Who doesn’t love rainbow hair, am I right?! Well, unfortunately, wild hair colors are expensive and tough to take care of. Behind that vibrant red or daring green is either a high salon bill, lots of at-home hair color practice, or both.
I’ve been coloring my hair since I was in middle school, but the rainbow hues started about 11 years ago and stayed for good shortly after. I’m going to break down how I do my own hair, yes I color my own hair, from home.
-I will not give bleaching advice.
I start out with freshly bleached hair. If you want vibrant, unicorn colors the fact is you’re going to have to bleach unless you were blessed with platinum hair. I follow up the bleaching session, which I try to only do a few times a year, with color. There is a certain process you must take to ensure your color comes out great and stays that way! Here are those steps.
STEP ONE: Prep your hair
Starting with bleached hair (if you do it yourself wash and rinse it all out or it will eat your dye!) wash your hair, but DO NOT condition it. When you condition your hair you are creating a barrier between the color and your follicle so the color is less likely to stick. Dry your hair before you dye it. Yes, having bleach hair that is freshly cleaned and unconditioned can be rough, but it’s worth it for great color.
STEP TWO: Get set-up
Get your dye ready. You’ll need gloves, a bowl, a hair color application brush, a towel, hair clips, and optional Vaseline. You can wipe Vaseline around your ears, neck, and hairline to avoid the dye staining your skin. Beauty supply stores also have color removing wipes. Wrap a towel around your shoulders or wear an old t-shirt you don’t have to worry about hair dye getting on (and ruining).
STEP THREE: Apply the color
Section your hair. You can clip about 2/3 of it up in a claw-clip on the top of your head and let down more as you go, you can section it into 4s, or you can create two halves and start coloring from the top. I will create two halves, clipping one side in place, and I will grab the top layer, apply the hair color, then lay it on the other side of my head, picking up the next layer, coloring, and so on until I have enough to make a little bun, I wrap newly colored hair around the bun.
As you apply hair color with the brush you want to start at your roots and move down, making sure to coat the entire section of hair with dye. You can gently massage the color into each section but don’t let your color froth up. Apply the dye to small sections at a time so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to get your roots AND ends coated.
STEP FOUR: Sitting time
After I have my hair completely coated in dye I plop it all on top of my head and let it sit…for a long time. Personally, I don’t recommend less than an hour if you want vibrant hair that lasts. Sometimes I’ll even go 2 full hours. Hey, I’m chillin’ at home, I have nowhere to go!
STEP FIVE: Rinse!
After letting my hair color sit I rinse. You want to do this in COLD WATER. Yes, it’s going to suck, no you don’t need to take a full cold shower, just bend over the bath and rinse your hair color out under the faucet. When I first get my hair wet I mixed it up, sort of like I would shampoo, to make sure I’m getting all of the hair color wet so it rinses out well. You really want to squeeze all that hair color out so you’re not left with anything but fresh hair. Big note: DO NOT SHAMPOO YOUR HAIR! You will wash out half of what you just deposited if you shampoo your hair. This is why we also use cold water…hot water is just going to make all of that new color bleed down the drain! I like to rinse and then when I think I got it all out, rinse again. At this point you can go in with conditioner, again rinsing in cold.
-After this, if I want my color to last I wash in cold water, clip to the top of my head, then follow with my hot shower.
STEP SIX: Aftercare
After you rinse and condition you can style as usual! Dry it, curl it, air dry it, whatever you want! But…I don’t advise washing for a few days. AND…you need to wash in cold water. If you want your color to last there are a few things you can do to help that happen: wash in COLD water, only wash a couple of times a week (or just as little as possible for you), and avoid heat. So basically if you wash your hair in hot water, then blow dry it, then straighten it, and you do that every day…your hair color is going to look terrible, very quickly. Why put in all this work just to wash it down the drain (literally)? You also want to avoid harsh shampoo and hair products; avoid sulfates and always use color-safe products.
-To avoid bleaching and doing more damage to my hair I will keep within the same range and color over the previous color if I can-so if I have pink I can go in with red, purple, or even orange, with purple I can let that fade and do pink or red, and so on.
-Green and blue are the toughest to get out so I rarely use them. If you want to avoid bleaching but want to use green or blue plan to stay in that range for a long time!
-See my favorite products below!
MY FAVORITE PRODUCTS
Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Full Coverage Dyes for vibrant hair (I have expert experience – both using and past work for the brand – ask me anything!)
Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Tint Dyes for pastels
Olaplex Shampoo and Conditioner
Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
Olaplex Bond Smoother No. 6
Let me know in the comments if you use my at-home hair color method and how it turns out!
For more self-care tips check out my post on Skincare for Women in Their 30s!