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How to Get Jemima Kirke’s Pink Hair

Lena Ott, the colorist behind our new favorite head of hair, on how to get (and keep) the perfect pink.

When we heard that Girls star, Lena Dunham bestie and all around untouchable Brooklyn cool girl Jemima Kirke had dyed her unattainably long, all-natural hair pink, it took us about 10 seconds to find out who was responsible before sending a message asking—no, begging—for all the deets. What can we say? The fact that Kirke’s first choice having not dyed her hair, like, not once in her entire life (which is pretty unicorn-like these days, TBH), was to head to Lena Ott’s Suite Caroline salon to go bubblegum pink is, in our world, big deal, get your serious journalist hat on, news. Okay, so we’re joking—but honestly, the look was cool, it was different, and we’ll admit it: we were more than a little curious.

One phone call with the colorist later and we’re ready to share our findings. Keep in mind that Ott is also the hair genius behind Martha Hunt, Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR, Anja Rubik and Florence Welch’s chameleonic colors—a.k.a. pretty much every head of hair you’ve ever bothered to pin—so we knew we were getting an IRL expert. Herein, the products to use, the way to get bright or faded color and Ott’s prediction for the fashion world’s next hair color obsession. You saw it here first, kids.

On how to get the faded pastel vs. the super-saturated neon…

“The majority of the time, they need to be lightened first. If not, it might be a little more grungy and muted than [what you’d] usually want. It also depends on who the client is, because I do Lizzy Plapinger from MS MR, she’s pink, and she’s a rock star on stage, so I bleach her whole head. There are some really great photos of her for Stella McCartney’s new campaign right now. So in her situation I’ll do a double process: a platinum Marilyn Monroe blonde and then put the pink on. But with Jemima [Kirke], her hair is so long, she’s so organic. So I did [blonde] highlights instead, that way she didn’t have a harsh line as her hair grows. Her reference that she loved is Kate Moss in the ‘90s. Kate Moss started out with this ultra-violet pink, which is what I started out with, but then it faded. Jemima’s favorite was actually that faded color.”

On the inevitable fade…

“They’re all going to fade. They’re all like a stain. There’s no ammonia or peroxide so it doesn’t open the cuticles. That’s what most permanent color does. This type of color rests on the top. And depending on how course your hair is, [will] how long it’ll last.”

On how to keep the resulting dryness under control…

“I would suggest stepping up your conditioner or maybe [using] a nice mask, because [the dye will] make [your hair] a bit dryer and a little courser. It doesn’t have to be gnarly—I don’t want to scare people from doing it! Most product lines have something rich with moisture and reparative. At my salon we use Oribe and Christophe Robin; both of them have great options. The Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask with Lemon, which won't fade the color, along with the Lavender Oil as a treatment, [are my favorites].

On the way to fade (or not)…

“The more you wash [your hair] the faster it’s going to come out. Jemima was clearly shampooing her hair because she was enjoying the fade out. Where I have Lizzy—and she has this whole crew who I do rainbow colors on—they know how to stretch it. They use dry shampoos and non-sulfite shampoos and their color lasts them for months. On other people, the color’s practically gone in two weeks.”

On the next big color and just what’s so special about pink…

“You know what I think might be next? Peach—because I’ve had two requests now from two famous outlets. For the fun colors, there’s something that feels feminine about pink. Even for myself, I’ve played with rainbow colors in my hair and for some reason with pink, I just felt really flirty in it—more than with other colors. And Lizzy, she’s had so many colors, and now she’s on this pink. There’s just something so loveable about it. For as cool and hardcore as these girls are they also still want to feel girly and pretty.”

 

On how to DIY it (at least part of it)…

“I use a lot of Manic Panics—you don’t need a cosmetologist license to buy Manic Panic. Manic Panic now has bleaching kits, but I’ve never used one so I don’t know how good they are. Personally, I work at a hair salon, so I use professional products that you need a license to buy. If they’re doing it themselves, like all by themselves, I suggest doing it just on the tips of their hair to get a little feel for it—if you try to do the whole thing it could be really spotty. If you try and do your whole head with bleach you could end up with animal print. Or they could go to a hair salon and get highlights, then put the color in themselves.”

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