velvet dragon

Hints For Hair Dyeing

Hair is great for expressing oneself. Dye fades or grows out, and hair grows back. It's a great non-permanent form of self-expression that can change with you. I've experimented with my hair a lot. I've done various styles, from long to pixie cuts to near-shaved to mohawks. I've dyed it tons of different colors, both natural and wild. I've let it be completely natural (thin, uberstraight, limp, medium brown) and I've fussed with it extensively. I take good care of my hair, and so I'm not afraid to do more. Dyeing is one of the most fun aspects of hair style, and it's one of the things people notice about others.

I've been doing this so many years that I don't always follow the instructions of the commercial dyes and lighteners exactly. A person should until they know their hair and the products well. ;) Cuz otherwise, you could end up with straw hair or an obscene color you definitely weren't going for. The following stuff include general tips and techniques for hair dyeing. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before fiddling with your hair, 'kay?

Note: On this page, "Manic Panic" will refer to various brands of semi-permanent hair color creams and gels commonly used by punks, goths, etc. They come in a variety of wild colors (blues, reds, greens, etc.) and are all fairly similar. These include Punky Color, LaRiche, and Special Effects. I have used several of these brands but am most familiar with Manic Panic.

General info:

  • Most hair bleaches will lighten your hair in the following stages: Black, brown, red, orange, yellow blond, light blond. Pure hydrogen peroxide tends to lighten hair in grey stages instead of yellows, but is harsher on your skin and hair.

  • Manic Panic is an herbal and protein complex, and therefore doesn't hurt your hair -- in fact, it's conditioning. Most "natural" hair color dyes are chemical and therefore damage your hair. Bleaches are the harshest on your hair.

  • Permanent chemical dyes that are darker than your natural hair color can be used on unbleached hair.

  • Manic Panic should be used on lightened hair. If your hair is blond, it may work fine, but Manic Panic bonds to the hair rather than actually dyeing it, so it works best on hair that has been prepared.

  • Dark Manic Panic colors (rich greens, reds and purples) may add highlights to natural colored hair, though it will wash out faster.

  • You can mix various Manic Panic colors together to create your own colors. Do not mix Manic Panic with other brands of dye or add anything to it. Do not try mixing chemical dyes. Manic Panic comes in both cream and gel forms -- do not mix them together. Mix creams with creams and gels with gels.

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    Before you dye:

  • Wash your hair. A good kind of shampoo to use is one that removes buildup (chemical, mineral, etc.). I use Aussie Mega Shampoo.

  • Do not condition and do not use a shampoo/conditioner 2 in 1. Conditioner will interfere with the dye bonding to your hair.

  • If your scalp is sensitive or your hair damaged or dry, wait 12 to 24 hours after washing to bleach or use permanent dye (Manic Panic is gentle and can be used right after) since natural oils in your hair will protect your scalp.

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    When you dye:

  • Follow any mixing instructions exactly.

  • Use gloves and an old towel, dye can get everywhere, especially if you're new to dyeing.

  • To keep the dye off your skin, you could put vaseline around your hair line (don't get it in your hair though, or it will interfere with the dying process). I don't do this because it's messy anyway. If the dye does get on your skin, it will probably wash off after one or two showers. Also, if it gets on your skin while you're dyeing and you notice, you can take a paper towel dipped in shampoo and wipe it off.

  • Some hair dyes will work good under a cap (which also prevents you from reaching up to scratch an itch during the setting period and getting it all over your fingers, heh). Manic Panic, if you're going for uniform color, works fine this way. Some people even leave Manic Panic on their hair with a cap while they sleep. For some bleaches, it will speed up the action by keeping it warmer. Check the instructions, however, and if it says not to cover your hair, don't. Also, if you're doing stripes or whatever, putting your hair in a cap can cause colors to bleed.

  • If you're dyeing part of your hair with permanent or chemical dyes and part with Manic Panic or another creme semi-permanent, do the chemical dye part first.

  • Don't leave on chemical dyes or lighteners on too long, it'll wreak havoc on your hair and scalp.

  • You can leave Manic Panic on your hair for as long as you'd like. For better staying power and excellent color, try leaving it on for six hours.

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  • To make Manic Panic last longer, rinse your hair in vinegar immediately after dyeing. This raises the PH level of the hair color.

  • Another trick is to add two tablespoons (more or less depending on your hair length) of Manic Panic hair color to your regular conditioner after each shampoo. Leave it on three to five minutes and rinse it with warm water. This replenishes the color that was washed out.

  • Condition after every shampoo! Use a conditioner for damaged or color-treated hair. I use Aussie Three Minute Miracle Reconstructor. If you treat your hair well, it can be healthier than someone's which has never been dyed.

  • You can touch up roots on chemically dyed or bleached hair every two to six weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows. To touch up Manic Panic, which eventually washes out, you need to bleach the roots first.

  • If you really screw up (you tried to dye your hair blond and it came out orange, or something) go to a professional to fix it. Re-bleaching and so on can really mess up your hair. Don't leave it to chance unless you want to risk going bald.

  • Avoid bleaching chemical dyed hair. That's a double whammy of unhealthy treatment for your lovely locks. Wait for it to grow out, or use a semi-permanent color in the first place.

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    Tser's Hair!

    I thought I could make this site a bit more interesting (and egocentric) by adding a few examples with pics of my various hairstyles. I'm not that keen on having my picture taken, though, and there simply weren't any. So I took some!

    March 21, 2002 -- Flaming

    For this particular look, I started by bleaching the top. I wanted to leave the bottom brown, so I bleached the crown, including my bangs, using Clairol Ultra Blue. I went down a little farther in the back than on the sides, to follow the hairline. I left the bleach on about 45 minutes, and then washed it out (using shampoo).

    Next, I applied, to the bleached part only, Clairol Extreme FX "Smouldering Orange". It's a semi-permanent color, claiming to wash out in approximately 24 washings. I'd never used this particular type of color before, so we'll see how it lasts. It didn't give such a "conditioned" feeling as Manic Panic.

    I applied it blotchily rather than going for full coverage of the bleached part. I wanted various colors to show, including yellows and light oranges.

    I have some of the Smouldering Orange left over, and because it's not a mixed type of chemical color, I think I can use it to touch the color up later. I am also considering getting some Manic Panic in a dark red and adding to the "flamey" look I achieved.

    Here I am in my pajamas (I have great fashion sense, ne? Bleh!) with my dog Isis. My hair is spiked up a little bit.

    Here's what that dye job looks like from the back.

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    Sick of it all?
    Why don't you shave it?

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