Remember: it's not forever! "Even with temporary hair colors, people fear that it will always get aggressively light and punky," Cornwall explains, noting that a number of brands have toned down direct hues into sophisticated blends. "You can wear these tones in any setting and with any outfit, from jeans to evening dresses," says Cornwall. "They almost mirror the naturally occurring hues of gemstones."
After using a semi-permanent dye, you'll want to keep your color as bright and saturated as possible. The most effective way to do this is by using color-safe hair products. "As with all sensitive hair colors, the detergents in your shampoo are to blame for the fading of the pigments," explains Cornwall, who recommends that customers avoid harsher, foamy products and opt for a natural hair cleanser, such as Hair Cleanse Shampoo "from Act & Acre that effectively removes dirt and grime and keeps soft tones intact. Another thing to keep in mind is that water can also degrade hair color, and reducing the number of washes will help lengthen the color. "You would be amazed what a simple chlorine filter in the shower can do for your hair and skin," says Cornwall. "I recommend this especially for older buildings or wherever the water is heavily mineralized." Another important step for Brownsell is tinting the hair color to get rid of the brass sheen - especially on naturally blonde or bleached hair. "Even if you already have a light or bleached blonde, the tint removes brass or yellow tones to create a clean blonde for your color," she explains. "If your blonde has a lot of warmth in it, the undertones turn pinks into peaches or add a shade of green to blues and purples."
If things don't go perfectly, don't get discouraged and stick with it. As Cornwall puts it, "There's this notion of rebellion associated with supernatural hair colors, and a certain amount of self-awareness comes with that spirit. We all love a rebel!"