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How to Dye Hair Properly

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It's not easy dying hair. A few punky types will resort to the spray-in stuff, but that's temporary and acts too much like hair spray. I'm talking about real dye that you apply and it goes everywhere and stains your skin and your whole bathroom until your parents or roommates get so angry they move out. But how to do this correctly? Well, I've been dying my hair for a while now, so I kind of know a thing or two about it, so let me share tips:

Regardless of the shade of your hair, you're really going to want to bleach it first. It's not the colour that you need to get rid of, it's the oils and natural texture of the hair that you need to zap. Getting hair bleach from either a beauty supply store or just from the same box, hopefully, that you get the coloured dye in, is essential. If the dye you get doesn't include bleach with it, then you'll need to go to a beauty supply place and get some on your own. It's not as intimidating as it sounds; the beauty supply store know everything and if you just ask them what you need they will hook you up. But if you must know, the stuff you need is called Blue 40 (or something like that). I don't know why it's called "Blue" because all it does is bleach your hair.

I probably don't need to say this...but do not use laundry or household bleach. Bad idea. Hair bleach is something completely different and it's just an unfortunate twist of semantics that we call "bleaching" hair by the same word as "bleach" for household use.

So bleaching not only zaps what natural colour is in your hair, but also it causes you hair to be porous and dry, which is what the artificial colouring wants. If you think that you ahve light enough hair and you think you don't need to bleach it, and you try to colour your hair wihtout bleaching it first, then you will find that the color lasts all of 10 days. The dye just doesn't take hold on non-bleached hair. Trust me!

Most hair bleach bottles tell you how long to leave them in your hair. It's never long enough. I don't have very dark hair naturally, but I always leave it in for as long as they tell dark haired people to leave it in, and that just about does the trick. It will sting the scalp a little, although supposedly there's a way to do all of that without really touching the scalp. I could never figure it out, and if it takes me longer than 4 minutes to put the bleach in and go about my business, it's too complicated. So I just slather the bleach in (with gloves) and go sit in front of the computer for an hour.

Eventually the hair becomes an ugly yellow, and feels like straw. So, go wash out the bleach, wait until your hair is dry, and then break out the coloured dye.

Slather the skin around your hair with Vasoline or something similar. It will save you a lot of embarrassment later on.

Put gloves on - and fairly sturdy ones, too. Really cheap gloves will tear and you'll get coloured dye all over your hands. Again, embarrassing. Luckily if this happens you can just say you're too punk to care, which is what I usually do, and it usually works. But not on girls. They know better. They know you just screwed up and will laugh at you, inside. You'll be ridiculed. So either use sturdy gloves or stay at hom for the next week.

OK, so you've got gloves, so start putting the dye into your hair. Some people will have a friend do this for them. Some people will take hours doing it to make sure it's perfect. Me? I just slather it in. If I miss a spot, I call it my Style. If I get dye all over my ears -- it's ok because I've got vasoline protecting them! Actually, I'm pretty sure that for a few days after I dye my hair I look like a mess, with colour on my neck and ears...so take my advice, if you want to look cool then you ought to be careful and take more than 5 minutes to make it happen. Enlisting a friend might be helpful. I wouldn't know cuz I've never gone to the trouble.

Leave the dye in for longer than the box suggests, too. You want the dye to really cling to your now-porous hair.

Once it's all settled in, wash out the dye. Some people can do this in a sink...but that's way too hard for me. I just wash it out in either the shower or under a bathtub faucet, even though it stains everything it touches. Again, I don't care...but my roommates have been known to scold me for it.

A LOT of dye is going to wash out. For a long time. The important thing is that the color has been absorbed into the hair, though. The excess will continue to stain your towels and pillows for weeks to come. Enjoy!

The best brands for hair colour that I've found so far are:

Splat! -- a brand I'd never heard of but found by accident in a Rite-Aid, a West Coast pharmacy. They only have blue and red, though.

Manic Panic -- not the be-all and end-all of hair dye that its reputation would suggest, but it does work better than, say, Punky Colours.

And if you can't find either of these, just go to a beauty supply store. Really, those places have all kinds of supplies...although it's not, in spite of the name, guaranteed to make you beautiful.

Good luck!

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