Unicorn hair and mermaid locks are still trending—and we have the best insider tips to nail the look.
Unicorn and mermaid hair have become a staple of summer festival season—and as ubiquitous as wire-frame blue sunglasses at Osheaga. It’s beautiful shades of pastels or brights, that look like a cotton candy rainbow.
“Unicorn hair, or mermaid locks, have become increasingly popular in the past two years—definitely a huge Instagram trend,” says Staëlle Coulombe, a Joico artist from Quebec City who has made rainbow hair her specialty. “I have up to 15 clients a week who come in requesting this unique hair colour, even if it takes an average of four hours to achieve the seamless colour blend.”
Here’s the recipe you need to create all that magic for your bold and beautiful clients.
How to Properly Pre-Lighten for Mermaid Hair
When you’re aiming to make hair the palest of millennial pinks—the shade of the moment in everything from home decor to puffer jackets—you need to pre-lighten your base as much possible, ideally to a level 10, before applying a demi or deposit-only shade.
“I create a mermaid palette using Color Intensity from Joico,” says Coulombe. “In the majority of cases I lighten hair up to a level 8. If hair is still not pale enough after one application of lightener, I suggest my client an alternative and treatments. If hair is healthy enough, I will reprocess again to lighten it further after six or ten weeks.”
For touching up hair on clients who are already flaunting the mermaid look, you only need to lighten regrowth at the roots if you’re aiming to maintain the same colour pattern.
How to Pick the Right Shades
Creating fab mermaid locks requires a thoughtful consultation with your client. “You need to have an in-depth consultation with your client to assess what her favourite shades are and work with the colour wheel, just like you would when customizing any other hair colour,” says Coulombe.
The colour wheel is used to show the way in which colours relate to one another. When they are positioned opposite each other on the colour wheel, they are called complementary colours. If placed side by side, it will intensify the appearance of both. And on the contrary, when combined in the correct proportion, they neutralize each other—just like when you’re doing a colour correction.
“You also have to think about how the pale colours will blend and remember that some demi-permanent hues will neutralize each other over time,” says Coulombe.
3 Pro Tips for Proper Application
When you’re using a direct pigment, such as Color Intensity from Joico, you need to work the colour into very fine strands. “I suggest massaging the product into the hair so that it penetrates,” says Coulombe. “It’s amazing how much pigment can get into the first layers of the cuticle if you manually work it into the hair.”
Alex Chabot, artistic director for Matrix Canada, suggests using a dry colour brush in a vertical motion, from the bottom to the top of the hair, to blur lines between different shades and melt the colours together. “For a colour melt of three shades, you need five brushes; three to apply the colour and two to blend the shades together,” he says.
With Matrix ColorSync Watercolors, you can create a range of colours, from the most intense shades to the palest pastels. “For a seamless melting effect, I always add one inch of clear between each shade before blending them,” explains Chabot. “That way the hair is saturated, while allowing the shades to melt into one another.”
Product Picks for the Perfect Mermaid Hair Colour
These products sprinkle their magic to create fantasy hair colour.
Photos: Redken, Matrix, Pravana, Joico