Regular Byrdie readers will remember that time when the cutie pictured above (one Lauren Powell) allowed me to transform her from a lifelong brunette into a platinum blonde. As someone who has dedicated her life to beauty (and lives for a makeover), it was honestly one of the most fun days I had last year. Better yet, the results were, by Lauren's own admission, mind-blowing in unexpected ways. Still, even the best renovations get tiresome after a while, which is possibly why Lauren, who had always wanted to try pastel hair, suggested she go pink as one last hurrah before journeying back to her natural shade. Obviously I thought it was a great idea. But I had an extra element to add—could we do it ourselves and at her home?
I called my hair colorist and stylist Luke Davis (the expert behind these delicious looks we snapped on Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and asked. Although Lauren was already white blonde (traditionally the prerequisite shade for anyone going pastel) I wanted to be sure I wasn't asking the impossible of this home job. I did NOT want to be responsible for ruining a single hair on Lauren's beautiful head, and I wasn't going to send her out in public repping a beauty-experiment-gone-wrong either. As expected, Davis nominated a few key products with which to do the job (it's never a bad idea to ask a pro for their recommendations no matter the situation), and I called them in from their respective PRs. On the day, I invited Davis along to both advise and supervise which turned out to be a very good idea. Why? Because one product worked, but one really didn't (more on that below). Not only did this give the three of us insight into potential problems DIYers might face at home, it also helped us formulate a pretty foolproof plan for anyone else wanting to go rose gold.
#1: Don't Skip the Strand Test
If you've rolled your eyes at the instructions included in every box of home hair color ever made (the ones that suggest you take the time to strand test), I've got news for you—that attitude could be dangerous in this instance. Without a trial, not only do you run the risk of the color "not taking" in certain spots, it could just as easily take TOO WELL, leaving you more neon raver than pastel princess. We didn't follow this advice (eek), and the first dye we used (a salon-only colorant), left Lauren's hair patchy. Now, if a professional product can fail, it seems to me you gotta be real careful when taking the DIY route. Thanking my stars I had asked a real-life hairdresser to oversee this experiment, I asked Davis for help. He gave it, but first he said this: "Under no circumstances should you ever dump any color on your hair without first testing it on a few strands that are easily hidden—you could end up wearing a lot of hats until you can see a professional to correct your mistake." Your mantra? Be like Davis.
#2: Have a Back-Up Plan
Because, you beautiful fool, could there be anything more embarrassing than scouring the shelves of a drugstore at 9 pm for a box dye dark enough to mask a cartoonish hair accident? Probably. (But not by much.) Having another ace up your sleeve is crucial if you're a DIY pastel hair virgin. I suggest you ask your regular colorist for advice on which products to use and then only use those. Don't get sassy in Priceline thinking you can Fudge Paintbox your way to Pinterest perfection just because that girl at uni swears by it, then write me for help when you end up looking like a Care Bear. Tried and tested here (by a pro) counts. For our part, we had a backup Davis knew would work. LUCKY.
#3: Invest in the Upkeep
Lauren and Davis will both tell you that keeping pastel pink hair pink requires more than just a little commitment. After all is said and done, you'll need an arsenal of color-depositing products on hand to refresh the hue with every wash. I gave Lauren a load of things to try and in her estimation the best were Brite's Organix Make Me Pastel Pink Shampoo and Conditioner ($16 each), and a custom-blended conditioner I sourced her from Evo's PR.