Once upon a time, my website was nothing more than a simple place to hold my resume and a small portfolio of graphic & web design work. After my colorful hair went viral in 2015, I decided to add a little section to hold my gallery of hair art. Even though my website is now mostly a home for my music photography and travel exploration/landscape photography, I still get a lot of visitors who find me because of my hair.
Over the years, I’ve gotten tons of questions via email and social media about how I dye my hair, what products I use, etc. So, I thought I’d answer a few frequently asked questions about my colorful hair!
Q: How do you keep your colorful hair looking so healthy?
1. I don’t bleach hair that has already been bleached, only new roots as they grow in.
2. When my hair color is fresh, I only wash it once every three days. Don’t worry, it’s not gross, and it’s actually good for your hair! There are products out there that will minimize the oily look and add volume.
3. I always use conditioner when I shampoo.
4. I rarely heat style. Heat is quite damaging to the hair, so I blow dry on the absolute lowest heat setting. I don’t straighten my hair, instead I use Beyond The Zone Straight Shot when I blow dry my hair so that it dries straight. I curl my hair about once every dye job, so once in 6 weeks, and that’s about the most I do in terms of styling.
5. Occasionally, I use Argan Oil and/or Coconut Milk to add extra shininess and promote healthy hair.
6. Trim regularly. I’m guilty of not doing this on a regular basis, but ideally, I should be snipping off the split ends almost every time I bleach my roots (6-8 weeks).
Q: Do you bleach your hair every time you dye it?
No, I only bleach new roots as they grow in. I do my best not to let the bleach touch hair that has already been bleached once (since roots are short, it’s pretty easy to do this just using a dye brush).
Note: To anyone bleaching out their entire hair, put bleach on your roots LAST. Roots process faster than the rest of your hair because your scalp emits heat that causes an intensified reaction out of the bleach.
Q: Do you dye your hair one color at a time or do you put them in all at once?
I do all of my colors at the same time. I am way too impatient to take the time to dye/rinse/dry/repeat! Besides, it would cause unnecessary fade to the first colors applied.
When doing light and dark colors, I make the streaks of light colors about 2x the size of the dark colors. This way, when they bleed during washes the light sections will still clearly stand out.
Q: How do you keep the colors from bleeding into each other?
The short answer is: I don’t. Hair dye will run and bleed no matter what you do. Instead, I just keep that in mind and plan accordingly. Here’s a few tips that can help reduce bleeding and make it less noticeable.
1. First and foremost, color placement. When I dye my hair, I keep in mind basic color theory. If I use yellow, I put it next to green, blue, orange, or red. However, yellow should be kept far, far away from purple. If two colors blend together and make another color that isn’t brown, then they’re probably safe to put next to each other.
2. I always wash under cold water. It helps seal the hair so that as little bleeding as possible happens.
3. If I’m doing drastically different colors, or colors that I want to keep distinctly separate, then I tend to do them in a half and half style. This allows me to wash one half of my hair at a time without making it an entire maintenance nightmare.
4. If I have a light color on the tips of my hair, I hold my hair up by the tips when I wash it. This way, the runoff goes off the middle of my hair rather than staining the light ends.
Q: What brand of hair dye do you use?
Every now and then I will experiment with a different brand, but 95% of my hair dyes are done purely with Manic Panic. They have the most impressive variety of colors, plus their ingredients are both vegan and cruelty-free. Bonus: they are very supportive of dye hards!
Q: Where do you buy your hair dye?
If I’m ordering ahead of time, I buy directly from Manic Panic‘s online store. When I’m in a rush and want my color right this very instant, I’ll check my local Sally Beauty Supply, Spencer’s Gifts and/or Hot Topic.
Q: How long does your dye last?
Manic Panic stays vibrantly in my hair for the first 2-3 weeks depending on color. Once it starts to show significant signs of fading, I start washing with Head and Shoulders shampoo to help remove the color faster. I prefer this brand because I like to change my colors up frequently, and the quick fading allows me to do so without having to bleach in between.
Q: How often do you redye your hair?
Approximately once every 4-8 weeks, depending on how the previous color is fading out. I almost never do the same color scheme in a row, so upkeep being a bitch isn’t really something of concern to me.
Q: How can I make my colorful hair last longer?
1. Don’t wash your hair as frequently as you would if it was a natural color. Semi-permanent dyes are exactly that, they will fade every time you wash your hair. Feel grossed out? The natural oils are very healthy for your hair, plus you can use volumizing products and dry shampoo to make it feel/look less greasy.
2. Wash under as cold of water as you can stand. This helps to keep the hair’s pores sealed up, trapping the color inside. Less bleeding = less fading.
3. If your hair is a single color, you can add some of the same color hair dye to your conditioner. Add enough so that it slightly tints your conditioner. Every time you wash, make sure to condition, and your color should keep it’s shine and vibrancy for a little bit longer.
Q: How do you fade colorful hair?
Once my color is no longer vibrant and pretty, I switch to using Head and Shoulders or other dandruff shampoo. These shampoos make your hair more porous, which helps the color seep out faster. If I’m really vigorously trying to get a color out, I do two applications of shampoo when washing.
Some other tips/ideas:
– Swimming in chlorinated pools or the ocean.
– Lay out in the sun.
– Try a Vitamin C treatment.
– Wash with dish soap.
Though I personally never use bleach to get color out, if you are really desperate but don’t want to cause quite as much damage, you can try a bleach bath (shampoo + bleach). My friends at HairCrazy have an article on 10 Ways to Remove Hair Color with some additional tips and ideas.
Q: How do you quickly change from one color to the next?
For anyone who gets bored quickly, a mixture of purposely fading and using color theory will help you change your hair color faster. Personally I let my colors fade out naturally until they’re light enough to dye over with certain new colors. For instance, if you have a faded blue, you can easily cover it with green or purple, since they are right next to each other on a color wheel. However, if you try to cover your faded blue with yellow, you’re most likely going to get a light green. Or covering faded blue with orange will cancel the blue out and make something muddy colored.
Check out HairCrazy’s article on Color Theory for Hair Dying if you’re interested in learning more about color theory and the color wheel and how it applies to dying colorful hair.
Q: How do you do this by yourself?
Mostly just time, patience and years of practice/experimentation. I have a full wall mirror in my bathroom plus a swivel mirror that pulls out from a side wall. I stand between the two so that I can see all sides of my head.
Q: How long does it take you to dye your hair?
Between 3 and 6 hours depending on how complex of a color scheme and what technique I’m using. This does not include the time it takes to lighten/touch up my roots.
Q: What kind of shampoo and conditioner do you use?
For 90% of my regular hair washing, I use Herbal Essences Body Envy Shampoo and Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Conditioner.
When I’m trying to fade out my hair, I switch to regular Head and Shoulders shampoo, which helps strip the color out faster. I stick with the same Herbal Essences conditioner.
I don’t bother with color safe shampoo because I haven’t found any brand that seems to do any more preservation than regular shampoo. Color safe products also don’t seem to agree with my hair in the cleaning department… It still feels greasy after washing.
As far as conditioner goes, it doesn’t have the same chemicals as shampoo that open up the hair pores and strip color out, so you don’t really need to focus on a color safe conditioner. Sometimes I actually add conditioner to my dye to make it spread easier or to lighten the color a little.
Q: What do you use to curl your colorful hair?
Let me start by saying that I hardly ever curl my hair. Partly to save my hair from heat damage and partly because when you have waist-length hair, curling it is no easy task. That said, for most photos where my hair has been curled, I used a 1″ barrel curling iron or curling wand.
I have also experimented with curlformers. They give a longer lasting curl that is more resistant to humidity. However, they still take quite a bit of effort. Also, if you put them in when your hair is too damp, the curls don’t always dry and hold well.
Q: Do you use extensions or is that all your real hair?
It’s all my real hair, which hasn’t been cut (more than a trim) since 2012. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with extensions.
Q: What kind of job do you have that allows you to have crazy colorful hair?
I am a full time in-house graphic and web developer and I have been at the same company for 13 years. I am also a freelance concert and wedding photographer.
Some jobs that don’t require interaction with customers and clients will be more lenient about colorful hair. For the younger crowd, I always suggest applying at places that sell hair dye if you want to have colorful hair, like: Hot Topic, Spencer’s Gift Store and Sally’s Beauty are some examples.
Okay dye-hards, that’s a wrap! I hope you found something helpful in here, but if not, please feel free to leave any other questions in the comments below and I would be glad to answer them.