As William Shakespeare once said, “Rainbow hair by any other name would look as sweet.” OK, I might have tweaked the iconic line a bit, but it fully applies to a pastel rainbow hair look going viral on Instagram — whether Juliet had rainbow hair or not. The stylist who came up with the dye job refers to it as “watercolor rainbow” and “rainbow river” hair, while others on Instagram have dubbed it “kaleidoscope hair.” Its opalescence reminds me of a rainbow highlighter like the Too Faced Rainbow Strobe Highlighter, so I guess I should throw “rainbow highlighter” hair into the ring. Regardless, Portland-based hairstylist Lindsay Wolf dyed one of her clients’ hair all different pastel tones of ROYGBIV with a technique that created a gorgeous prismatic effect. You typically see this look done with vibrant, neon shades, but Wolf was able to accomplish it with delicate, dreamy ones — just as she hoped.
“This look was inspired by nature, specifically the rainbows of the Pacific Northwest,” Wolf tells Allure. “I knew I wanted it to be a softer take on bolder rainbow hair looks I’d been seeing a lot of. I wanted the shades to look fluid, as though they were melting into each other, not being able to see where each color begins or ends.” If you ask me, she was able to do that flawlessly.
To make kaleidoscope hair happen, Wolf started off her pastel prismatic rainbow look by lightening her client’s hair to an icy platinum blonde. This shade is essential for pastel dyes, and her client had to stop by the salon for two four-hour sessions to achieve it. For the third five-hour session, Wolf painted on the pastel dyes from Guy Tang’s Mydentity line, specifically Pink Diamond (a rose), Lavender Lust (a smoky purple), and Mint of Steel (a seafoam). She also used Pulp Riot’s Powder (a sky blue) and Lemon (a buttery yellow). She alternated between four different patterns of color combinations as she worked around her client’s head. “I actually had to write them down and hang them in front of me so I didn’t forget which color came next,” she admits. In case you weren’t following, the whole process took 13 hours total. Damn.
Thinking about trying out the look for yourself? Because it requires bleaching, Wolf says it’s best for those with natural medium to light blonde hair with a fine to medium texture. She also recommends scheduling an appointment with a stylist who is confident with working with direct dyes. Once you do so, ask them for a “multi-toned pastel color melt,” as Wolf calls it. Plus, “know that this is a look that requires an investment of time, money, and patience, but the results are so, so worth it,” she adds. Agreed.
More rainbow hair-color trends you’ll love:
Now, learn about the surprising history of hair dye: