Previously published on PopSugar Beauty.
By now, you’ve likely dabbled in the world of rainbow hair in some capacity. Whether you’ve tested the trend with secretly vivid strands, tried a more natural take on dye, or committed to a galaxy-hued head, colorful coifs are addictive and difficult to resist.
But perhaps more challenging than ignoring the siren song of psychedelic strands is switching them up to a new shade. Not only is making a color choice tough (there areso many options!), but all the wear and tear of the dyeing process can leave hair dry and brittle. We worked with renowned colorist Aura Friedman of the Sally Hershberger Downtown salon in New York City to come up with a new color creation. Friedman isthe expert on rainbow hair and is responsible for coining many dye trends, most notably oil slick strands. She crafted a style that vibed with our model’s formerly neon-pink mane (while being more appropriate for cooler weather) without incurring further damage.
The stunning look that you see before you is phoenix hair! The rich burgundy base fades into gorgeous shades that you might find in the desert at sunset — or in the feathers of the mystical phoenix. As she worked on her masterpiece, Friedman shared suggestions for hopping from one rainbow hue to another, maintenance tips, and more. Read on to steal her secrets and get inspired.
“I’m often inspired by colors I see in nature,” Friedman told me. This particular hair masterpiece was initially motivated by these two images. The left is a seashell Friedman found in France — see that burgundy-sunset gradient? — and the right is a tree in Autumn. She especially loved the hues of the leaves that were backlit by the sun.
Taking her two inspiration photos into account, Friedman used burgundy as the base color, then lightened up strands to varying shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, and lavender. The term “phoenix hair” was inspired by both the bird of the same name (which sports these hues in its feathers) and the city in Arizona. Keep reading for more stylist tips and tricks!
The color closest to your roots should be the darkest, but this isn’t as easy to achieve as it sounds. Developer is the component of dye that brightens hair, and it is triggered by heat. This is the reason you can spot blondes getting their touchups under the salon’s heat lamps — that heightened temperature works to make their flaxen shade more glorious.
The natural warmth of your body can also have this effect. So, the sections of your mane near your scalp are at risk, and could transform to shade much lighter than you and your colorist intended. “It’s especially noticeable on reds,” warned Friedman. To counteract this, your colorist should focus on making the midlengths of your mane particularly bright, wrapping those sections with plastic wrap to trap the heat inside the shaft and lift the color even more. This acts as a visual trick and will make your roots appear darker.
Those with naturally deeper strands, know that your time dabbling with rainbow dye is limited. “When clients have dark hair, I tell them, ‘At some point, your hair will be too damaged to continue,'” Friedman explained. It’s not the color that is harming your mane — it’s the bleach. To lift the dark hues, you need to strip it of melanin (the molecules that cause pigment), which reside in the cortex of each strand.
“The action of bleach is essentially whittling each strand,” clarified Friedman. This leads to loss of elasticity and breakage. She swears by Olaplex, a two-step strand-fortifying treatment. The Bond Multiplier is the first part of the formula, and strengthens your mane’s disulfide bonds, which are broken during chemical treatments. Friedman mixed this into the dye before applying it to the model’s mane. She then used the Olaplex Bond Perfector after adding the dye, but before shampooing.