Breathtaking rainbow colored hair has definitely been tickling our color fancy as of late. But while unicorn and mermaid colored hues may look irresistible on social media (just look at the rainbow hair tag on Instagram!) it’s sadly a little challenging to achieve that dramatic finish on brown hair in real life especially if you’re trying to DIY it.
Like all dramatic hair colors, achieving that jawdropping rainbow look on darker strands takes work and patience. Not only does the whole dye job take extreme dedication (you’ll definitely want to look up what a double processis) but you’ll also want to consider upkeep and color fade.
If you are absolutely determined to make this style your own though, know that getting the rainbow look on brown hair is definitely possible — if you leave it to the pros. While it may be tempting to mix up some bleach and dye at home, most experts feel that a complicated (and extremely damaging) job like this is best left to your friends at the salon. Yes folks, that means that this is no job for coloring newbies to attempt at home.
But before you go grab some photos online or book that consultation with your stylist, here are seven things experts want brunettes to do before making the rainbow transformation.
Going from brown to rainbow tends is a dramatic change, so if this is a look you definitely have your eye on, colorists like the Color Lounge’s Grace Ilasco recommend considering the damage first, before you actually go through with the job.
“Stop and think about this very carefully,” Ilasco tells me over email. “It’s a radical change, which requires very frequent upkeep, and can be very damaging.”
Since looks like this usually require high lift to get you blonde enough to go rainbow, so mizu New York Salon master colorist Moran Gallagher states that considering your hair health and history is crucial, as it can determine how much damage your hair will actually experience.
“You’ll have to asses what condition is the brown hair to begin with, and if your color is virgin hair or color treated,” says Gallagher, through email. “There are products like Olaplex, which help the hair keep its integritythrough the bleaching process, but the job itself is long and damaging, and can be very hard to maintain.”
While all rainbow looks deliver that stunning finish, there are variations of the look which can more difficult to maintain. Pastel lookdefinitely give off that playful vibe, but can fade pretty quickly. And while deeper and darker tones instantly turn heads, bleaching is still involved in the process. To determine what kind of rainbow look is right for you, colorist Moran Gallagher says try to consider the amount of bleaching that comes with each finish.
“The main question to ask yourself is what kind of rainbow,” says Gallagher. “Pastel colors need to be lightened to pale blonde, while other gem tones don’t have to be quite as light, but also requires bleach.”
Bringing in photos to your consult can help illustrate your color goals, but colorists warn against relying on visuals too much, as they can create false expectations. Truthfully speaking, your hair won’t often turn out to look just like the super awesome photo you found on Pinterest, so it’s important to keep this mind before you actually dye.
“Bring in photographs of the type of rainbow shades you are hoping to achieve,” explains colorist Grace Ilasco. “But don’t expect your hair to turn out exactly like the photograph.” You never know what sort of editing the photo went through before it hit the internet.
Every hair needs a pop of color,” says RPZL co-founder Lisa Richards, via email. “With a super simple click, you will look fun and gorgeous with candy-colored rainbow, 100 percent Virgin Remy Hair extensions that are totally on trend.”
But if you prefer to use actual dye, you can still add some really beautiful subtle color to your brunette strands. If you want to try the look without any bleach, Maegan Scarlett of oVertone haircolor states that it’s best to stick to warmer tones such as orange, red and pink, as these types of colors flatter the warm tones usually found in brown hair.
“Stay on the warm side of the color spectrum — that means orange, red, pink,” says Scarlett. “Brown hair is basically a very dark yellow, so cool tones like blue and purple will come out looking swampy and gross [if you don’t bleach first].”
In addition, Scarlett advises to add color with caution. Darker hair tones in particular might need a lot of dye to actually give hair that gorgeous subtle effect, so feel free to add as much color as needed in order for it to show up.
“The darker your hair is, the more pigmented the color you add will have to be in order for it to show up,’ she says. “That gorgeous subtle pink auburn requires a LOT of pink, so don’t be shy. Think of using color on your hair as a magic marker over construction paper. A color that would be electric on white paper might be just enough to show up in the sunlight on medium brown.”