Color Crazy: 5 Things I Learned About Using Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Dye

Neon highlights, mermaid ombres and soft pastels are a popular hair craze not only among celebrities, but also around campus. In almost all of my classes, I’ve spotted one or more girls sporting colorful locks. Of course, I should also include myself and my blue hairdo in that category of creative chicks. Since my senior year of high school, I have used semi-permanent dye for four different colorful styles: teal dip dye, purple side bangs, complete royal blue and dark-to-light blue ombre. For a girl nervous about committing to a permanent color, Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Color Cream can be the perfect solution. The product is inexpensive and easy-to-use, plus it comes in a wide variety of colors that can be found in most beauty supply stores and online. I prefer to treat my hair myself instead of going to a salon and I switch the colors often enough that going permanent might not be worth it. As a result, I have been using Manic Panic for years and learned the following five tips from personal experience.

1. Set aside more time than you think you need

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Even though the container suggests leaving the Color Cream in for 30 minutes, set aside several hours to be safe. Try to pick a weekend or a day when you plan to stay at home. It’s easy to miss a spot if you dye your hair in a rush, especially if you have thick hair like I do. Don’t forget that dyeing your hair takes more time than simply letting the dye process– you also need time to set up your supplies and clean up afterward.

2. Pre-lightening is essential

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Manic Panic says to pre-lighten hair to a light blonde for best results. If you’re looking to get the results shown by the color samples above, you will need to bleach your hair unless you are platinum already. For someone with dark hair, bleaching can be a tedious and even frightening process. The first few times I dyed my naturally dark hair, I only bleached once before applying the Manic Panic color. Although the color stuck, I always wished for a bolder hue than what I received. My most recent attempt at blue ombre produced the best results mostly because I took the time to bleach my hair twice. Yes, that meant suffering through a slightly awkward two months of being blonde, but by giving my hair time to rebuild itself, I was able to lighten my hair twice without completely frying it. Once I applied the dye to my twice-bleached hair, I ended up with an intense color that I had not achieved in previous attempts.

3. It’s only semi-permanent

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If you want to keep your color longer than a month, you will need to reapply your dye. Since Manic Panic Color Cream is semi-permanent, every shower will wash some of the color out. If you can stand to wash your hair once every few days or every other day, the dye will definitely last longer but will still require color maintenance. A beauty consultant at Sally Beauty Supply told me that she heard of some people who slept with the dye in their hair.

4. …But it can stain almost anything

Courtesy: Ginny Fouts

Always wear rubber gloves and clothes you don’t care about! I recommend setting aside some old shirts and towels to use specifically when dyeing your hair. You may not think you will get dye on yourself, but trust me, you will. Manic Panic Color Cream might take some time to color your hair. However, it can easily dye your sink, countertop, clothing and skin within moments of contact. Since the dye is semi-permanent, it will come off most things eventually, but I have towels and shirts that still have blue stains despite several wash cycles. Also beware–immediately after the dyeing process is complete, your hair may stain the collar or back of your shirt even if it is dry!

5. Your hair will be radiant in more ways than one

Courtesy: Ginny Fouts

Not only does Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Color Cream dye your hair, it also conditions! Manic Panic dye is vegan and does not contain PPD, ammonia, paraben or peroxide. Instead, it has protein and restorative properties that hydrate and strengthen the hair. After leaving the dye in overnight for my most recent blue ombre, not only did the color have more time to process, but my hair also had more volume and a noticeably softer texture. Although I don’t like my hair to look fluffy because it’s already thick, having soft hair feels great after dealing with the unpleasant texture of stripped, bleached hair.

For some, going to a salon might be the easiest option, but for DIY enthusiasts, Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Color Cream could be your new go-to. Once you know how to effectively use the dye, it can give you that summer mermaid hair you’ve always dreamed of without a year-long commitment. Explore a rainbow of possibilities from Cotton Candy Pink to Rockabilly Blue and live in color!