I've been dying my hair pink for about 9 months now, but there are still so many things that puzzle me about the process, and questions I have that endless google searches never answer. So when Kelsi from Kelsi Does Hair contacted me about sponsoring my blog last month, I immediately asked if she'd be up for doing a little Q&A about dying and maintaining bright hair color! Not only did Kelsi have pink hair for 10 years, but she's also a professional hairstylist! So, unlike me, she really knows what she's talking about! I'm sure some of my questions are pretty goofy or stupid, but I was curious and as Linda Ellerbee always said... if you want to know, ask! ;)
Q: What is the absolute best thing you can do to care for bleached, brightly colored hair? What is the worst thing you can do?
A: The best things you can do are to invest in professional quality products and tools that are designed for lightened hair, detangle it gently and treat it with care. The worst things you can do are to brush through it when it's wet or be rough with it in general, especially when it's wet, bleach it over and over again or color over it and then bleach it again.
Q: Whenever I look up information about dying your hair fun colors, there are always TONS of warnings about over-bleaching and hair falling out or breaking off. But when I was looking into plain old blonde a few years back, I never saw any such warnings. Since the semi-permanent colored dye is harmless, why is there such a focus on breakage for people wanting pink or blue hair, but not blonde?
A: Hmm... I can't really say for sure. Lightening hair is the same whether you are going to leave it blonde or go over it with a semi-permanent color. I have a few thoughts about why the information you found might have differed, but I can't say for sure about any of them without reading the same information. My first thought is that when pre-lightening hair in order to do a bright color, instructions probably talk about bleaching your hair, whereas a lot of people use a box color instead of bleach in order to go blonde. Using color to lift can be less damaging, but often doesn't give very good results. Or it could be that when pre-lightening hair to do a bright color, many people recommend bleaching it to platinum/white first, but "blonde" can be a wide range, including darker blondes which don't require as much lifting and wont' be as damaging. In any case, you should be very careful when lightening your hair, no matter what end result you are going for. Breakage is always a concern, especially if you are doing it at home.
Q: You mentioned that most people recommend bleaching your hair to a platinum/white first before going with a bright color (I think it even says that on the bottle of the colors I've used) but I've always gotten a pretty bright pink without bleaching it white. Mine looks sort of bright yellow before I apply the color, and it still comes out very bright pink. Are there certain colors (like warmer hues) that can look just as vibrant without having to bleach the heck out of your hair? For instance, I'd imagine blue might have a greenish tint if it's dyed over yellow hair, so you'd need it to be almost white beforehand, but for bright orange a yellow base wouldn't interfere with the color?
A: When I do bright colors, I usually aim for a pale yellow blonde. If you are doing a pastel color, the hair will need to be very very pale in order to show up properly. If you're doing a darker, warm color like fuchsia, red or orange, you can leave a little more yellow in the hair, but you're right that any strong undertones will show through especially if you're using a cool color like blue. Also if you don't bleach it light enough, the hair won't be porous enough to hold on to the color well, but on the contrary, if your hair is overly processed, the color will come out quicker. That light yellow color is usually the sweet spot for semi-permanent haircolor.
Q: I used Manic Panic cotton candy pink for a while, but it always faded super duper fast. Since I switched to Special Effects cupcake pink it stays practically forever. In your experience is this the case with all of their dyes, or does it vary by color? Are there any colors that seem to last really long regardless of which brand you use?
A: In my experience, it varies most from brand to brand, and to a lesser degree from color to color. For longevity, Special Effects, Fudge and Raw are all good ones, regardless of the color. I'm not a big fan of Manic Panic or Punky Colors as I've experienced a lot of bleeding and rubbing off with those ones. Inkworks by Paul Mitchell has fair longevity for the warmer colors like pink, red and orange, but their cool colors like blue and purple fade off really quickly. This can be a good thing if you want to change your color frequently so that you don't have to damage your hair by trying to lift your previous color out.
Q: What would you recommend for super deep conditioning treatments? Are regular bottled conditioners the best for color treated hair, or are home remedies good as well, like mayonnaise or olive oil? My mom used to swear by Vo5 hot oil when she had waist-length long hair in the 70's. Is that advisable for bleached hair?
A: As far as home remedies vs. things that are created specifically to be used in your hair, REAL conditioning treatments win hands down. Oils like olive oil, mayonnaise etc. can coat the outside of your hair, which will make it temporarily feel smoother and shinier, just like anything that is coated in oil, but it does nothing for the internal structure of your hair. I don't advise ever putting these kinds of oils on blonde hair because it can cause yellowing. Conditioning treatments, especially professional quality ones, are better designed to penetrate your hair and improve the integrity of your hair, making it stronger, healthier, smoother and better conditioned from the inside and out. Some oils can help condition your hair on a deeper level, but they have to be the correct molecular weight to penetrate your hair, and you aren't going to find them at the grocery store. My favorite deep conditioner is the Awapuhi Wild Ginger Keratriplex Treatment, which is an in-salon two step treatment by Paul Mitchell. You can find a salon that offers it by visiting http://awapuhi.paulmitchell.com The second part of that treatment, called Awapuhi Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Treatment, is available to purchase and take home; that is what I personally use at home. It's the only thing that makes my hair feel really, really soft and comb out easily. Other good ones are Paul Mitchell's Super Strong Treatment, and K-Pak by Joico.
Q: I know *technically* bleaching at home isn't advised, but if you're going to do it yourself, is there any way to do it in little increments? It seems like the only home lightening kits majorly lighten your hair within like 30 minutes! If you want to do it slowly over a couple weeks with gradual lightening, is there a way to do it at home?
A: The at-home lightening kits that I see always come with 40 volume developer, which is insane to me. I almost NEVER use 40 volume developer in the salon. The lower the volume of developer, the slower it will lift. Go to a beauty supply that is open to the public like Sally Beauty and get powder or cream bleach and 10 or 20 volume developer. 20 will still give you a lot of lift within 30 minutes and is what I use on most people, even to achieve platinum. 10 will give you less lift and might be easier to use if you work slower or if you don't want to bleach your hair as light. 20 is the highest volume that would use on someone's scalp, any higher than that and you are risking chemical burns.
Q: If you're totally done with your cool colored hair and want to dye it brown, how on earth do you do it? I went to a salon and the stylist accidentally turned my hair green! eek!
A: I highly recommend getting this done at a salon as opposed to at home, because it is SO easy to mess up, and I know exactly what your stylist did wrong. If your hair has been lightened and the color you want to do is several shades darker, you need to "fill" it before putting on your final color. Filling involves adding warm tones back in to the hair. Depending on how many shades darker you want to go with it, you'll need to add some orange, red-orange or red tones back in to your hair before putting the brown on. If you jump straight to brown, especially if you are doing a cool or ashy brown, your porous, lightened hair is going to grab on to those cool/ashy tones and cling to them for dear life, leaving it a murky greenish color. Your stylist SHOULD know what kind of color and what tone is missing from your hair and needs to be added back in before your final color, but unfortunately not all of them do.
Q: I've read that washing your hair in cold water is one of the best ways to keep your color, but in the middle of winter that is super hard! Are there any other, less torturous, methods for keeping your color bright?
A: Using cool water to wash your hair is a great way to make your color last longer. It doesn't have to be ice cold, but the coolest water that is comfortable, even if that means room temperature, as opposed to scalding hot, is better for both your hair and your skin/scalp. Some other ways to help your hair color last longer are using professional quality color protective shampoo and conditioner, shampooing your hair less often (Every other day at the most! I only shampoo mine once or twice a week), Using a good deep conditioning treatment, and cover your hair if you are going to be in the sun, or if you are going tanning. Use heat on your hair less often if you can too, or at least use a heat protective product if you are going to straighten or curl your hair.
Q: All hair dye instructions seem to advise that you don't dye freshly shampooed hair. Why is that? And I've always wondered if it's then ok to dye really dirty hair, or does it need to be a happy medium like 1 day after your last shampoo?
A: I usually prefer that people wash their hair one to two days before coming in to have it colored. You want to have a little bit of your natural oil on your scalp to help protect it from both irritation from the color and keep it from staining. I wouldn't recommend coloring your hair if it's REALLY dirty, because excess oil and especially heavy styling products like waxes can prevent the color from penetrating and successfully coloring your hair.
Q: Do things like deep conditioning masks or leave-in treatments actually work, or are you better off just slathering your hair with regular old conditioner and letting it sit for a while?
A: Leaving conditioner on for a while will help more than just quickly putting it in and rinsing it off, especially if you keep your hair warm and moist while it sits. However good quality deep conditioners definitely have their merits and can do more to provide your hair with crucial moisture or protein than a daily conditioner. The key is to get a professional quality deep conditioner, and make sure to use it as the directions recommend. Since they are more intense than regular conditioners, if you over-use them, they can actually harm your hair. For example, lightened hair usually needs protein, so if you use a protein-rich deep conditioner like Paul Mitchell Super Strong conditioner, it will make your hair feel much softer and more manageable, but if you use it every day, it can deposit too much protein and actually make your hair more brittle and prone to breakage.
Q: If you have permanent dye in your hair (like red or light brown.. I'm assuming black would definitely require a salon visit) do you have to use a color removal kit before bleaching, or can you just bleach over the old color?
A: Unless the color you used has metallic salts, which a few brands do, like Just For Men hair color, you can just bleach it. If your hair was its natural color before you went over it with permanent color and you want it back to your natural color, i would recommend using just a color remover instead of bleach because color remover only takes out artificial hair color and won't affect your natural color, whereas bleach is non-discriminatory and will lift your natural hair color as well as the the artificial color. If the permanent hair color you have on is fairly light like you described, and you want to shoot for a lighter color than your natural, you shouldn't have much trouble with just bleaching it instead of using a color remover.
Q: Lastly, this has nothing to do with coloring, but I'm curious! Does trimming your hair really make it grow faster & make it healthier, or is it just a myth?
A: It's a myth, mostly. It does improve the health of your hair because you are trimming off the ends, which are the most damaged, which will help prevent tangling and splitting. It does not make your hair grow faster though. It seems like your hair grows faster when you trim it because you are keeping the ends healthier and allowing it to grow out without breaking. If your ends are all scraggly, trimming them off will make your hair look and feel healthier which can actually make it look longer. But since the only part of your hair that is alive is the root, which is in your scalp and all of the hair that you can see is made up of dead keratin, nothing you do to that hair will affect the way that it actually grows out of your head.