This newest trend takes hair experimentation into uncharted territory. Championed by Janine Ker on Instagram, hair stenciling is shaping up to be one of the most daring hair trends this summer.
Experienced artists can make the stenciled effect look almost Photoshopped, but that doesn’t mean this technique is inaccessible for those who want the look without the hefty price tag. If you want to try something new this festival season, buy a bottle of temporary hair color spray (like Joico InstaTint), read our handy guide to hair stenciling below, and have at it!
How to do it
Hair stenciling is as straightforward as it seems: hair stylists use stencils as guides to paint colorful, sometimes elaborate, designs into their clients’ hair. The end result is a mixed bag. Sometimes you’ll see some spectacularly stenciled locks, while other designs just end up looking muddy. Here are our tips and tricks to achieve the best ‘do possible!
What you’ll need:
- A design of your choosing
- Strong paper (watercolor paper works well!)
- A precision knife
- Regular hairspray (optional)
- Colored hairspray
- Cape or towel (to protect your clothes)
The first step is to get the stencil onto your paper (laser printed, drawn on, cut out from a magazine) and then cut out the design. You want the negative space intact to be the stencil card, so cut out the lines of the design itself using a precision knife.
If you have long hair, you may want to separate your hair into sections and then use the regular hairspray to hold the hairs together for the stencil work. This way, the hair isn’t constantly shifting while you’re manipulating the stencil, creating the perfect canvas.
Then hold up the stencil to the head very steadily, and spray from about 7 inches away. Experiment with different colors on the same stencil (ombre effect!) or try multiple stencils. Get creative with it!
What kind of hair does this technique work best on?
The ideal hair type for this trend would be straight hair that’s lighter (blond or at least a light brown). If you are going for intricate designs, you’ll need a flat canvas for the designs to show up properly. The lighter the hair color, the brighter and less muddy the color will be. We know, we know—not everybody has the “ideal” hair type for this look. But for those of us who don’t, rest assured, there’s still hope!
For example, you can easily stencil a flower or geometric design onto an undercut. The advantage of stenciling on a shaved head is that the design will stay put! If you have long hair, the hair will fall out of place during the day unless it’s styled into an updo or braids with lots of hair spray so the individual strands won’t budge.
Got all your materials together but don’t know what design you want to tackle? Why not replicate that tattoo design you’ve been etching into the margins of your notebook? How about just going to your local craft store and picking up pre-made stencils? Or try your luck on Google images or Deviant Art?
If you’re really stuck, we’ve got your back:
- Flowers with vines
- Hearts and stars
- Superhero logo
- Silhouette of your favorite Pokémon
The above categories of designs are broad enough that you can find something that suits your unique tastes. Since hair stenciling is temporary, it’s not a big deal if you find that a design just isn’t working on you after application—just wash it out and try again!