nicola dall'asen

A tiny Nicola, before she reached her full eyebrow potential — and before her beautiful long hair all went to shit.

photo: Nicola Dall'Asen/Instagram

I don't want to be That Girl, but I had unicorn hair WAY before unicorn hair was unicorn hair.

My brightly colored hair was part of who I was — and I changed it A LOT. It's been every shade of blue, purple, pink, red, and orange you could imagine.

But it wreaked havoc on my hair — and my life. Through all the mistakes I made with my own hair, I've learned what it really takes to get healthy unicorn hair. And trust me, there's a LOT you need to know.

If you're thinking about going rainbow, buckle up. Here's everything you need to know about unicorn hair — and you might not like what I'm about to tell you.

Yes, you HAVE to bleach your hair.

Simply put, unicorn hair dyes DO NOT WORK on dark hair — hell, even natural blonde hair has trouble absorbing bright pigments. Bleach lightens hair and opens the follicles wide open for pigments to seep into.

If you don't bleach your hair and go straight to slathering your hair in purple goo, you're going to really sad when you realize it didn't do anything but leave a mess in your bathroom. 

Depending on the hue and brightness you want your hair to have, you're probably going to need toner, too.

Toner eliminates yellow tones in hair, and if you use one that requires a developer, it can also be damaging. It is, however, vital if you want any color that's neon, pastel, or cool toned. The whiter your base, the better those dyes are going to look down the line.

Just beware, going platinum blonde comes with its own set of Terms and Conditions.

And bleaching your hair is going to cause a whole lot of damage if you don't have patience and invest in professional assistance.

You can prevent some damage by keeping your hair well-conditioned, but there is NO hair mask that can magically erase damage caused by bleach. The only way to fix it is to cut it off and wait for it to grow back. 

This is why you're best off with a professional who has access to healing chemical bonds like Olaplex, a pair of trimming scissors at the ready, and a whole lot of hair knowledge.

But it's impossible to avoid ALL the damage your hair will suffer, and the end of your run as a unicorn, you might need a drastic hair cut.

The more shit you do to your hair, the more of a toll it will take on your ends. And with all the bleaching and upkeep unicorn hair takes, you'll need trim it constantly to keep it looking healthy. 

Or, you can do what I did — deny the damage for as long as possible before inevitably having to cut six or seven inches off at once.

Luckily, the unicorn-colored dyes themselves aren't damaging if you pick the right ones.

DO NOT buy cheap pastels or neons from the drugstore — Splat, I'm looking at you — venture to your local beauty supply store. What you need is a color cream or pigment, something that doesn't require a developer.

Manic Panic, Arctic Fox, and Ion are all good examples of affordable brands who sell just those.

There's a LOT of upkeep. Unicorn hair is not a low-maintenance look.

Fashion colors, the catch-all term for hair colors not found in nature, fade fast. And, for dark-haired people especially, roots are VERY visible. 

Depending on your lifestyle and how dedicated your are to your hair game, you might find yourself touching up your roots and re-dying your hair once every two weeks.

The more intricate your unicorn color, the harder it'll be to maintain.

If you've gone for a multi-colored rainbow party or something crazy like confetti hair, you're going to require professional assistance every time you want a touch up. One overall color, on the other hand, can be maintained just by mixing a little dye into your conditioner.

If you don't like your new bright color, you can wash a lot of it out, but you can NOT completely undo it unless you bleach it out of your hair or dye it dark.

Clarifying shampoo can wash a LOT of pigment out, but even a semi-permanent or temporary dye can stain bleached hair. A dye job gone wrong can only be fixed by risking bleach damage once more or simply calling it quits and covering it with a dark color.

The lighter and less vibrant your dye, the easier it will be to back pedal.

Every color is going to fade differently.

Reds and pinks have the smallest pigment molecules, so they fade faster than any other color. Blues, however, can last over a month, but will almost always fade to a greenish hue. Light purple fades to silver, which then fades to dish-water blonde.

Hot showers, shampoo, and heat styling will play a role in how long your unicorn hair lasts.

Hot water and shampoo are a fresh dye job's worst nightmare. If you want your colors to last, it's best to stick to washing your hair once or twice a week in lukewarm water. Don't have a shower cap? Invest in one before you dye anything.

You can blow-dry, curl, or straighten hair frequently without seeing immediate results, but the less you touch your hair, the longer the dye will last.

If you have white bedding, it's bound to become unicorn bedding after you shower.

Fashion colors bleed a LOT when they're freshly dyed. A light pillow case will stain IMMEDIATELY if you lay your wet head on it. Same goes for your towels. 

Be careful with white tops, too. Sweat doesn't cause the same amount of bleeding that straight-up water does, but if you're sweating after a recent touch-up, you might find some dye creeping down the back of your neck.

Your bathroom will never look clean.

Not even the most careful of people can avoid getting little globs of high-pigment dyes on the bathroom tile while dying their hair. When that happens, wipe it up QUICK, because it will stain countertops, walls, floors — EVERYTHING.

If your wardrobe is colorful, you might constantly feel like your hair is clashing with it.

You'll either have to adjust your clothing choices or just get over it. But once you start to feel comfortable with a new, bold hair color, it won't matter as much.

You WILL get the Stare of Death from certain passersby.

How many dirty looks you get will certainly depend on where you live. Where I live now, in New York City, colored hair is very popular and therefore no one cares. But when I debuted my long, blue locks back in 2013, I was living among conservative folks in Texas. They didn't like it so much.

Not going to lie, though, it was a great lesson in Not Giving a Fuck that I'm glad I learned when I did.

Be ready to instantly become the center of attention in most rooms you enter.

Having unicorn hair is almost like wearing a stop sign — people's eyes are going to drawn to it whether you like it or not. This is definitely something you will have to consider or get used to if you're shy or socially anxious.

But most of all? Learn to how to receive compliments and answer questions, because you're going to get a LOT of them.

Despite its recent mass popularity, having unicorn hair is still a bold statement that not a lot of people are willing to make. If you're one of the brave ones who took the plunge, don't shy away from commentary about your hair — embrace it. It's now a part of your look and your personality, and those deserve to be in the spotlight.