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Dyeing Your Hair an Unnatural Colour

Published on 27th June 2001

So you’ve got a bottle of dye in some unnatural colour but what’s the best way to apply it? How do you get an even coverage and vibrant result? How can you avoid getting stains all over your face? Read on…

First things first: prepare your work area!
Cover any porous surface such as wood, linoleum or vinyl flooring, carpets, clothes etc. in case you spill any dye. Wear an old t-shirt and have a towel you don’t mind dyeing to hand. Apply Vaseline around your hair line, ears and neck. This will help prevent the dye soaking into your skin and staining it. Wear gloves to protect your hands from staining.

Now you’re ready to start dyeing.
Your hair should be freshly shampooed and not conditioned. Conditioner coats your hair so this can interfere with the dye soaking into your hair.
Use a tint brush to apply the colour around your hair line and either side of your parting. By doing it this way you avoid staining the visible parts of your scalp! If you want to be very careful you can section your hair and apply the colour section by section using a tint brush. If you’re feeling lazy just slop the dye on all over using gloved fingers.
It’s a good idea to comb the colour through your hair to make sure that it’s evenly distributed. It’s easy to miss strands of hair otherwise.

With most direct dyes it’s ok to leave the dye on for a couple of hours, so if you’re using Special Effects, Manic Panic Cream or Gel, Directions, Crazy Colour, Punky Colour or Stargazer for example it’s fine to leave this colour on your hair for a while. Wrap your hair in plastic so that the dye doesn’t dry out. The heat from your head will enhance the colouring process.

When the dye has done its thing rinse it out with warm water until the water runs clear or you can’t feel more dye in your hair. Use a good conditioner to lock the colour in and to make your hair feel good. Bleached hair requires extra care so using a nice conditioner is a good idea.

Which Dye?
So now you know how to dye your hair, but which dye should you use? There are many brands on the market and you can buy most of them online. Bear in mind that most of these dyes will last 3-8 weeks before needing a retouch so it’s often a good idea to buy an extra bottle.
Generally some brands last longer than others. Special Effects and Directions will often stay in the hair for over 6 weeks (with some Special Effects colours like Atomic Pink and Blue Velvet lasting several months!) whereas some of the cheaper brands may not last for as long. If you want to try a lot of different colours or you get bored easily go for a brand that doesn’t last as long so you can change your colour frequently.
How long the colours last depends on the condition and colour of the individual’s hair so it’s difficult to say how long each brand’s colours will last for. Also whereas some people may find Manic Panic washes out quickly, others swear by its staying power. It’s a matter of trial and error so have fun trying different brands and shades!


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  • Unnatural colours are brighter and last longer on bleached hair
  • Darker colours tend to last longer than pale shades
  • You can use these semi-permanents to liven up a faded permanent colour
  • Liquid soap on dry skin wiped off with a cotton bud is an effective way to remove stains


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