How to Wear Neon Hair After 30
We know, you think you could never pull off neon hair -- but read on to see how easy (and pretty) it actually is.
I have a friend with neon hair. She's 34 years old -- not 24, not 14 -- and it looks amazing. Now, I'll add that she lives in New York City, where pretty much anything goes. She also has a funky designer wardrobe and spends a lot of time in art galleries -- so the neon hair works with her personality and lifestyle. It's chic, sophisticated, and surprisingly subtle. And while I'm not suggesting every woman can pull it off, it's a lot easier than you might think.
You're probably wondering how I could possibly call neon hair subtle. When most of us think bright hair, Katy Perry's blue or Nicki Minaj's pink probably come to mind -- not exactly discrete, right? Well, the secret to my friend's color is that it isn't a big, cascading mane of purple hair -- instead, the bright shade is layered underneath her natural dark brown color.
The violet section is only noticeable in the sun or when she puts her hair up into a bun or ponytail, and the overall effect is really pretty.
Subtle-but-bright hair like my friend's is becoming more popular. Hair colorists have come up with creative ways to apply these neon highlights, and companies are offering temporary products that range from extensions to chalk -- great for people who are interested in the trend but not ready to fully commit. So, whether you want hot pink hair for a year or an hour, you can get it.
"I've done fun colors on many clients over the age of 30," says Amy Huson, a colorist at the Marie Robinson Salon in New York City. "It's not about your age -- it's about having your own style and playing around with it." Huson admits that it's a youthful look -- but who doesn't want to look more youthful after 30? Maybe neon hair is just what you need.
Wear neon underneath
Follow my friend's lead, and color just the underneath pieces of your hair. A colorist will create a part that goes from behind your ears to across your head, and section it off. Then, he or she will apply the color on just the bottom section. "This placement is very chic and modern," says colorist Dimitrios Tsioumas at the Mizu salon in New York City of the look.
If your hair is blonde, then the colorist can apply bright dye directly onto it. If your hair is dark, it will have to be bleached before the colorful dye is applied. "The color fades quickly," says Huson. "So you may want to tell your colorist to go a little brighter at first." Then you can look forward to watching it transform from hot pink to baby pink over the next few weeks.
Color half your bangs
Celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa loves the look of colored bangs -- but she's not talking about a completely neon fringe, which might not be flattering directly against your skin. "Instead, apply the color just on the underneath half," she says. "It's an added dimension more than it's neon hair."
The process is the same as coloring the underneath section at the back of your head, except it's applied to your bangs. For some color combo help: Black hair looks great with blue; if your hair is red, try hot pink; if it's blonde, go for orange or yellow; and if it's brown, try purple or green.
Dip-dye the tips
If you like ombré highlights, you'll love the dip-dyed look -- where the neon color gradually becomes darker at the ends. One great thing about coloring just the tips of your hair is that if you really regret it, you can always have the bottom inches cut off. Plus, it's easy to hide: If you work in a more conservative environment you can always wrap your hair in a bun and tuck the ends underneath. "I like to do hot colors on clients' tips," says Huson. "It keeps the overall look more natural but with a fun pop to it."
Select a few strands
For a different take on crazy shades, ask your colorist to select just a few strategic strands. "Behind the ear is generally a good spot, but it really depends on your haircut," says Tsioumas. "You'll see them when your hair moves -- they'll catch the light." If you want to create a signature look, try coloring just one piece. There's a big-time magazine publisher in her 50s who has famously had a hot-pink strand tucked behind her right ear for years. If she can do it, so can you.
Opt for temporary highlights
From chalk to mascara, there are so many options for washout colors. These temporary highlights are the ideal way to test-drive a neon hue -- the color looks similar to permanent color, and you can apply it wherever you want. We love Sultra Color Hair Mascara, $24, because it comes in pink, coral, blue, and purple, and the colors are really saturated. "It even covers dark hair," says Omar Lopez, Artistic Director of Sultra. "You can style your hair or sleep with the color in -- it won't come out until you wash it."
Try a clip-in
Clearly, a clip-in hair extension requires the least amount of commitment -- it comes out just as easily as it goes in. There are so many bright colors on the market now -- one look at the "fantasy color chart" from She by So.Cap hair Extensions, (price varies depending on salon), should give you an idea. To make the look sophisticated, try matching the color to your favorite neon top. The neon is there, but your natural hair color balances it out -- so it's a more sophisticated take for a 30-something.
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Article written by Dawn Davis for Total Beauty