back to top

17 Tips For Getting Dascha Polanco's Pink Hair Color

Straight from celebrity hairstylist and #GrannyHair enthusiast Cynthia Alvarez.

Posted on

Both styles are actually wigs created by Cynthia Alvarez, Polanco's hairstylist.

"Dascha's so creative and down to change her look all the time," Alvarez tells BuzzFeed Life. To make Polanco's two magenta lace-front wigs — the shorter style we saw and a flowing 30-inch style — Alvarez used bundles of blonde human hair. She colored the hair, sized Polanco's head, and then sewed the hair to a wig cap to create the custom pieces.

I asked Alvarez — who is also known for her beautiful, colorful hair — for her best tips for people of color who want to get a bold, Dascha-inspired style. Here's what she said:

1. To get a gorgeous, true color on dark hair, you'll need to bleach it first.

Cynthia Alvarez / Via

And this step can cause problems for women of color. "The bleach will take longer to take and you might not ever get it light enough," Alvarez says. If you relax your hair, she says you shouldn't try it; the lightening process is too damaging.

2. Those with natural hair may be able to get away with coloring it.

"Curly hair is so fragile," Alvarez says. "Do it slowly, over a week or two." She suggests going to someone you know, and who knows your hair. "Go to a master colorist, someone who only does color."

And if you keep your hair short, Alvarez says you can definitely lighten and color it. "It grows so fast and you can cut dead ends off."

3. In either case, coloring a wig is a great option.

Alvarez is a big fan of using wigs to change up your look. "Wigs are great protective styles," she says. (She first started making wigs after her own hair was damaged and broke off.)


4. There's no reason to feel weird about wearing a wig.

Cynthia Alvarez / Via

"It's cool now, it's not something that frowned upon," Alvarez says. "Instagram has changed everything. People are more transparent."

5. If you're planning to color it, be sure to buy human hair — preferably virgin human hair.

Alvarez suggests using a Remy human hair wig. She says you can expect to pay $150-$500 for "decent, basic, natural hair."

6. Wigs to avoid: synthetic wigs and pre-colored wigs.

Synthetic hair is not meant to be colored. And Alvarez says the (typically synthetic) colorful pre-dyed wigs you're likely to find in beauty stores look "really synthetic and wiggy" and are better suited for costumes. However, buying a high-quality human hair wig that's already blonde (or blonde ombré) can make coloring much easier.

7. Use a tried and true brand of hair dye.

"Pravana is great, I love Pravana," Alvarez says. "And Manic Panic, obviously." She also likes Jazzing and Adore.

8. And select your color(s) carefully.

"For brown and black girls, keep the undertone cool — blue or purple," Alvarez says. "Think steel or titanium as opposed to a Gothic gray, which is often the result of not getting hair light enough."

Also consider that most pros are mixing more than one color together to get the beautiful, dimensional shades like Polanco's. (FYI, Pravana and Manic Panic typically reveal all the colors used to create a look when they share photos on Instagram.)


9. Making a bright color on a wig look ~natural~ is "all about application."

Cynthia Alvarez / Via

"Keep a little bit of the root," Alvarez says. She recommends leaving one-half to one-fourth of an inch of hair at the roots free of dye. If you're doing a pastel color, she suggests leaving the ends or pieces in the front a little lighter than the rest of the hair.

Also note that you'll likely need to leave the dye on the wig longer than the instructions say to. "On average, I would leave color on for 30 to 45 minutes," she says. "Depending on the quality, you might need to extend it for 10-minute intervals until desired color is achieved."

10. Know that you may need to buy new products to maintain the bold color.

First, you should be using sulfate-free, moisturizing products. "Shampoo it as rarely as possible — once a week," Alvarez says. "Stock up on dry shampoo."

If you've gone gray or fuchsia, Alvarez suggests looking for a purple shampoo. "Pravana and Lanza have intense purple shampoo," she says. Pink shades can benefit from red shampoos. For other colors, you can add a little bit of the hair dye to the shampoo bottle and shake it up; the mixture will refresh the hair's color every time you wash it.

11. If you don't want to go the DIY route, you could have something customized by a pro.

Alvarez says you can expect to spend $750-$1200 for a custom wig, depending on the quality and the stylist.

12. If you decide to buy a bespoke wig from one of the many wigmakers on Instagram, do your research first.

"Word of mouth and reputation are really important," Alvarez says. "They could be buying the same wigs you see in a store, cutting the tags off, and selling it for double the price." She suggests looking at comments (and relevant hashtags) carefully, and remembering that people are often paid to promote brands on Instagram. Kellon Deryck, Darnell Wold, and Bobbie Pinz are other stylists she likes.

13. If you're handy with a needle and thread, you could also try making your own wigs.

There are tons of great YouTube tutorials (like this one) that show you exactly how to do it.


14. Before you put your wig on, your natural hair will need to be braided down as flat as possible.

View this video on YouTube

When you have the cornrows done, make sure one of your parts matches up with the wig's part, which will allow your scalp to show through. (And FYI, you should take your wig off every night before bed.)

15. You should still take good care of your natural hair.

Alvarez suggests using a cream serum, leave-in conditioner, or oil before braiding it so it's well-moisturized. "Use astringent on a cotton ball to clean in between the braids so your scalp is clean and refreshed," she says. If you're doing them yourself, she suggests redoing the cornrows after a couple of days; if you're having them done at a salon, she says you may be able to go a full week.

16. With quality hair and good care, your wig should last you a while.

"Over a year, a year and a half," Alvarez says. "I've had mine for about two years now." But she cautions that it can take "a lot of maintenance, a lot of money" to make it work.

17. And however you style your wig, wear it with confidence.

Cynthia Alvarez / Via

"Make sure you're owning it, embracing it, and living in the moment," Alvarez says. "It can work for everyone. Just be careful because it can be really damaging to your own hair. Start with a wig first."


Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!