The Ultimate Guide to Dying Your Hair Fantasy Colours: Keeping it Healthy, Rescuing it When it’s Damaged & Making the Colour Last!

If there’s one thing I get asked about more than anything else, it’s my hair! Whenever I post a selfie I have at least a couple of questions about how I keep it healthy, what to do when its damaged from bleach and how I make my colours last. While I’ve written a few posts on this individual topics before, I thought it was time for an update (things are changing all the time) and I figured one ULTIMATE post, covering everything might be helpful. I hope you agree!

Keeping Hair Healthy

Bleaching

First of all, unless your hair is naturally super light blonde, you WILL need to bleach it if you want to dye your hair a bright, fantasy colour. The colour simply won’t show up, or will look muddy, on hair any darker than light blonde. This is the one stage I would never recommend that you do yourself! It’s very, very easy to fry your hair if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing so the best thing you can do for your hair is go to a colour specialist for this part.

The brighter and more saturated you want your colour you look, the lighter you hair will need to be (however if you want a pastel look you’ll also need a super light base to work with too). It can be difficult to get very dark hair, light enough in one sitting to get the exact colour results you need. Everybody’s hair is different though so speak to your colourist and take their advice! The texture of your hair may mean you need a few gentler bleaching sessions over a series of months to get to your desired base colour.

I also never, ever bleach my hair more than once. I’ve heard about people doing two or even three passes of bleach over their hair in one sitting and the idea makes me wince! Even using protection such as Olaplex (see below) this just seems like a really terrible idea. When I get my hair bleached, we only ever do the roots. If I need to fade my colour to change it up, I just quit topping up the colour for a few weeks before I go to the salon to get it as light as possible.

Olaplex (or similar)

Olaplex revolutionised the hair care market when their three step system launched a few years ago. So much so that there are now 32 competitor brands producing a product that (claims to) do the same thing! I’m yet to use any of them other than Olaplex, but I’m going to a salon soon that uses Innoluxe so I’ll report back. Using these products not only limits the damage the bleach does to your hair, but it can also help rebuild damaged hair too! As soon as I started using Olaplex, my hair transformed. I can not recommend it enough.

These products are salon-only meaning you have to go to a hairdressers to use them. While you can buy them from places like eBay and Amazon, I’ve heard that due to the popularity a lot of them are fake, so I wouldn’t recommend risking it! The cost is between £30-£50 on top of the usual cost of having your hair dyed.

If you want to read more about Olaplex and my experience you can do so here!

Rescuing Hair When it’s Bleach Damaged

I have written extensively about this before so if you haven’t already, you should definitely read this article first.

My biggest tip for fixing your hair when it’s either breaking off, or super stretchy and springy is to give it time. It WILL take a long while for it to get healthy again so you need to treat it with kindness and have patience. Depending on the extent of the damage you may also need to cut some of it off and start again. I had to do this and it was painful but so worth it in the end!

Restore the protein

The reason hair gets damaged by things like bleach and heat, is because they attack the natural proteins (also known as keratin) in your hair. In order to get it healthy again you need to restore these proteins with treatments such as the Redken Extreme range.

Slather it in moisture 

As well as being deficient in keratin, your hair will likely be very, very thirsty. Healthy hair has the perfect balance of both protein and moisture in it, so you need to make sure you restore both. A lack of moisture is what makes your hair straw-like or causes it to snap off when it gets to a certain length. I love anything by the Moroccan Oil brand.

Avoid heat (as much as possible)

Even though my hair is pretty healthy these days, I try to leave it to dry naturally as often as I can. Intense heat, like bleach, is one of the biggest things that will damage your hair fast. I then style it with straighteners on the lowest setting. Always use a heat protecting spray too! If your hair is in a really bad state, you should avoid heat at all costs, however if, like mine, its in pretty good condition then using heat on it occasionally is OK.

Give it a break

It should go without saying, but if your hair is damaged you need to treat it with care and that means no more bleaching, no more heat and lots of lovely treatments to help it recover. You should also avoid brushing it too often, rough-drying it with a towel or wearing tight hairstyles.

Making Your Colour Last

OK so a lot of this is trial and error – trying different brands of colour and seeing which ones your hair likes best. Everyone’s hair is different and brands that other people have raved about may just not get on with your hair. I personally love Crazy Colour, Stargazer, Adore and Colour Freedom but I’ve also used Directions, Manic Panic and Special Effects. I’m yet to try Arctic Fox, Good Dye Young or Lime Crime‘s colours, but I hope to soon!

Different colours behave differently

When my hair was pink, I had to redye it almost weekly to keep it super bright and pigmented as the colour faded so fast. However since I’ve been blue/ green, my colour lasts much longer. Certain shades just fade quicker, which is great if you want to change up your colour a lot, but can mean there’s a lot of upkeep.

Pastel shades are the worst for staying power, the more intense or brighter your colour the longer it will last. I usually dye my my hair a quite deep colour initially, so that when it fades it goes through lots of shades, yet still looks passable, before I have to top up the colour.

Don’t wash it too often

As no fantasy colours are permanent, it stands to reason that the more you wash your hair, the faster the colour will fade! If you want your colour to last as long as possible, you need to limit how much you wash it – simple! I don’t wash my hair more than twice a week and dry shampoo is your friend – ha!

Use cold water

Warm water opens a hair’s cuticles, which allows your shampoo and conditioner to do their job, but it also means the colour will fade faster. Cold water keeps the cuticle closed and helps to seal in moisture. As no-one wants to take an ice cold shower, using lukewarm water to wash your hair is best, finishing up with cold water to seal everything in and keep your hair shiny.

Keep out of the sun

When I was in Austin a few years ago (in August!) my hair colour faded SUPER FAST because the sun was so strong. If you live in a hot climate, wear a hat or keep your hair out of direct sunlight as much as possible if you don’t want the sun bleaching out your colour.

Use oVertone (or similar)

I’ve written about oVertone before, and while I still love the idea in theory, but my bank balance did not! You can get a similar effect by mixing your dye in with conditioner and using that once a week to keep your colour topped up. It doesn’t always refresh your hair colour as evenly as oVertone does, but it’s a lot cheaper! Crazy Colour now also do coloured shampoos that you can use to keep your colour bright, but I haven’t used them before.

If you hair is multicoloured, like mine, it can take a bit of practice to use products like this in the shower and get the right colour on the right bit, but it can be done! My hair in the photos in this post was recently refreshed with a dash of oVertone Extreme Conditioner in green at the roots and teal at the bottom.

I’ve tried to cover all the topics that I get asked about over and over in this post, however if you still have questions, do feel free to pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help! While I’m not a hairdresser or an expert, I have been dying my hair fantasy colours since I was 16, so I think I’m pretty savvy about it all by this point!

Further reading:
How I rescued my bleach ravaged hair

Solve these three common bleached hair problems FAST!
How to dye your hair unnatural colours – and make it last
How to keep your hair happy and healthy when you dye it

Wearing:
Skirt by Coast
Tee-Shirt by Daisy Natives
Trainers by Nike

9 comments

  1. Aitchey

    One thing I really want to know is what’s the process to change from one colour to another? Do you re-bleach?

  2. Post author

    Aitchey – it would be better just to let it fade as much as possible and then dye over the top. More bleach will only damage the hair further!

  3. Thanks for posting this Kat! I’m bringing my mermaid hair back after giving my hair a well deserved vacation. I’m excited to try oVertone out.

  4. Manu

    Also, vinegar should become your new BFF; it helps the cuticle close back down (as much as possible). Best routine I have found is to do a vinegar rinse after a mask or deep condition (and if you add aloe vera gel and/or honey to either, it’s even better), then apply a silicone leave-in. That’s my best bet for keeping moisture and protein in.

  5. Rachel

    You can buy Olaplex 3 from look fantastic online now! Just in case anyone wanted to buy it offline without worrying about it’s authenticity.

  6. I have over bleached on my hair and have heard so many good things about it, however, my hairdresser does not do it and I feel cheeky using another hair salon for the treatment. the struggles are real!

  7. MsSolo

    I’ve been bleaching bits of my hair and dying it random colours for years now – I find the exciting colour dyes at the salon fade very quickly so I use Directions at home to top up, and only go when the roots are really noticeable and need rebleaching. I put the Directions on dry hair and leave it for several hours, and I find as well as giving me a longer lasting colour it also acts as a conditioning mask. To be honest, I only took the plunge doing so because a friend already did – if I switched to a different brand of dye I don’t know if I’d dare ignore the instructions!

  8. Emily

    Though I only get a professional to bleach my hair, I do my own dying at home. I have found that the reds fade A LOT faster than any other color. If using Manic Panic, I always go a shade darker than what I want my hair color to be and ion stays the color as printed on the box and worked the best for me.

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