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Dyeing a colour gradient

★★★★
Published on 25th June 2012

This is an article I was missing on this site when I wanted to start dyeing my hair in a gradient. I am by no means a professional, but I think my end result turned out nice, so I just wanted to share what I did to achieve it. I have now dyed this gradient twice and I noticed I already learned a great deal from the ‘mistakes’ I made the first time.
(The photos I used below are a mixture of the two times I dyed this gradient, chosen to best illustrate the steps)

Step 1
Bleach your hair, please refer to the other guides on this website for more information.

  • Bleaching your Hair
  • An Alternative Method for Bleaching Roots
    I started off with my hair honey blonde with a faded pink fringe and some regrowth. So I started off with bleaching the roots. Make sure the roots are light enough because the yellow did look a little green on me the first time around. So you will need that famous ‘inside of a banana-peel yellow’ if you want a good bright yellow.
    This was the colour my hair was before I started dyeing. Blonde with some faded/ bleach out pink

Step 2
Collect towels, wipes, rubbing alcohol, Vaseline, aluminium foil, hair clips/bands, a pointed comb, 6 bowls (5 for dye one for water), well fitting gloves and some good mirrors. Or whichever gear you normally use for dyeing and not getting your entire bathroom covered.

Step 3
Section your hair. This is one of the things I did differently the second time around and probably almost took as long as the dyeing itself. I decided it was easiest to section my hair into two side ponytails retaining my side part. Leaving one part secured with a hair tie until got half my head covered in dye. Starting on whichever side you prefer, section the hair in horizontal sections starting next to your part working your way down. I twisted the strands securing them with a clip. When you get to the other side of your head try make the horizontal sections match those from the other side.

This is where I divided the hair in horizontal sections twisting them and securing them with a clip

Step 4
Put on your gloves and get out 5 bowls to mix the dyes. I used yellow – orange – red – pink – purple.

Yellow: MP electric banana (+ a little SFX hi-octane orange)
Orange: SFX hi-octane orange
Red: Directions fire/poppy red (1:1)
Pink: MP hot pink
Purple: SFX deep purple/MP purple haze

I intentionally put the lightest colours near my roots so bleeding would be less noticeable and bleached roots would just add an additional colour-band. I used more than 5 colours to mix the tones I wanted, but I guess fewer colours would also do. Fill one large bowl with water.

5 containers with 5 different colours and 5 different dyebrushes

Step 5
Loosen one of the hair section starting at the bottom. Try to gage how far along your gradient is at the bottom back of your head. For me this meant that the bottom sections only included red-pink-purple instead of the all 5 colours. As I got further up I added orange and yellow, I decided only to use yellow in my part the second time around.
As I worked I divided the horizontal sections further into two/three sections. Start with applying the colours closest to the root (in my case red), baste the hair well and a little further than the width of the colour band you want, then get the next colour’s brush (pink)and apply this underneath. Then with gloved hands rub the two colours together well in the middle between the two colours so a nice transition is created.
Make sure to pull a funny face into the mirror as I did because it helps.

Using different brushes for all colours apply the dyes. Pull funny face ;)

Step 6
Now using the bowl with water or the tap wash your gloves off between every new colour you apply and rub them dry on a towel. This is annoying but it will, really help keep your colours clean.

Step 7
Keep working strand by strand applying and blending colours. I noticed that once I got to the ends of strands it was easiest to blend the purple by twisting the ends. This also helped preventing staining other strands that were not yet covered in dye. Do however be careful that you do cover the inside first before you start twisting.

I twisted the dyed strands of hair to keep them separate

Step 8
When all the hair is covered gather the hair on each side of the head with a clip and wrap in some aluminium foil and apply some heat with a hair dryer. Then leave it alone for as long as you can stand it/stay awake (in my case 2 hours).

I used a hair-dryer to set the dye the second time I dyed it and it seems to have taken better for it.

Step 9
Rinse Rinse Rinse – I first rinsed with some vinegar and then with cold water but everyone seems to have their own methods for this.

Step 10
Dry and style your hair to admire your handy work!
I only washed it after 3 days, the brightest 3 days of my life (hair-wise that is ;) )
Enjoy! Hope you get as many compliments as I have, thanks for them all.

This is the end result a very colourful gradient.

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