Sydney Resnick lounged under a dryer at the Cactus Salon in Dix Hills, the bottom third of her hair wrapped in foil. The 10-year-old from East Northport read a copy of Teen Vogue -- and could have been a trendmaker on its pages.
Hairdresser Christy Campanelli was dyeing the ends of Sydney's hair a vibrant purple, so that when the job was finished it would look like violet flames licked at her head.
Sydney is part of a trend of tweens and teens creatively coloring their hair, mimicking celebrity idols such as Demi Lovato and Ashley Tisdale, who have splashed dashes of pink into their 'dos. Many girls "dip-dye" their ends; others paint streaks of pastel or neon through their hair like rainbow highlights; some attach removable colorful hair extensions; still others dye the bottom half of their hair a lighter natural shade in a dark-to-light fade of color called ombre.
While some girls go to the hairdresser to have the coloring done -- Sydney's dye job cost $75 -- part of the reason the trend has spread is that it can be done inexpensively at home using boxed dyes, chalks and other products such as Manic Panic, Splat, Chox and Streekers, purchased for less than $15 at beauty-supply stores. Some wash out after days or months, making the experiment less risky. Kids even reportedly use Kool-Aid to color tips -- the Web offers videos showing how to use the drink mix to color hair.
Emma Strassberg, 11, of Bayville started experimenting with pink in her hair using the marker-style color. "In the morning before she went to school, she'd put it in her hair like part of her makeup," says mom Pat Strassberg.
FRINGE TO MAINSTREAM
"I got bored with my normal color," says Jess Wolff of Melville, a senior at Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills who colored the bottom of her hair pink using a box of store-bought dye about a week before school began in September. "I felt like doing my entire head would be a little much. I'm not that bold."
Hills East junior Kristen Clementi, 16, has been splashing rainbow colors into her hair since she was 11. The trend has blossomed from fringe to mainstream, she says. "Ten years ago, it would be more only the outcasts or artistic kids, or kids who express themselves differently from everybody else," says Clementi, who currently has an ombre look, with her dark hair fading into dirty blond.
'BLAH WITHOUT COLOR'
Sometimes, everything doesn't go according to plan. Stephanie DeGiorgio, 19, of Cold Spring Harbor, dyed the bottom of her hair pink, purple and blue for a concert this summer, thinking it would wash out in three weeks because that's what it said on the box. It's January, and she still has pink in her hair, she says. "It looked really good when I did it," she says. "Now, it's annoying."
Some kids dye their hair for a cause. Jill Salko, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Huntington, used blue on her tips to represent Type 1 diabetes. Others used pink during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"I did it because I feel like my hair is blah without any color," says Kaitlin Sikorski, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Bayville who added rainbow extensions to her short hairstyle using clips. "You stand out. I have very short hair. I can't do a lot with my hair. My friends, they loved it. When I would walk in the hallway, they would be like, 'I love your hair. It's cool.' "
HOW TO GET THE HUE
Many products offer options for coloring hair. Here are some:
Manic Panic Colors include Cotton Candy, Voodoo Blue and Flamingo. $9.99 at Sally Beauty Supply stores
Streekers Instant color, washes out with shampoo. $11.95 at Ulta Salons
Extensions Remy hair extensions. 20 for $27.99 at Sally Beauty Supply stores
Fashion Angels Hair Chox Temporary color. $3.99 at fashionangels.com