Can I let you into a secret? I don't know what my natural hair colour is. Sounds impossible, doesn't it? I was a fair-haired little girl but my natural hue got steadily darker as I grew older, into a dull, mouse-blonde shade around the age of 14, and ever since then I've been dying my hair a myriad of colours. There was the Sun-in stages when my parents thought I was too young to due my hair properly, and the henna stage so I didn't ruin my young hair, my parents probably gave up at the black goth stage - the bright red - white blonde stage was an interesting transition, didn't everybody have a white/brown two tone do at some point? Back to at the start of uni, dark during, blonde again towards the end, ombré when I graduated and right up to now, with what seems to be my most-loved hair colour to date - lilac.
I've always seen my hair as the outwards extension of my personality - as well as all of those colours, I've tried it long, short, full fringe or middle parting - in fact the only hair-do I don't think I've had is a perm. But lilac has definitely felt the most 'me'; its the colour i've stuck on for the longest period of time and seems to suit whatever mood I'm in; a rock n roll quiff, a romantic curl, with a retro red lip or a smoky eye. It's come to be a part of my brand and has had the most compliments of all my hair-do's; from little old ladies in the post office ("oh, I must say dear, I like your hair very much!") to friendly if not slightly terrifying East-London gangsters ("'mazin' do, darlin'!"); even my hippy-fied Pops is quite the fan. But, like all good things, it takes a whole lot of work and a whole lot of maintenance to keep my favourite lilac hue bright and colourful; here are some tips for maintaining pastel coloured hair.
- You need to have a seriously white, toned bleach base for pastel hues; I use Live Colour XXL in Absolute Platinum because I know my hair can cope with home-dying and I only dye the roots, maybe every 8 weeks. If you're considering pastel hair for the first time then please please please go to a professional, because getting you to white blonde could take a few sessions.
- This is super important because the better condition your hair is in, the more likely it is to hold the colour for longer. Keep it healthy with weekly masks - I currently rate Redken Extreme Stength Builder Plus
- Likewise, try to keep away from as much heat as possible. I allow my hair to dry naturally 6 out of 7 days and keep straightening irons and curling tongs for special occasions. If you want a bit of a curl put through your hair, my favourite technique is to twist into sections and pin with bobby pins while it's still damp. Leave overnight and loosely separate with your fingers for gorgeous wavy locks.
- Halve the amount you wash your hair! This has admittedly been the trickiest thing for me as I'm a prolific hair washer, but even I am learning that your hair doesn't need to be washed every single day. Pastel hair, especially lilac and pink shades, are notorious for washing out quickly so invest in a decent dry shampoo to prolong your colour.
- When you do wash your hair, add a dollop of your colour to your usual conditioner to add a subtle refresh to the colour - a teaspoon to 250ml should enhance your colour enough but not be so strong you end up going patchy if you don't coat from root to tip. Leave on for 5-10 minutes in your shower.