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Collaborative Article: "How do you Change your Hair Colour?"

Published on 25th March 2010

If you’re like most of us with colourful hair, you won’t stick to one shade for long. Why settle for one colour when there’s a whole rainbow of tones to try?
But changing from colour to colour frequently can cause clashing colours and dried out hair. So we asked our forum members;

“How do you change your hair colour?”

Monochrome: “I view hair as mostly an accessory. I am more the kind of person that chooses shades based on my skin tone and general color palette of my wardrobe, and stick to that. The first year of my hair dying adventures consisted of using as many colors as I could. Now I know to stick consistently to reds, purples, and blues: it washes out the red and orange tones in my skin, and it is better suited to the more conservative colors in my outfits.”

Changing your unnatural colour comes down to is these choices:

  • Bleach or use a colour remover to get rid of the previous shade
  • Dye over the old colour directly
  • Allow the old colour to fade
  • Work through the colour wheel

Bleaching is the quick fix option for removing an old semi-permanent before applying a new one but it has its draw backs.

VaLukeAraptor says: “I don’t like damaged hair. It drives me crazy and I spend too much trying to cover it up. So, I wouldn’t be quick to grab the bleach.”

XcrazyColorKidX: “Unlike what I’ve read from people, I don’t mind bleaching, if it’s not too often.
If the color I have in is still fairly dark, I will go buy a dye remover, use it, and then if it’s not light enough I will buy a low volume bleach and it usually will all come out, and this is including black, and its never too damaged. I get a deep conditioning packet for after the bleach. After that it is about the right lightness that you can put just about any color on it and it will turn out great.”

TyDye: “Now and then I get an itch for a color on the complete opposite side of the color spectrum; which is when I grab the bleach. But a week before I plan on bleaching it, I’ll frequently wash with dandruff shampoo to fade the current color as much as possible. Sometimes the color doesn’t come out as much as I hoped, but I cross my fingers and wish for the best.”

Colour Wheel
An alternative to bleaching when you want to go from one extreme to the other is to work through the colour wheel. To go from orange to blue, which are opposing colours, you might try using yellow, then green and finally try blue after that. As each colour fades out you move one step closer to the desired shade.

Pierat: “I don’t want to damage my hair too much by bleaching all the time, so I decided to work my way round the rainbow. I covered faded turquoise with blue and left some of the previous colour to make some nice effects round the edges. Where I originally had green I left a little and put blue next to it so they mixed together to make a blue-green. I always like to have more than one colour.
I find it is worth thinking about what you might want next if you like to change your hair often.”

TyDye: “I usually pick my color depending one what I want to do next and do my best to work around the color wheel to avoid unnecessary bleaching and damage. Like right now I have orange with red underneath, when it fades I plan on bleaching my roots and dying all of it pink. That should give a gradient effect from pink roots to orange/peach tips. I really love layering colors because it makes for a more unique look rather than just pasting some dye over white hair and getting the generic color.”

tooblueforyou says: “Recently, I’ve made the mistake of mixing orange (MP Tiger Lily) with green (my very-faded Shocking Blue in my hair). The Tiger Lily only showed in the most faded of the green part in my tips, and it faded really quickly. Tiger Lily doesn’t last too long. What I learned from that experience is that even though green and orange aren’t exact opposites on the colour wheel, they don’t blend nicely together.

“One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re dyeing on top of another colour, the new colour will blend with the old one. When I wanted to go from blue (Manic Panic Shocking Blue) to purple, I dyed over it with Manic Panic Ultraviolet. All that did was make it a slightly purpler blue, but the change was barely noticeable. So I bought Manic Panic Fuschia Shock, which is a dark pinkish purple. When I put Fuschia Shock over the blue, as I’d predicted, I got a perfect purple, because blue + fuschia makes purple.”

Dyeing Over
Sometimes when the last colour is very light, or you don’t mind the colours blending you can just go ahead and dye over it. For example if your hair is faded yellow and you want to go green, using a deep bluish green over the top will produce a true deep green colour. Basically paint mixing rules apply!

Gorgeousgreen uses this method to gradually add colour; “I’m in the process of changing my hair color right now, I ran out of Special Effects Iguana Green and I have two bottles of sfx Blue Velvet to use up. I have been adding blue to the rest of my green hair dye and I have added more blue every time I redye so that it will slowly change to blue.”

TyDye: “I also try picking colors that are vibrant enough to mask left overs from my past color. I was able to dye orange over faded green (despite the color spectrum saying that would come out brown), because the orange was so fiercely bright (sfx Hi-Octane orange).”

Colour Remover
There are 2 types of colour remover – the oxidising type which behaves like bleach and the colour reducing type which attempts to break the colour bonds made when dyeing your hair with a permanent.
You’d think this type wouldn’t work on unnatural colours like Special Effects or Directions but some of our users have had good results, like TyDye; “Another time I tried using ColorOops on purple/blue/black hair to lighten it before bleaching since I was trying to go to a lighter shade of orange. It worked surprisingly well, still had to bleach of course, but the faded purple would have given a pretty neat effect had I been going to pink or something.”

There’s no one right way of getting rid of one colour in preparation for the next and you might find a combination of methods work well for you.

Bondi146: “I usually let my hair fade, fade, fade until it’s really light, then bleach out the rest of the color. Sometimes I do get impatient and bleach before I’ve faded it that much, unfortunately. I once tried to bleach out MP Atomic Turquoise right after it turned a bright green on my hair… My hair is still green under the brown I’ve got on it now! My advice to anyone trying to change hair colors: Be patient! Most colors still look okay after they fade, and bleaching shouldn’t be the only way you get out old color.”

Whatever you decide, don’t forget that above all condition is the most important thing! Bleach once too many and your hair can be too damaged to take a colour. And as always, strand tests are your friend!

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