I've been bleaching my hair for a few years now, and last September I took the plunge into vivid hair color (see also: unicorn hair, bright hair color, creative color, etc.) As a licensed hair stylist, I know how to maintain and care for bleached, bright hair. I'm sharing my tips and tricks for keeping your funky hair color fresh and healthy between salon visits.
Visit A Professional
As a hair stylist myself, I know when to put down the color brush and get help. I always have my hair stylist BFF help me out with a proper bleach job. Bleaching your hair at home can be messy and dangerous. You'll probably end up having to get it fixed and spend more money than just getting it done correctly in the first place. I recommend seeking out a stylist who is well versed in creative color and bleaching. This can be costly, but you do generally "get what you pay for" and we want our colorful locks looking like they grew beautifully out of our unicorn heads.
Don't Wash Your Hair
You will want to wash your hair a lot less with bright colors because they can fade very quickly. I recommend stretching the time between shampoos with a really good dry shampoo. My personal favorite is this one by Klorane. It's important to invest in a good dry shampoo as it can really affect the condition of your scalp if you used one that gives too much build up. Scalp health is crucial to great looking hair, which is why I don't really mean to stop washing your hair altogether. You just need to wash with restraint. Try going 3 days without washing, your hair will likely be a bit dry from the bleaching, so going this long shouldn't make it feel too oily. Which takes me too...
Take A Cold Shower
Cold water helps to keep the hair cuticle sealed, which prevents the hair color from literally falling out of your hair. Use a shampoo and conditioner that is color safe and sulfate free. I recommend Ghost Shampoo and Conditioner by Verb. You can also use a color depositing shampoo and conditioner to help brighten up your existing color. Give Overtone a try, they have lots of color choices and enriching conditioners that help maintain hair health.
Tone At Home
This might be the only time I would suggest a DIY dye moment at home. By adding some semi permanent hair color to faded hair, you can really lengthen the time between salon visits. This is a pretty easy process and if you follow a few simple tips.
You will need:
- Manic Panic Semi Permanent Hair Color
- Cape or shirt you don't mind getting dirty
- Pin tail comb
- Hair clips
- Plastic cap
This is my method for doing a quick color pick me up. It's a bit of a hack from traditional hair application to make it less daunting. I personally do this naked before getting into the shower because I'm lazy and weird.
- Step 1: Section clean, dry hair into 4 quadrants – Front to back and ear to ear. You should end up with a cross parting down the center of your head.
- Step 2: Use your gloved hand like a hair color brush (this is the hack part!). I find it a lot easier and faster to slap the color on with your hands and emulsify (massage and pull through each section until the color becomes slightly frothy) until it's fully saturated.
- Do this in small sections until your head is completely saturated in color. Oh, you got some color on the sink or tub? Get a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to easily wipe it up!
- Put on the plastic cap, wait 30 minutes, rinse and condition.
Please note: Manic Panic colors can be very opaque and pigmented, if you're looking for a lighter color, use the Manic Panic Pastel-izer to lighten it up.
Get A Haircut
Bleached out hair looks best when you get regular trims. I'd also recommend keeping a shorter cut when having creative color as it's a lot easier to manage and keep healthy. Regular trims are also super important for those wanting to grow their hair as well. I'd recommend getting at least a "dusting" every 6 weeks.
Things To Note
- Warmer colors, especially pinks and reds, fade faster. Red color molecules are larger than most and often have a harder time penetrating the hair cortex and as a result they "sit" on top of the hair shaft and rinse out a lot easier.
- Blue color tends to stain the hair a lot longer. This is something to consider if you like to change up your color a lot. You may have issues getting this color to fade in order to change it up.
- If you're planning on trying a different color, wash your hair with warmer water and a cleansing shampoo leading up to your color appointment. By fading the color this way, your stylist will have a more even canvas to work with and will likely not have to re-bleach your already bleached mid-lengths and ends. Continuing to put bleach on already lifted hair can lead to major damage and breakage.
Now go forth and explore the world of rainbow hair. It's a lot of fun and the best part is you totally forget you have it and have no idea why people are looking at you.