No matter the technique though, a blank canvas is the starting point. Your colorist will likely use bright, semi-permanent dyes to create the patterns, which means your hair will likely need to be bleached or lightened before your hairstylist begins “painting.” This prep is necessary for the best color payoff. On darker hair, there’s no guarantee the color from hair dyes will take — but we have an alternate temporary option below. 

Once the hair is bleached, the stylist will work their magic using whatever tools they choose. The actual process of painting will look different depending on your stylist and hair length. In the salon, designs take approximately two to four hours, starting with the bleaching process to the final rinse. Huerta says the longer the hair the more time it will take. For Zais, it depends on how much damage the hair may have. Hair with less damage is easier to work with. “[The] more ‘workable’ the hair is the less I have to do to get the hair where I need it to be,” she shares.

How long the look will last depends on how often you wash your hair and the actual design itself. Zais says it can last anywhere from three to 30 washes. Bieber, on the other hand, says it’s dependent on the color. Vibrant colors can last three weeks with the right care. “Darker colors will tend to last longer,” she shares. “Designs in black or [that are bleached] will last until the next [haircut.]” To preserve your designs longer, Huerta recommends washing your hair with cold water. 

Tips for Hair Painting at Home

If you are feeling like Frida Kahlo, and opt to DIY, carve out some time. (A masterpiece can’t be rushed.) When it comes to establishing your color palette, experts recommend Good Dye YoungBleach London, and Manic Panic, which all have vibrant dyes and are available at beauty supply stores. These are pretty easy to figure out how to use safely at home, but if you need to bleach your hair first Allure still recommends having a professional handle that step. 

Then it’s time to collect the tools. “You’ll need your coloring products, a color-safe bowl, gloves, a brush for application, and smaller-sized paint brushes if you desire a specific design,” Huerta shares. You may want to sketch out the look using pencil and paper or a tablet, similar to Bieber, before putting a brush to your hair. Also, you’ll probably be happiest starting with simpler designs like hearts, stars, or even stripes — but as long as you feel confident in your artistic talents, go wild. 

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