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M. Spencer Green / Associated Press

Neighborhood mom Orly Telisman, of Chicago, prepares to color eight-year-old Gabriella Lujan's hair with soft pastel chalk. Everyone from hipsters to children to Hollywood celebrities is embracing the runway fad for brightly colored hair, using soft pastel chalk.

Color without commitment

Published: Tuesday, May. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1D
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 1, 2012 - 9:03 am

CHICAGO – First there were feathers, then the "Hunger Games" braid took over. Now there's a new hair trend just as easy to embrace – coloring strands with craft-store chalk. No stylist, no complicated instructions, no great expense.

Everyone from hipsters to children to Hollywood celebrities is embracing the runway fad for brightly colored hair using soft pastel chalk.

"Hairstylists and colorists, they're artists at their core, so they're always fooling around with things from the arts-and-crafts store," said Kristin Perrotta, Allure magazine's executive editor. "Somewhere along the line a few of them realized there were soft pastels you could use to leave color on your hair."

The advantage? The chalks wash out in the shower, allowing for temporary rocker style.

"There's no commitment," Perrotta said. "This is your opportunity to go crazy for whatever time you want. Even if you're a super-preppy woman who works in a library, on the weekend you can have purple stripes in your hair."

Color-streaked hair first popped up on catwalks two or three years ago, featured by designers such as Prabal Gurung, Prada and Jean Paul Gaultier, Perrotta said. But the look really took off when reality TV star Lauren Conrad featured hair chalking on her blog, the Beauty Department.

"There's really one person to credit for the chalking trend: It's Lauren Conrad," Perrotta said.

Kristin Ess, Conrad's hairstylist, said beauty professionals have used the chalks to color hair for a while. She credits the proliferation of online beauty blogs for turning the tool into a trend.

"Usually it was secret, so top secret," said Ess, who co-founded the Beauty Department with Conrad. "But now the way that things are, it's so easy to get it out there."

The steps aren't complicated: Take a piece of chalk, run it along the strand of hair until it's colored, and if necessary pull the hair through a curling iron. If you have darker hair, the chalk may stick easier if you dampen the strand first. It's important to use soft pastel chalks – the kind artists use, not oil-based chalks or sidewalk chalks.

To remove, shake or brush your hair to dust out the chalk before getting into the shower. Then wash your hair. The chalk can get messy, so wear plastic gloves when applying.

Kandee Johnson, a celebrity makeup artist and beauty and style blogger, posted a hair chalking how-to video on YouTube in February. So far it's gotten more than 630,000 hits.

"People were sending me pictures from websites," she said. "I didn't think people were going to be that excited over it. I did not think it was going to be that popular at all."

Johnson thinks the attraction comes because chalking is temporary and affordable – a whole set of chalks can cost $6 to $8.

"It's a fun idea if you have kids or you have a corporate job," she said. "It will be really fun for summer because you can have fun ponytails."

Hair chalking tips:

Use soft pastel art chalk. Oil-based chalk will stain your hair, and sidewalk chalk or chalkboard chalk won't stick to your hair.

No matter what color your hair, apply the chalk to dry hair first. If you have darker hair and the chalk isn't showing up, dampen the hair before applying.

Using a curling iron or flat iron after chalking. It can help seal your hair if needed.

Blondes may have to shampoo a few times before the color fully rinses out.

Shake or brush the chalk out of your hair before you wash it. Getting chalked hair wet could stain your hair.

Protect your clothes and hands. Wear gloves and a smock or towel to keep the chalk from getting on you while you're applying it. Chalk can flake off while it's in your hair, so it's a good idea not to wear light clothes.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Caryn Rousseau



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