If you don't want to commit to weird hair, there's a sort of gel-like product you can get at the beauty supply stores. It sits on top of your hair, so it doesn't change your natural color at all and washes out as soon as you shampoo. It's good for adding a few streaks of color. I do not recommend trying it on all of your hair. It will make you hair very sticky and stiff and gross, but hey, don't we all suffer for art sometimes? So if you have a job (or school) that will let you have your hair some unnaturally occurring color, here is the step by step. I feel the need to warn you that I'm not a hairdresser. All that follows is only what I learned through trial and error over a couple of years of experience. Needless to say, "Individual Results May Vary."
Step 1: Bleach your hair
Don't even think about trying to dye your hair an unnatural color without first bleaching it. If you don't bleach your hair out until it's nearly white, the color will not take. You'll waste your time and money and the color will be gone in two days, or it won't show up at all if you have dark hair. Think of it like coloring with crayons. If you try to color with a purple crayon on top of brown crayon coloring, it will still be brown. Color purple on top of white, and now you are in business. I recommend a powder bleach with a 20 or 30 volume developer. L'Oreal Super Blue works for me. Depending on how dark or previously-dyed your hair is, it might take a couple of bleachings to get it light enough. Go buy yourself some of those latex gloves from the grocery store, the kind used for body cavity searches. They're in the cleaning aisle; you get ten for about a dollar. Don't get the vinyl, they're too baggy. Follow the directions on the bleaching box until your hair is really light. Then you can start with the freaky colors.
If you have an excessive amount of red or orange in your hair after bleaching a few times, you might want to try a toner. Ask the lady at the beauty supply store, and she'll point you in the right direction. The Silver Lady toner took a lot of the pink tones out of my hair and made it look quite white and grey in a very sci-fi cyperpunk way.
Step 2: Buy some hair dye in the color of your choice
(Which you probably should have done before you made your hair that weird looking blonde). Keep in mind when shopping that the color of the sample patch won’t be exactly how it looks on your hair, it depends on the tones in your hair, what kind of condition it’s in, and the tones in the dye. In general the colors are going to turn out lighter in your hair than they look on the sample. So if you want a dark color, pick the darkest shade they have. If it turns out to be too dark, don't worry, it'll fade.
Some of Your Weird Hair Dye Options
- Special Effects -- This stuff lasts the longest of all the hair dyes. The colors are quite florescent and electric looking, however it stains really bad. If you don't mind scrubbing out your bathtub with bleach every time you take a shower and using rubbing alcohol to get the stains off your hands and face after you shampoo, then you should go with this. The color will stay in with little fading for a month or so.
- Punky -- This is a medium on the fading scale, the color will stay how you want it for about two weeks and get progressively lighter the more you shampoo. The colors are not quite as florescent and tend to be more muted. It doesn't stain as badly as Special Effects and will wash almost all the way off your hands after shampooing with just soap.
- Manic Panic -- This stuff fades and fades fast. It will last how you want it to look for one week (maybe two) before you will feel the urge to redye. It does the least amount of staining to your sink, hands etc. It's good if you don't want to commit too much to a particular color i.e. the black won't last too long, but don't get me wrong, the color never completely fades, thus the semi-permanent aspect.
- La Riche Directions -- This is pretty comparable to Manic Panic, maybe with a little more staying power. I’d guess it’s somewhere in between Manic Panic and Punky. I only used it once, so I can't say much about it.
Where do you get these? For national chain stores try Hot Topic, Spencer's Gifts, Taylor Maid (I think these are all chains). Wherever your local gothly accouterments or beauty supplies are sold. You'll have to look around for yourself, I don't know where you live.
Step 3: Dye your hair
First of all, put down some newspaper or tin foil around the sink and floor so that you don't stain the whole bathroom if it drips. Snap on some of those latex examination gloves and go to work. You really need to saturate all of your head, work it in there really good. You should buy two bottles of dye if your hair is even a wee bit longer than shoulder length. Wipe off any drips you get on your face and ears as soon as they happen or you'll look a bit silly for a few days and everyone will ask you if you just dyed your hair. Leave it in for about a half hour or longer if you desire (the Special Effects color will take about 20 minutes) then just rinse it out. I’d advise using conditioner on your hair afterwards, it seems to help lock in the color a little.
What's that you say? You want to have streaks of different colors in your hair? I never did that myself with any notable success, so you'll have to go up to someone that has different colored streaks and ask them about it. I think it has something to do with using foil to separate your hair. I wouldn't recommend doing that sort of thing on your own hair, it's a pretty precise job and difficult to do yourself. Enlist the help of an experienced hair-dying friend (and don't trust just anyone, mind you. I've had some people claiming they knew how to dye hair, but it turned out really lousy and patchy.)
Step 4: Roots
When you get long roots, you need to rebleach them before you redye. I can't stress this enough, do not bleach your entire hair again, only the roots! Using a tint brush or an old toothbrush will help you to only get the roots. Not only will rebleaching your whole hair do a lot of damage, but if your hair gets too damaged, it won’t take the color as well, and it'll start fading to some weird color you didn’t want.
Step 5: Returning to normal (relatively speaking of course)
Your best bet to get a natural looking color back is to just dye it black because that will cover up any color. (Remember the crayons theory?) If you want it to be back to your natural color or what not, you can go to a salon and fork over a lot of money and spend a lot of time there for them to fix it up. The consolation is, you know they will do it right. If you're pressed for time and cash and are feeling adventurous, I'd just suggest bleaching out your whole hair a few times before coloring it the desired brown or auburn color just to make sure that you get out most of the unnatural colors. Don't expect to go from purple to blonde, think dark colors.