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How to Dye your Hair Purple

1 December 2012

In the previous article in this series, I talked about how unnatural colours are translucent. This means that if your hair is dark and you put a pale purple dye on it, the results won’t be noticeable. Conversely, if you apply dye to very light hair (platinum blonde) the results will be much brighter and more vibrant. It’s like applying watercolour paint to a dark sheet of paper; nothing really shows up. If you paint onto white paper the paint comes out as you expected. So, for hair dyeing a pale creamy blonde is best.

Dyeing Without Damage

When it comes to purple there is a huge range of dyes, shades and tones to choose from and the great news is that brands such as Directions, Special Effects, Manic Panic, Stargazer, Crazy Color, Punky Color, Fudge and Adore don’t contain any peroxide so won’t damage your hair. They are also semi-permanent so once your Violet has washed out, you can mix it up a bit with Lavender or Plum without worrying about damaging your hair or having to use a colour remover first.

Choosing the Right Shade of Purple

There is a shade of purple hair colour to suit any skin-tone or hair colouring. Dark skin-tones can wear any shade of purple but rich plum reds such as Pimpin’ Purple and Violet Gem look especially good. Olive skin-tones are complimented perfectly by blue-toned shades like Violet or Deep Purple. Pale skin-tones can go for both warm and cool purples. If you’re a natural blonde you’re guaranteed to rock pastel shades like Lilac or Lavender.

Dark and Mysterious or Light and Edgy?

Dark Purple
Create a deep lustrous shine with a near-black purple like Special Effects Deep Purple. In dim light this shade looks almost black but practically glows in sunlight. It’s extremely long lasting – almost permanent – and covers darker base colours such as reddish or golden blonde. Deep Purple can even add a tint to hair without bleaching at all as demonstrated in our Dyeing Unbleached Hair article.

Directions Plum and Stargazer’s Plume are other great examples of long-lasting dark purples. They’re not quite as dark as Deep Purple but they are still excellent at covering darker blonde shades and will add shine even to the most damaged hair!

The only downside to these deeper shades is that they have a tendency to bleed and can rub off on light coloured clothing for the first week or two. Check out these articles: Oh No! I’ve Dyed my Fingers and Cleaning Up Dye.

For rich, deep shades of purple, try these hair colours:

Dark purple and plum hair colour
Photo by Jude

Lavender, Lilac and Pastel Shades

An edgy look popular with celebs, pale purples take more effort but the results are striking. When aiming for a pastel shade of any colour, but especially purple, it’s essential that you lighten your hair to an even and pale light blonde. Your hair should be a creamy colour with no dark spots, which would only be darkened further by dyeing with a pastel shade.

The most effective method for checking if your hair is evenly bleached is to take a look at it under UV light (black light). The light areas will glow, highlighting the dark areas that you’ll need to spot bleach to achieve an even tone. If you don’t have access to a UV light, examine your hair in good light when it’s wet to find any missed or under-bleached areas.

With a pale blonde base you can choose any colour you want! Lilac and Lavender are extremely popular. The terms are often used interchangeably but there’s a subtle difference in shade. Lilac is a warmer, pale pinkish-purple, whereas Lavender has more blue tones and is a lighter version of Violet.

Noodzy's Lilac Hair Tek_error's Lavender Hair
Top: Lilac Hair by Noodx Bottom: Lavender Hair by Tek_error

Pastel hair colours contain less pigment, which unfortunately means they wash out more quickly but you can use this to your advantage and take the opportunity to try out white or silver! As these pastels fade they act as a toner on your hair leaving it with a white or silver appearance. Lavender tends to fade out to a silvery shade, whereas Lilac ends up whiter. For more info on dyeing your hair white, see our Going White/Silver article.

Here are a few gorgeous pastel purple dyes:

Warm-Toned Purples

Shades of purple with a hint of pink tend to suit everyone but look particularly nice with dark and Asian skin-tones. If, like me you’re paler than a milk bottle, pink-toned purple will still look great on you even if you don’t usually suit warm colours like red or orange.

Some fantastic shades bridge the gap between purple and pink and these include Adore’s Violet Gem, Crazy Color’s Burgundy and Special Effects’ Burgundy Wine. These colours will compliment violet purples perfectly and the two can be combined with streaks or slices of colour to give you a multi-tonal effect.

Warm-toned purples:

Warm Purple hair by chaosxkitten
Photo by chaosxkitten

Cool-Toned Purples

Violet is a beautiful shade and with multi-tonal reflexes can appear to almost change between blue and purple depending on the light. It’s a less forgiving shade than warmer-toned purples, so be sure to start with pale blonde hair to avoid it looking dull and muddy. Violet tones are great with paler complexions and look fantastic as a chunk of colour in natural brown hair.

Violet Hair by alcoholicrattlesnake
Photo by alcoholicrattlesnake

More Photos of Purple Hair

If you still need some inspiration for dyeing your hair purple, have a look at our Purple Hair Gallery.


  • I love this article so much. :) Report Comment
  • You have made a really well put-together article! I am very impressed! :D xx Report Comment
  • Great article! Report Comment
  • wonderful :D Report Comment
  • Hiya, I'm considering going purple (well light purple) and white and maybe with like a black fringe or something! :P Now I've noticed a lot of people are naturally dark-haired (dark blonde/black/brunette etc) but I'm sort of...well medium to light blonde naturally. And I've NEVER used bleach, just straightforward dye (Manic Panic and Directions), do you have any tips for me? :) I'm a teenager, and I try to be as careful as I can with anything in life! I don't like making mistakes. I must say though, I LOVE this article!!! Purple is one of my favourite colours no doubt. :) Fantastic article! Report Comment
  • Thanks so much for posting this article. Since I don't bleach my hair when coloring, the guide really helps in determining which shade works best. Report Comment
  • thank you this helped a lot =) I have been thinking about dying my hair purple for a while now but I never knew what shade to choose now I know =) <3 Report Comment
  • Should the hair be lightened / faded before applying a purple? My daughter's hair is currently blue (having had a lilac applied?) and she is desperate to be purple but I don't think we should bleach it again...... Report Comment
  • @Natudiva If there's still a lot of the previous colour in her hair, try to fade it out first. Anti-dandruff shampoo works well. Purple and blue are pretty similar so you could work with the blue and use a warmer-toned purple to make a violet shade. Report Comment
  • I have been trying to get my hair purple for the longest time, and I'm almost there. I have dark brown hair and lifted it two to three shades. I'm currently using manic panic purple haze. After the first wash the deep purple turns plumish. I've had people ask me if I put red in my hair. Wtf. I use a pre and a post color treatment and a deep conditioner. What is the best purple product to use? Report Comment
  • I tried dyeing a strand of my darkest brown [Black brown] hair to Cinnamon Red but the color was just slightly different from my original, like a difference of 0.2 percent. So I thought to dye that area over again today and that turned out to be the same. Nothing much happened so I thought to jump on a different hair color, that is Plum and I really want to know whether it would show up or not since I do not want to spoil my hair by bleaching and all the doors are seemed to be closed. The stores here do not sell Lo'real Hi-Color or whatever that is, the color they're selling is just normal Plum or Cherry Red [I don't think that Cherry Red would show up either. P.S. Please tell me a proper way to dye my strands because it's the first time I'm dyeing my hair on my own. :) Report Comment
  • I need help. I just bleached my hair today and when I got home i waited 3 hours to dye my hair purple, I used Crazy Colour hot purple and Adore purple rage. I left it on for a whole hour after I got out the shower I noticed it was black ( I had bleached it to a blondish gingery orangey color) and only in the light it looks purple but overall it's just black with a purple tint :(. Someone please help I really wanted it a true purple I don't know what to do Report Comment
  • I need some help! I recently died my hair from red to purple. I bleached it first to a blonde to get all the red out and then put war paint-purple rain over it and left it on for the required time then washed it out. (not realising using a non colour lock shampoo) so when I washed it after about 4 days it faded to a blue in certain areas(this time I had a colour lock shampoo). so I put another purple over it the same as I used previously and when it came to washing my hair once again it fades to a blue only in these certain areas though. I decided to change brand so I got paintbox fudge and tried that and then just washing my hair is once again has washed to a blue in certain areas. am I doing something wrong? what can I do to stop this from happening?!!! Report Comment
  • I REALLY REALLY want purple hair, almost any shade of purple will do!! Only problem is, my hair is pretty dark, and I will be doing it myself. I know all of yall do your own hair, but I am a newbie. My friends usually domine for me, or I get it done...but I am NOT paying someone to do my hair if I can do it. What is the dye that bleaches AND colors your hair? They have it at Sally's...ALSO, everyone, PLEASE hit me with your advice!! Thanks yall!! Shannon Report Comment
  • How pale is pale a colour reference? Purple pastels aren't sticking to my hair and I wonder if it's too dark/yellow - does it need to be like white? Report Comment

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