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Pastel Hair Dye Guide (Method, Products, and Brands to Use)

What could be cuter than a head of bubblegum-colored hair?

What could be cuter than a head of bubblegum-colored hair?

Interested in Pastel Dyes?

Want to learn how to dye your hair pastel? This is an in-depth, step-by-step guide to dying hair pastel colors.

Pastel hair is a recent beauty trend. Even Katy Perry and Kelly Osbourne jumped on the bandwagon! Pastel hair is really cool, and it's not as hard to attain as one might think. I've dyed my hair three different pastel shades and a couple of other ones in between. Through extensive research and trial and error, I have found the perfect strategy for attaining pastel locks.

In order to get your hair the color you want, you must keep in mind two things: One, there is no substitute for quality products, and if you pay less now, you will pay more later to fix your hair. Two, don't overdo the bleach! I am guilty of bleaching my hair too much, and although my hair has never broken from over-processing, it is possible. Just be safe!

Spend a Little Extra on Quality Materials

Bleach should be handled very carefully (buy some reusable latex gloves). Don't let it get on your skin. I know this sounds really unavoidable, because you are putting bleach on your head, but you don't have to worry about getting bleach on your scalp for the most part. Just make sure you wash it off of your hands, shoulders, and neck.

Now, remember what I said about paying for quality? When buying your bleach you do not want to compromise. I always buy Quick Blue bleach powder. It costs maybe 50 cents to $1 more than the cheap stuff, so it's not that much more expensive and it's leaps and bounds better. Often times the cheap bleach powder is crystalized and extremely hard to mix. Quick Blue is always a fine powder and mixes with the developer perfectly.

I naturally have medium brown hair, so I buy vol 40 creme developer. If your hair is lighter, get vol 20 or vol 30. Speaking of developer, get L'Oreal. It's a trusted brand. Creme developer is pretty much universal.

Make sure to buy a mixing bowl as well if you don't have a bowl that you will never use for anything else ever again. You can also buy a brush applicator, but I just use my gloved hands to apply.

Unless you have extremely light hair to begin with, you'll have to use bleach to get your perfect pastel do.

Unless you have extremely light hair to begin with, you'll have to use bleach to get your perfect pastel do.

Step One: Bleach Your Hair

Of course, unless you naturally have very pale blonde hair, you must first bleach your hair in order to attain pastel color.

Always follow the instructions for mixing on the back of the bleach powder packet. Once you have mixed the bleach, it's time to apply.

Remember: Always apply the bleach on your tips first. Your scalp will bleach faster than your tips and if you apply on your scalp first you will end up looking like a fireball.

Keep the bleach on your hair for about 25–35 minutes, checking often to see what it looks like. You can keep it on up to 45 minutes or so if you're still too dark. Most people will tell you to let your hair rest for a week before re-bleaching. That probably is better for your hair, but I never do that because honestly I don't want to walk around with nasty orange or yellow hair.

Toning is critical to getting the perfect pastel shade.

Toning is critical to getting the perfect pastel shade.

Step Two: Tone Your Hair

This step is optional if your hair has been bleached to a very pale yellow or white. Otherwise, you probably have some brassy tones still stuck in your hair.

Toner is an extremely important part of achieving pastel hair. If you don't tone your hair, you can end up with uneven color and murky tones. I buy Clairol High Lift Cool Blonde. Mix the toner with creme developer following the directions on the box. Let the toner sit for about five minutes while it turns a purple color, then apply to your hair generously. Leave on hair for 25–45 minutes (as directed) and wash out.

Lavender locks are unique and eye-catching!

Lavender locks are unique and eye-catching!

Step Three: Dye Your Hair

Finally! Time to dye your hair the beautiful pastel color you want! I recommend buying Ion Color Brilliance Brights. However, if you want to dye your hair mint green, buy Manic Panic (Ion doesn't have a green color and Manic Panic is pretty good—it just doesn't last as long). You also need to get a big container of normal white conditioner without sulfates.

  1. Squirt enough conditioner to cover all of your hair into your mixing bowl, then add a little bit of the color you want. Start with less dye—you can always add more later. You cannot subtract. Ion dye is very thick, so mix it well.
  2. Once you have the color you want on your hair, apply it very, very generously and wrap your hair in plastic wrap so the dye stays moist.
  3. Make sure you have nowhere to go the day you dye your hair, because you'll want to leave the dye on for at least three hours. There is a bonus here: you get a deep condition!
  4. Rinse all of the conditioner and dye out of your hair. Voila! You should have perfect pastel hair!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Caitlin Morrow


Chloe on July 12, 2019:

I used ion permanent brights lavender and it turned dark blue. Did I leave it in too long or something else?

Courtney Rhodes on July 19, 2015:

I have two blues from the brilliance bright collection. One is lighter than the other. Can I mix them?

kay on September 27, 2014:

What colors are you using in the first pic, the two tone with purple and what color ion blue, is thst aqua or another

havenly on April 29, 2014:

how do u do your tips? and what color ?