Chalk It Up

Express your inner child through your hair


Though it has its uses – working out math problems in classrooms, displaying specials in restaurants, gracing the occasional sidewalk – chalk is generally an unglamorous thing. It’s dusty, it’s easily erasable and it’s mostly for kids. Not anymore. The newest trend in adorning your locks is hair chalking, and it’s already happening at Rosebud Salon.

I first read about the idea of applying old fashioned chalk to hair on a beauty blog, and was immediately intrigued: but I assumed that it would take months to catch on in Providence, like feather extensions did last year. You can imagine my surprise and delight to find out just a week or so later that Rosebud Salon on the Hill offers the service. I immediately called owner Doreen Ise to book an appointment. 

The technique itself is simple: chalk is applied to wet hair in artful ways, and then heat set to last throughout the day. It turns out there’s a bit more finesse to the service than that, though. Doreen instructed me to come with dry, styled hair (and to make sure to wear my hair curly, not straightened, that day). When I arrived, she sat me in her chair and showed me the colors she had in mind: magenta and royal blue, pulled from a surprisingly diverse palette of at least 20 shades that, while they were really just regular chalk, had come from an art supply store, not from a Crayola box. 

Doreen picked out strategic curls, sprayed them with water, and then twisted them into tight spirals. She then rubbed white chalk up and down the spiral (to act as a primer: lighter hair colors don’t need that step) and followed it with the color. She then repeated the process about 15 times around my head, alternating between the pink and blue and focusing on pieces that framed my face. After the chalk was applied, she diffused the curls to heat set the chalk, and sealed them with hairspray. 

Going in, I was expecting pale pastels. The end result, though, was a much bolder and more pleasing color palette: part rock star, part sci-fi and all fun. I loved the look – to me, it was more towards a Marie Antoinette-inspired, Versailles-style decadence, but one of my coworkers told me I looked like I belonged in Jem. Either equally awesome way, it worked perfectly at that night’s show at Lupo’s. I only wished the color had lasted longer than a day.