If hair was a game then I’ve completed all the levels. I have been every colour under the sun and gone through most hair styles from alopecia-inflicted baldness to waist length locks. For the past couple of years though, since my hair has come back, I’ve stuck to rainbow colours, and I am not alone.
Kylie Jenner, Zayn Malick and Rita Ora are just a few of those jumping on the bright-haired band wagon. But without the celebrity hairdressers or green wigs costing thousands of dollars, it is only too easy to end up with patchy, streaky, straw-like tresses. So, if you’re thinking about braving the bright, here are some tips I have learnt from personal experience (good and bad) to help you on your way.
1. Bleaching basics:
First things first, to get the right colour bleaching is unavoidable. For optimum impact you want to lift your colour to white blonde or ash. The best way to do this is to use powder bleach mixed with peroxide and NOT a blonde box hair dye. I use 9 per cent cream peroxide and blue powdered bleach, but Jerome Russell B Blonde cream bleach and bleach packets are equally effective and can be bought in supermarkets or chemists. The important thing is to leave it on for at least an hour. I should mention here that it burns, and will possibly leave your scalp rather tender and flaky, but being something that we also use to clean toilets, that’s no surprise. Whole head bleaching is not for the faint hearted, which is why the first time I bleached my hair I got my hairdresser to do it, so don’t hesitate to go to a professional if you’re nervous.
2. If at first you don’t succeed..:
If you don’t get your desired base colour i.e. it ends up yellow, streaky or with brassy tones PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE DO NOT BLEACH IT AGAIN. It won’t fix it and will leave you with cheese strings on your head that will snap off a la Georgia in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. If this does happen, which it shouldn’t if you have followed the instructions correctly, opt for a toner or use a purple shampoo to remove the brassy tones. Here I should also say that if you think covering the orange tinge with your bright green dye will work, it won’t. It always rears its ugly head sooner or later.
Vibrant hair requires an investment of both time and money. A professional job costs anywhere between £90-£150 and takes around 4 hours. Even doing it at home can take up to 6+ hours and can cost a bomb with dye(s), toner, bleach, peroxide, gloves, tint brushes etc. Bright dyes also cost more than your classic box dye from boots, and the upkeep is more demanding (but more on that later). So before you give your heart to rainbow hair, consider the impact on your diary and wallet.
4. Brands to love and hate:
Every vibrant hair dye states their dyes are semi-permanent. The reason for this is that the more unnatural the colour, the more it fades. This said some stick more than others. I for one steer clear of Crazy Colour and Bleach London because they fade so quickly, whereas Manic Panic and Shwarpzkopf Live tend to fade with a nasty grey tinge after the first wash. My personal favourites are Directions, Pravana and Special Effects, as they last longer and are cruelty free.
5. Phone a friend:
Ask someone who dyes their hair (preferably bright colours) and is happy to rinse your head over the bath. It is a really fun activity and my go-to friend Martha is great at getting the spots at the back of my head and helping blend my colours.
To really maximise vibrancy and minimise damage and fading my recommendations are not popular. Heat should be avoided, so let your hair dry naturally and avoid styling with heat. Showering contributes massively so only wash your hair once or twice a week on a cold setting. This isn’t fun in the winter months, so make dry shampoo your new best friend and get used to quick showers, at least you’ll save money on water bills!
As I have mentioned before your hair will fade quickly. I dye my hair every six weeks or so. I start by bleaching my roots then rinsing and drying my hair before dying it all over. I’m currently sporting four colours in my hair (so close to being that McFly song) which can get a bit pricey, so love every brilliant shade your hair turns. On a side note, pastel colours tend to wash out after about a week, so go for a brighter shade that fades to pastel over time to minimise effort.
8. Damage control:
All this bleaching and dying will have quite an impact on your poor head. To help keep it healthy invest in a colour shampoo and conditioner. If you are currently using Head and Shoulders or any other dandruff shampoo, bin it. It will strip your colour and natural oils leaving it dry and faded. The only time I have found it useful was removing colour when I accidentally dyed my hair black aged 13. While you’re at it, you should avoid chlorinated water too as it will sap the moisture and most of the colour from your lovely locks. Instead, invest in a serum like Moroccan Oil which rehydrates your hair and leaves it soft. It may be pricy, but it is SO worth it.
9. The less glamorous side:
Having bright hair is incredible, I get so many compliments, can coordinate it with my multi-coloured wardrobe and don’t get me started on how cool it looks in plaits. But this all comes at a price. Forget just dying your hair; your bathtub, towels, nails, sweat, t shirts, pillowcases and virtually anything else your hair comes into contact with will end up the same colour. So while some damage control is possible, just embrace it. Everything I own is pink anyway so the excess dye just adds to the fun!
10. Changing colours:
If you decide that bright hair isn’t for you, or you just want a different shade, the best thing to do is ride it out. Wait until it has faded as much as possible and whatever you do DON’T bleach over it. If you want to go back to a more natural colour bear in mind the aftermath of the bleach means it may fade faster than on a natural base, and if your bright colour was red, orange or anything else with brassy tones they may need toning out before you dye over it.
So go forth and dye my friends, though it is tough at times, it is a sacrifice one should willingly make.