Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve been aware of the new hair color trend—pastels and vibrant, bright colors. It may seem like a trend only celebrities can pull off, but in actuality, women and men from all walks of life are catching on to this trend. Even professionals in conservative work environments are becoming more accepting of unique colors. (And if you think you’re too old for this trend, think again. Actress Helen Mirren wore her hair a pastel pink to the BAFTAs in 2013!) Thanks to social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest, the color trend has quickly gained the attention and popularity of all age groups. Here are a few things you should know before you dive into this color fad:

Brunettes. Because you’ll need to bleach your hair to almost a white blond, you might want to take baby steps. Bleaching your hair can be very damaging, leaving your hair vulnerable. By breaking up the bleaching sessions, you can help your hair recover with deep conditioning treatments in between. You may choose to do a whole bleaching session at once, but it’s all about what you feel comfortable with and if you think your hair is strong enough to take it. Why so much bleach? Well, personally speaking, I am a super dark-haired brunette who just recently changed my hair color to an electric blue. I made the mistake by thinking once my hair reached blond I was ready to add the blue color. Wrong. When I added the blue to my blond hair it turned my hair green. As we learn in elementary— blue added to yellow makes green. Get the picture? So in order to avoid bleaching your hair again to remove the unwanted color with a bleach cocktail like I had to, you want to make sure your hair color is almost white before depositing the bright colors to make sure they come out as intended.

Blonds. You will have it a little easier than the rest of us because your hair is already light, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to escape the bleaching process. All it means is fewer bleaching sessions. You may also want to consider breaking up the bleaching process to help strengthen your hair in between, it depends on how patient and what shape your hair is in. If you think your hair is strong enough to take it, go for it.

Before and After: Before you go bold try applying hair chalk first. Hair chalk washes out easily and allows you to play with different colors so you can get a feel for them before deciding. Go to a professional hairstylist who knows color and knows what they are doing with bleach. Also know that the after care is high maintenance. Be prepared to get well acquainted with your hairstylist as these monochromatic colors fade after about two weeks. You shouldn’t wash your hair more than twice a week and only use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners with cold water. Hot water opens up the hair cuticle causing it to fade, so cold water will keep the color in longer. Using a dry shampoo in between washes will help preserve and extend the brightness of your new hair color.

The best part of going bright—Babe offers extensions in a variety of monochromatic colors so you won’t need to spend time trying to color hair extensions to match your new hair color. You can also color the extensions if you choose to, but always make sure to do a test strand first and remember to always deposit color but never try to lift. This is where a color swatch comes in handy. Individual color swatches are available for strand testing or getting your hair color as close to the extension color as possible.

Will you be the next one to take the plunge? Share your thoughts with us!