3 Tips for Picture-Perfect Pastels


I’ll be the first to admit that I live by a “work smarter not harder” approach. If there is an easy way to do something, I will do it. But, when my clients ask me for vibrant pastel rainbow haircolors, there really isn't an easy way to do it. Creating any sort of vibrant color requires a lot of preparation and planning. The hair typically needs to be pre-lightened and toned, and then custom formulas are mixed to achieve the desired end result. This is A LOT of work, but the end results are always worth the effort. Here are a few of my top tips for achieving the best vibrant and pastel colors in the most straight-forward way possible.

Pre-Lighten the Hair Meticulously. Carefully lightening the hair to its lightest possible shade is necessary to achieve the most vibrant results with your fashion shades. The biggest mistake we can make in application is not fully saturating each section. I recommend taking ¼” subsections and laying the lightener on it heavily, almost as if we were icing a cake. This will ensure each section lifts clean and fully before moving forward with toner. In a pinch, you can wrap sections of the hair with plastic to keep the product from drying out so it can lighten the hair further.

Tone Out the Yellow. Once the hair has been lightened, selecting the correct toner to neutralize the remaining yellow will help create a cleaner canvas for your fashion shades. There are two things that can go wrong in this step. The most common is selecting a toning shade that is darker than the lifted hair. This will ruin all your previous work by depositing too much color in to your canvas, ultimately making it harder to achieve pastel results. The second thing is if the toner selected is too ashy. Sometimes we go for a more blue based toner, believing it is stronger and will achieve an icier result. What actually happens is the blue base mixes with the very light yellow in the hair to create an ashy green canvas. Now, any of your warm colors or red tones will be fighting against the ash base and will not be as vibrant as planned. Try using REDKEN Shades EQ Gloss to tone. Shades EQ Gloss has a clear shade to dilute the lighter violet tones and maintain brightness while cancelling out yellow in light blonde hair.

Keep It Healthy. There is nothing worse to a hairdresser than seeing beautiful haircolor on extremely damaged hair. No color is going to look its best unless it’s applied to a healthy canvas, so make sure to treat clients' hair with care throughout the coloring process. One of my favorite lighteners for extreme lift with minimal damage is REDKEN Flash Lift Bonder Inside. This lightener is formulated with a bond-protecting additive so you can achieve the maximum amount of lift without sacrificing the hair’s integrity. Additionally, treat the hair with REDKEN Extreme Chemistry Shots between every chemical to strengthen the bonds even further and promote a long lasting, healthy looking color.