How To Get Rid Of Your Rainbow-Colored Hair

Photo: via @auracolorist.
Rainbow-colored hair is a commitment. We're not talking tattoo level — more of the sublet-roommate variety — but a commitment nonetheless. You and that unicorn hair are going to be together for a while — from its unveiling glory until it fades and your roots grow in.

Don't get the wrong idea: We're not here to deter you from diving into fantastical color. We're just going to lay down some groundwork for what you need to do if you want to swap one bright color for another — or if you want to go back to your roots.

Ahead, two of NYC's top colorists give us 10 rules by which to live and dye:

Let It Fade
Celebrity colorist, and the woman behind some of Instagram’s coolest colors, Aura Friedman says you have to let that color fade. The longer you let it be, the better for your hair health and the better results you will get with your next color. “Blue, green, and purple can be stubborn,” she warns.

Brown It Out
If you must change the color right away, color genius Roxie Darling, of NYC’s Hairstory Studio, says it's best not to do anything too extreme. “Try to ‘brown out’ the vibrant color that you already have by adding brown to the bright color,” she says. “You might still see some of the original color underneath, but it would help to do that instead of trying to strip out the vibrant color and damaging your hair further with bleach.”

Neutralize It
“If you are going from any bright color to brown, you can generally just put a shade of brown over the bright,” says Friedman. “However, if you don't want the color to peek under the brown, then you must neutralize the bright color. For example, if the bright color is red you must use a green-toned brown to neutralize the red. And if you want to be blond, you must make sure that your hair is healthy enough to remove the color. The last resort should be bleaching.”

Keep It In The Family
If you are going from one bright color to another, it is best to stay within the same color family. “Usually, if the colors are in the same family it’s not that hard to go from one to the other,” says Darling. “For example, if you stay in the warm tonal family it’s easier than switching from warm to cool. Switching between warm and cool families is what will make it more difficult and can cause the color to get muddy.”

Embrace The Awkward
When it comes to changing your hair color, there is not an exact formula. It all depends on your natural hair color, the color you dyed it, and the color you want in the end. There are so many possibilities. “Everything depends on your natural color and the saturation of the color that you’re trying to remove,” says Darling. “In order to create brown, you have to mix opposite and complementary colors and you have to be willing to possibly go through some awkward phases — unless you have a really good colorist.”

See A Colorist
Yeah, you can do it yourself. But to really ensure you don’t end up with a muddy mess, it’s best to leave the job in the hands of a pro. “I will always recommend seeking out professional help for hair adventures like this,” says Darling. There is really no way to 100% ensure your hair won’t turn out muddy or a weird color even in the salon, but a good colorist will stack the odds against it.

Frequent This Colorist
"It helps to be consistent with who you see because they will have a record of everything they’ve put in your hair previously," says Darling. "When I take people back and forth, I really rely on that record. It’s a bit like a health history; you have the ingredient list of everything that’s ever entered or left the hair, which is really useful when making decisions on where to go next."

Product It Up
Darling recommends taking care of your post-rainbow hair the way you would when it was multicolored. “You have to remember that underneath all of this your hair is still bleached and is delicate,” she says. “So I would recommend washing every two to three days with Hairstory’s New Wash, which also will help maintain your new color so you don’t revert back to the vibrant color. If your hair is feeling extra dry, you can let it sit for 10 minutes once a week as a deep treatment.” Friedman says to make sure that your colorist includes bond-builders like b3 Brazilian Bond Builder with any dyeing you do to keep your hair strong throughout the process.

Make Sure You Want It
“Make sure [getting rainbow hair] is a decision that you’re ready to make,” says Darling. “I just went from unnatural back to natural — and now I’ve returned to unnatural — and it’s definitely a decision that should involve a lot of consideration.”

Keep It All In Perspective
“Be open to different results and ideas," says Friedman. “You can't get stuck on one thing and be too controlling or exact with where you want to go next [with your color]. And always keep in mind that the integrity of your hair is the most important.”
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