have been dyeing my hair now for about half my life. While I’m still technically an amateur, I’d like to think that I’ve picked up a few things along the way. Please read on for the hints and tricks I have learned (often the hard way) through years of dyeing my hair a plethora of colours!
Darker colour is always easiest on your hair
Not sure if your should go darker or lighter? Go darker. People seem to think that “dyeing your hair” automatically means damage. Not so. Bleaching your hair means damage. Anytime you darken your hair, you are simply adding colour to it. You are coating the hair, and you are actually filling in the porous areas of the hair shaft. For this reason, when you dye your hair a darker colour, your hair will feel smoother and healthier. I love, love love my hair when it’s had a fresh coat of royal blue. It always looks so shiny and inky, and while the colour is fresh it feels incredibly soft!
Bleach only when necessary
As I just mentioned, bleach is the real source of damage in the colouring process. For this reason, I generally only bleach a few times a year. It’s harsh, but it’s the only way to get extremely vibrant colour. You can bleach at home, but if your hair is dark, and you want to go really vibrant, it might be time to see a professional. A pro is less likely to accidentally overdo it. They have the experience, plus they usually have access to a wider array of products, so you get exactly what you need with minimal damage. I typically do brighter/lighter all-over colour when my hair’s been freshly bleached out, and later I’ll camouflage my roots with something darker. This works well when you have a mixture of funky colours in your hair instead of just one. For example, a bunch of darker and lighter blues/and or purples. That way, you can use a dark purple or blue on your new roots as they grow, and it will still look smashing next to the lighter pieces.
Keep Dye Under Control
If you can avoid trashing your bathroom, that’s a bonus. It’s also another reason why seeing a pro has its perks. Dye is messy! I was responsible for painting the bathroom before we moved out of our last place, because I was the one who messed up the walls with a galaxy of tiny confetti-like flecks of colour! If you are dyeing at home, of course you should take time to protect your surfaces. (Usually the times I think “meh,why bother? It’s just a quick touch-up,” are the times that I manage to get dye all over a counter, or something.)
Right now, I am lucky enough to have an unfinished basement to dye in. I have also been known to dye my hair outside in the summer. That avoids a whole lot of problems, and can actually be pretty fun.
Getting dye on your skin is bound to happen. I always hear people recommend using vaseline along the hairline. I think coconut oil would probably work just as well too, but I am lazy and often skip this step. Don’t be like me, and wind up having to scrub your ears mercilessly afterward. (You can have nice, vaseline-moistened ears instead!)
When you apply, avoid flicking your brush. In fact, if you have a gel formula and are doing more of an all-over colour, it’s easier to just use your gloved hands.
Optimize Colour Development
When you are dyeing (NOT BLEACHING) your hair, especially if you are dealing with a semi-permanent, non-toxic colour, leave it on for as long as you can. With bright colours from lines like Punky Colour or Manic Panic, it’s always better to leave it on for a REALLY long time. Hours and hours if possible. It’s great if you can dye your hair, and then just leave it on as you do chores around the house or even, (yes, I have done this), while you sleep at night.
Obviously, wandering around with a mess of dye on your head is risky business. This is where it helps to put your pride aside and tie a Sobeys bag onto your head. A classy grocery bag hat helps to prevent accidental dye transfer, and also seems to help the colour penetrate the hair. If you’re going around with a bag on your head and you want to feel extra-secure about it, or someone randomly comes to your door, (which they will once you have a bag on your head), you can have an old toque at the ready just to hide the whole mess. (Yep, I have definitely done this before! The toque is also a good idea if you’re braving the overnight option.)
Bleach requires aftercare
Ok, so it’s not a tattoo, and your funky colours don’t exactly hurt, but you still need to baby your hair! First off, they already washed your hair at the salon, and you should definitely hold off as long as possible before you do it again yourself. If you like to work out, get it in before you dye your hair. Do NOT sweat allover your newly gorgeous hair and then go scrub it with soap right away! Give those colours a decent chance to make themselves at home. Your head’s natural oils are protective, and every shampoo is going to fade your colour.
If you’ve bleached your hair, this is even more important. Not only does shampoo fade colour, but yes, it strips away those oils as well. Even if your hair was greasy before, it’s not now. Now you have dry hair, and you must treat it as such. You need to use thick, enriching conditioners. Minimize your shampoo, and when you do wash your hair, try to let the conditioner sit on your head for a while. As well, you might consider a product like this:
Yes, it’s a tiny tube (a whopping 18ml), but you really don’t need a lot. One tube is probably a dozen applications for me. Too much, and you’ll look like a greaseball. A tiny amount is amazing.
There are MANY oil/pomade concoctions that are probably great for your hair. I keep going back to this one because I love the smell (like oranges. Mmmm!), it’s only a couple of bucks, and it’s available at the supermarket. This sort of thing helps to protect from the drying effects of the sun, enriches and conditions the hair, as well as making your colours look much better. Shine has the effect of deepening your colours; they reflect more light, and that just makes them pop more overall. Pomades and oils can help you avoid that frazzled, dry look that sometimes comes from bleaching.
Back to Shampoo…
EVERY shampoo will fade your hair. Every single one. You want to shampoo as little as possible. I still shampoo mine about twice a week, because I work out and I don’t want too much product buildup. If I am not shampooing my hair, I will sometimes just use conditioner, or even just rinse my hair with water. Remember: bleached and dyed hair is dry hair. The fewer shampoos, the better!
Treat your beautifully coloured hair like a valuable, vibrantly-coloured garment. To best preserve its wear, you should wash it in cold (or at least cool) water. I know, I know, this is not most people’s favourite in the shower, but it really makes a difference. I have been lazy about hair colour, and I have been meticulous about hair colour, and the cold water thing seems to really pay off.
The Sun Hates Your Hair. Unless You’re a Blonde
If your aim is to go lighter, sun exposure might actually be your friend. In all other cases, the sun’s rays are bad hair mojo. Sun exposure seems to be the quickest way to drain all of the “oomph” out of your colour. If you really want to protect your hair colour, wear a hat.
General Colour Hints
Different funky colours change how your complexion looks, and you might find that you have to change some of your makeup after you dye. Experiment with your look! Don’t get annoyed when your favourite lipstick doesn’t look as good as it used to. Use it as an opportunity to try a colour you normally wouldn’t.
I have found that in general, pinks wear like blondes, purples have a universal wearability about them; sort of like some of the gorgeous red shades that seem to look nice on almost anyone, and blues, especially navy, wear like black. (I love pink, but it never looks quite right on me!)
Well, I guess, that’s it! Good luck, have fun, and don’t ever be afraid of fabulous colour!
I will leave you with some more ridiculous hair pictures. My tresses have been through a lot!
All the love,