• Emily Powell

Three things you might want to consider if you want "Unicorn Hair"

Updated: Sep 16, 2018

You've seen them. There are a ton of terms for them, "unicorn hair", "fashion colors", etc, but they all mean the same thing. Colorful hair! Have you ever considered dyeing your hair a bright color? Have you ever thought, “man, that person looks so stinking cool with -insert cool color here- in their hair!"


I know I did. Ever since I was little and colorful hair was not even close to becoming a trend I have been obsessed with bright hair. I remember putting pink and green synthetic hair extensions in my hair and thinking I was so stinkin’ cool. When I was about 14, I talked my mom into letting me dye one little streak of my hair bright blue.


She may regret that now, because I’ve been addicted to colorful hair ever since. I’ve had my hair every color you can imagine - pink, blue, red, green, orange… you name it and I guarantee I’ve had some variation of it on my hair at one point or another. Currently it’s purple and pink, and I’m thinking I’m going to do some sort of powdery blue next (or maybe something else? I can never decide).


The first ever time I put color in my hair!

These colors look like so much fun-and they definitely are-but what about the maintenance? Let’s get into the nitty gritty of fashion colored hair, the good, the bad and the ugly, and the things you might want to consider before you go all in.

Getting a little braver...

  • It’s likely going to take more than one session.

When you see all of those photos on Pinterest and Instagram with the models with gorgeous, healthy and colorful hair, you might think that it’s something that takes a few hours and you are suddenly a unicorn. Unfortunately, unless you were blessed to be born with white (and I mean white) blonde hair, this is not the case. For 90% of the colors out there, your hair has to be white blonde first, otherwise they simply do not work.


Depending on how light your hair is naturally, this will likely take more than one time sitting at the salon having your hair lifted (aka bleached) out.


Let’s talk a little bit about science.


Everyone’s hair has something called melanin in it. Melanin is what gives most things color. How concentrated the melanin is determines the color of your skin, hair, and eyes.


Everyone’s melanin concentration is unique, but no matter what it follows the same set of rules.


There are two types of melanin in your hair; eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is black/brown pigment, and pheomelanin is red/yellow pigment. Everyone has some amount of pheomelanin in their hair.


When you lighten someone’s hair, the bleach causes the natural melanin in your hair to break down and dissolve. Eumelanin is much easier to break down than pheomelanin.


If your hair is dark, you have a much larger concentration of eumelanin in your hair, and you have to first break that down before you can start to break down the pheomelanin.

If your hair is light, you have much less eumelanin in your hair, and it is quicker and easier to lift through the little bit of eumelanin to get to the pheomelanin in your hair.


All hair goes through phases when lifting, and how dark your hair is determines how many phases you have to get through. When you start to break down that initial eumelanin, you can see the pheomelanin left behind. You will start to see red, and as the bleach keeps working, it will start to go from red, to orange, to yellow… and finally to pale yellow.

Pale yellow is where you can start to work most of the fashion colors.


In order to keep your hair healthy, we have to go slow with the lightener in order to not over process it. This means that with dark brown hair, it’s going to take much longer and more sessions to get to that point than someone that has blonde hair (sorry my brunette friends!)



  • Each session takes a long time.

Again, in order to keep your hair healthy, it’s going to take a lot of time to get your hair to this point. Think 3-8 hours each session!

  • Fashion colors fade quickly.

You’re probably thinking, “Seriously? After all that time, money and effort, my beautiful and colorful hair isn’t even going to LAST?”


Nope.


Fashion colors are a direct dye, and most only last 4-6 washes before they are very faded.

I’m not kidding you.


Darker colors (purple, dark blue, darker pink, etc.) Will last a bit longer, but pastels may wash out before you even hit that 4 wash mark.


There are a couple things you can do to keep the colors lasting longer, such as using high-quality color protecting shampoo and conditioner, and washing your hair in cold water. Brrrr!


So, unless you are okay with the fade out, you’re going to want to come in for a refresh every 4-6 weeks.


After all of that, you might be thinking “Why would anyone do this?! That’s so much work!” While true that it is a lot of work… Having fun colored hair is, well, fun! For me, it’s a way to show off my personality through my hair. I love to be able to look in the mirror and see all of that color. It makes me smile every day!


Even with the time, maintenance, and cost, fashion colors are only growing more and more popular! People of all ages and genders are jumping on this unicorn color trend. It’s a blast, and you sure do get a lot of compliments on it! It’s something that people don’t just look once at, they do a double or even triple take. I frequently catch people staring at my hair without them even realizing what they’re doing. It’s hilarious! What about you? Are you one of the people that’s just enjoying the trend, and are loving getting to see the fun colors of people’s hair around you?

Or are you thinking you want to be one of us unicorns with the crazy colored hair? Are you ready to commit? Tell me what you think! I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Emily Powell

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