Basics of Dyeing Your Hair Punk or Goth Colors (Part Two of Two)

October 8, 2010 by J. Dikes  
Published in Hair

While unnatural hair colors are associated with punk and gothic culture, you don’t have to be either to enjoy beautiful, colorful hair.

In part one of this series, we covered the process of bleaching your hair in preparation to dye your hair.  So hopefully, at this point, your hair is ready for color.  If not, go back and read part one here.  The same disclosure applies as last time, everything I’m writing is based on my experience through ten years of dyeing my own hair.  I’m not a licensed beautician, hairdresser, or anything similar to that.  I’ve just dyed a lot of hair between my own, my friends, and my family.  Enjoy these tips, but everyone’s hair is different, so experiment to find what works best for you.

Unlike preparing for bleaching your hair, when preparing to color with Semi-Permanent color like Manic Panic, Punky Colour, Beyond the Zone, etc, you want your hair to be clean. These types of dye are vegetable based and incredibly gentle, there’s no need to have oils on your scalp to protect your skin and in my experience, oily hair can lead to uneven color.  Typically, I apply my color the same day I bleach my hair, after simply towel drying my freshly shampooed (but not conditioned) hair.  I personally find it easier to distribute the color through slightly damp hair, but that is a matter of personal preference.

Choose your color
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear a certain color because of your skin tone or anything else.  If you like a color enough, go for it.  You can always change it if you don’t like it.  As far as brands go, I’ve personally tried Jerome Russell Punky Colour, Manic Panic, and Beyond the Zone.  They are all incredibly similar as far as application goes, and they all have a wide range of colors.  They are not the same as far as performance, however.  My personal favorite is Jerome Russell Punky Colour because it gives great color and is long-lasting.  Manic Panic gives the best color after you dye, but fades faster than Punky.  While this sounds negative, it can be a good thing.  You can be pink this week, purple two weeks from now, and blue next month if you want.  It’s all about figuring out what you really want from your dye.  If you want it to look good for the next two weeks, choose Punky.  If you want it to look awesome for one weekend or are likely to want to change colors regularly, choose Manic Panic.  Now while I mentioned Beyond the Zone, I personally do not recommend them.  In fairness, I’ve only tried two colors from them a purple (which turned out greyish purple) and a pink (which looked faded after just rinsing it).  They may have wonderful blues or greens, but I’ve never tried them and probably won’t because of my negative experience with the two colors I did try.  Any of these companies advertise that you can mix colors to customize your own colors.  I’ve done this with colors from all different companies, so mix and match to create a color that’s right for you.  When Manic Panic was the only one that came in a tub, I’d keep my empties to mix colors.

Apply your color
Some recommend applying petroleum or Vaseline to the hairline to prevent color from getting on your skin.  I personally avoid this practice because the Vaseline can get on your hair and impact your hair color.  I also happen to know that rubbing alcohol is excellent for getting color off of your skin after you finish.  If you have an outside area to apply the color, that may be best, as the drips can make a mess.  If you don’t, consider putting down newspaper or old towels to protect your floor.  Keep paper towels nearby to wipe up spills as they happen.  Don’t worry about the stain, just wipe up the product, we’ll get the stain later.  Use a tint brush or a toothbrush to saturate the hair you intend to color.  Use foils if only dyeing some hair or if using different colors.  When everything is wrapped up, you may want to put on a processing cap to protect in case any color got on the outside of your foils.

Time it…or don’t
These colors do not damage your hair as they are not traditional chemical based hair dye.  Think of these more as a stain than a dye, as they do not penetrate your hair fully.  Therefore, timing is not as critical.  You want to leave it on long enough to leave a good “stain” on your hair.  I would recommend a couple hours at least.  I used to color all of my hair purple or blue on a regular basis, and I typically would saturate all of my hair, wrap my whole head with saran wrap, put an old towel on my pillow, and sleep with it in.

Rinse it
If you have access to a garden hose, you may want to rinse outside.  If not, add Comet or Ajax to next week’s shopping list so you can get the stains out of your tub.  Any generic bleach-based powder will do.  But back to your hair. Unwrap your hair.  If you used multiple colors, unwrap the darkest colors first.  Rinse.  Rinse a lot.  Rinse until the water is nearly clear (it will not get all the way clear, trust me).  If you have other colors, unwrap and rinse those too.  Once finished rinsing, do not shampoo.  You may want to condition your hair, but this is not mandatory, as the majority of these colors condition your hair and leave it incredibly soft.  I have heard from other people that blow-drying your hair after coloring “seals the cuticle” and cause your color to last longer.  Through much experimentation (none of it scientific), I’ve found there’s not really a difference between blow drying and not blow drying.  The only perk to blow-drying after rinsing is that you get to see your color sooner.  But I hate blow-drying, so I usually just wait.

Clean it up
After you’ve gotten over how awesome your new color is, you’ll probably notice that your ears, floor, bathtub, and neck are all green/blue/pink/etc.  Not to fear, there are products to remove the stains.  Rubbing alcohol works wonders on your skin.  Your scalp is going to be stained, but you don’t want to scrub that with alcohol unless you want to ruin your new color. To make myself presentable after coloring my hair, I use rubbing alcohol on any stains on my face, neck, ears, etc.  I then dip a q-tip in alcohol and carefully remove dye from my scalp on the part in my hair only.  The rest of the color on your scalp will come off through your next couple of shampoos.  Now for the damage in your bathroom.  Rubbing alcohol works for smaller stains from drips, but when dealing with larger areas, like your tub, you will need to enlist a bleach based powder, like Comet or Ajax.  Dampen the stained area, sprinkle the powder liberally, and scrub.  If the stains are stubborn, allow this paste to sit on the stain for a few minutes, then come back and scrub some more.  Once the stain is satisfactorily lifted, rinse and admire your clean tub.

So now that we’ve cleaned up your skin and bathroom, relax and enjoy your gorgeous new hair color.  Frequency of touch-ups will vary from one person to another, and will also vary according to which color and which brand you used.  If you are planning to change from one color to another, I recommend letting the first color fade as much as possible before switching to the other color.  Depending on the colors, you may be able to just bleach your roots and apply your new color (for example, letting your blue fade, bleaching your roots only, then applying purple).  Some color changes will require a full re-bleach to look good, particularly when you are going from a dark color to a light color.  Make those kind of changes as infrequently as possible to avoid frying your hair.  Condition a lot any time that you bleach, but particularly when you’ve re-exposed previously bleached hair to more bleach.  Also, you may consider a shampoo specially formulated for color treated hair to reduce fading.  Shampoo less frequently to further reduce fading.  When I was dyeing all of my hair, I used to shampoo every three days.  I would still shower on days I wasn’t shampooing, I would just wet and massage my scalp in place of shampooing, then condition the ends of my hair only.

I hope the information from this series was beneficial to anyone considering dyeing their hair.  Thank you so much for reading, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have about dyeing your hair.

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