Is pastel hair right for you?

17:00, Apr 16 2012
Pastel hair
Rebecca Brent's hair work with pastels.
Pastel hair
Katy Perry.
Pastel hair
Kelly Osbourne.
Pastel hair
Kelly Osbourne and singer Neon Hitch.
Pastel hair
Kevin Murphy Colour Bug, $25 from Kevin Murphy salons.
Pastel hair
Model Charlotte Free.
Pastel hair
Pastel hair
Thakoon spring 2012.

Freakishly unnatural coloured hair is usually reserved for minority groups of wild youth, but pastel hair has just hit the mainstream.

What began on the catwalks - inspired by the punk movement - has filtered back to street level, but this time everyone is doing it.

American model Charlotte Free skyrocketed to fame last year, going from virtually nobody to one of the world's hottest models in no time - all because of her highlighter-pink hair.

Fashion designers have been recreating the "free" look on the runways by slathering their models' hair in pastel paint, and the look has recently hit the celebrity circuit.

Gaga, of course, was an early adopter of the look, followed closely by Kelly Osbourne, and now Katy Perry has been spotted with a Smurf-blue 'do.

It's a look that Rodney Wayne Creative Director Richard Kavanagh has been playing around with for a while now. 


Well ahead of the curve, Kavanagh mucked about with pastel shades early on, but has seen its popularity rise.

"I first started experimenting with pastel shades of blonde (candy floss pink, powder blue, lilac, peach, lemon) more than ten years ago, but the trend has really taken hold in the past couple of years and now it seems to be a permanent fixture," he said.

"Already we have many girls (and boys) rocking the pastels. It's a hot look".

L'Oreal Professionnel has cottoned onto the movement, and has recently relaunched its range of semi-permanent, non-damaging hair colour, Dia. L'Oreal Ambassador and owner of Willis York salon Rebecca Brent used Dia to create pastel looks for the Dia launch in New Zealand, and predicts the trend is going to get bigger and better come summer.

"You only have to look at the overseas clothing trends like Louis Vuitton to see that pastels are the rage. M.A.C makeup's latest summer beauty trend is all pastel shades, and like makeup takes cues from fashion, so does hair. People tend to go darker in winter, but come summer, I predict this is going to be a really big hair look."

Kavanagh and Brent both agree that hair must be light (preferably blonde) to achieve the best pastel look. Hair can be pre-lightened and then dyed if you're fully committed to the look, otherwise there are temporary options.

Inspired by Indian hair "eyeshadow", Kevin Murphy designed Colour Bug - a temporary eyeshadow for hair. It simply rubs into the hair, and shampoos out afterwards. This temporary option gives you the look for a day (or night), without having to commit to a full head of not-so-office-friendly pastel hair.

Solid pastel hues like salmon, lemon yellow and baby blue all over the head are very popular looks, but some stylists have gone one step further and are mixing up the shades in a painterly effect on the head. "I like a dip dye effect with pink or lilac ends myself," says Kavanagh, and Brent has been experimenting with multiple shades of pastel - purples, pinks, yellow and orange - painted into the hair at once.

So how do you pull off the pastel look? Proudly, Kavanagh says. "I always believe any look is best worn with confidence. If you love the way you look, then you'll be slamming that style all over town."

"We have got to the point now where people are feeling braver about fashion again, and not taking themselves so seriously" says Brent. "It's time to have a bit of fun!"