How to Dye your Hair Purple

1st 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.

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