Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been a professional hair dresser. I have never been trained or taught and this article is based on nothing more than my own experience dyeing my own hair since I was 18 years old. Please use all advice and tips carefully, and at your own risk, as nothing is guaranteed – not even professional hairstylists can do that. With that in mind….
I have been dyeing my hair unnatural colors since I was 18 years old. If the color exists, my hair has been that color. It has also been various combinations, such as purple and pink, or red and black, or turquoise and blue. I’ve used every shade of red, orange, purple, and blue ever made, and when I got bored with those, I mixed them together to make something new. As you can imagine, I worry about damaging my hair. While the semi-permanent vegetable dyes (Special Effects, Manic Panic, Punky Colours, Directions, and Raw, for example) are not damaging, bleaching your hair (and roots) can be. When/if you decide to do this, it is important to carefully consider the condition of your hair. If you have a lot of breakage from past dyes, split ends, or your hair is particularly dry, don’t bleach your hair. Become good friends with deep conditioners (I, personally, love Aussie Three-Minute Miracle) and leave-in conditioners and smoothing treatments. If you really aren’t sure? Consult a professional. In general, they want your money – but they also value their reputation and 99/100 times, they will be honest with you.
Okay. Now let’s say you’re confident that your hair can take it and you want to take the plunge and do an unnatural/bright color. Start preparing your supplies – and your hair. Before bleaching, don’t wash your hair for 24-48 hours. It may get a little greasy, but that’s the idea. The natural oils in your hair will protect your scalp and roots from the harshness of the bleach.
You’re going to need to put aside a few hours to do your hair. I think of it as a project, since you have to do the bleach, rinse it, dry it a bit, put on the semi-permanent dye (ignoring that “15 minutes” thing on the bottle – try at least 3 hours, though if you can pull of 5 or 6, you’ll be happier with the results), rinse, and dry your hair. Like I said, it’s a project. But it’s worth it.
Things you will need:
– Plastic/Latex gloves. Get the powder-free ones. Any drug store will have a box of them – usually by the medical supplies. I go through at least 5 pairs of gloves each time I do my hair, so I keep a good amount on hand.
– Bleach. I like to use Feria or Garnier bleach blonding kits. While you can buy a package of blonding powder and toner and mix your own, the pre-measured kits are much safer for those of us who aren’t professionals.
– Bright dye in the color(s) of your choice. There are myriad Web sites that sell dyes online. I recommend http://www.idyemyhair.com (I am in no way affiliated with them, they’re just really good) and I use Special Effects dye because it seems to last longer than any of the other semi-permanent dyes. There are a ton of sites to get hair dye from, even http://amazon.com sells it. Sally Beauty Supply has some, as does Utopia in Norwalk.
– An old towel. Semi-permanent dye is messy! Don’t use your fine white towels unless you want them stained terribly. Keep that towel around for the first few washes, as well. While you’re at it, wear an old shirt you don’t care about and get a bandana that will be designated for hair dye days as well. (Note: wash these with dark colored clothes or alone; they WILL stain light/white clothes. My boyfriend now has a couple of pink socks, thanks to me throwing some of his laundry in with mine. D’oh.)
– Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I would almost bet these things were invented by someone who dyes their hair unnatural colors. They are truly a wonder to behold.
Now that you have your supplies, it’s time to get started.
Never bleach wet/damp hair. Make sure your hair is dry. (Remember, you let it get a little oily for extra protection, right?) When bleaching your hair, follow the directions. And pay attention. Even if the package says you can leave it on for 20 minutes, if your hair has lightened more quickly and you’re feeling good about how it looks after 10? Rinse it out. The less time the bleach is on your hair, the less of a chance for damage, and the better for your hair.
Rinse your hair with warm water until the water runs clear. Wear gloves for this and be careful of your eyes because you do not want bleach in your eyes. Your hair will probably feel a little funky, as you just stripped the color out of it with a harsh chemical treatment. Towel dry and gently (I cannot stress the world gently enough) comb through your hair for any knots or kinks. Keep it wrapped in a towel for a while. You don’t want it to be 100%dry, but you also don’t want it sopping wet.
Now the fun part: bright colored dye!
Odds are, you are going to just do one color. (More than one color can be done – there are tons of advanced tutorials online for multi-colored hair, check them out if that is what you want to do.) If you can’t find a color that seems perfect, mix them in a bowl. I use three parts red to one part orange for my usual hair color, unless I can’t find one or both of those dyes. You’ll find over time what you like. This part is not a exact science. The dye is not damaging to your hair; in fact, because it is vegetable based and coats your hair (as opposed to penetrating it the way bleach and permanent dyes do) it is actually good for your hair and you will find your hair feels thicker, more healthy, and shines more than it did before you used it. So go for it. Slop it on. Massage it in. It will stain your scalp, so try to be careful. People recommend putting a thin coating of petroleum jelly on your ears, neck, and hairline, but I have never been a fan. You can usually clean up after application with soap, water, and astringent, so long as it doesn’t sit for long. (Did I mention you should be wearing gloves while you do this? You should.)
Don’t be afraid to be messy, though. You want to coat your hair, and you don’t want to miss anything, lest you end up with blonde/yellow streaks, or very faded shades of the color your hair is meant to be. If you have a friend around, ask them to do a back of your head check – even after all these years, every once in a while, I miss a spot. I like to pretend it gives me character, like Rogue from X-Men, but really, it’s just sloppy hair dyeing.
Once your hair is adequately coated, pile it on the top of your head and put the bandana on. This is so you can actually do things without staining everything you are near, as it is time to settle in for a few hours. I really do like to do no less than three hours (remember, this dye is not damaging!), and aim for five, six, or more hours. The bandana is your protective cloth barrier during this time! Love it, and thank it ! Wipe excess dye off your face and ears and neck; clean anything that has splashed on your arms. Use the Magic Erasers on the sink, floor, walls, or anywhere else the dye may have ended up. (No matter HOW careful you are, some will end up somewhere. It’s just part of the process.)
After as many hours as you can stand have passed, it’s rinsing time. Put on some gloves, take your favorite conditioner – if you bleached first, use the conditioner that came with the bleach – and apply it straight to your head with the dye still on it. Rub it in. The dye will be a little dry, almost stiff, and the conditioner will loosen it up. Rinse. I recommend rinsing in a kitchen sink because the stainless steel cleans up better than porcelain, though be prepared for some shower staining pretty much for the whole time your hair is dyed with semi-permanent dye. (Magic Erasers and any sort of spray bleach like Tilex works wonders for this, though.) Use cool water and rinse like it’s your job to do it. Once the water runs clear, you’re good to go.
Dry your hair with a hair dryer, and you will be good to go.
Yes, it will run a bit for the first few washings, and you may not want to use your favorite light colored pillow case for the first few days. You may wake up with some dye streaks on your face, shoulders, or hands – depending on how you sleep, and if you sleep with your head on someone else, they may as well. It all comes with the territory.
When your hair starts to fade, you can just re-apply the semi-permanent dye over the faded hair. Do not bleach every single time – you will kill your hair. I usually bleach after I have significant roots – about 2” or so – so about 6-8 weeks, depending on what is going on. Because I stick with red/orange tones, if I am at all concerned about my hair’s condition, I will take out the roots with a light orange dye as opposed to bleach to minimize the damage, but that won’t work if you are maintaining blue, green, purple, or pink shades, unfortunately.
Yes, it can be a pain in some ways, but it’s worth it. At least it is to me. I look funny with my natural colored hair. Well, at least as I remember it. It has been some time, after all, meaning it can’t be that much of a pain. Just be smart with the bleach and permanent dyes, pay attention to your hair’s condition, and use a good color-protecting shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner. Good luck and happy dyeing!
After 6-8 weeks do you bleach all of your hair or just the roots then apply the dye?
I have purple hair now and I’d like to go orange/red. Bleached and dyed it 2 months ago at hair salon and redid my roots recently myself with bleach then purple. Safe to bleach all hair again? Hair dresser left new growth hair blonde and the rest orangey. Worried it will be uneven. Hope u can help don’t know what to do I’m new to this!
Well, I don’t have much experience in dying my hair but from what I know I would leave your hair under the warmest water you can and just let it run until lots of color comes out, then dye it. If not much color comes out then I would Google it because I’m not exactly sure. I’m pretty sure that would work though… 😕
When using warm tones, like reds, purples, oranges, ALWAYS use cold water because otherwise the cot has a tendency to go brassy.
If the orange/red you’ll be dying it is darker than the blonde you have in your hair, it should cover evenly.
Avoid bleaching it if you can- it’s bad for your hair. But if you’re still concerned about it being even, you can go ahead and bleach it.
I had red tips in my brown hair so when i dyed it it was white on top and pink on bottom, and pink and purple covered it just fine! I also let my roots grow out to like 4 inches before i bleach, just because I’m paranoid about the damage.
Thanks for all this info, better than what I’ve seen so far. Very much detailed! But I have a big question. I am mostly caucasian and korean with partly irish and italian, meaning my hair is asain. It is hard to bleach asian hair, so its hard to bleach my hair and it is dark brown…well idk the natural hair color anymore since its been dyed different ways. Ive dyed it blacck many times and decided to go vibrant and colorful for once. I want to do purple and my fiance said since my hair is dark, i sud go for a bit lighter purple dye, thought it was smart and cute cuz he dnt really know a lot about this stuff. How would/should I do this? Gotta get a hair cut first, and did go by Sally’s earlier today to look at the dyes and get an idea. So, please let me know what you say. Id really love your advice! Thanks very much! And have a very colorful day! ;3
I color the crap out of my hair. Rather than bleaching to switch colors I buy a cheap shampoo with a high sulfate level, go home crush up 12 vitamin c and 12 vitamin b pills in a cup I mix the vita powder with enough shampoo to cover my hair till its frothy… I wet my hair in warm water till the color starts to run, I scrub in the mix all over very thickly!!!! I covered my head in a plastic bag and then tucked everything under a beanie to keep my head warm (and hair open) let sit for three hours and rinse. I have bright red hair and won’t remove all of it but enough so that I went bright teal blue with no streaks of purple 🙂
i fried my hair with too many dyes job and i just found out i have a medical condition that weakens my hair. i bought the “shielo restoration oil” and applied it 3 times….et voila’ my hair are back beautiful and silky like when i was a teenager and Im 47!
While others like the smell, I do not ever like any smells – but its worth the results!
That’s a silicone-based hair oil, which means it definitely will make your hair beautifully silky, but it will also coat each hair strand and actually KEEP OUT the natural oils that have the nutrients your hair shaft actually needs. Over time, using a silicone-based oil will actually WORSEN the condition of your hair by locking out nutrients.
My hair has been almost every shade of red and purple there is and I want to get it to blue. My hair
My hair has been almost every shade of red and purple there is and I want to get it to blue. My hair no matter the colour always has red in it still and I really want to go blue.. I’m not sure what shade but I’m hoping a light blue. Help?!
Does bleaching not take the red out?
I would suggest getting it bleached by a professional, just because they can probably use stronger bleach to get the red out without damaging, as they went to school for it and all that.
If it still doesn’t work, try putting the blue on it anyways. Crazy colors tend to look good together, you might like how it turns out!
REMEMBER YOUR COLOR WHEEL THEN LOOK AT THE UNDER LINE COLOR OF YOUR HAIR AND THE COLOR YOUR GOING TO PUT ON IT AND HOW IT WILL MIX AND MAKE A NEW COLOR
Thanks Rachael – I have been buying this stuff http://www.amazon.co.uk/Organic-Camomile-Natural-Lightening-Spray/dp/B006U111TC which does work but always on the look for new ideas and methods.
Hey! Im trying to get the PERFECT shade of violet purple. but for some reason I cant find the purpple dye in stores where i am. what do u suggest using to mix the colors together??? Thanks in advance
I normally use manic panic and I usually apply it before bed and sleep with it in overnight and wash it out in the morning. Super great results! My hair actually soaks up all the color so no color actually washes out in the initial wash! Plus, my hair is super happy with me-soft, shiny and healthy! First time using RAW though. Here we go! Thanks for the advice!
So.its ok to put in the dye right after u bleached it lucky for.me.my sister in law is gonna dye it today for.me so she knows what im.suppose to do ur tips are the same as other ppls I.seen
I have orange in my hair from the broncos superbowl but I want it out…can I cover it up with a different color or…advice plz!!!!
A really nice color to cover up orange is pink! As it fades it will turn a salmon pink and after that a peachy color! Personally I think it’s really cute and reminds me of a setting sun. :3
I currently have purple hair but I would like to maybe change it up a little bit, what colors could I put over? Blue? Would magenta make it a pinkish purple?
Omg this is truly the BEST article I’ve found on dyeing ur own hair crazy colors!! I’ve been doing pink for years now but always have someone else do it…I’m finally at the point now where after all these years I just wanna start doin it myself, u kno?! Soo been lookin everywhere for good tips, tutorials, etc and jus found this…Omg this seriously is the best one I’ve ever read! Thank u soooo much for sharing this with us, girl!! U are a godsend!!! 😉
I currently have pink/magenta hair i use the ion bright color brilliance brights semi perm. and am thinking between teal/purple/lavender but dont know how i cany take all the pink out without it being a funky color, i plan to bleach it from the root again as the growth is currently down past my chin. What would be a good way to make sure ot doesnt come out with a red/pink/orange base?
Hey so I have splat hair dye and I did everything that the paper said well no one helped me, so now I’ve got purple pink blonde and parts of brown as my hair ccolor.I’ve never dyed my hair this was my first time. Well now that it looks funky I have to go buy more purple and try to fix it I’ll probably be doing it my self again. Do you have you have any tips that may help me fix it where all my hair is purple? Please.
If anyone is looking for a permanent unnatural color hair dye, look for Pravada hair dye. I got some on Amazon.com. They make vibrant colors and pastels. I use thier vibrant Violet and many people I know use it, and its fantastic! When used on bleached hair , 6 weeks later it looks the same as when you put it on! It is a permanent and fantastic product.
Pravada? I think you might mean Pravana. And it’s not permanent. It’s semi permanent. I just want to clarify that so people have the correct information. It’s really careless to put wrong info on a “how to” page…
A lot of the products (i.e., Feria & Garnier [both owned by L’Oreal] & Magic Eraser [owned by Proctor & Gamble) mentioned are tested on animals, there are tons (!) of cruelty-free options out there. <3
Love that red color, btw. 🙂
So i need to dye my black virgin hair to dark purple hair but i can’t stand all of that staining!! From your experience have you found any semi-permanent dye that doesn’t stain?
Hi, I currently have blue(capri blue) hair but sadly it’s faded a lot as it naturally does. I have very short hair and therefore only used 2/3 of the bottle of crazycolour when coloring. Do you think I can just blend the rest of the color with some conditioner and then put it in my hair to freshen it up?
I’m new at coloring hair so I could really need a good advice!
im dying my hair like a rose pink, but im scared my hair is going to fall out. I have very thin hair and i was wondering if its okay to dye my hair?
If you want to get dye off your skin, use hand sanitizer or Goop, the hand cleaner stuff mechanics use. Also, if you put a glob of conditioner on top of of the stained skin and let it sit for a long ass time it will absorb most of the color and you can just wipe it off.
I really like your tip for using an old towel when it comes to coloring your hair at home. I have been thinking about trying to color mine at home for a while now but I am always scared that I’m going to mess it up. Going to a hair salon for the more interesting colors might be the better option, thanks for the tips!
I am gonna dye my hair emerald green, if i leave it in longer then the directions say then will it change the color at all or just make it look better?
I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to be very careful when it comes to coloring hair to avoid damaging it. My wife has been wanting to dye her hair for a while now and we haven’t been sure how to get it done. We’ll have to start looking for a professional to make sure we can have her dyed properly and avoid damaging it ourselves.
My hair was extremely damaged after a mix up of some kind at my usual salon. I ussually get blonde highlights but these were totally wronf.
I tried handfuls of coconut oil over night, deep conditioners, etc. Nothing helped. After a few days I ordered the Made from Earth Avocado Hair Mask and I’ve used it 4 times now (over about a 3 week span) and today my hair feels like spun silk. Its softer than ever before and yes, it smells great too. If I never use another conditioner for the rest of my life I will die hair happy. I use it after washing with treseme keratin shampoo.
I appreciate what you said about scheduling a few hours in order to properly color your hair. Changing your hair color is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself. My wife wants to dye her hair a lighter color, so I’ll help her find a salon that can give her the help she needs.
I never knew that bleaching wet or damp hair was a bad thing and something to avoid. My wife has been wanting to have her hair re-colored but we both don’t know what we are doing. We will have to find a good salon to take her to.
Really loved this advice, you’re a genius and you made dyeing my hair so easy. I’m a great grandmother and have never been adventurous with my hair but last month followed your suggestions and dyed it a dark jade green. And then for October I bleached a 1 inch strip so I could dye it pink for breast cancer awareness month. I have gotten some great feedback and would encourage everyone to do this. Thank you so much for making something so intimidating SO ENJOYABLE.
Love this advice. Especially for dyed hair and bleached hair. When bleaching hair for lightening or even to create some split dyes ( for all those who dont know what split dyes are: https://queenstostyle.com/doing-split-hair-dyes-the-right-way/ ) this hair care advice suits a lot to such cases. Thanks.
My friend and I have been thinking of dyeing our hair red. Thanks for mentioning that we’ll need a lot of gloves when dyeing our hair. These tips will really help my friend and I dye our hair, so thanks for sharing them.
This is all interesting especially when you understand where hair dye begins… And how much it grew these days!
I have a question i have had my hair red for like 4 months but I want the bottom of my hair brighter than what it is can I put a bleach powder in my hair then add the color back to it and then make it brighter that way or how would you recommend brightening the bottom of my hair more?
I like how you pointed out the items that you need to color your hair such as latex gloves and bleach. My wife told me that she would like to change her hairstyle but she hasn’t decided yet. I will suggest to her to look for a professional that can help hr the right color for her hair.
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