Friday, October 4, 2013

How do I keep my hair so pink?

The dye in this picture is about a month old, and has seen chlorine and/or salt water nearly every day of that month.  If you don't want to read the complete instructions, the highlights are: Special Effects brand dye.  Beach the f**k out of your hair first, don't wash it too often, and use this.


I've been asked this 4 times in the last week how I get and keep my hair so pink, so I thought I'd just write it down.  (There's no magic, mysticism, or Judaism in this post...if you don't want pink hair, you might as well skip it.  My most recent magical adventures haven't been for public consumption, but I think I'll have something for you this weekend.)

Disclaimers:  My hair is short, fine, and light.  If your hair is very dark or course, these instructions might not work for you.  This method does some damage to hair.  Don't bleach the same hair twice, and don't do this to hair that's already damaged.  IMPORTANT: if your skin is dark, the bleach will bleach your skin too.  Be careful with it!  If you're as white as me, you don't need to worry about that.

You will need:

  • the cheapest, nastiest, harshest dollar store shampoo you can find.
  • the very best, richest, thickest conditioner you can find.  (It doesn't have to be expensive.  I like this.)
  • nice, gentle shampoo for color treated hair. (It doesn't have to be expensive; I like this.)
  • bleach powder.  There's a brand called "Splat" you can buy at the drug store, but I like this kind, which you can get at a "beauty supply" store, or, often, at larger discount stores in african american neighborhoods.  Such a store will have everything on this list, except the actual dye.
  • #30 developer; get it wherever you got the bleach powder
  • Special Effects Hair Dye.  This is hard to find in stores; I buy it online.  I've been dying my hair for 20 years, and I've tried pretty much all the brands.  This is the best one.  If you can't get it, Jerome Russell Punky Colors is also ok.  Manic Panic and Jazzy Colors (which is what they use at most salons) are garbage, worse than kool aid (which works surprisingly well if you boil it)  I use "atomic pink".  Historically, I've also had very good luck with "napalm orange", "cherry bomb" and "virgin rose".  My firends swear by "fishbowl (teal)" "limelight (green)" and "bright as f*k yellow". For my short mohawk, I use about a tablespoon of dye, so one bottle lasts me about a year.  The "Splat" brand they sell at the drug store is ok, but too thin, which makes it very messy to apply.
  • a washcloth you don't mind dying
  • a too-big tshirt you've cut the neck off of.   Be sure it will go over your head without touching your hair.  Or, you can just do all this topless, which is easier.
  • a glass bowl or 2 disposable plastic ones.  DO NOT use a metal bowl (it reacts with the bleach
  • a few plastic spoons
  • rubber gloves
  • petroleum jelly
  • thick moisturizer
  • soap for washing up.  bar soap works better than liquid
  • pink nail polish (despite all our efforts, your fingernails are probably going to get dye splotches on them; it will fade in a day or two, but this will cover it up)
  • dark colored pillow cases.  Your hair will rub off on pillow cases for at least a week.
  • dark shirts to wear for a few days; freshly dyed hair can slightly stain white collars if it gets rained on, sweaty, etc.
  • It's not really necessary, but I really like this to keep hair color bright.  It also makes your hair very soft.  You can get it at any drug store.

How to dye hair pink (or any other non-natural color):
There are several steps (bleach, wash, dye, rinse, condition).


  1. Start with dirty hair, the greasier the better. This will help protect your hair, and gives more even results.  Open a window if possible.  The bleach smells very strong.
  2. Mix the bleach powder and developer in the bowl.  The goal is a paste about the thickness of shampoo.  The exact ratio isn't important; if its too drippy, it will get in your eyes, if it's too thick, it is hard to apply.  It's better to start with it thicker, and then dilute it with more developer as you go.  It will smell very bad.  For short hair, I use less than a half a packet of bleach powder.  Since you need to tweak the thickness, reserve some bleach powder and some developer from your initial mix.
  3. Apply the bleach to your hair.  Make sure you don't miss any.  When you think you're done, pour some developer in the dirty bowl with the dregs bowl, and then use the very thin mix that results to fill in any gaps.
  4. Wash your hands very well.  Clean any drips off your face. Wash the bowl
  5. Wait.  My light hair takes about 15 minutes.  Just look at your hair from time to time.  You're waiting for it to be platinum.  If your hair was dyed to start, this will take longer.  
  6. Once your hair is platinum, rinse it very well.  Then, pour some conditioner in and wait 5 minutes, and then rinse again.  Next, wash it with the cheap shampoo and do not condition. 
  7. Run about 3 inches of water into the sink.  That way, if you drip dye in, it won't hit the sink directly.  This dye WILL DYE your sink, bathroom floor, etc.  If that happens, scrub with this.
  8. Put petroleum jelly on your hair line, ears, and anywhere else you don't want dye.  More is better than not enough.  The goal is to make the skin waterproof.
  9. Put a ton of moisturizer on your hands and arms.  (also shoulders, face, neck...anywhere that's exposes and might get dye on it.  Again, the goal is to waterproof the skin so errant dye doesn't sink in.
  10. Put plastic gloves on over the moisturizer.  This feels weird, but will keep your hands not pink.  Bonus: very soft hands when you're done.)
  11. Put some dye in the bowl.  If you're dying your whole head, you can just squeeze the dye directly onto your head.  If the dye is too thick, mix a tiny bit of developer into it.  Put dye on your head until all the hair you want to dye is covered.  You can mix colors, which will give "highlights" and "lowlights".  I like pink + orange.  Use your hands.  Try to keep the dye off your face and neck.
  12. Again, use some very thinned out mix to plug any holes.
  13. Pile the dyed hair on top of your head, so it touches your neck as little as possible.
  14. Use the washcloth to clean up.
  15. Peel the gloves off directly into the trash.
  16. Wipe off any drips.  Wash your hands ALOT.  Clean up.  Remember to keep the sink full of water, so dye doesn't hit the sink bottom until its diluted with water.  Wash the sink.
  17. Wait until your hair is dry.  If you have a lot of hair, you could probably speed this up with a blow dryer.
  18. When hair is dry, remoisturize all your skin.  You should feel noticeable greasy.  Dont' do your feet; you'll slip in the shower! :)  This will help keep you from dying your skin as you rinse.
  19. Fill the bathub with a few inches of water.  Just like the sink, this will keep you from dying your tub.  If you do accidentally dye the rub, fill it with water, pour in a gallon of bleach, and let it set for a while, and then scrub with comet.
  20. Rinse your hair.  A LOT.  Rinse until no more dye comes out.  Condition.  Rinse again until no dye comes out.  Wash your hair with nice gentle shampoo.  Rinse again.  Condition.  Leave the conditioner in while you sing (badly) at least 2 full songs.  Rinse again.
  21. ENJOY!  Remember: DARK PILLOW CASES!


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