Dyeing Your Hair Wild Colors

A guide to supplies and techniques for bleaching your hair and then dyeing it a bright color.

When you dye your hair with a regular box of Miss Clairol or Revlon, you don't really need to undertake much preparation. Everything you need is right there in the box. However, if those Clairol and Revlon colors bore you, and you've decided you want something with just a little more oomph, you're going to need preparation and supplies.

Wear a t-shirt you don't care about. You'll need a ceramic or plastic bowl, disposable rubber gloves, a towel, a bathroom with a good mirror, proper lighting, and a sink, and a washcloth to wipe away drips.

You'll also need, of course: powdered bleach. This is available in pouches from any beauty supply store, and cream developer. Developer acts as a catalyst for the powdered bleach. It is also sometimes called activator and comes in several different strengths - 20, 30, 40. These numbers refer to the amount of peroxide in each one. The number of developer you pick should be proportionate to the amount of lightening your hair will require before you get the proper base for your wild color. Those with darker, coarser hair should try the level 40 developer. Finer hair, or lighter colored hair, will lighten adequately with the 20 or 30 level.


Mix the powdered bleach with enough developer to make a loose paste. Make enough for all of your hair at once, as it is important to apply the bleach quickly. You don't want the end result to be too uneven. A little unevenness is okay, as you will be covering it with a bright color. It is extremely important to pay close attention to the progress of the lightening, as it happens quite quickly after application. The bleach may cause a tingle in your scalp, or a slight burning sensation. Don't panic, though - unless left on for much too long a time, it won't cause your skin any damage. Bleach can, however, cause your hair to weaken and even break if left on for too long a period. As soon as your hair has reached the lightness level you desire, rinse your hair thoroughly in the shower. Be gentle, as newly bleached hair is fragile. If you choose to condition, rinse it thoroughly as conditioner in your hair will stop dye adherence.

After the bleaching comes the fun part - the color. There are many different brands of dye for you to choose from when dyeing your hair a wild color. Even the major brands have begun producing funky colored dyes for the adventurous drugstore shopper. But brands like Special Effects and Manic Panic, to name just two, are also available at specialty stores and on the internet. In comparison, these two brands stack up thusly: Manic Panic's reds and pinks are strong, blues and greens, were weak. Special Effects colors were all strong and didn't fade.

Before applying the color, spread Vaseline around your hairline, on your ears, and at the base of your neck. This will help avoid staining your skin with the dye. Using either your hands or a tint brush, gently apply the color to your hair, being careful not to miss any spots. If you're using a tint brush, be extra gentle. After you've finished covering your hair with the dye, put on a shower cap or wrap your hair in plastic wrap, and let the dye do its work. Processing with heat isn't necessary with Special Effects, but it is with Manic Panic. Leave the dye in for as long as you want - a minimum of 30 minutes is probably best, but it can stay in as long as overnight. When you do rinse your hair, take care to be gentle on your newly processed hair, and use a deep conditioner. Have fun with your hair!

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