Saturday, 23 June 2012


So I dyed my hair today. Well, first I bleached it. I was reading a lot about bleaching your own hair online, and a lot of people say to never ever do it because it will destroy your hair. Now, I've never gone platinum but I have gone strawberry all over before, and I can't say my hair is completely destroyed. I've had some problems with bleaching myself before - mostly over bleaching causing it to get really tangled and knotty, but nothing as dramatic as my only experience having it professionally bleached. That was a nightmare. My hair clumped together, and broke off. Nothing helped, it was damaged beyond repair. Luckily, I had a short style and it was only streaks so the uneven length from it snapping off like dry twigs wasn't too terribly noticeable, but I think it was the only time I've ever cried over a bad hair situation. It didn't help that it wasn't the cut, colour or style I wanted.

Anyway, I think that any professional is just a person, and can make mistakes. I feel better knowing the mistakes made were my own, rather than that of someone who claims to be a professional. I guess this is why I'm so into DIY with almost everything. If something sucks and I did it myself, well I can't be as upset about it because I'm not claiming to be pro at it.

And when it comes to DIY hair dye, hair grows back. It's not terrible when mistakes are made - and they have been made. The colour is wrong, too dark, too light, splotchy, uneven, etc. But with practice comes experience, and now I'm pretty comfortable colouring and bleaching hair, as well as how to care for it afterwards.

When I bleach my hair - which is naturally a very deep chestnut - I always always go slowly and work in sections. Usually I do this pretty simply by separating my hair with elastic bands and working in layers from the bottom up for the dip-dye technique, or foiling for streaks. I've used caps for subtler streaks too. When I bleached all over I did the elastics technique - basically creating pigtails and working in layers. I always start at the bottom and work my way up, letting down another layer of hair from the pigtails as I go - undoing the pigtails and pulling some of the underside out, then tying the upper layers back into the elastic and clipping it to the top of my head out of the way. I do the roots last for all-over bleaching, because they go lighter faster than the rest of my colour treated hair.

I let the bleach stay in for about 25 minutes after covering all parts - which can take anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes depending on if I'm doing a small amount of bleaching like streaks with a cap or all over. I have a lot of hair, and it's long so even doing the dip dye technique takes about 45 minutes. 25 minutes is approximate wait time - if it seems like it's not lightening fast enough I'll sometimes tie a plastic bag around my head (not my face, der!) which seems to make it work faster. But this almost always makes it come out splotchy if it's all over/dip dyed, so I only ever do it if I'm cap streaking. Foiling seems to make it go whiter faster, but it's so time consuming with my long hair I haven't done it in ages. I never leave the bleach in my hair longer than 30 minutes after finishing bleaching it all now - I've realised any longer than an hour and a half with bleach in my hair including the time it takes to work the bleach through can cause unexpected damage to the hair, and a lot of breaking, frying, knotting and trouble.

After the bleach is set and the hair is as light as it's going to go, I rinse the bleach out thoroughly and then wash it with shampoo in cool water. I can't stand cold showers, I like my showers hot - hotter than my hot water tank would let me have it, to be honest. But when I bleach or dye my hair I try to do minimal damage by rinsing in cooler water. The colder you can stand, the better. It closes the hair follicles and does less all-over all damage to your hair. After I wash my hair, I condition with a repairing serum. Lately I've been using Bed Head - Dumb Blonde. I leave it on for about as long it takes for my hot water tank to start running cold (15-ish minutes) and then rinse it out in cold water. Then I do it again but don't wait as long, and comb it through carefully before rinsing. And I don't rinse it out completely, I leave a bit in because it makes it easier to detangle and blow dry.

The next step is to blow dry my hair. I always put a serum in my hair to protect it from heat when I blow dry.  Something like Got2Be Crazy Sleek - which protects from the heat and is a straightener. I have naturally straight hair, and  it only gets frizzy because of the damage it's sustained, so I'm sure any serum would do but I like the smell of Got2Be products. They smell like candy. I could probably defuse it but I never do that, because I like my hair straight and shiny.

Once my hair is completely dry, I look at the colour. If it's bleached to a coppery tone, I sometimes colour it with pinks and red temporary dyes. Over the coppery colour they come out quite firey, which is nice enough for awhile. But I often have to bleach again to bring it to a lighter tone to effectively get the bright colours I desire. So sometimes I do the temporary pinks or reds with Punky Colours by Jerome Russell or Manic Panic - the colours are only temporary but they last a while in my treated hair, and are conditioning so they don't do further damage. After those fade up, after about two to six weeks washing it every other day, I repeat the bleaching process and see how it looks.

This time, it only took two rounds of bleaching in about four weeks to get the tips light enough for the colours I wanted. So directly after bleaching I decided to dye it rainbow colours, a bit of green, blue, pink, purple and turquoise. I do this process on the tips the same  way I bleach the tips. Separate the hair into pigtails, and work up layer by layer. Only this time, I work in random streaks of colour. I used all Punky Colours this time, which are great because they dry up as you work so the colours don't transfer between the layers and streaks. Basically, I pick a colour to start with, take a chunk of hair and using a designated paint brush or bristle brush I paint it on the small section of hair. I work it through with my fingers, and let it drop. I wash my gloved hands in warm water, dry them, and then pick the next colour. I work through with random colours fairly evenly all the way up for layers of different colours all throughout the tips. I love the effect, it's probably my favourite way to colour my hair right now, with a very rewarding and colourful result. 

Once I've worked my way through my whole head of hair - it takes about an hour - I wait another hour or two before rinsing. I like to wait because it seems like the colour comes out more vibrant the longer I wait with Punky Colours or Manic Panic. The best part about Punky is that it gets dry to the touch and doesn't transfer easily. Manic Panic doesn't dry the same way, Punky Colours are almost crispy as they dry. Although Amped Manic Panic is a far more vibrant colour, I seem to stick to Punky most of the time.

Then I rinse my hair - in cool water until the water runs pretty much clear - and condition a final time again using a repairing serum like Dumb Blonde. I comb it through, and leave a bit in to protect it from yet another round with the blow dryer. I use the heat protector (CrazySleek) again with it. 

Then, for the next several hours I admire my hair and look at myself in every reflection that I pass, because my hair is amazing. It's bright, colourful, sleek and soft to the touch. It doesn't tangle, and it's as healthy as it can be after going through a rigorous colouring process which can easily take up a whole day, or more if I've decided to bleach more than once. 

Yeah, it's time consuming, and yeah, I could get someone else to do it. But I guess I have trust issues when it comes to my vain beauty techniques. And really, my hair never seems to be as shiny, soft and pert as when I colour it myself without anyone else's help. Others want to rush through it, but I'm willing to wait and take the time and care it needs.

As for after care - I only wash my hair every five-ish days. It doesn't get all gross because of my care routine. Day 1 is wash with a shampoo formulated for coloured hair to prevent breakage. I condition with a handful of conditioner, and rinse it out with cold water and comb it in the shower. Then I put in a little leave-in conditioner/detangler then I blow dry it. Sometimes I straighten it too. Day 2 I don't wash it at all. I don't even get it wet in the shower. That day I brush it, dry and often braid it or style it in a fun way. My hair is most responsive to styling on day 2. Day 3 I don't get it wet in the shower either, but I do wash it with a dry shampoo like Got2Be Encore Fresh Dry Shampoo. I almost always wear my hair up on day 3, but sometimes it's nice enough to wear down or with a hat. Sometimes I blow it with cold air from my blow dryer to freshen it up, and give it some body. I've also curled it on day 3 with my InStyler with great success. Day 4 I rinse my head with warm water, and scrub my scalp to avoid flakiness and dandruff and product building up. I condition on day 4, working carefully with only about a dollar size amount from the tips up and I avoid getting it on my roots so they don't look greasy. Then I comb it through as I rinse it fully. I don't usually put a detangler or leave in on day 4, because it makes it look oily. Sometimes, if my hair seems extra product filled or greasy I wash on day 4 just like day 1 and start over.

People often compliment my hair, or tell me they are jealous of it. I used to hate my hair - it was thick, brown straight and boring. But I've learned to love my hair, and I take a lot of effort in caring for it and making it look the way I want. Sometimes I think colouring hair like mine does it a service - it thins it out, for one thing, and the breakage that sometimes happens after bleaching it makes it seem less heavy. Wearing my hair up gives me headaches some days, wearing it down makes me sweat. On rainy days it goes limp, on sunny days it looks dull. Or at least, it used to until I started taking the time to treat it properly. Once I learned to respect my hair and treat it right, I began to love it. Especially when I can make it go double rainbow all the way!