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Avoid Bleeding Colours

30 June 2011

Have you ever done an amazing dye job only to have it ruined when you wash your hair? In this article I’ll explain how you can avoid colour bleeding and how you can use it to your advantage.

Bleeding Vs Blending

The truth is, sometimes there is no way to avoid colours running into each other as you rinse them out. This is particularly true when you have colours like White, Yellow, Lilac, (or any pastel shade), in your hair which corrupted if you have a deeper, more pigmented shade placed next to it. It is unavoidable to some extent but you can use this in your favour!

Bleeding can be a good thing. You can use it to create custom colour blends that look 100% deliberate. The trick is to place your colours carefully.
Take yellow as an example. Imagine you want to do a bright yellow fading into green, fading to blue. If you place the blue at the top, think about what is going to happen when you wash your hair – the blue will wash all the way down the length of the hair and muddy the yellow. So all you need to do is flip your gradient around so that you have yellow on top, then green then blue on the bottom. Always put the deepest colours on the bottom and you can’t go too far wrong. Enhance the look while you’re dyeing by smudging the borders between colours to give a softer gradient.

So what if you don’t want to use a gradient… let’s say you’re doing chunks of a colour?
The key here is to accept that some of your lighter colour is going to be affected. So, using our yellow and blue example above, if you wanted a streak of yellow in the middle of your blue hair you need to make your yellow area about 50% larger than you actually invisage it so that there’s a good portion of yellow that’s not directly touching any blue. Accept that some of the yellow is going to turn greenish. It’s inevitable but you can reduce how green it goes by following the tips below.

Tips to Reduce Bleeding

  • Wash your hair carefully – even suds can stain light hair so avoid piling your hair up on top of your head as you wash and when you rinse let the water run from root to tip without bunching your hair together.
  • Consider washing some areas separately – if you have blonde hair and just a chunk of colour, you may want to think about tying or clipping the blonde hair back while you wash the coloured area. This will prevent the colour rinsing through your blonde and discolouring it.
  • Rinse in cold water – the colder the better. Cold water seals the hair cuticle slightly so less dye escapes.
  • Use conditioner – this will also seal the hair and reduce the amount of colour in the run-off.
  • Choose the deeper colour carefully – some dyes bleed more than others. Avoid really deep shades of plum, dark blue and dark green which will stain everything in sight (hair, nails, bathroom and more importantly you’re freshly bleached hair) and opt for something more pastel. Check out product reviews first to find out how much bleeding you’re likely to experience.

Do you have any more tips? Leave a comment!


  • Thanks this article is great, when I wash my rainbow undercut I have found that alot of the colours bleed and run together. These tips will help me alot thanks ;D Report Comment
  • Washing parts of hair seperately sounds difficult but its really not if you plan ahead. I've done my fringe a different colour and its easy, i just comb the rest of my hair backwards and it'll stay there when wet. then just be careful to not let the water run down onto the other colour. I also find washing your hair gently (not scrubbing) reduces bleeding ALOT. Ofcourse, it may not wash your hair as well, but you've bleached your hair it tends to not go greasy anyway :) Good article :) Report Comment
  • when i washed out hair that had gradients root to tip i help out strands horizontally and washed them with the shower individually then did a more thourough rinse over all the hair. almost no bleeding there! Report Comment
  • thanks! i hate when my hair bleeds but when i do half and half hair i usually just wash each side separately like you mentioned. jeez the things we do for our hair! ;) Report Comment
  • thank you so much! i do rainbow hair sort of now, and i always have to redo the yellow because the orange and red likes to seep into it. this helped! :) xoxo zanna Report Comment
  • I actually tried to blend colours once, and it didn't work. (If you want to see, look at my timeline and find the picture of me with brown roots, then red and purple hair). My advice to someone trying to make it bleed/blend on purple is not to rely on the colours to blend themselves. I should have taken a plastic cup and mixed my red with my purple dye to apply to the place in my hair where I wanted the gradient. Report Comment
  • Thank you for linking me to this. I once had a pink-to-brown blend from less than stellar planning on my part, so this is helpful advice to keep me from repeating mistakes. Report Comment
  • Just had a hair malfunction! I wish I would of read these earlier. Lol. Report Comment
  • Another good idea is to initial rinse your hair in a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water. It changes the pH level of the hair sealing in more color. Report Comment

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