Pink! Blue! Purple? Rainbow-coloured hair has been in and out of fashion since your parents were kids. But these days, thanks to the weird and wonderful selection of dyes, chalks and colourful shampoos at your local Boots and Superdrug, it can be as easy as spraying purple glitter into your hair or using a washed-out pink shampoo for a faded look to hit the unicorn hair trend.
Not only that, but formulas are kinder to your hair and really simple to use yourself (because who can afford expensive trips to the hairdresser every time you get bored?). And let’s not forget that all kinds of celebs and internet stars are fuelling us with so much rainbow-coloured hair inspo that it’s seriously hard to keep one shade for longer than a day or two before you change your mind.
So to help you navigate the technicolour waters of the mermaid, unicorn or rainbow colour trend, we’ve collected together some simple how-to guides, our favourite products and top tips – not to mention some of our favourite swoon-worthy, candy-coloured hair shades out in the wild.
Chalks, wash out or semi-permanent?
Before you start dreaming about which shades of the rainbow you want in your hair, you need to remember that different hair reacts differently to different colours. So, if you have blonde or light brown hair, then pastel colours will show up and everything will look really bright. If you have dark brown, red or black hair, it’ll be harder to make colours show up, so glitter, neon colours and bold shades will suit you better.
The first step? Figuring out which product you want to use. We don’t mean whether you should go for candy-floss-pink or sexy-hot-pink – we’re talking about the consistency of what you’re using (is it a chalk? Cream?) and, most importantly, how long it’ll last.
Some hair colours wash out straight away (some even brush out). Others are added to shampoos and give your hair a sheen of colour. Some wash out after five or six showers. Others are semi-permanent and you might not get rid of them for over a month. And some colours are permanent, and might stick around till your hair grows out (although that’s most typical of more traditional colours, like dark brown or black).
The key to figuring all of this out is to read the instructions carefully. You know what? Once you’ve read them, read them again. Just to be sure. You need to look out for words like “semi-permanent”, “wash out” and even details about how many washes it’ll take. Even if it says five washes, plan ahead for seven or eight, just in case.
Tip: For most of us this is the really important bit. Many schools don’t allow unnatural hair colours, so you’ll need to time it well so you can add chalk to your hair on Friday so it’ll wash out by Sunday. Or pick a colour that lasts five or six washes for the school holidays.
Our favourite hair colour products
Your head is probably spinning right now, isn’t it? You need to think about the amount of washes, whether the word “permanent” is anywhere near the hair dye and also, what the hell will your mum think of it?
But don’t worry, we’ve got this. Here are some of our favourite products that you can get from your local Boots or Superdrug.
If you have blonde hair already and just want a really subtle hint of colour that you can barely see, then try the Bleach London Rose Shampoo from Boots. It’s £6 and you use it like a regular shampoo.
The bonus? After a few uses it’ll leave your hair with a dreamy, pink sheen.
Wash out hair colours
If you want a colour that’s noticeable but isn’t going to get you in trouble on Monday, there are a few different options. The Pixie Lott Hair Colour Chalks from Superdrug are so much fun. A full set comes with six different colours and you can draw on your hair and play around with them as much as you like. The best bit? They wash out. Just make sure you lather your shampoo up really well and wash twice if you need to.
There’s also a range of Superdrug Colour Hairspray, so if you’d rather not use crayons this gives you the best faded pink look instead – or bold, bright red that you can just spray directly onto your hair and then wash out when you’re done with it.
Tip: The lighter your hair is, the better colours will show up on it. If you’ve got blonde or light brown hair, lots of colours will look great. If you have darker hair, the results will only be subtle, unless you bleach it first (WHICH IS PERMANENT, BEWARE) or choose something really bright or glittery.
Lasts up to 10 washes
If you want hair colour that won’t wash out straight away, maybe if you’re going on holiday or have some time off school, then try the Pixie Lott Wash Out Hair Colours or Colour Freedom Hair Colours instead. They come in a huge range of shades, from bright blues to punky pinks, and promise to wash out after around 10 washes. But make sure you give yourself 12 washes, just in case.
The best thing about these dyes is they’ll fade over time, so you’ll be bang on trend around the fifth wash with a washed-out faded pastel look.
Tip: If you’re panicking that a colour won’t come out, go and buy some Head and Shoulders shampoo. It’s a bit stronger than regular shampoo, and often does a really good job at fading colour away much quicker.
If you’re feeling brave, the Cool Colours range from Bleach London (find it in Boots) is really popular among Instagram stars and hair lovers. They will fade over time and probably be all out of your hair in a few weeks, but they are officially semi-permanent so there’s a chance they’ll stick around much longer.
Tip: If you love a semi permanent shade but don’t want to commit for too long, try adding a bit of the colour to conditioner. This will make the colour less intense and give you a totally fash faded look, rather than a scary shade.
Things you’ll need
It’s time to go! But what will you need to make your hair dying experiment a success? Well, every product has different requirements, but our top tips are:
1. Make sure you’re in a space that you can wipe clean. No carpets!
2. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit of dye on. Most wash off, but it’s not guaranteed.
3. Find some clips, hair bands and bobby pins so you can section your hair and do an even job.
4. Have your phone or a watch with you so you can keep an eye on the time.
Our favourite hair inspo
So you’ve got the right products, you know which products to get, you’ve got a space to splash dye and rub chalk around in. So here’s some inspiration to get you started:
If you want to try hair chalks…
…and what about hairsprays?
Or if you like the look of Bleach London products, take a look at these…
So there you go – everything you need to nail the DIY dye! And remember, always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn (for 8-10 washes).