I Tried This *Very* '90s Hair Trend — & Have No Regrets Whatsoever

Kelsey Stewart

My first experience coloring my hair was with a few packets of red Kool-Aid in 2012. I'm not sure how on earth this DIY trend went viral at the time, but seeing it splattered all over my Facebook page, I was eager to give it a go. While the red dip-dye results didn't turn out as I had anticipated (the color turned out to be a not-so-cute shade of red-brown), I'm still fixated on the newest hair color trends to this day. In fact, in the past few months, I had a particularly strong urge to indulge in a COVID-19 hair change — particularly something bright that would lift my spirits. My pick: the "money piece" hair trend that's everywhere right now.

The trend originated in the '90s, but these days, the chunky highlight look has been seen on celebrities like Dua Lipa and Beyonce´, fashion influencer Brittany Xavier, and rising Tik Tok star Charli D’amelio. Since first seeing the look on Lipa (my beauty and fashion idol) at the 2020 Grammy Awards, I've been itching to try the look out. The starlet went for a blonde money piece color at the award show, however, I was leaning more towards red (mostly to make it up to my 16-year old self for messing the color up the first time around). And after walking around Manhattan's East Village neighborhood on a Saturday night in mid September, I was confirmed that the style has New Yorkers' stamp of approval, too. I spotted girls walking up and down the streets with all sorts of money piece looks, from bright green to blonde front stands.

Kelsey Stewart

Arriving to Mark Ryan Salon in Chelsea, Manhattan, this look was at top of mind (although, I was also considering dying my whole head). After chatting with Mark DeBolt, co-founder and co-owner of the namesake business and notable celebrity colorist, we came to the agreement my hair was too coarse to bleach all over (above, a photo of my hair before my color treatment), and focusing on the front portion was best. In seeing DeBolt's impressive work on his Instagram page prior to my appointment, I trusted any expert advice he had for me. (His clients include Naomi Watts and Vanessa Ferlito.)

DeBolt ensures me I'm not the only one craving a new look during right now. "People are being really experimental with hair and having fun," he tells me during our appointment. "It's about really coming to view your hair color as an accessory of fashion, and changing it to be more expressive and more playful." DeBolt thinks this is driven by people working from home. "They feel like they don't have to be in front of their bosses all the time, so they can have way more fun."

While sitting in the chic Chelsea salon, I chatted with the hair expert on other colors trending for fall 2020, which he says include some more subtle and pandemic-friendly looks. "I think another big trend is hyper-natural [getting a natural hair coloring]," he says. "A lot of people want hair that is going to grow out more gracefully — super natural hair color that's very lived-in, very blended, very soft."

Whether you want to do something drastic or more laidback with your hair, quarantine is the perfect time to experiment with color. Ahead, find my experience getting the money piece hair trend. And consider trying out the funky look for yourself (just not with Kool-Aid).

Hair Transformation During COVID-19: Step 1

Kelsey Stewart

DeBolt applied bleach to my dry hair. The process took a little bit over an hour, as the stylist had to let the solution sit until we got a light-enough shade. As he washed the bleach out, I got a taste of the "blondes have more fun" theory. Even though the experience was only a few minutes in length, being blonde for the first time ever called for dozens of selfies sent to my mom and friends. After my photoshoot, it was time to apply the coral coloring to my front strands.

Hair Transformation During COVID-19: Step 2

Kelsey Stewart

DeBolt evaluated my complexion before choosing the shade of red for my front strands. "You have freckles and blue eyes, so it made sense to choose a shade for your money piece that worked with both," he explains. "With all the natural red you have in your hair, it only felt natural to make your money piece color more of a coral, something that lives well with your coloring."

And I didn't just dye my front strands, I did the complete transformation and colored the rest of my head, too. While I love my naturally brown, auburn hair, I typically switch things up for something a tad deeper come fall. Therefore, DeBolt went just a step darker than my natural hue. In turn, the coral strands were super distinctive next to the rest of my locks.

Hair Transformation During COVID-19: Final Result

Kelsey Stewart

After DeBolt finished up my color treatment and allowed me to take a good look at myself in the mirror, I was ecstatic. It was exactly the beauty transformation I desperately needed to brighten my mood in the midst of the pandemic. After sending the final look to family and friends, many responded with some form of "this is so you." I admit I was a bit unsure about how coral was going to turn out, but like DeBolt said, I love how it complements my blue eyes and freckles.

Considering how much I'm loving this color, you can be sure I'm taking the proper steps to make sure the it doesn't fade away quickly. "Using products that protect, prolong, and promote the care of color treated is really important," he says. Hydrating ingredients like essential oils and amino acids are essential for this. I've used Pantene's Pro-V Radiant Color Shine Shampoo to protect my color-treated hair in the past, but I'll be trying DeBolts two product recommendations: Christophe Robin's Cleansing Hair Mask and Shu Uemura's Essence Absolue Cleansing Milk Conditioner.

Another important element that's easy to forget is UV protection, as the sun can cause color to fade. Consider trying either Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protection Spray Broad Spectrum or Bumble and bumble's Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer. It's also important to note that how often you shampoo your hair affects how long your color will last. "Every time you shampoo, it's going to lighten [the color] a little bit." That said, DeBolt recommends not using harsh detergents (which includes ingredients like ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate) to his clients.

As for me, I'm already contemplating what my next money piece hair color will be. I'm torn between pastel purple and mint green — stay tuned to see which one I decide on.

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