5 New Ways to Wear Pastel Hair for 2016 Nowness

If summer 2015 was the year of pastel-hued hair, prepare for summer 2016 to launch the 2.0 version of sun-bleached blues and peachy rinses. Though the experts predicted a return to rich earthy shades lifted with nothing more than artful balayage this year, it seems our love affair with mermaid hair isn’t quite over.

Far from it, in fact.

Search #pastelhair on Instagram, and you’ll score nearly 500,000 results. From pastel pink ombré to prismatic blends, it’s clear that unicorn manes and rainbow gradients are still playing muse to the masses.

So how to do we do the pastel hair trend now? Keep scrolling to discover the key trends for summer 2016.


With more than 40,000 YouTube subscribers and over 338,000 keen followers on Instagram, colourist Rebecca Taylor has become both the internet and West Hollywood’s go-to colour guru.

As well as transforming A-list manes into an impossibly dreamy blend of moonstone shades, she also travels the world to help top colourists up their colour and blending game. So of course, she’s our first port of call for the S/S 16 pastel forecast.

From the denim hair trend to metallic blends and a neon vs. pastel strand-off, here’s how to rock your locks this summer. Scroll down for the S/S 16 pastel hair forecast.


Ideal if you want to stay at the low(er) maintenance end of pastel hues—this trend is all about embracing the fade. Start the summer with your colour of choice, then nurse it into a sun-bleached rinse over the weeks that follow. The key is to keep your hair healthy and full of shine so that the fade remains glossy.


Faded denim is moving out of the wardrobe and into your hair. “Denim tones have a base of blue, but you can use lighter or darker tones just depending on the result you're after,” explains Taylor. “What makes the denim colour different than just any blue, is that you're adding in black, grey or silver tones, to give it more of a lived-in ‘denim’ feel.”


Underlights are perfect way to add subtle pastel colour to your locks. Applied in the same way as highlights, where sections of hair are doused in pretty shades, the placement of underlights is where they really come into their own. Choose between having yours on the very bottom layers of your hair, near the nape, or through the middle layers. Then you can show them off only when you want to.


Also known as the moonstone rinse, this is the trend for embracing your inner unicorn. “Silver and metallic shades are still going really strong,” says Taylor. Blending pastel shades inspired by precious stones—think amethyst, pink quartz, blue topaz—with metallic greys and silver tones is the way to do it.


If you like your pastels with an added punch, this is the one for you. “I personally like contrast in any form, and pairing muted pastel tones with brighter neon shades is definitely something you'll see more of,” confirms Taylor. If a whole head feels a bit much, opt for peek-a-boo pieces instead.

When it comes to plotting your S/S 16 pastel, you really can go for broke with the colour combinations. “I personally feel that anyone can sport any fashion colour, no matter what their complexion,” asserts Taylor. “The key to making that so is to incorporate a darker shadow root. That just adds a neutral depth near the face that will tie in any colour you choose and make it more complementary to your skin tone,” she explains.

But while traditional ‘colour rules’ don’t apply to pastel hair, it is wise to keep your skin tone in mind. “For optimum complementary tone matching, still keep the basics in mind,” advises Taylor. “If you have a cooler skin tone you don't want to conflict with a full-head in a warm colour palette, or vice versa. For example, if you have a deep olive complexion, don't opt for screaming bright orange from root to tip.”

If you’re planning a DIY pastel job, heed the bleached base warning. “I would 100% suggest that you do not attempt lightening your own hair at home using bleach,” cautions Taylor. “Just search 'bleaching fails' on YouTube and you’ll see why. You could not only end up with a splotchy, uneven starting canvas, along with severe damage and breakage, but home bleaching very commonly ends with blisters and burns on your scalp. I'd suggest going to a professional for your initial blonding service. With pastels, you need to be lifted to platinum blonde first, there is no way around that.”

Once you’ve been professionally bleached, the home-dye fun can start. “After your hair has been safely bleached to the correct, platinum level, you can apply your own custom pastel tones once it fades,” says Taylor. “This is when you can get creative and have fun, without the fear of damaging your hair and scalp.”

Pastels can work on dark hair, but you’ll need to put the time in. “If you have a very dark starting level or have previously altered your hair by adding darker, artificial colour, it may take multiple sessions to lift your hair to a level that’s light enough to support a pale pastel tone,” explains Taylor.

“Make sure you ask your stylist to use a product such as Olaplex to see that your hair is lifted carefully. Olaplex is a bond multiplier that repairs your hair before, during and after your bleaching session. There is a Step #3 product that you can purchase to use at home also. This will help to keep your hair strong, and will actually keep your pastels from fading as quickly too.”


Are you planning a S/S 16 pastel overhaul? Tell us all about it below!

Opening Images: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images; Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Soho House; Charles Sykes/Getty Images