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Hair Chalking for Beginners


Leonor Greyl Stylist Ron Pernell recently styled a story on hair chalking for the San Francisco Chronicle. Hair chalking you may ask?


For the uninitiated, chalking is a process where ladies (and some men) mash eye shadows or pastel sticks and rub the powder in their hair as a temporary dye.

“It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s flirty,” says colorist Ron Pernell, who has a small Union Square salon and is a hair-chalking expert. When Target wanted to use the stuff at its San Francisco Metreon launch party, they called Pernell.

“People have been using chalk and red mud in their hair since the aborigines,” Pernell says. “And temporary dyes in various forms have been popular for a while, but we’ve never seen anything quite like the hair chalking – it’s just so easy, so temporary.”

Pernell suggests going to a salon for a first application to learn how chalking works best (the application process depends on hair color), but after that it’s easy to do at home.

“You can buy the Color Bug or you can make your own with eye shadows,” he says. The cheaper shadows like Mac and L’Oreal are ideal because they have stronger pigment.

The clients who come to him are surprisingly diverse.

“Older ladies love it. It looks fabulous on grays,” he says. “I’ve put it in a lot of beards, too. Men think it’s fun, and neon’s not necessarily feminine.”

“I’m thinking I’ll mostly use blue because it will go with my eyes,” she says. “I’ve been dyeing my grays forever, always brown or black, and here was a way to have a little fun with them without a major commitment. This stuff was funky without trying too hard.”

Despite how easy hair chalk is to apply, Pernell says, there’s one caveat.

“It’ll get on your hands, your clothes, everything,” he says. “Because what we’re talking about is really just chalk – messy, messy, neon chalk.”

Pernell’s chalking tips and tricks:

For blondes: Leave hair dry, lest the dye become semi-permanent. Twist your hair and rub in the chalk a little at a time.

For brunettes: Apply the chalk to wet hair so it will stick better. For someone with very dark hair, crush the chalk, mix it with gel, and paint it on.

Caution: It should be the last thing you do after getting dressed. Shower before bed. And try not to wear white that day.

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