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I’ve been dyeing my hair for three years now in various combinations and shades of blue, pink, and purple. I started off by having an experienced friend dye my hair for me (thanks, Eileen!) but eventually learned how to dye my hair myself and do touch-ups. There’s a lot of misconceptions about it — I once had a classmate tell me the hair dye was killing my brain cells — so as a long-time hair-dyer, here are some tips that can be useful.

1. Unless you already have very light hair, you’ll need to bleach it before you do any dyeing.

If your hair isn’t at least moderately blonde, the hair dye won’t show up or will only slightly tint your hair the color you want. Bleach is significantly more damaging to your hair than dyeing, so be careful. Don’t leave it in for longer than instructed, and don’t mix it with any developer (a formula mixed with bleach powder before applying to hair) stronger than 30 volume. Developer is 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume, and the higher the number the stronger it is. Decide how strong your bleach needs to be when considering what developer to use; if it’s a lighter brown, then 10 or 20 is fine. Going above 30 will probably cause severe damage.

You can bleach your hair multiple times, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so more than every six months, since your hair will need time to recover.

2. Some colors fade better than others.

I’ve never dyed my hair green because it fades to a greenish yellow, which isn’t too appealing to look at. Darker blue dyes usually fade to lighter blue ones, whereas light blue dyes fade to light green. Colors also fade at different speeds - blue dyes typically fade slowly compared to red dyes, which fade to pink quickly. This is also something to keep in mind if you’re dyeing your hair multiple colors.

3. There are specific hair care products you can and should use for your hair.

It’s often thought dyeing your hair will cause all your hair to fall out, which isn’t true and hasn’t happened to me. However, it can definitely weaken your hair, so it’s important to take good care of your hair. Buy conditioners and shampoos that are labelled specifically to use for color-treated hair. Before hair dyeing, it can help to put coconut oil or some other form of nutrients in your hair.

4. Your hair will grow back in its natural color, but already-bleached hair never returns to its natural color.

It sounds obvious, but if you want to return to your natural hair color and you’ve bleached your hair, you either need to wait for it to grow back out or use a hair dye that’s the same color as your natural hair. This isn’t much of a problem for me, personally, because my hair grows so fast, but this can be important to keep in mind if you don’t plan to keep dyeing your hair and want to return to your original hair color.

5. Always check the reviews of the dye brand.

Before dropping by the drugstore and just grabbing whatever is on the shelf, it’s good to Google if the brand you’re looking at is what you want. I’ve used Manic Panic, Pravana, Joico, and Arctic Fox before and found them all to be solid brands which are usually priced at 7 to 10 dollars a box/tube. Many drugstores also don’t have many unnatural or bright hair dyes in supply, so you may need to order them or find a more specialized store. Manic Panic and Arctic Fox both fade a bit too quickly, Joico’s colors are too dark for my taste, Pravana is my favorite but I’ve been a bit disappointed with some of their lighter colors, etc — every brand has their ups and downs, and it’s up to you to figure out what you’re looking for.

I hope this cleared up some questions you may have had, and good luck with your hair dyeing adventures! It can be a bit high maintenance at times, but the payoff has always been worth it for me.

If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, or if you have any questions or comments for us, please email mt-holyoke@hercampus.com.


Caroline Mao

Mt Holyoke '22

She/her or they/them, class of 2022, Mount Holyoke prospective studio art and computer science major who enjoys reading and petting dogs.
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