6 Things You Need to Know Before Dyeing Your Hair an Unusual Color

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Your hair can reflect a lot about your personality, and if you take notes from celebrities like Katy Perry and Bella Thorne, sometimes that means looking to the rainbow for inspiration. If you’re thinking about straying away from ‘natural’ colors like blonde, black, ginger and brown, you have to be ready to commit. So before you pick up the magenta hair dye or call your local hair salon, make sure you know all of the facts before taking the rainbow hair plunge.  

1. Make sure your new hair color is acceptable for the workplace

You may think getting hot pink highlights is cool and trendy, but your conservative workplace may not agree. Check your employee or intern manual to see if your company has any policies about unnatural hair colors before you get to working on your new color. You may think the new social media startup you just landed an internship with will be cool with a rainbow ‘do, but they might think it’s unprofessional. Even if you find yourself at straight-laced company, get creative with how you can slip some funky tones into your hair!

Sophia Walker, a senior at Bowdoin College, was able to have a little fun without coming off unprofessional. “What I did was to put in some well-placed highlights (I have very dark hair) and then dye my entire head purple with a dye that I could reapply by myself as the need to re-dye arose,” she says.

Slipping in a few colorful pieces of hair may be okay with your boss, but it’s always better to double or triple check when your career and paycheck are at stake. If you don’t see it written down anywhere, ask your manager or someone in the human resources department just to be sure.

2. Getting your dream color may take a while

Rome wasn’t built in a day and your hair isn’t going to go from jet black to pastel purple in one session! Depending on the color of your hair and your hair’s previous exposure to dyes and bleaches, achieving the color you want doesn’t happen right away.

“For example, if you have blonde hair whether it be virgin or highlighted, most crazy colors will take on it,” says Macaria Pabon, a hairstylist at Charise’s Salon in Pittsburgh. “But if you have black hair it would require several lightening processes before you could apply any crazy color. This can all be determined in a consultation between you and your stylist.”

If you’re trying to stay within a price range when converting your hair to a crazy color, visit your hairstylist and see how many sessions and the possible cost of getting your rainbow ‘do.

3. Bleach may be involved, and it’s not always a good thing

If you have dark hair or even dirty blonde hair, your hair will probably have to get bleached in order to get a vibrant, rich color like bright orange or cobalt blue. But bleach can be harmful to your hair by breaking it or drying it out, so make sure your hair can handle the coloring and bleaching process.

Kristen Tajili, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, says, “If you do a poor enough job bleaching your hair it can fall out, which happened to me in certain parts of my head after I had to re-bleach some of my dark spots. The second time I bleached it I wanted to go silver but got kind of freaked out from bits of my hair falling out so I was left with orange hair.”

Save yourself the embarrassment and stress and shell out the money for a salon visit. Not only are hairstylists trained in making you look good, but they also are trained in keeping your hair healthy and determining what your hair can take in terms of chemicals.

Pabon says, “Lightening your hair should always be left to a professional. A professional should look over your hair and know your hair color history to determine if your hair is healthy enough to lighten.”

Just remember that your hair is not a science experiment and head to the professionals and get the advice you need so that you don’t have to spend time dodging Snapchat stories because you hate your hair.

Related: 5 Ways to Style Dirty Hair

4. Pick a color that looks good on you

Dyeing your hair any color is hard to reverse, so make sure the color you pick works well with your skin tone and wardrobe. For example, you may want pastel pink hair, but it could wash you out if you’re on the paler side. Likewise, girls with dark brown skin can make their skin tone pop with colors like bright yellow and red, while those with olive toned skin may not find orange and yellow as a good complements to their skin tone, but could totally rock pinks and purples.

“Please think long and hard about it and make sure it fits you,” says Pabon.

A unique hair color can bring change in your life or make you feel more confident. The last thing you want is to do the opposite. If you’re shy and don’t like the spotlight on you, dyeing your hair all of the colors of the rainbow may bring unwanted attention. On the contrary, if you’re someone who loves the attention, choosing which color will get you the most Instagram likes may end up being the ultimate struggle.

5. Find out color maintenance practices that work for you

If you’re spending major bucks on making your hair a rainbow hue, make sure it lasts too!

“Any shampoo I've ever tried causes the color to bleed or run. Conditioner does not. If you can, only wash your hair with shampoo once or twice a week,” says Samantha Burke, a senior at Siena College.

Keeping your hair away from water and shampoos doesn’t mean avoiding a shower altogether. Instead, use a shower cap.

Pabon says, “There are plenty things you can do to at home to get the most out of your color. You can even ask your stylist about a colored conditioner to deposit color on your hair at home with every wash.” Don’t waste your money or your stylist’s hard work by letting your color fade, make sure you can keep your color vibrant!

6. You’ll be a regular at the salon

Deciding that you want to have bright red hair forever is a bold decision, but keeping that color for long periods of time is no joke. Only washing your hair a few times a week and using color-depositing shampoo will keep your color from fading, but when your roots start growing in, you’ll need to make a hair appointment. The same goes for when you’re tired of your rainbow hair and want to go back to au naturale. Avoid the awkward growing out process and call your stylist.

“Expect fading, and expect a line of demarcation,” says Pabon. “Most of all expect a trip to the salon to get your hair back to its natural color if you are just tired of seeing the crazy color.”

Skip the bad hair days and see what your stylist has to say. You don’t have to be stuck with roots or a color you don’t want anymore when there are trained professionals there to give you their expertise. Depending on your color history, you could be visiting the salon every 4-6 weeks. Make sure you talk to your stylist about this before you commit to your new color so you’re not surprised if it starts fading.

If you want to dye your hair all of the colors of the rainbow, make sure your hair can handle it and pick a color (or colors) that will make you feel bold and confident! A bold hair color can turn a new leaf and mark the start of a big change in your life. Take the dive and seek inspiration from your childhood crayons.

About The Author

Kaitlin is an alumna of Temple University where she graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Political Science. At Temple, she served as Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Temple and was a founding member and former Public Relations Vice President for the Iota Chi chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. 

She currently serves Her Campus Media as a Region Leader and Chapter Advisor and was formally a Feature Writer for Fashion, Beauty and Health.

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