Muted Pastels Are Here To Stay—Here's What You Need to Know

(Ross Michaels Salon)

You've likely seen the photos all over your Instagram feed lately—a sharp contrast to the vibrant and vivid colors that were on trend only a few months ago, pale pastels are now the style du jour. The gentle variations are a bit more palatable to your conservative clients and a refreshing change to the rainbow of colors we're used to seeing, but they're also a bit more difficult to achieve. 

Melody and Michael Lowenstein, the owners and founders of Ross Michaels Salon Bremerton, WA, have, in some ways, pioneered the current pale pastel trend. With 50,000 followers on Instagram, the power duo has been sharing different variations of pastels for quite some time, but recently gained viral recognition for a look they called Hollywood Opal

"We think it has to do with the ‘wearability’ of the colors in today’s market," Michael says. "No matter what job or industry you’re in, you can get away with wearing a little pastel in your hair." Although muted pastels are a bit more practical than bold vivids, achieving the perfect shade requires a lot of work. "These colors are 100 percent dependent on getting the hair light enough, and we think this is where a lot of stylists struggle," Melody says. 

Unlike vibrant shades, the canvas for a pale pastel has to be a level 10, otherwise you run the risk of too much warmth. "You can’t just settle for a level 9 for sheer pastels, and if you do, you'll have to go deeper in your formula to compensate for the warmth," Michael says. But pre-lightening is just the beginning of a rather tedious project. "The next step is toning," Melody says. "We like to create a sheer lavender or silver foundation to put our pastel palette on top of." 

Last but not least is color placement, and both Melody and Michael prefer a freehand technique. "We like to approach our applications from an organic and free place. We truly believe that this is the best way to achieve something extra," says Michael

The pair's biggest piece of advice for stylists looking to experiment in the pastel realm? "Focus on achieving a true platinum level 10, and perfect that first. Once the stylist achieves the perfect canvas, the application of pastel color palettes can truly become art," Melody says.