Dying/bleaching naturally red hair
September 7, 2014 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading into my last year of college (woohoo!) and I feel now is a good time to do something fun with my appearance. I'd like to dye my naturally red hair a different color.

The small college town I live in likely has a place where I can get this done but I would like to do this with my friends - it'll be more fun!

I'm thinking of dying just the part blond, but if you can imagine other styles I'm all ears. I'm concerned that if I dye all of it a different color my facial hair will look freaky and weird.

Here is a picture of me with my red hair.

All information I've dug up on the net has to do with people wanting to go from their natural hair color to red hair - but I'd like the opposite. I've heard that different hair colors require different types of dye and dying procedures.

Mefites, please guide me to some super rad hair!
posted by lalunamel to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You have to bleach it first, and then add the new color--it's called a two-step process. Killer Strands is my usual recommendation. Personally, I've found that natural red hair takes color poorly, but since you're looking for a color not found in nature, I doubt that it will matter. You could do leopard spots.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:54 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bleaching the part is easy enough. Just get a bleach kit and a friend. Or have it professionally done.

With other colors, standard operating procedure tends to be bleach your hair first (the colors don't take nearly as well to non-bleached hair), and then get some Manic Panic or similar in a color of your choice.

A couple considerations: while manic panic slowly washes out over time (could take some weeks/months, depending), the bleaching is permanent. It will kind of make your hair kind of gross and dry and straw-like.

I will add this: I went through a phase in college where I dyed my hair a color called Fish Bowl Blue. It definitely changes the way people treat you, whether that's right or wrong. It becomes Your Thing, and every interaction you have with anyone, your weird hair color will be the focus (less of an issue if you just go with a shock of blond or something less crazy). This can get kind of old. And the other crappy thing is, if you are working on past-graduate plans/interviews/rec letters, etc., it's also likely to be A Thing that might work against you. It can be hard to be taken seriously when you have a crazy hair color, which maybe isn't right but it is the situation. I know, I know, I'm being That Guy, but do consider it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:58 AM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

As a fellow ginger I woiuld say: don't do it! Red hair is a rarity anyway, and besides, you won't be fooling anybody with those ginger brows and whiskers.

However, if you must, get some henna and make it even redder. But it doesn't need it.
posted by zadcat at 9:03 AM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

It'd be good to have an idea of the look you're going for - are you thinking of going platinum? Or something whackier? Are you going to keep your hair short? Are you planning on growing out your beard?

Assuming that you're going to keep your hair short and you want to go nuts, then I'd really suggest you go to a colourist. Ideefixe is totally right; you're going to need to bleach out your base colour, and red virgin hair can do weird things when you bleach it, so you'll want to go to an experienced pro to get you the result you want. If you don't like it you can always buzz your hair fairly close and your natural colour will regrow.

IMHO I reckon you have the razor-sharp cheekbones to pull off a whackadoodle fashion colour, so go for it!
posted by nerdfish at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2014

It's going to be really, really difficult for a non-professional to bleach/dye only the roots or "part" of your hair, leaving the rest your natural red color, in a way that doesn't look like a freakish mistake. Assuming it's currently a similar style to what's in that picture.

If that's what you really want, go to a salon, where an experienced professional can help you achieve that look.

If you plan to dye your hair a color after having it bleached, your best bet is probably to get the bleaching bit done at a salon, and do the "fun hanging out with friends" dye job with the second step of the process, where you dye your hair a fun color.

If I were you, I'd go clean shaven and pick your crazy color with your red eyebrows in mind.
posted by Sara C. at 9:28 AM on September 7, 2014

Just FYI: I had a phase and dyed my blonde hair black. When my black hair grew out, exposing blonde roots, I was consistently called a skunk due to the stripe.

I stopped getting called a skunk when I bleached out the black thus turning my hair orange. This is probably because the effect was not as noticeable.

Women who alter their red hair tend to either frame their face blonde or do vertical stripes. With your short hair you might do the former. I suggest deepening the rest of your hair for contrast.

The good news is that bleached and over processed hair takes a red colour quite well, so you should be able to go red again (this time in the stylists chair) should you have an event that makes a non traditional hair style inappropriate. Or just shave your head.

It's just hair, go for it with the techniques set out above.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:07 AM on September 7, 2014

And on second thought, you might try bleaching your whole head, separating the hair using home highlight techniques, then applying your final blonde shade and a different red shade.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:09 AM on September 7, 2014

Ugh, don't do blond, especially a red/blond mix, on your shade of hair. That only really works with a darker, more saturated red that contrasts well with a light blond - if it's lightened enough to get it pure and not just drained-looking.

I'd recommend using black for contrast if you want two tones, because it at least it sets off the red instead of dulls it out.

*** Three red-headed teen boys in my house... all of which have been colored before, and one that still switches it up regularly. The tiger-stripe look is definitely the best out of the dozens (mom sigh) of combos he's tried. Blue, while the color looks great on the red, washes out the skin. Green is better, but it's hard to get a strong enough green - and it doesn't stay long. Both green and blue tend to fade to a less pleasant "moldy" color.
posted by stormyteal at 12:13 PM on September 7, 2014

Don't bleach your virgin hair yourself. No, no, no.

It is entirely possible that you will get your desired blonde on your first try. But it's reallyreallyreallyreally unlikely you will. You're more likely to burn your scalp, have weird orange patches on your head, and completely fry your hair beyond recognition. Like, chunks falling out fried.

For a novice, it's worth it to pay someone to have this done right.

Not only will you avoid all the horrible bad things that can happen if you screw it up, but you can have a true appraisal of how you like the new look, as opposed to thinking, "Well, this might be better if my scalp hadn't burned and it looked professionally done."

Get it professionally done.
posted by kinetic at 12:53 PM on September 7, 2014

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