How To Dye Your Hair Unnatural Colours… and Make It Last!

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“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission…”

That’s right, I changed my hair! There’s no Photoshop trickery at play and I’m not wearing a wig, I REALLY dyed my hair blue!

So why the departure from my signature pink? Well, I’ve been a full time pinky since 2008, so I was ready for a change! It was a big and scary step though, and as Gala slapped the blue dye on my head last night a quiet wave of panic crept over me. “Am I crazy to leave the pink behind? What if blue doesn’t suit me? But pink hair is my trademark…!”

With the emotional support of my friends, I finally felt brave enough to do it and I am so happy that have. I feel like a new person! Oh and I am more than a little bit thrilled about how it’s going to open up my wardrobe. I can finally wear a hot pink dresses without looking like a crazy flamingo person!

Oh and because I know you’ll want to know, we used a mix of Special Effects Blue Mayhem, Manic Panic Mystic Heather and Manic Panic Amplified Ultra Violet.

i have blue hair1

I always get a lot of questions via social media and in person about dying hair unnatural colours. People want to know what products I use, how I maintain my colour and keep it so bright. It honestly isn’t that difficult, and if you follow these few simple tips you’ll be well on your way to the rainbow tresses of your dreams too!

Get bleached by a professional

Having healthy hair is vital for long lasting colour. If your hair is really damaged, the colour just won’t hold. Unless you are blessed with naturally white blonde hair you will need to strip your natural colour with bleach first. Without a light base, the colour will look muddy and will wash out really quickly.

Make sure you always get the bleach process done by a professional (the colour itself doesn’t damage the hair, it’s the bleach you have to be cautious with) and follow my tips for treating damaged hair. I would never recommend that anyone should attempt at home bleaching. Believe me, I speak from experience about how much damage it can do!

The more saturated you want your colour you look, the lighter you hair will need to be. It can be tricky to get very dark, dark hair, white enough to dye it a bright colour on the first try too. Everybody’s hair is different though so speak to your colourist. Ask their advice when it comes to how light you can realistically get your hair without damaging it too much.

Please listen to them! If they tell you they can’t do it in one session, they’re not just being mean! It’s most likely because they know that rushing the process and bleaching the bejeezus out of it will really damage your hair. It may take a few gentler bleaching sessions over a series of months to get to your desired base colour.

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“Woohoo” headband from my bridesmaid collection with Crown and Glory!

Avoid heat

For most of us, blow drying and styling our hair is unavoidable. Yet whenever possible, you should leave your hair to dry naturally and avoid using straighteners. Heat strips colour faster than anything else AND is like kryptonite to delicate bleached hair.

Also, if you live somewhere particularly hot, invest in some hats. Seriously! When I was in Austin last August my hair faded to blonde in a week because the sun was SO STRONG! The sun is just as damaging to hair as it is to the skin.

Don’t wash your hair!

All unnaturally coloured hair dyes (blue, pink, purple, green etc) are semi-permanent, so your hair will fade no matter what you do. If you look at my selfies on Instagram, you’ll notice my hair changing in colour a bit, depending on how recently I’ve dyed it. Fading is inevitable, but you should avoid getting your hair wet as much as possible. That means washing it as infrequently as you can bear!

I try to wash my hair no more than once or twice a week. In between, I use dry shampoo to keep it looking passable. Batiste is the best brand out there and it’s also super cheap!

Rinse with cold water

Just like with heat styling, hot water strips colour by opening up the hair cuticle and allowing the colour to escape. I’m not saying you have to bathe in an ice bucket (brrr!), but when you do your final rinse, turn the temperature of the shower as down as low as you can bear for a minute. Doing this closes the cuticles, locks in colour and makes your hair extra shiny!

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Dye it regularly

Sounds pretty obvious huh? If you’ve followed all the previous steps, you shouldn’t need to re-dye your hair more than every 3 or 4 weeks. However in between dye jobs, you can mix your colour in with some conditioner to keep it fresh. This works best on the more intense colours, as the lighter pastel ones aren’t really strong enough to stick when just washed through.

Experiment with different brands

Not all dyes will work one everyone’s hair so if you don’t have any luck with the first one you try, all is not lost! In my experience Crazy Colour, Special Effects and Schwarzkopf Live XXL are the ‘strongest’ and most opaque colours. For a softer look, try mixing them with conditioner. I also love Stargazer (my go-to before this big change was their Baby Pink) and Directions.

I also usually leave the dye on for longer than recommended, often closer to an hour rather than the suggested 15-20 minutes. Leaving it on for longer will just mean the colour is initially brighter or darker than you might expect, but then it takes longer to fade which is an added bonus!

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So there you have it! It’s all pretty simple really, just look after your lovely locks with regular treatments, dye your hair frequently and leave the bleach to the professionals.

Will I go back to pink at some point? Maybe so, but right now I’m loving having new hair. I feel very Katy Perry which, in my eyes, can never be a bad thing!

For more haircare advice check out How I Rescued My Bleach Ravaged Hair and Solve These Three Common Bleach Damaged Hair Problems Fast!

105 comments

  1. Chrissy

    My hair went white in my teens. I am allergic to most permanent hair dyes. Which, doesn’t bother me because I prefer the semi-permanent bright and wild colors. Green is my thing, but the hair dressers told me I STILL need to bleach my white hair to get the bright colors to stick longer. I can’t get my hair bright when I home dye it. The hair dressers charge way too much to just apply the dye. It’s driving me insane. And, there is no way I will let bleach touch my head. What do I fo?!

  2. MsSolo

    @Chrissy Bleach opens the cuticles, which helps dye stick, so i can see why they’re saying that. However, if you use a deep cleansing shampoo, you’ll find that often opens the hair up a bit more than a normal shampoo (avoid anything that’s ‘conditioning’ or ‘leaves a smooth and silky shine’ etc – anti dandruff shampoo is good, or even baby shampoo). It won’t help as much as bleach, but you should still see a difference. If you use Directions (can’t vouch for other brands), you can leave it on for hours. It doesn’t have any ammonia in it, so it doesn’t damage the hair to leave it on. I usually put it on in the morning, pop a shower cap on, and then wash it off before bed. Then swap to your conditioning shampoos for between dye washing, and avoid your deep cleansing shampoo, to make it last a little longer!

  3. Gina Smith

    While it doesn’t smell good for the most part vinegar is a wonderful thing it will open up the cuticles it cleans and softens your hair it is also very good for dandruff and psoriasis my husband had psoriasis at the age of 20 someone recommended vinegar he would wash his hair with dandruff shampoo and rinse with vinegar every day within one month the psoriasis was completely gone he used it Faithfully for about a year as a wash rinse conditioner just to keep it away now it’s been many years and he has no problems since that time the smell does not stay only when you are using it and a little bit after you towel dry

  4. Phyllis Forrester

    HELP! What about followup grey coverage? I have an incredible cobalt blue head of hair (thick, wavy and past shoulder length), my first alternative hair color foray …at 49! I say incredible because not only am I impressed (and that’s difficult to do, ask my ex-husband), but I’ve received non-stop compliments since arriving in London (shortly after going blue in the US). How’d I get here? I had dark brown, permant dyed hair. I bleached twice (4 days apart, wait longer!), the second time I used Wella’s Blondor (with equal parts 30 and 20 developer, so “25”). Added the correct amount of Olaplex to all bleach and to following direct dye. Used 3 ounces (full tube) Pravana’s Chromasilk Vivids “Blue” and one ounce same brand in “Black” (an additive created to darken the other colors). Extraordinary! Full review under the Pravana Chromasilk Vivids Blue product, with pics, by lawyerwhocooks on the amazon dot com site. But I have strong, low porosity hair…and it’s at least 50% grey! Applying direct dye, regardless of how long I leave it on, just doesn’t color it blue! I hate to try to bleach the roots every 8 weeks, doing hair damage and getting patchy results.

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