The first time I coloured my hair pastel pink, I felt like I had finally found the right shade to match my mischievous personality.
Like many of you, I have experimented with all sorts of colours over the years including a very light blonde, bright red and even a dark brunette. And while blonde is a good modus operandi for me in everyday life, when I want to turn it up a notch I go pastel.
These days, colouring your hair isn’t really such a big commitment anymore and pastel shades remain hugely popular. In fact, one of Tribe’s most read articles is an inspiration gallery for purple hair.
So, as someone who hits the (dye) bottle fairly frequently, I thought I tell you what I know about going pastel and share my top three places in London to entrust your hair to.
Disclaimer: I’m not a haircare professional, so please always consult your salon of choice to get the right result for your unique hair colouring and condition.
What’s the damage?
Pastel shades are created with toners, which, as far as I know, don’t really cause much damage to your hair. However, as with any colour treatment, most salons will insist you come in for an allergy patch test at least 48 hours before your appointment. Keep that in mind if you want your pastel hair for a specific event – you don’t want to get turned away from the salon on a day you want to look your best!
For any pastel colour to come out properly and also last, you need a blonde base. The first time I went pink, I hadn’t bleached my hair in a while and was a fairly dark honey shade. This resulted in having to have the toner applied twice over to make it visible to the naked eye and while I loved the outcome, it literally disappeared after one wash. The lighter your hair, the more intense and longer-lasting the pastel.
How long does it last?
Anywhere between one wash (sob) to six weeks, depending on how well your hair takes to the colour and how it was applied. I had the longest lasting result with Wella Professionals Instamatic by Color Touch products that were left to sink in for 45 minutes under heat, although this wasn’t exactly recommended by the instructions. It needs to be said though that I have only ever had these toners applied at the salon by trained professionals – please don’t go rogue when playing with DIY colour.
Depending on which colour and brand you go for, in my experience the colour starts out fairly rich and fades into lighter, baby pink hues over the course of a week or two. After three or four weeks it finally fades into a beautiful rose gold blonde. Keep this in mind if you want to go pastel for a special occasion; you might need to get your colour done a week or two before the event to reach the desired effect.
How do I get rid?
If you feel like you’ve had enough of the pastel, simply head back to the salon and ask them to put on a different toner. I had to go back to blonde a while ago for a family event and my hairdresser restored me to my original shade within 20 minutes.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary depending on how much colour prep (like highlights) your hair needs and if you want to combine different shades, but toners generally seem to start from around £20.
Where shall I go?
Finding a salon you can trust with your locks and knowing you will leave happy can sometimes feel like the quest for the holy grail! The three places below are all great recommendations for different reasons, but I have always come out happy with the result.
TiGi Bed Head Hair Space at Shoreditch Box Park
I popped my pastel cherry at this edgy but intimate salon in East London after meeting salon manager Gen at a press event. They created a lovely peachy-pink colour for me which changed intensity under different lighting, which meant it was fairly subtle during the day and more noticeable under bright, artificial bulbs.
Bleach London at Topshop Oxford Circus
Think rainbow hair, think Bleach. The salon’s Instagram account is a visual feast of quirky and cool colour combinations and has attracted celebrities like Lily Allen and East London hipsters alike. They now have three locations including the Dalston original, a Soho outpost in Berwick Street and the super busy Topshop branch, which is where I went. The colour came out as a rich berry pink and lasted several weeks but their reputation comes at a price, making Bleach the most expensive of the three salons. But, on the plus side, they offer DIY toners, shampoos and conditioners if you’re confident in going it alone.
Hob Salons in Camden
I have had my hair coloured at the Camden branch several times and always loved the outcome. Using the aforementioned Wella Instamatic products, the team mixed pink and lilac shades together for a stonewashed, slightly grungy My Little Pony effect. Watch the video below, which we filmed for Glam UK at Hob Salons’ Camden branch this April, for a thorough guide on going from blonde to pastel – or even take it to the salon with you!