We know we said it was time we stop attaching trendy colors to entire generations, but it's hard to ignore the sudden proliferation of all things bright, sunny, unapologetic Gen Z yellow. The cheery shade, said to represent the sprightly optimism of that generation born between the mid-'90s and early '00s, is cropping up on Instagram and Pinterest, and in hair salons around the globe as more and more of us deliberately ditch the purple toner and embrace pop-art yellow.
But where did our newfound love of bright yellow come from, if not the next generation? Well, according to the experts, part of the reason is that we're becoming increasingly bored of blonde.
"Yellow is an easy way to transform blonde hair minus the staining you get from richer colors," says hairstylist Jake Gallagher. Sophia Hilton, hairstylist and founder of Not Another Salon, concurs: "It's just a really fun update for blondes that doesn’t require a huge amount of commitment. Pastels and rose gold have been 'on trend' for what feels like forever, so we're now searching for something quite different."
But just because it requires a little less maintenance than platinum or darker shades doesn't make bright yellow easy to master. "Ideally, you should have a light natural base to begin with," says Taylor Clayton-Spicer, colorist and technician at Paul Edmonds London, who produced the award-winning pop art-inspired look below with absolutely no bleach whatsoever. Yep, that means even less damage — unlike platinum and silver shades, which can leave hair practically destroyed.
Clayton-Spicer used a high-lift dye and a high-lift ash followed by a selection of yellow, coral, and clear shades from L'Oréal to create that seamless yellow hue. Still, according to Hilton, considering a long-term solution to bleaching your roots every time you book a hair appointment is also key if you want soft, healthy, yellow hair. Not Another Salon offers a service called Anti-Bleach, which Hilton says can help some clients transition away from frequent bleaching while still getting the vibrant, colorful effect they're after. For at-home use, Bleach London offers the equivalent in its No Bleach Bleach Kit.
And while most blondes would do pretty much anything to banish those brassy hues, the lean towards yellow is slightly more forgiving. "Right now, everything for 2018 is yellow, from the Balenciaga catwalk to kitchen appliances and even bathroom décor," Hilton says. "Yellow is trending because it's mood-enhancing and it pushes the boundaries of traditional colors. It's a statement more than anything."
But not everyone can pull it off — not with the right attitude, that is. "With non-natural colors it comes down to how you wear it," Hilton says. "Think about these things: How do you usually wear your makeup? Do you use fake tan? What is your personal style? What color clothes do you wear? When choosing a 'non-natural' shade, you have to consider the whole package."
Even though beachy waves are huge on Instagram, professionals are also fashioning the all-yellow hair trend poker straight. "Long or short, healthy hair styled straight and sleek will really show off the healthy condition of the hair and display the absolute vibrancy of the yellow color," Hilton says, but it pays to take good care of it. "A sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner — I like Shu Uemura's Color Lustre range — is perfect for keeping color under lock and key at home. Regular in-salon treatments such as Olaplex or using the Shu Uemura Instant Replenisher Hair Serum will keep hair looking its best, and monthly haircuts are also vital in making hair look fresh and split end-free." Hilton says of her commitment to developing ways to keep colored hair healthy, vibrant, and free of damage, "We just don’t believe that vibrant hair needs to be in bad condition at all. In fact, for vibrant hair to look luxurious, it has to be 100% healthy."