Pink and purple unicorn hair — it's all the rage. But getting it exactly the way you want it may be as elusive as, well, that mystical horned creature. Here's what you need to know.
1. A full-on unicorn mane is not for everyone
I’ve been wanting to go over to the light side for years. For my hair, that is. So I finally took the plunge and tried out L’Oreal Professional’s new #Pastelisthenewred Chinese New Year 2017 collection, which offers six pastel hair colours like Rose, Lavender and Mint. I turned up for our session at Harts Salon, where its owner-stylist Noel Ng immediately crushed my dreams of attaining fabulous unicorn-esque hair (okay, just the pretty pink hue that blogger Eugena Bey sports in L’Oreal’s campaign photo, see main pic on top). “It depends on how much your hair responds to the pre-lightening,” he explained. If you’ve permed or dyed your hair extensively, the chemically-treated hair will not bleach as uniformly as virgin hair. He also added that pink, a warm shade, is not a suitable colour for my warm skin tone. “You should select a colour that’s the opposite of your skin tone,” he advised.
2. Getting pastel hair involves bleaching
Yup, unless you're blessed with a Victoria’s Secret Angel’s blond mane, you’ll need to go through at least two rounds of pre-lightening bleaching treatment, each lasting about 30 minutes, before your hair is ready for its pastel transformation. And if you’ve dyed your hair in a dark shade like black or brown, it could take up to four rounds of bleaching to ‘reverse’ the inky shade so your hair is ready for a lighter hair colour. Warning: at times, your head may feel uncomfortably hot if your previous hair colour reacts with the bleach. I quickly alerted Noel, who trotted me off to wash out the bleach.
3. Your hair will see some damage
The bleaching will inevitably make your hair slightly dry and brittle (hey, no pain no gain). But good news: there are products to repair the bonds in your hair that will be broken during the bleaching process and restore some softness to your mane. Noel soaked my bleached hair in L’Oreal’s Smartbond product, a watery solution that transformed my hair from broom back to vroom.
4. If you are dipping a toe into pastel hair, try balayage
Balay what? Balayage is a French term which means ‘to paint’, where strands of your hair are gently hand-painted with hair dye in a gradient effect. The result is a more natural look, with the colour being most intense at the ends of your hair. As I’ve greying roots, Noel recommended balayage for me too — ash brown at the roots to cover the grey and a mixture of pink and cool-toned violet at the ends (“I know you want pink hair so we try to listen to our clients”). The outcome is more subtle, natural and interesting than if I were to dye my whole head in a single hue. My treatment costs a total of $350 at Harts Salon for my long hair.
5. Set aside lots of time for your hair appointment
This is no lunchtime quick-fix sesh. I strolled into the salon at 1pm, and only emerged at 7.30pm. The tedious shampooing and blow-drying after each round of bleaching and dyeing takes up time. Tip: bring some snacks and an iPad to entertain yourself while you wait.
L'Oreal #Pastelisthenewred hair transformation service, from $150 at L'Oreal Professionnel salons.