The Touching Story Behind This Rainbow-Hair Tribute

Photo: Courtesy of Lissette Cruz.
Rainbows are all about peace, love, and happiness, which perhaps explains why rainbow dye jobs have been going strong for years now. Looking at all those brights just makes us feel good in a chaotic world. Judging by the latest iteration of the trend — double rainbows — the obsession isn't waning. The new rainbow look has twice the color — and glitter, too — but it's the story behind the hair that's giving us all the feels.

When colorist and Pravana artistic educator Lissette Cruz began to conceptualize her entry into the brand’s Show Us Your Vivids contest, she knew she wanted it to pay tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack in her hometown of Orlando. “I wanted to choose an inspiration that was near and dear to my heart,” she says. “Every single one of my clients knew someone involved in the attack.”
Photo: Courtesy of Lissette Cruz.
Cruz settled on symbolic rainbow color, and her friend connected her with a model named Passion Wilson-Suarez, who is a survivor of the terrorist attack at Pulse. Wilson-Suarez met Cruz at her home studio for the appointment, and gave the hairstylist total creative license to go wild with color.

What followed was an eight-hour session during which Wilson-Suarez shared her terrifying experience in the club that night while Cruz painted brightly colored panels around her face and melted red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet throughout her hair. “You could feel a chill in the room, particularly because we were in my house and in such close quarters. The vibe was so surreal,” Cruz says.

While they talked, Cruz noticed the peaks and valleys of a pulse vector tattooed on Wilson-Suarez’s forearm. Despite having zero experience with shaved-hair designs, Cruz was inspired to incorporate the same design at the nape of her client’s neck. To emphasize the pattern, she added corresponding shades of ultra-fine glitter to the vector of hair using a mix of two parts sparkle and one part hair wax on an eyebrow brush.
Photo: Courtesy of Lissette Cruz.
“When I was done with her hair, it wasn't about the contest anymore,” says Cruz. “Every little thing I had been worried about that day just completely went away. My heart was full of so much joy and so much love, not only for my community of Orlando but for what people went through and are still going through.”

Before snapping the final photos required for submission, Cruz added a crystal-garland headpiece to Wilson-Suarez’s crown. “For me, that was to signify an angel of unity,” she says. “That was the most important part. Because whether you’re gay, straight, Catholic, Christian — whatever it is you believe in, unity transcends everything.”

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