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What is the pinwheel hair color technique?

The pinwheel hair color technique, also known as color melting, is a popular hair coloring method that creates a blended, multi-tonal look. This technique gained popularity in recent years as people look for more dimensional, natural-looking hair color.

How the Pinwheel Technique Works

The pinwheel technique aims to seamlessly blend multiple shades of color in a circular pattern throughout the hair. The stylist sections the hair into pie-shaped sections that resemble the spokes of a pinwheel. Each section is painted in a different tone, gradually getting lighter or darker as they work around the head.

Some common color combinations used in the pinwheel technique include:

  • Dark brown to caramel blonde
  • Jet black to dark burgundy
  • Platinum blonde to strawberry blonde

The colors flow into each other with soft, melted transitions instead of harsh lines or foils. The result is a multidimensional, natural-looking color that flatters many different skin tones and face shapes.

The Process Step-by-Step

Here is an overview of how the pinwheel hair color technique is done:

  1. The hair is sectioned into pie-shaped quadrants radiating from the crown.
  2. Each section is painted with its designated shade, starting with the lightest color in the front pieces.
  3. The stylist uses a tint brush to blend the colors together at the edges.
  4. More sections are painted and blended until the entire head is complete.
  5. The hair is processed according to the color brand’s recommendations.
  6. The hair is rinsed, conditioned, and styled as desired.

The number of colors used can vary from 2 to 4 depending on the overall look. The placement of shades is tailored to the client’s desired result.

Benefits of the Pinwheel Technique

There are several advantages that make the pinwheel color technique a popular choice:

  • Blend of shades: The seamless blending of multiple colors creates depth and dimension.
  • Natural look: The color graduates softly, just like natural hair color.
  • Low maintenance: The blended shades grow out nicely with less obvious regrowth.
  • Customization: Color placement can be customized to flatter face shape and skin tone.
  • Works on all hair lengths: Both short and long hair can benefit from the pinwheel technique.

Ideal Candidates for the Pinwheel Technique

The pinwheel color technique can work on most people, but here are some of the best candidates:

  • Those with longer hair lengths, at least past the shoulders.
  • People wanting to gradually go lighter or darker over time.
  • Clients seeking a low-maintenance color option.
  • Anyone looking to add dimension and movement to their hair color.
  • Those with wavy or curly hair types, which show off the blended colors.

Facts About the Pinwheel Hair Color Technique

Here are some interesting facts and statistics about the popular pinwheel hair coloring method:

  • The technique first emerged in 2015 and gained traction on Instagram.
  • It rose to popularity thanks to hairstylists like Guy Tang and Stephanie Brown.
  • Searches for “pinwheel hair” increased by 60% from 2018 to 2020.
  • The most popular color combination is brown to blonde, followed by black to red.
  • Pinwheel color can last 4-6 weeks for semi-permanent dyes and 6-8 weeks for permanent color.
  • On average, the service takes 2-3 hours depending on hair length and number of colors.
  • It costs $150-$350+ at high-end salons in metropolitan cities.

Pinwheel vs. Ombre

The pinwheel technique has some similarities to ombre coloring but achieves a different look. Here is a comparison:

Pinwheel Ombre
Blends multiple colors in a seamless gradient Gradually fades from darker to lighter shades
Uses pie-shaped sections radiating from crown Applies color in elongated panels down the hair length
Has a fun, whimsical effect Creates a refined, elegant look

The pinwheel method produces a more vivid, painterly result while ombre is more subtle and sunkissed.

Maintenance and Touch-Ups

To keep the pinwheel color looking vibrant, be sure to use professional sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner made for color-treated hair. Cooler water helps preserve the color. Try to wash hair only every 2-3 days if possible.

Refresh the color every 4-6 weeks with gloss or toning treatments. Schedule a full redo of the technique every 2-3 months to revitalize the color. The touch-up time will vary based on your natural hair growth and how drastically you change the colors.

Risks and Considerations

While stunning, keep these precautions in mind before getting a pinwheel color:

  • It requires very bleached and lifted hair to achieve vibrant results.
  • The bleaching process can damage and dry out strands.
  • Frequent bleaching and coloring has long-term risks like breakage.
  • It’s expensive to maintain the look with frequent salon visits.
  • The look may not suit more professional environments.

Discuss your hair history and these concerns with your stylist beforehand. Always do a consultation and strand test before coloring hair.


The pinwheel hair color technique is a fun, dimensional way to give hair a colorful, painted look. By blending multiple shades in pie-shaped sections, stylists can create flawless color gradients that flow together beautifully. For people wanting vivid, low-maintenance color, the pinwheel method is a great option when done correctly by a skilled colorist.

With proper care between salon visits, the pinwheel hair color can maintain its striking, melodic effect. Be sure to protect and nourish the hair well after the intensive lightening and coloring process. Schedule regular refresh glosses or toners to keep the color vibrant. While not for everyone, the pinwheel technique is perfect for those looking to make a colorful statement and turn heads.