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How To Get Rainbow Hair – EVERYTHING You Need To Know

How To Get Rainbow Hair – EVERYTHING You Need To Know
Writer and expert6 years ago
View allbeauty's profile


Want Rainbow Hair, but don't know where to start? We asked Rainbow Hair pioneer Anya Goy, those all-important questions...

rainbow hair anya goy
It feels like a new trend, but rainbow hair isn't new - rewind back to the days of Scene Kids, Emo and even Punk and you'll find plenty of examples. But over the last few years rainbow, galaxy, pastel and unicorn hair has taken the art to new levels and it's firmly here to stay. Professional hair artist, author and educator Anya Goy was one of the pioneers of the modern-day rainbow look, beginning around 14  years ago (alongside fellow artists Ursula Goff and Melanie Dawn Harter). Anya trained with Vidal Sassoon and L'Oreal and worked extensively in the UK & Australia, including time with Wella and Toni & Guy, and it's very likely you've already seen, pinned, liked and shared some of her own creations. Currently working with allbeauty, we took the chance to ask her everything we were dying to know (pun intended) about how to achieve rainbow hair....

Is rainbow hair suitable for everyone? Of any age?

rainbow hair guy

Absolutely! I’ve done young kids all the way to grandmas. The only criteria for wearing colourful hair is confidence and a sense of fun!

Is it harder to achieve on dark hair? Any hair colours that don’t respond well?

rainbow hair galaxy

These rainbow hair colours show up best on blonde hair. This is why usually, we need to pre-bleach the hair first to create a clean, blonde, blank canvas. If you are naturally darker, it can take longer to do this pre-lighten step, but you can still achieve your desired results. However if you have dyed dark hair, especially box black colour you have done at home, it will not be possible to get a clean blonde canvas. That’s not to say you can’t have some fun with it! You will simply be looking at a more limited colour palette. You would be able to achieve sunset designs, reds, burgundy wine tones, dark purples, oranges, sometimes even dark pinks and neon yellows are possible!

Isn’t rainbow hair really high maintenance?

rainbow hair fade

Not at all! It can often be less maintenance than natural colours. I have some clients who only need to visit me 2-3 times a year! Following the proper home hair care routine is what makes a massive difference. With all my colourful creations I give personal aftercare and maintenance advice. Just as a handmade designer garment comes with washing instructions, so do these unique hair designs. My clients have excellent long-lasting results with beautiful transitions to pastel shades as it fades.

What should I ask for at my stylist consultation / should I bring pictures?

Finding the right colourist is more important than what you should ask for. Not all hairdressers are experienced with rainbow hair, some may not even stock the colours. Do your research, look before you book. It's a good sign if a salon stocks colour brands like Pulp Riot, Manic Panic, Directions, Pravana or Goldwell Elumen products, and uses bond builders like Olaplex. It's also worth checking out their work on social media so make sure you like it. Go in for a full consultation and quote before you book. Finding the right hair artist is like finding the right tattoo artist. If you like their style, you will be able to trust them to create something you will love. Yes bring pictures, but also bring an open mind.

Which is easier to achieve: lighter pastels or dark colours, and can I get a contrast with both?

rainbow hair blonde

Totally depends on your current hair colour. For example, if you already have been having highlights for a while, pastel colours are super easy to achieve. But if you have naturally dark Hispanic or Asian hair, pastels will be harder to achieve. It’s best to discuss your goals in a consultation with your colourist. Of course you can get a contrast with both pastel and deeper tones, but again it’s best to discuss your desired colour palette with a professional who understands what colours are ‘friends’ and what colours won’t work together.

Will it destroy my hair's health?!

If I felt the pre-lightening step would destroy a client’s hair, I would not even consider colouring it. In some cases, I’ve even had clients say their hair feel better after colour than it did before, especially when mixing a bond builder such as Olaplex or Smart Bond into every step. The hair’s health should always come first, no matter if it’s rainbow or even classic natural colours. If you have any concerns about the condition of your hair discuss it with your colourist before you book.

If I decide to go back to my normal hair colour, is it easy to re-colour rainbow hair?

Once you go rainbow you never want to go back! ;) That said, if you needed to go back to natural of course you can. Some rainbow colour brands are much more highly pigmented and long-lasting than others, as such removing them can be challenging. Others are very easy to remove, and some brands will simply wash out with time. It’s important to discuss with your colourist how long you want your rainbows to last. It also depends what your normal hair colour is. Going back to brown is much easier than going back to a natural blonde.

How long (roughly!) does it take to get rainbow hair - is it a lengthy process?

rainbow hair dark

Works of art take time. A full head rainbow hair design on long hair can take between 4 and 6 hours, so bring a good book and some lunch or snack food. However, a small rainbow panel in short blonde hair can take less than 30min to apply! The more complicated the design, the longer the hair, the more challenging the starting colour... the longer it takes.

How harsh are the dyes that are used, for instance, are they vegan?

The bright rainbow colours are vegetable based dyes, no ammonia, no peroxide, highly conditioning and gradually fade from the hair. There are over 30 different brands on the market, and a lot of them are vegan. If you are vegan, check with your colourist to find out if they stock one of the vegan brands.

Anya: any question you wished clients asked (but usually don’t!)

Client: “What do you like better, Costa Coffee or M&S Choc Chip cookies? Never mind I’ll just bring you both!” ;)

Many thanks to Anya for her fabulous expert advice - you can learn more about rainbow hair at or by following Anya on Instagram.
Writer and expert
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