Your Step-By-Step Guide to the Ice Cream Hair Trend

August 15, 2017
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
person with blonde hair and pastel highlights

Ever since the beginning of Instagram (way back in 2010), trending foods and beauty have been melding into one big, beautiful and strangely endearing culture.

From pizza hair to sushi hair and just about everything in between, it really seems that everything we put in our stomachs might figuratively transform into our beauty looks. Cue, the next food-beauty trend to sweep the nation: ice cream hair! And it’s — you guessed it — just as delicious looking as ice cream tastes. We chatted with Matrix Celebrity Colorist George Papanikolas about exactly what you have to do to turn your hair into a rainbow pastel swirl cone. Here’s everything you need to know.

Step 1: Prep Your Hair

Preparing your hair for an ice cream pastel dye is easy – if you haven’t colored it before. “Virgin hair is ideal when doing a drastic change like this,” Papanikolas says. “If you have artificial hair color, then the results can be more predictable and more difficult to remove the pigment.” That’s because the color you already have can mess with the creamsicle color you’re going for. “If you have a lot of highlights, this also creates a challenge since those pieces can get over-processed during the pre-lightening process,” he adds.

Step 2: Consider the Damage Factor

Papanikolas notes that depending on how light or dark your locks are, you may have to lift a lot of your natural color out of it. “Hair can only safely go about seven levels lighter,” he says, “and pushing it beyond that point can cause damage and breakage.” While dark haired ice cream hopefuls might not want to hear this, lighter hair does have the upper-hand for this style, as it get to that white-blonde icy tone a lot easier.

Step 3: Guide Your Colorist

Matrix has a four-step process that makes it super easy to break down your natural color and add pastel shades and tones. The first step begins with a 50-minute process balayage, moving to a 20-minute toner and color melt. The final step is a 10-minute process of Matrix’s Bond Ultim8 Step 2, which will cleanse and condition your new ice cream pastel locks. If you go to a Matrix colorist, he or she should be able to execute your vision following this guide.

Step 4: Choose Your Flavors

If you’re more of a rainbow sprinkle kind of gal and want more than one pastel tone on your hair, Papanikolas has a few suggestions. “Keep the neighboring tones complementary and close to the color wheel so that they have a seamless and smooth transition, like orange fading into yellow,” he explains. And avoid mixing colors that are on the opposite sides of the color wheel – “like a red and green,” he notes. “If you try mixing those, you’ll end up with a muddy brown middle color,” leaving you with sad, melted ice cream locks – and no one wants that.

Step 5: Maintenance

While the results are certainly worth it, it takes a lot of maintenance to keep ice cream hair looking fresh. “It will require a substantial time and financial commitment with monthly root touch ups to maintain regrowth,” Papanikolas notes. “The pastel colors also fade quickly and will need to be refreshed one to two times per month depending on how often you shampoo.” And how exactly should you shampoo creamsicle strands? Papanikolas suggests minimal washing, cool water, and a super gentle color shampoo like the Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed. In addition, you might want to avoid hot tools all together. “The pre-lightening process can be hard on the hair, so you’ll want to keep tools to a minimum,” he says.

Like crafting an elaborate ice cream sundae, pastel ice cream hair requires a lot of ingredients and a lot of attention to detail. With both, however, it’s safe to say that the end just might justify the means.

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