Have you ever wanted to look like a mermaid, unicorn, bubble gum princess, or… you get the point. Pastel hair colors have been all the rage lately. I have always wanted a pastel hair color but have never really been at a job or place in my life where I felt like I could do it, until now. So I took the plunge and decided to dye my hair purple – at home, all by myself!
Want to learn how to get pastel hair?
It’s not an especially easy task by any means but getting pastel hair at home IS doable, under the right circumstances.If you want pastel hair, don’t want to spend tons of money in a salon, and are comfortable dying your hair at home, this post is for you!
Before we start, I need to clarify 3 things:
#1: I am NOT a licensed hair stylist, and I did not go to school for cosmetology. BUT, I did work at a salon distributor store for 5 years (a store that sells salons their supplies at wholesale) and while working there I learned a lot about hair color. I’ve been doing my own hair and many of my friends hair for years. If dying your hair is not something you’re comfortable with, I definitely suggest consulting your hair stylist.
#2: When I started this process, my hair was almost 100% VIRGIN hair, this means all previous dye has been grown out. Bleaching hair that has been previously dyed can be extremely damaging, and I do not recommend doing it on your own, if at all. My hair did have highlights in it at the time of bleaching it to get pastel hair, but that is okay because the highlights were achieved with bleach, which is the same thing I was doing. If you’ve dyed your hair a darker color: brown, black, reds, that’s what you want to stay away from if you plan on bleaching your hair.
#3: If your hair is dark, do not expect to be able to have the pastel hair color you desire right away. I started out with medium-dark brown hair, and achieving pastel hair took two rounds of bleaching, toning, and coloring, spread out about a month apart to give my hair some time to cool off in between.
Some background knowledge you’ll need before bleaching your hair:
We’re going to take things back to the basic color wheel. Hair color is an art, and when using hair dye, as with paint, we need to think of the color wheel.
Use complimentary colors when choosing your toner
I’m not going to get into the specifics of it, but what you really need to keep in mind here is complimentary colors. Complimentary colors are opposite of each other on the color wheel, create a neutral tone when mixed, and are used to “cancel” each other out. Have you seen people use green concealer to cancel out redness on their face? Same philosophy when it comes to hair dye.
Often when lightening dark hair, it will lift with orange or yellow tones when bleached. Usually when my hair is really dark, it will lift to have really brassy, orange tones. The lighter it gets, it lifts more yellow.
So to achieve purple, lavendar, or lilac hair, you need to get the yellow out. How do you do this? Violet toner. If you don’t get all the yellow out of your hair, it won’t turn out completely pastel purple and might look muddy or a little green in some places.
The first round of bleaching my hair starting out a medium-dark brown, I used a mixture of blue toner and violet toner because it was still a little orange-y. After that I only used violet toner.
Typically, when I do my own hair I only like to use professional products. Since I don’t work in a salon distributor store anymore and I don’t have a cosmetology license, I don’t have access to them, BUT you can get some professional products on Amazon, for retail price. This includes the color line that was always my favorite, Schwarzkopf Professional. I jumped for joy when I found out this stuff is on Amazon.
Here’s what you will need:
I swear by Schwarzkopf Blondme. It lifts up to 9 levels and has bond enforcers in it so it helps to prevent your hair from getting damaged. This stuff is seriously amazing.
Developer for the bleach:
Schwarzkopf Blondme 30 volume premium developer. I used 40 volume which you will see in the picture, but I do not recommend using 40 volume unless you have experience bleaching your hair and know what you’re doing.
The higher the volume, the higher amount of hydrogen peroxide it contains and the more it will open up your cuticle to lift your hair lighter. 40 volume and above process your hair faster and without careful monitoring can easily damage your hair.
Schwarzkopf Blondme Toner, in Lilac or Steel Blue, depending on your current hair color and how it lifts. (refer to background knowledge section above with the pretty color wheel)
The first round I wanted a little more of a smokey lilac, so I used Schwarzkopf Igora Royal Absolutes in Grey Lilac, as shown below. My hair is medium-long and I usually need 2-3 tubes.
The second round of bleaching and dying my hair, I decided I wanted a little more purple. So I added some Igora Royal 0-99, a violet concentrate, and Igora Royal 0-11, a blue ash concentrate. You don’t need a ton of additives since they are more concentrated. I used 1/2 tube of 0-11 and 1/4 tube of 0-99 per each full tube of grey lilac.
Developer for the color:
Follow the instructions on the tube but I usually use either 10 volume or 20 volume developer for color like this.
The typical hair dying tools:
Gloves, Cape, Color bowl, Color brush, Clips to section hair. Everything you need comes in this kit on Amazon. You don’t need anything fancy for this stuff, cheap will do. (I’ve even used a garbage bag as a cape when I couldn’t find mine, yeah I know I’m a hot mess)
Violet shampoo and conditioner:
Violet shampoo helps keep the yellow out of blonde or silver hair. Out of all the violet shampoos I have tried, Joico is my favorite! I like both the Color Balancing Purple Shampoo (image below) and the Color Endure Violet Shampoo & Conditioner.
I’ve tried tons of hair oils over the years and Moroccanoil has always worked the best for me, it’s kept my hair healthy for years! It leaves your hair shiny, soft, and doesn’t get over saturated or greasy looking. And it smells amazing. You’re gonna want to use this stuff religiously to prepare your hair for going pastel, as well as afterwards to make sure it stays healthy.
You’re putting your hair through a lot by bleaching it, so it’s very important to use a heat protector of some sort before using a blow dryer or styling tools to keep your hair from getting damaged. I’ve been using this Brazilian Blowout Thermal Straightening Balm for a couple of years and I loooove it. It has Keratin to strengthen your hair, helps to smooth it out and decrease frizz, and protects against heat.
Keep in mind, a lot of these supplies will last you awhile, so the cost of everything won’t reflect the cost of coloring your hair just one time. 🙂 Alright, that’s all you need, so now comes the fun part!
Working Towards Pastel Hair: Round 1
As I mentioned earlier, I started out with medium-brown virgin hair with some highlights, so being realistic with myself knowing my previous experiences, I wasn’t expecting to get my hair to lift light enough with one round of bleaching to be able to go pastel.
Here is what my hair looked like before I started:
Time to bleach!
This first round, I actually bleached and toned my hair twice in a row. After the first time I bleached my hair, it was still super healthy and I felt like I could get it lighter without damaging it much. Use your judgement here. If your ends are started to look damaged and fried, it’s time to lay off the beach.
After bleaching twice in a row, here’s how light my hair got:
And here’s how it looked after I died it with the Igora Royal Absolutes Silver Whites Grey Lilac color:
You can see how the ends of my hair are still a little more brown and didn’t take the color as well. This is because the ends of my hair still had some previous hair dye that didn’t fully grow out. I expected this to happen and was okay, but this is why I stress how much better it is to have virgin hair at the time you bleach it.
My hair was hardly damaged from this round of bleaching and coloring, but still because I bleached it twice in a row, I decided to let it cool off for about a month. During that month, I took extra special care of my hair to prepare it for the next round of bleaching. Lots of oils, trying to go as far apart between shampoos as I can, and trying to lay off the heat styling tools.
Working Towards Pastel Hair: Round 2
Round 2 I was ready to go light enough to get pastel purple as my end result.
Here’s what my hair looked like after bleaching and toning this time:
It was finally light enough and I was able to get most of the yellow out by toning it. I was ready to go purple!
I mixed 1 tube of the Grey Lilac, 1/2 tube of the 0-11 concentrate, and 1/4 tube of the 0-99 concentrate. (That wasn’t quite enough so I had to mix a little more, same proportions)
Here was my end result!
I was so happy with how it turned out! Now let’s talk aftercare.
Pastel colors can fade really fast.
The thing about pastel colors, especially purple, is that they can fade really fast. If I wash my hair with regular shampoo and conditioner, almost all of the purple will be out in a matter of a few days.
But I found a solution to keeping my pastel hair from fading, and it’s amazing.
It’s called oVertone conditioner, they have a daily conditioner for color maintenance or giving your dull color a little extra pop, and a deep treatment conditioner for adding more color to your hair. They come in tons of colors and I’m pretty obsessed.
I use the pastel purple daily conditioner, and the pastel purple deep treatment when my color is starting to fade. They are reasonably priced, smell great, and leave my hair super soft.
Click here to get $10 off your first oVertone order!!!
As of now, I am using the daily conditioner every time I wash my hair, and the deep treatment when I feel like my hair is fading too much (usually 1-2 weeks).
Here’s what my hair looks like after a few weeks, using oVertone products:
(If you’re wondering where I got my pink frameless sunglasses, I got them here on Amazon. I may have an Amazon problem?)
Hopefully this post was helpful to you if you’re thinking about going pastel with your hair. Still, one thing to keep in mind: don’t expect your hair to turn out 100% perfect all the time if you are doing it at home. If you want professional results, go to a professional stylist. But if you want to save money by doing it on your own or just prefer to do your hair yourself (like me), it is definitely doable! 🙂
In case you missed them, here are the products I used in this post:
Hi Nicole, thank you SO MUCH for sharing all of this awesome information and links to products! It’s really nice especially to hear from someone with salon experience!
My hair is naturally dark brown, but I have been coloring it bright copper orange at home for about a year now. I have taken lots of precautions to keep it healthy, and it’s short, so I feel like its in pretty good health! I want to try to take it to pastel pink instead. I’m thinking because it’s already light that bleaching should be easy… I’m planning on using a 30 volume developer and a blue or violet toner depending on what the color is like after bleaching. Thoughts?? Advice?? I’m nervous because I’ve never done color from scratch on my own before! I’m definitely going to use all the schwarkopf products 🙂
Hi love! Sorry I must have missed this comment somehow when you left it! I hope it went well if you decided to go for it! 🙂 Let me know if you still have any questions!