On Our Radar (Now and Always): Unicorn Hair

Because if you can be a unicorn, you should have unicorn hair.

The beverage might have had mixed reviews, but this hair trend? Looks like it’s still all systems go for unicorn hair. This look, which features hair dyed in several pastel shades, has been quite the runaway hit ever since we spied teasers here and there a few seasons past.

Though not an original concept—first-generation versions included mermaid hair hues like blue, teal or purple, as well as a sunset/sand-art trend featuring pinks and peaches—unicorn hair is perhaps the latest offshoot of the growing “millennialism” taking over mainstream trends in recent years. Cheesy retro concepts from decades past, like 8-bit video game consoles or unflattering “mom jeans” from the ’80s and ’90s, have now been repackaged under a brand-new, deliberately ironic filter.

In short: What’s uncool is cool again by virtue of the passage of time (and excellent marketing), and woe on anyone who doesn’t get it. And to the unicorn skeptics, who thought that this… this mythical creature (gasp) was simply the subject of a best-selling book and cartoon in 1982, or worse, just a figment of your princessy imagination? Well, the gorgeous trendsetters sporting this designer-forecast look are literally sitting pretty, sipping some well-deserved tea. Hairflip!

To give us more insight on this trend—and to separate it from the seashell crowns, pizza memes and poop-emoji movie trends we’ve been assaulted with lately—we asked real experts and colorists why unicorn hair isn’t just a flash in the pan. TIGI U.S. Technical Education Director Renée Valerie, who created some of the picture-perfect looks below, lets us in on why exactly the unicorn trend is becoming as legit as the rest of today’s classics:

Deconstructing the Unicorn Hair Trend with TIGI

peachy unicorn hair
We’ll always have a soft spot for delicate, feminine pastels, such as peachy-pink hues. Photo courtesy of colorist and TIGI Technical Education Director Renée Valerie

All Things Hair: Why do you think rainbow/pastel hair or “unicorn hair” has become such a big trend in recent seasons? What do you think precipitated this?

Renée Valerie: Pastel colors have been around for quite a few seasons, but in recent months more celebrities are embracing the more colorful side of life which creates a trickle-down effect onto our consumers. There is an element of playfulness that comes with these more fun colors, which I believe helps create balance during more stressful times.

Interesting! What state does your hair have to be in originally to successfully recreate these results? Is it okay to do a multi-colored look on previously bleached hair?

The pre-service to creating pastels involves pre-lightening hair to an almost-white blonde to create the perfect base for these shades to be visible. It’s almost like prepping a wall before you paint it: You need to make sure you create a clean base.

green and purple unicorn hair
Pastel hair can work on all haircuts or hair types. Photo courtesy of colorist and TIGI Technical Education Director Renée Valerie

What kind of home care would you recommend for those with pastel hair?

Home care is the most important aspect! Pastels tend to fade quite fast due to the porosity of the hair after pre-lightening. So making sure you wash with a color-safe shampoo, avoiding excess heat and washing the hair as little as possible [is ideal]. I love S Factor by TIGI True Lasting Colour Shampoo and S Factor by TIGI True Lasting Colour Conditioner to help promote a longer-lasting color.

How is the maintenance like for pastel/multi-colored hair? How often should you come in for touchups?

Maintenance for this type of color is quite high. I think this is something that must be communicated to the client so they don’t have unrealistic expectations. These colors may need touchups anywhere between two to four weeks in depending on the fading.

bowl cut unicorn hair
Lilacs and lavenders are a popular trend for the upcoming season.

What hairstyles look best with these colors?

Pastels can work on all hairstyles, from pixies to bobs and layered shapes! The most important thing is to evaluate the shape and place the tones accordingly.

Is there a type of woman who could wear the unicorn hair trend the best?

I believe any man or woman can wear a pastel color! Even more conservative clients can have a slight tint of rose or lavender. To have a full-on color that’s multi-toned may be more suited to the client who wants to make a statement.

gray and yellow unicorn hair
Want a bit more edge? Go gray. Lilacs and lavenders are a popular trend for the upcoming season. Photo courtesy of colorist and TIGI Technical Education Director Renée Valerie

We also spoke with TIGI colorist Brian Adelman, who created the awesome pink-tinged looks that follow, about the process behind these pastel creations, and asked for a few insider tips. Read on:

unicorn hair with pinks and blues
A mix of pinks and blues gives the prettiest cotton-candy effect. Photo courtesy of TIGI colorist Brian Adelman

All Things Hair: How did you achieve these multi-colored looks?

Brian Adelman: First, pre-lighten the hair to a level 10 (very pale yellow) and tone using TCC Gloss 10 02. This will give you a clean blonde palette to put your fashion shades on to. Next you apply your fashion shades on towel-dried, shampooed and conditioned hair.

For this look, I creatively intermixed TCC Gloss and Creative to create three different formulas: an apricot for the base, as well as a blush pink and powder blue for the mid-lengths and ends.

First apply the apricot to the roots. Then using a freehand blending technique, smudge in your blush pink and powder blue onto the mid-lengths and ends using alternating packets throughout the entire head.

pink and blue unicorn hair trend
Light baby blue hues take the place of regular highlights. Photo courtesy of TIGI colorist Brian Adelman

Wow! How long does this process typically take?

This isn’t a quick process because you have to pre-lighten and tone first. This model took me about two hours start to finish.

What’s the best way to maintain color vibrancy of unicorn hair?

The best way to maintain this color is to wash minimally using Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Shampoo and conditioner with cool water.

Is it possible to achieve this look at home?

I would not recommend anyone try this on his or her own.

peachy pink unicorn hair bob
Try some pinks, peaches or a combo of the two for the summer. Photo courtesy of TIGI colorist Brian Adelman

What are the hottest color combos or color trends for his coming season?

Pastel pinks, blues, corals and ivories will definitely be very hot this summer!

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