I’ve been looking forward to this for months. I have only colored my hair a couple of times since starting with the mouse over eight years ago, and even then it had to be a natural-looking color. I missed the crazy shades! I mostly used to do reds and oranges, or just bleached blonde, and thought about those colors this time around. But I finally decided that I’d do a color I’ve never done before: pink.
To start with, here’s a before picture:
With extra bonus helper sink cat!
On the 10-scale of hair color, black is a 1 and lightest blonde is a 10 (there’s a color chart later in this post). My natural color falls right around a 2, even though it looks mostly black in this picture. (I took most pictures in the spare bathroom, because it has a nice plain white door right behind the mirror. The lighting in there isn’t 100% awesome, but I adjusted as well as I could.)
I washed my hair the night before, so it was free of products but also had some time to build up a little bit of scalp grease. Ew, that sounds gross. But seriously, don’t color freshly-washed hair; you need a little oil on your head to protect your tender head skin from the chemicals.
Behold, my supplies:
I browsed the Sally Beauty Supply aisles thoroughly, torn between the Manic Panic and other brands. I ended up going with Ion, a brand I’ve used before (though for more “normal” colors) and liked. All of the unnatural colors are “semi-permanent,” so it’ll be interesting to see how long the color sticks around before I need to freshen it up.
With hair as dark as mine, it needs to be lightened significantly before it can take any really good color. So it was a two-step process: bleach, then color the lighter hair. I got a blue-based lightener, because my hair tends to go really orange and brassy when it gets lighter, and the blue is supposed to counteract that.
And yes, it’s really, actually blue.
Mix the blue powder with cream developer (I went with a 20-volume, recommended by the lightener packaging for when you’re working right at the roots) until it’s the consistency of pancake batter, then brush it on all over. I had Scott assist briefly, to make sure I got the small hairs on the back of my neck, and didn’t have any big drips or smudges on my skin.
The lightener packet recommended 30-50 minutes, depending on how light you want to go, and how tortured/thick/stubborn your hair already is. My hair was virgin and uncolored, so I was comfortable going with 50 minutes to get it as light as possible. The goal was to take me from a level 2 up to a level 7/8.
According to the packaging of the pink color I chose, I didn’t need to shoot for a level 10 to get good results; it recommended a 7.
So, after 50 minutes, I rinsed out the bleach and ended up with the following:
Yeah, it’s still a little on the orange side, but not much. There’s only so much that the blue goo can do. If I’d gone for a non-colored lightener, it would have been WAY orangier, believe me. Been there, done that. Spell check is telling me that “orangier” isn’t a word, but I’m rolling with it.
Also, if you compare to the chart, it’s definitely lighter than a 7. I’m lucky, in that my hair is pretty dark, but it always bleaches out really well. Maybe it’s because I was blonde as a child, who knows?
Every time I bleach my hair, I’m tempted to stop there. It’s a kind of cool color. I could get a toner and use it, which would take out more of the gold tones and put it more toward platinum. Hmm, maybe in the future. For now, it was project pink all the way.
I let my bleached hair dry thoroughly before putting on the magenta dye. Some recommend waiting a couple of days between bleaching and coloring, while others insist it should be done right away, while the hair follicle is wide open. I figure, if they do it right away in the salon, and I’m using salon-quality supplies, I’d be just fine coloring immediately.
On with the pink sludge!
The instructions that came with the color said to leave it on for 20-40 minutes. However, a lot of the young people with their YouTube how-to videos appear to leave their color on for 2 or more hours. Since the color is just pure color (as opposed to store-bought boxes of hair color, where you mix a developer in with the color), you could leave it on overnight if you wanted to, and you’d be perfectly OK (well, you’d have a hell of a messy pillowcase to clean, but other than that, OK).
I rinsed after 40 minutes. And yeah, when I refresh the color, I’ll definitely leave it in for longer, because it’s way lighter than I expected it to be — more of a candy pink than a deep magenta.
I took some shots in the spare bathroom, but the color was hard to get right. Here’s the best representation, in natural light by a window:
And even though it isn’t the color I thought it would be, I really dig it! It’s definitely not Disney-appropriate, which is a great reminder every time I look in the mirror that I don’t have to go in to work next week.
A couple of notes:
If you’re going to put a crazy color on your hair, rub some petroleum jelly on your skin along the hairline first. Because these colors stain like crazy! Here you can really see along my hairline where my skin had Vaseline on it, and where it ended and the color got on my scalp:
(You can also see that my accuracy along the hairline was not all that great. There are also spots on top of my head where I missed the roots by a quarter-inch, and some areas that barely got the pink dye. These are all because of doing it with my own two hands, and not being able to see parts of my head directly. It’s hard when you’re using a hand-held mirror to look at the reflection of the back of your own head in the bathroom mirror, y’know?)
Anyhoo, the scalp line is no biggie, since I wear my hair over my forehead, and the stains will wash away after the first couple of shampooings. (I even got a color-protective shampoo, to replace the bar soap I usually wash my hair with. Yes, I wash my hair with bar soap. My hair is baby-fine, and just lays there limply in the Florida humidity unless I torture it a little bit.)
These color dyes are really thick. You can thin them out with some hair conditioner, but whatever you do, DO NOT thin them out with the developer solution you used with the lightener. Bad mojo there. You can also thin out the dye with a lot of conditioner, to get more of a pastel look.
Use non-metal bowls. I like to go with glass — easy to see that you’ve mixed everything up from the bottom, easy to clean, and non-reactive with the chemicals you’re using. And don’t wear anything too precious, because you WILL get bleach on it.
I plan on accompanying this color with an undercut, which I’ll probably do today or tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll end up with 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch on the sides — I’ll start out with the longer and see how I feel, then go shorter if the mood strikes. I kind of can’t wait for the roots to start growing out — nearly-black on the sides and pink on top will probably look really cool.
When refreshing the color, I may try Manic Panic or Special Effects or one of the other big brands, to see if I like them better. Anyone out there have a favorite brand?