Dye planning

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Dyeing Effects

Published on 10th August 2001

If you’ve been dyeing your hair for a while you probably get sick of solid colour sometimes… or maybe you’ve already tried every colour there is and need a change. Try some of these techniques to liven up your dye job.

Dip dye

Dip dye effect looks like your hair has been dipped in dye a few times, gradually fading into the natural colour (or not if you prefer!). On naturally light coloured hair you have the darkest shade at the ends of your hair and the lightest further up. It’s the opposite for naturally dark hair.

Example 1. Blonde hair with purple dip dye effect

Ingredients: 1 x purple dye, 1 x white toner, tint brush, gloves, old t-shirt
Instructions: Wearing an old t-shirt, section your hair into 2 bunches or 4 if your hair is really thick and spread the hair out. Decide how much of your hair you want to dye. In this case it’s the bottom half.
Now mix a small amount of the purple dye with the white toner. Use the tint brush and apply it quite thickly to just below the area where you want the dye to stop and about half way to the ends of your hair. In the same way apply the dark purple dye to the ends of your hair, until it’s just next to the white toner and dye mixture.. Make sure the hair is well spread out. Now using the tint brush, brush the dark purple dye upwards to the white toner and allow them to mix. Clean the tint brush. Now brush the white toner mixture up (for about an inch) into your natural colour. Rinse and you’re done!

Example 2. Brown hair with pink dip dye effect

Ingredients: 1x pink dye, 1x white toner, 1 x bleach kit, gloves, tint brush, old t-shirt
Instructions: This method is best on previously undyed hair: Section the hair and spread it out as above. Mix up the bleach as the instructions say and apply it to the area at the ends of your hair that you would like to dye. Allow the bleach to process until the hair is pale blonde. Wash out. Follow the instructions for blonde hair only apply the darker dye next to your natural colour and the lighter at the ends.

Example 3. Dyed black hair with red

Ingredients: 1x red dye, 1 x bleach kit, gloves, tint brush, old t-shirt
Instructions: If you’ve dyed your hair black so many times and have given up hope of ever getting it bleached enough to dye try this and if it fries your hair you can always cut the ends off. This requires 3 bleach processes so only mix one third of your bleach kit at a time.
Wear and old t-shirt and spread your hair out as before. Apply bleach to as much of the ends as you would like to dye. Allow it to process until your hair is a reddish-orange then wash out. Apply bleach again but only 2/3 of the amount you bleached last time. Allow your hair to become orange and then wash out. Now use the last third of your bleach kit on just the ends of your hair. Let that go yellow and wash out.
You should be able to see a 4 different colours: black -> red/orange -> orange -> gold/yellow at the ends.
Now use the tint brush and apply the dye all over the ends of your hair. It will turn out very dark red on the reddish-orange parts, dark red on the orange parts and bright red on the yellow parts. I recommend using a pink based red such as poppy red or cherry.


Tipping your hair is a really easy way to get a new style without too much commitment – no roots and if your school/work freaks out you can always cut it off. It looks really cool on spiky and layered hair.
For short hair (ie, hair that can be spiked) do this:
Use some gel to spike your hair. Try to spike it from the roots so that you don’t get too much of the product on the ends. It might interact with the bleach. So, once your hair is spiked and set you’re ready to bleach and dye it. Wear plastic/latex gloves and mix up some bleach. Apply it to the ends of your hair using your fingertips. You don’t need to be too careful with this, the messier it is the better! Once it’s gone blonde wash out the bleach. You can either just leave it bleached or colour it afterwards.
To dye it just do the same thing as you did with the bleach only using dye instead of bleach.
If your hair is layered here’s how to do it. You’ll probably need someone to help you with the back.
Mix up the bleach and wearing a pair of plastic or latex gloves put a small amount of bleach between your thumb and index finger and pull small strands of hair at the bottom. Pay attention to any feathered or layered parts as it’ll look really cool if you spend a bit of time on those parts and get it looking right. Don’t bother trying to get a straight line, messy is going to look better. Make sure you don’t get any bleach on the rest of your hair.
So, once it’s gone blonde you’ll want to wash out the bleach and apply the dye in the same way as you did the bleach. Leave it on for at least 15 minutes and rinse. Finished!

Blending colours

Having graduated colours always looks impressive.. when it’s done properly. It works best when at least 1 light colour is used, otherwise it won’t show up as well. Also beware of mixing colours for example red & green blended makes brown so avoid that combo. I would recommend pink and purple, violet and turquoise, blue and turquoise, green and mint (turquoise mixed with white toner), red and purple, light pink and mint. Try out the colours first by mixing up paint to make sure it’s not going to look completely rank!
Anyway, here’s how it’s done:
If you have long hair section it. Start by putting the lighter colour on the top half of your hair – that way it won’t bleed into the darker colour and ruin the contrast. Do a section at a time. Apply the lighter colour from the top down half the length of your hair (this will reduce unwanted bleeding of colours) and from there apply the darker colour from the middle to the ends. You can either use a tint brush and brush the darker colour into the lighter colour or smudge it in with your fingers, just make sure that the 2 colours blend well into each other.


Stenciling is probably the easiest way to dye patterns into your hair.
A few things you should be aware of first:
Stenciling is easiest and gets best results with short hair.
On longer hair results will show up better on very straight hair.

What you’ll need:

  • Thin cardboard or plastic (cereal boxes, cake boxes, food packaging). Make sure it’s flexible and won’t soak up too much dye or gel.
  • Scissors
  • Someone to help you
  • Dye/bleach/coloured gel/coloured spray
  • Hair Spray

Start by deciding on a pattern that you want. Draw it out on the card and cut it out like any stencil.

If you’re going to be doing this with dye or bleach I recommend trying it with coloured gel or spray first in case it doesn’t turn out right. At least then you’ll have a temporary mess!

Now get your helper to hold down the stencil against your hair and using a tint brush (or small paint brush if it’s a complicated stencil) apply the dye/bleach/coloured gel. If you’re using a coloured spray make sure that the stencil is really close against the hair to avoid leaking. Also make sure that the spray is not held too far away or so that it doesn’t cover any areas that it shouldn’t.

Finish it off with some hairspray (especially on long hair) to stop the hair moving apart and ruining the look.

Tip: Small complicated patterns and leopard spots won’t look as good on long hair as short. Try horizontal or vertical stripes or larger patterns.


This has got pretty popular lately. It looks best on long hair that’s been layered.
Here’s how it’s done: Part your hair horizontally and tie the top hair out of the way. Now just bleach or dye the bottom half like you would normally – by sectioning it and applying the bleach or dye. When you rinse/wash it out keep the top section out of the way and allow the water to rinse downwards so that the bottom colour doesn’t bleed into the top.

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