Temporary dyeing of beard
September 14, 2013 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about trying to temporarily dye my beard green. I've been reading up on how to do this with food coloring. I'm looking for advice or personal anecdotes which can help!

So, here is my beard. I'm going to attend a furry convention in a couple of months, and my fursona is a green wolf. Here is my tail. Here is me wearing my tail.

Several people have joked with me over the past few months about me dyeing my beard green to match my tail. I was brushing them off for a while, but now am intrigued at the concept and am seriously considering it. I've been reading a lot of instructions off the internet about using food coloring and vinegar to achieve this. The furcon I'm going to attend is 5 days long, so this doesn't have to be a huge long-lasting effect, only for a few days.

I've been using a "color depositing" shampoo on my beard for a while now, to keep the grey at bay. (It is not completely effective, but it does help a bit.)

I'm looking for advice or personal experiences with doing temporary hair coloring, specifically using food coloring, that I can consider while I contemplate whether I want to attempt this or not. Anything shared will likely be helpful: techniques, experiences, whatever.
posted by hippybear to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I did this for someone in college with various flavors of Jello.
posted by bq at 3:48 PM on September 14, 2013

In the 80s, we used to dye hair for a few days with Kool-Aid. It's messy and your hair smells a bit weird, but it's low-cost and easy to do.
posted by xingcat at 3:54 PM on September 14, 2013

You can buy some green hair mascara that you just comb in and it washes right out. It's a safer bet because food coloring could last longer than 5 days. A quick Google search brings up tons of results.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:09 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's always Manic Panic, which is semipermanent hair dye. Not sure where you'd find it where you are but it's at the comix/music/novelty shops around here.
posted by Sublimity at 4:25 PM on September 14, 2013

Manic Panic is way more permanent than a couple of days, though.

You can get spray-in hair color at halloween/party stores, but it may leave green residue on clothes/furniture/other people.
posted by elizardbits at 4:35 PM on September 14, 2013

I've been using a vegetable dye similar to Manic Panic for a purple streak in my hair for the last few months. On unbleached hair it really doesn't last very long, and you can make it wash out super fast by shampooing with something strong like Dawn dish soap.

With veggie dye you can also control how long it lasts based on how long you let it sit on your hair. I want mine to last a long time so I apply a huge glob, wrap it up in foil and let it marinate on my hair for several hours. You could really just apply it for 30~ minutes for something more short term.

All of that said, you are not going to get the same vibrant color you see in the container unless you bleach your hair, and that will make it last a long time too. If you want a super vibrant green you're better off going with something like spray-in color but you'll have to reapply every day and it might mess up your clothes if your face sweats or gets wet in any way.
posted by joan_holloway at 4:38 PM on September 14, 2013

Actually saw something called, I believe, hair chalk just today? Advertised as "no regrets hair dye" or sth like that and it was a stick. Like, a marker type thing. Not sure if it was from Manic Panic, but if you're interested memail me, I'm going back there tmw anyway so can actually check it out / get the brand.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:53 PM on September 14, 2013

I just came across some hair chalk on Groupon. It says it sets with heat so it sounds less messy than a spray in color.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:51 PM on September 14, 2013

I suppose you should have a reply prepared in case someone accuses you of trying to be a White Knight, or asks you where your fan is:
But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one's whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
posted by jamjam at 7:32 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd go with either hair chalk or a spray-in. Both may leave color deposits on other things/people (hair spray can help with that), but will also wash out more easily and will give more coverage than the "mascara" types of hair color. (It will also likely not be terrifically vibrant unless you are willing to do many layers, depending on what you are using.)
posted by sm1tten at 11:34 PM on September 14, 2013

Yeah, really not interested in spray-in color or hair chalk or mascara-type coloring. I'm okay with the color lasting longer than 5 days; don't want to have to reapply it every day and don't like the fake "cover-up" look of things like chalk or spray.

Still specifically looking for advice or insight from people who have used food coloring to dye their hair. How long to leave it in, what medium was mixed with the dye as a carrier, things that went wrong that I should avoid or be aware of, particular success stories.. etc.
posted by hippybear at 10:28 AM on September 15, 2013

I have temporarily dyed my hair with kool aid. Buy the packets of kool aid that don't already contain sugar and mix them with hair conditioner to make it easier to apply. The longer you leave it on, the better (at least 1/2 hour). Using a hair dryer on your beard after applying the mix will help the colour show up better.

You could probably use food dye mixed with conditioner instead of the kool aid.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 3:48 PM on September 15, 2013

Kool-Aid will be tricky for green, though (red? Sure...)

If I were you I would head down to the nearest Michael's and grab some Wilton cake dye (used for tinting frosting). It's ultra-concentrated, food-safe (so no issues about having it near or possibly in your mouth), and will color protein fibers. (Though most people I know use it to dye wool, not human hair).

As for a medium--I would mix it with hair conditioner, comb it through (given the length of your beard I'd plastic bag it or wrap it to prevent drips) and leave it on for at least 30 minutes. Blast it with a hair dryer at the end to help set the color.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:45 PM on September 15, 2013

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