Do you dream of fantasy hair colors such as soft pastels or bold, bright pink, but worry the trend will fade? Turns out, the fashion hair color frenzy is growing stronger than ever!
Clients of all ages who never thought they could make the leap are now asking for lavender or silver hair. There’s just one problem: Most are totally clueless of the pastel-color process and the cost it can take to get there.
To help you embrace your inner Candy Land queen, I’ll break down the costs, how long it lasts, and what to expect in hopes of helping you decide if this season’s fashion hair color shades are a right fit for your lifestyle.
Trends Come Full Circle—With A Twist
Fashion hair colors have been around for a long time; anyone remember last decade’s cherry reds or Kool-Aid colors in the 90s?
Thanks to some great advancements in hair color formula, this new wave of fashion colors doesn’t limit your choices to popsicle shades. Now we can choose from pastels, metallics, and bolder brights. Additionally, they can be applied and blended with different techniques, such as ombre and balayage!
But, even advanced formulas can’t make achieving candy colors a simple process. As pretty and fun as these hair colors can be, there are some very particular and not-so-obvious difficulties associated with achieving them.
That’s one HUGE reason you shouldn’t just saunter into a salon for a fashion hair color application.
Instead, expect to go through a consultation and be sure you ask plenty of questions about the process. After all, pictures are pretty, but they’re not always realistic—be sure you have a clear understanding of what happens behind the chair.
You Need To Go Light, Before Applying Bright Colors
The first thing you should know about fashion colors is that most of them are not applied to brown hair.
Generally, your hair has to be pre-lightened—otherwise known as bleached—for these colors to appear as vibrant and clear as they appear in pictures. The lighter you want the fashion color, the more your existing color must be lifted first.
Keep in mind that if you are coming in with brown hair, it might take you a couple of appointments to get as light as needed before the fashion color can be applied! That’s what it means when you see a stylist write “Sessions required, results vary per client.” (And remember, that you’ll pay for each session separately.)
Here’s an example of what will happen if your hair color doesn’t get as light as required before applying the fashion color:
This hair wasn't done incorrectly, it is just an example that you can't always get the look you want in one appointment, during their next appointment the darker warmer tones would have been colored lighter. Remember hair appointments are booked for a certain amount of time so you can't always get every hair strand in that time. Unless you are going to a stylist who is booking out big time slots for each client but of course those time slots are very expensive and that's the way those stylists work.
If you don’t take the time to get your hair as light as needed before applying a fashion shade, the color underneath will still show through. The undesired shade won’t even be your natural color. Instead, you might find yourself battling with brassy tones.
This is important because, if you’re trying to achieve an ashy look, such as silver or lavender, you don’t want orangey tones coming through. Also, as the ashy color fades, it will appear even more orange.
That’s why any stylist should make sure you understand that it might take a couple of times to first lighten your hair before that ashy, gray and silver tone looks just right.
A word of warning: Not only should your stylist know these steps, but he or she should also very clearly inform you of what to expect during your consultation. If they fail to mention the above process, it might mean that they don’t do enough fashion colors to navigate the risks and achieve great results.
How Long Will It Take?
Fashion colors can take different amounts of time; it all depends on your current hair color, length, thickness, color history.
If you come in with a full foil with the goal of shifting your existing blonde pieces to be silver, then that’s just an all-over toner away. However, this is a best-case scenario that would depend on if the blonde in your hair is already very, very light.
If you come in with dark brown colored hair, and you want to be a pastel pink, your hair needs to be stripped, lightened (probably a couple of times). Then, hopefully, your stylist will recommend a treatment before proceeding any further. Finally, a pastel color will go on.
Again, remember that multi-step lightening can rarely ever be done in a single appointment! So, brunettes looking to go pastel will already have made several trips to the salon before even getting to their final shade.
What if you want more than just a solid pastel, and are hoping for a modern balayage with a rooty look, perhaps blending a couple of colors together?
It’s going to take EVEN LONGER.
An appointment like that will be called a color correction appointment. Those are usually charged by the hour or booked out for the full day! (Check out my article for more color correction information.)
I’m not saying it isn’t possible. However, how happy you are with the final results often depends on having a correct expectation of the process.
How Long Do Fashion Hair Colors Last?
This is the not-so-fun part: Fashion colors wash out at least a little bit with every wash, and in most cases they wash out a lot. Some can even fade almost completely in just a couple washes. The darker your color, the longer it will last.
Lots of your favorite bloggers that you see rocking vivid or pastel colors are most likely getting their hair touched up often, or they might be taking couple different photo shoots at once, then posting those pictures with that color for a few weeks in a row. This is why they’re called fashion colors: Because, like trends, they don’t stick around for too long.
Also, don’t forget their pictures could be photoshopped to enhance the color once it starts to fade. While doing so is a fine way to improve the appearance of a picture, it’s important to remember that photos rarely equal reality.
Finally, even if the color tube says permanent or long-lasting, that doesn’t mean that your hair will hold it permanently—or that it will last long on you. Every head of hair holds color differently, regardless of what the package says.
I’m sure that in the fine print of those packages, it says something else to protect the company in case those “long lasting fashion colors” fade in a few washes. However, if you find that one does last longer, consider yourself lucky and stick with that brand.
Remember That Every Stylist Has Their Specialty
So, your best bet is to go with someone who does those colors daily. Anyone can get lucky a couple of times. But, you’re better off spending your money on a stylist who knows how to work fashion colors to get the best results.
The Cost Of Fashion Colors
Like I mention above, this will all vary depending on your existing hair and what the stylist or salon is charging. The behavior of hair varies so much per person that each client could have a different price even in one salon.
Cost also depends on what inspiration pictures you bring with you, and how many sessions it will take you to achieve the look you want. For just a toner, it might be as little as $60-$120 and remember that's after you got your hair pre lightened or balayaged. However, in most cases you’ll pay much more than you expect—and it will wash out faster than you’d hoped.
Vivid Pastel Colors Are A High Fashion, High Maintenance Service
Some stylists that I follow on Instagram charge “starting” at $200 for fashion color applications. If you are wondering how is it even possible for a stylist to have prices just starting at $200 then check out my article “Why Professional Hairstylists Charge So Much.”
I Hope This Has Given You A Better Understanding Of What To Expect!
Please comment below if you want to know anything else regarding this topic, and hopeful another stylist can answer you too on here.
And don’t be shy—if you’ve had fashion colors done before, please let us know what your thoughts, costs, and your overall experience.
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