Picture of Dye your hair a strange color
A lot of people want to dye their hair with semi-permanent unnatural-color dye, such as Manic Panic, Special Effects, or Punky Color. Its actually quite a process and requires a lot of attention to detail or your hair will look/feel really bad, the color will not come out right, and itll fade instantly. This is, as far as I can tell, a definitive way to do it, from years of trial.

Step 1: Get stuff

You'll need:

  • basic hair dying tools: combs, hair clips, a tinting brush, plastic bowls, rubber gloves, petroleum jelly, tin foil (you can get precut tinfoil at the beauty supply store or just cut some everyday kitchen foil)
  • bleach: BW2 or similar bleach powder, get two packets for short hair and a small bucket for longer hair. you really dont want to run out. peroxide developer (20 vol for light hair, 40 vol for dark hair) a small bottle (4oz) for v. short hair, a large bottle otherwise. its cheap stuff and you dont want to run out.
  • toner: "blue lightening"/"platinum"/etc. for dying hair a blue, green, purple, etc shade. "light blonde", etc for dying hair an red, orange, yellow shade. They come in 2oz brown bottles. ask the salesperson to point you to it so you dont get the similarly looking hair dyes. they're often apart and near the bleach.
  • hair dye: "special effects" is my favorite and seems to seep least and keep longest. however, "manic panic", or "punky color" is OK. get a couple similar shades to get a gradient effect. most hair can be done w/ a single bottle. if you have a lot of hair, get two shades to make sure you're covered. you'll also need some left over for touching up. some people use "kool aid", but i cant advise it I buy mine from the garment district, which also sells online. any reputable place will have a color swatch panel. If you happen to have some hair bits, say cause you just cut your hair or something, you can dye them to get a sense of how it will come out.
  • other: j&j baby shampoo, hot oil treatment, an old/unwanted towel that you can use to dry your hair once its dyed

You can't get most of this stuff at a generic drug store, especially the bleach and toner... you must go to a beauty supply store!
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  Not if it's the color blonde you want. Toners are to get the shade of blonde that you desire as bleaching often leaves peoples hair brassy or yellowy. There is no need to do it if you like the color.
There is a pretty fantastic CRT tan occurring in all these pictures. =P
One time, i bleached my hair then put blue dye in the spikes, after that, my hair has never been straight again...
donaoh6 years ago
When i dyed my hair blue, i mixed some dye in with my conditioner every time i washed it to top up the colour. A few times a week for the first 2 or 3 weeks i put conditioner into dry hair, wrap cling film on it and a towel over for a conditioning treatment. It really helped the condition of my hair, as it usually gets really weak from the bleach.
Just wanted to drop a "Thank you" comment for this excellent step by step hair dye instructions. I didn't follow it completely but took ideas from it that helped me during the bleaching/pre-lightning stage(e.g. tin foil, etc...)
Felix Tamen6 years ago
The author is right: this is the best process for getting really vibrant color. However... I you're using really dark dye and lots of heat, you can skip the bleaching step. This works on my average-brown hair. The resulting color will be darker/subtler, but sometimes that's OK, or even desirable. The upside is that you don't have to damage your hair by bleaching it. I like to test this by dyeing the tips of my hair. Then, if I like the effect, I go back the next day and dye the rest. It's time-consuming, but to me it's worth it to avoid the troubles of bleached hair. YMMV.
Felix Tamen6 years ago
If you have black hair, you may need to bleach your hair two or three times to get to blond.
Warlrosity6 years ago
If you want it black get a big texta or marker eg sharpie, and color it in
I found that toothpaste gets dye off of marble well! =]
punky8596 years ago
nice man im gonna dye my hair lime at da tips cos i av awesome emo hair u rock at dis gnarley instructable u shud make more!!
Wonderful. :D I want to dye my hair purple, but the parents wouldn't approve. :(
I use temporary party spray-on dyes. Only problem was that they were very VERY water-soluble, so I had to be careful about sweating and having the color run into my clothes >.<
I have a friend who still uses a package of Kool-aid for that temporary colour-of-the-week look!
Ants. Any little critters that like sugar. :x
No, you use the sugar-free stuff... like teh yarn-dyers do. Plus, if you used the sugared stuff, it would be uber-sticky.
just use food coloring
Wow, do a write-up of that!
Hi, I'm a hairdresser and I just thought I may add a few tips. If you can afford to, see a hairdresser about this. ;) I have two reasons to justify this statement: 1. Many lighteners [bleach] sold in beauty supplies are not intended for on-scalp use and can [and will] leave the scalp with chemical burns, sometimes resulting in open wounds, other times burning the hair follicles entirely and leaving bald spots [even if it only gets on the scalp in a couple places]. 2. If your desired color can be achieved with permanent [oxidative] hair color as opposed to direct dye [special effects] it WILL always last longer. This is because of several reasons, which I will not get into at the moment, but the primary reason for this longer lasting effect is called NATURAL REMAINING PIGMENT. And when salon professionals take color classes they drill this into your brains. (: If you cannot afford to see a hairdresser: 1. Purchase a lightener that is safe for on-scalp application, and add two packets of sweet-n-low to the lightener, I am dead serious it will not burn. 2. Developer should be selected for appropriate lift [again, your hairdresser will know this] so, if you have very damaged hair that is long and dark, three applications with 10 volume will be MUCH safer than one application with 40 volume. 3. The toner step is entirely unnecessary. Toner does not lift hair at all, so after applying the lightener, hair is either light enough, or not - in which case another application is needed. 4. apply lightener to the roots when the hair is nearly as light as you want it [the last 5 minutes or so], this way you will get a color that is between brown and your bright color - for a "natural look," if you will, without the instant re-growth. I use and love Redken Color Extend shampoo and conditioner, with a weekly treatment of Alterna hemp organics repair, my hair color is actually very similar to yours in the photo, but I go 8 weeks between coloring it and it is always BRIGHT. I really hope this doesn't sound mean, I just want to help. (: If I failed at being nice, I'm sorry. ):
OH I thought you sounded nice! And my best gf is also cosmotologist and has colored my hair before and she also uses the Redken Color Extend on her hair and mine. Her hair always looks great (I need mine touched up again at the roots - I have very very long hair so the roots show bad pretty fast... we'll get to it this week or so...).
ladyada (author)  Aleksandr Skotbot6 years ago
ill try the sweetnlow, a great tip. BTW what -does- toner do if it doesn't take out the yellow?
It hard to explain briefly. But I'll try. In the American level system, there are 10 levels of hair color. 1 is black and 10 is lightest blonde. There are different colors that are exposed when you lift, or lighten, hair. There is a specific pigment exposed at each level. Toner provides a neutralizing pigment to balance the color exposed. So toner will not take yellow-orange hair to a white color, because yellow-orange is the color exposed at a level 8. In order to achieve a whitish blonde color, hair must be lifted as light as it will possibly go, and toned with a violet-based level 10 toner. But then, it gets more complicated, because there are different levels needed to apply these bright hair colors. Violet - 6-7 Orange - 7-8 Red - 5-7 Blue - 10 Green - 9-10 Yellow - 9-10 Does that answer your question a bit?
i've heard about the sweet-n-low trick, and it does work.
You are brilliant.
I just joined this site, so pardon my error, I write using brackets, and where I placed them, they turned into links! eek!
chefguru6 years ago
How the hell is this any different than using Manic Panic? I've used every shade of Manic Panic, and never had any trouble. My coloring used to last for almost a month without fading. Manic Panic says to only leave it in for 5 minutes, but I found that if you leave it in for 30 minutes or more, the color will take almost a month to start to fade. How is your method any easier?
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
Something i'd probably never do.... but is good to know how if i change my mind!
frenzy6 years ago
some how i expected you to get an arduino in your hair some how, oh well.

hey, buddy no spam >:(
aphesia6 years ago
nice instructable. i prefer punky color, and directions (best spring green ever). while not advisable, i leave in the bleach for 3-4 hours, especially if i'm going for purple. I also leave in the hair dye for about four hours, and wrap some plastic wrap around it so that the head from my head is trapped and helps the dye set better. after washing out the dye, use a hair blower, it sets the dye. finally, the dye will last longer if you don't get your hair wet. but that's kinda, well, duh.
russ_hensel6 years ago
I expect your projects to be open, but cannot find a link to the firmware. What am I missing?
mclisa6 years ago
Products with glycerin can strip red pigment from your hair. Also shampoos with sulfates as the primary cleansing ingredient can be very harsh. I use two good protein shampoo/conditioners, Mill Creek Keratin (health food stores) and Curly Hair Solutions Treatment shampoo and Pure Silk Protein.
OliveOil8 years ago
Props to you! I really actually got some good ideas, somethings I've never tried. I have dyed my hair many a color, but it still helps to talk to others who have done it too. Oh might I add, I have DARK BROWN, almost black hair, rather then using a Bleach, because is just destroys your hair when it is that dark. I have used "Borne Blonde", you can find it in Walmart in the hair dying section, it always worked well for me and lasted just as long as it did when I 1st bleached my hair.
Blonde "dye" is still basically a bleach + toner. (How do you think it gets lighter, if not by bleaching?)
R4Man186 years ago
Small world... well maybe not so are you responsible for the Minty MP3? (when I say maybe not its because ive been into diy for about 5-6 years now and I came upon your site before)
Ph3nomin0n6 years ago
Nice! 5/5 hey did anyone tell you that you look like the guy with all the piercings on The Punisher?
im sorry bt thats kinda mean
no i didnt mean it that way... and if i offended someone I apologize. But I wish I could get piercings like that but alas the courage escapes me. But I didnt mean it that way
omnibot6 years ago
Excellent stuff.
insomniac g6 years ago
Great little guide!

To add to your advice about washing ones hair; when you shampoo your hair do so in lukewarm/cool water dramatically reduce the usual fading (took me a whole year to figure that one out for myself)

Also this is fantastic.
thank you, this inspired me to dye my hair purple, I love it except somehow after I dyed it the dye would leave my hair and get literally everywhere, it didn't really fade the hair quicker it just got all over me,my clothes and anything around me, I don't know what I did wrong, a friend of mine said that it was because my pores never closed in my hair or something but she didn't know how I did it, so my question is what exactly did I do and how can I make sure not to let that happen when I re-dye it soon?
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