Make my hair blue!
May 31, 2015 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I am going to dye my hair blue for the summer. I have dyed my hair blue before, but it rapidly became greenish and I ended up just cutting it off after a few months (I'd only dyed the part below my ears). I want it to be blue the whole time! How do I accomplish this?


- If at all possible I want to avoid bleaching my hair. It's medium-blonde, on the yellowy side. My hair has been a lot of colors (pink, blue, dark brown, red), but I've never bleached it. It's been ~8 years since I used any kind of permanent dye on it.

- I am a teacher, so I need to be able to get it back to a regular color (doesn't have to be blonde) before school starts in the fall - I can't just, like, let it fade out.


- what brand of hair dye should I use? / do I actually have to bleach my hair? / in August can I just dye brown right back over it?

- how can I keep it from fading to green? (when I dyed my hair brown a lot I used to put a little bit of brown dye in with my conditioner - can I do that with blue? will it make a huge mess?)

- what color should my eyebrows be? They are in real life even lighter than my hair color. It would be weird if they were that color, or if they were blue. What would be un-weird?

- should I actually have a professional do this, and if so do you know one in Chicago?
posted by goodbyewaffles to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If your hair is yellowy, adding blue without bleaching will always eventually make it green: as the blue fades, the yellow starts showing through (blue + yellow = green). So if you don't want it to turn green, you need to bleach your hair to a light lemon yellow and then -- this is the important bit -- *tone it* so it's essentially white. Then when the blue fades (and it will) it will just fade to lighter blue instead of green.

If you get it done professionally, I would recommend looking up a salon using Goldwell products. The colors really last so well compared to other dyes.

If you want to do this yourself, go to a Sally's Beauty supply and explain what you want. They will be able to help you select a bleach/toner combination that works for your hair shade. For the dye itself, Manic Panic actually works very well, and lasts considerably longer than other comparable dyes. Ion Color is also a good choice. There's not really a "permanent" blue dye available, but if your hair is bleached and toned to white, it's super easy to refresh your color once a month or so. You can totally just slap brown dye over the lot of it when you're tired of blue. You can also dye it back to blonde if you get all the blue out first. Go to a salon if you want to go back to blonde though.

Probably leave your eyebrows alone. Dying eyebrows can be tricky and look super weird if you don't nail the shade exactly, or end up getting a bunch of dye on your face. It also doesn't last very long and you'll have to re-dye every couple weeks. I recommend getting a brow pencil or brow shadow to color correct your brows to go with your new darker locks.

Have fun!
posted by ananci at 11:08 AM on May 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have dark brown hair, so your experience will be different from mine, but! I got my hair professionally bleached and dyed and then maintained the blue with Overtone conditioner. I don't know about redyeing a natural color back over it because I haven't tried yet.
posted by faethverity at 11:59 AM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: I just went blue for the summer, too, and it's awesome. I got it done at the salon first, and they used provana colors, and it was a lovely teal. She did bleach and tone as ananci above said. It started to fade quickly, and I wanted it bluer, though, so I bought some SPLAT hair dye at CVS, did not use the included bleach, and put the blue on over my teal hair. I left it on for about 1.5 hours. It's blue-ue-ue-ue.

I did add the leftover blue dye to my colorless conditioner, anticipating using it to refresh the color. I haven't had to yet (it's been two weeks). I'm not sure if it's going to work but if it's worked for you with brown dye, I just don't see why it wouldn't work with blue.

You don't necessarily have to bleach if you have light hair and don't mind it going greenish, but you'll be much happier with the look if you do bleach and tone, I suspect. For what it's worth, I have just been using regular pantene conditioner and my hair feels great. Get the bleach job done at a salon and you will be pretty happy with it I think!
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 12:01 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did this very thing in college, except my hair is brown.

I had my hair professionally bleached/toned, which got it the palest I've ever had it - very ivory. You could probably do this at home since you are starting from blond. Doing this once was not super hard on my hair, actually. (My hair is pretty sturdy; I have over bleached/dyed it before with multiple applications.)

I used Manic Panic in a sapphire color (they have a lot more dark blues now). Dark blue is not a color that lasts super well; I would plan on touching it up a couple of times. Also, what are you going to do about roots?

Dying it back was the easiest part - I was always overdying my hair. I just used a big box store product. I did this about fifty million times, so it could have been almost any darkish color.
posted by Frowner at 12:03 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: Agree with the need to bleach/tone to white if you want to avoid green. I'm permanently blue (from dark brown) and I bleach twice and dye with Special Effects Blue Mayhem, which fades really nicely into purple/lilac. Look for a purple-toned blue rather than a green-toned blue. Adding some dye to your conditioner will work to keep the blue tones topped up, I also do this. You will need to do a full dye every couple of weeks if you want to keep it bright blue depending on how often you wash your hair and how 'grabby' it is.
posted by corvine at 12:05 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I do purple streaks and can second Overtone conditioner as a way to maintain color (though I have not tried the blue, just the purple). My hair is medium- to light-brown and I have it professionally colored every three months, with bleaching for the colored streaks. Pravana--the dye someone mentioned above--is the good professional dye, and it's made my color last much longer, especially with Overtone to sustain it. When I went deep purple over my brown hair, it turned almost black. YMMV on this since your hair will be lighter than mine.

Chunky streaks are easier to let grow out toward "normal" than a full on head of color. That may not work for you but it's what I've found over the last decade or so of brightly/darkly colored hair.
posted by immlass at 12:31 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: The blue will take just fine on blonde hair, but having it bleached to a certain lightness will make the color stand out even better and likely resist turning green as it fades. This is pure anecdata, but for what it's worth, I have pretty thin and delicate hair, but bleaching once a year or so hasn't damaged it any further as far as I can tell, and it's been 5 years so far.

Whether you bleach it or not, if you're willing to get this done professionally, call around until you find a salon that carries Goldwell products, specifically the Elumen line of hair dyes. They are made of magic that doesn't transfer all over everything the first week, and lasts a very long time. Mine doesn't even start fading for about two months, and even then it's live-with-able for a few more weeks. The process involves applying a Prep solution, then applying the color, then applying a Lock, so it can be a little involved. But totally worth it. A professional will also be able to advise you on how to handle going back to a school-approved color in August.

Regardless of how you get it done, there are a few things you do can to increase the longevity of your color:

-Wash your hair in as cold water as you can stand. This is probably the most important, and for some people, the hardest.
-Squeeze your hair dry, don't scrub or scrunch it dry--this will avoid ruffling the hair cuticle
-Use a leave-in color protectant. Aveda makes a great one, so does Bumble & bumble

Blue dye in your conditioner is just going to make a big mess, and won't actually leave the dye in contact with your hair long enough to do much.

All above advice based on 5 solid years of dyeing my hair both professionally and at home, and advice from professional stylists as well as what has worked for me.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:41 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: I did this about 9 years ago, easy!

1. Bleach it, using supermarket bleach, but you may have to do it twice
2. Use pump bottle of Affinage Blue (if you want white hair to start with, they also have a whitener)
3. I added some to conditioner to keep the colour up, I think it worked, but alternatively just keep some in the pump bottle to apply a bit later
4. You can just dye it black/brown over the top at the end, no more blue, easy. Eyebrows as well (use a cotton bud).

For a while I had matching blue eyebrows, which was super awesome, but creeped people out a bit, and did seem a bit light. Brown or black eyebrows are more normal.

Anecdata: Final note, blue with green streaks rocks, and you may have up to a dozen people independently tell you you have mermaid hair. Or not.
posted by Elysum at 6:49 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: I've dyed my own hair ridiculous colors for years, and I've had pretty good luck with Manic Panic (you can get it at any Sally's or their online store).

For blue, if you have dark hair, you're going to want to bleach first. Then, after you bleach apply a purple toner (this is the important part and what keeps it from turning green!). The purple in the toner will take the yellow undertones out of your hair. The Manic Panic toner is okay; it's not professional grade and you may have to leave it for an hour or two but it should give you a nice whitish blonde. Then dye! And deep condition as needed; I find dyes where I have to tone my hair can be pretty drying.
posted by clavier at 11:09 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: I've got purple hair rather than blue, but I've done a lot on the purple-blue spectrum and have found that there aren't ANY dyes that are as good as Special Effects. I do usually add a bit of water to it so it's a bit thinner and easier to apply, but really, just a bit. (Special Effects is what Zoe Quinn uses, and her blue looks pretty great.) The results I got there are using SE over a couple of faded, mostly-washed-out applications of other dyes that didn't work nearly as well; I bleached a gradient into the bottom of my hair before I did that but there are probably at least 3 inches at the root that never got any bleaching and still came out purple, though it's a very, very dark purple that can probably pass as black under some lighting conditions. (You can also see in some of those pics that I, uh, missed some spots, so the areas that are still brown are my natural color. If you want a comparison.)

Semi- and demi- permanent dyes are usually safe to leave on for as long as you want; I'd recommend leaving them in for a few hours or overnight.
posted by NoraReed at 1:59 AM on June 1, 2015

Best answer: Oh and the mixing leftover semi- or demi- permanent dye in with conditioner works pretty well; I usually just leave mine in for 5-10 minutes. (I have a bunch of CPAP supplies I have to clean out about every week, so I usually just put the conditioner in and then wash that stuff while it soaks in.)

Also, you WILL dye a lot of your stuff. Your towel and your pillowcase especially, but probably also any headbands you wear, the backs of necklaces with beads/findings that can pick up the dye, and your hairbrush. Just so you're forewarned.
posted by NoraReed at 2:04 AM on June 1, 2015

Best answer: Firstly, I would like to point out that there's nothing wrong with being greenish.

Secondly, my tip is for re-dying try a few different brands to see what lasts longer, or different shades from the same brand. The one I use (can't remember the name) the turquoise-blue lasts forever whereas the ocean-blue fades in days.
posted by greenish at 2:53 AM on June 1, 2015

Best answer: Oh hey shout out to my fellow blue-haired humans! I just went back to blue after several years off and yeah, you can't keep blue on yellowy-blonde hair without it ending up greenish. You can probably manage with frequent re-applications of blue (agreeing with others that Manic Panic works surprisingly well and lasts longer than other similarly priced stuff) with just a leeeetle splash of purple in it to tone down the yellow. Be really careful to not add too much purple or it will overtake the blue and you'll end up with hair that's closer to indigo.

I went to a salon and had them bleach my hair (borderline between brown and dark blond) to the color of a baby chick before doing the blue. I know it'll fade to a tealish color that I don't love, so I'm stopping at Sally's tonight to get more blue dye to have my husband redo the color before it gets to teal.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:21 AM on June 1, 2015

Best answer: Agreed on several points (as someone who's had blue unbleached hair for a decade):

-If you do DIY dying, I strongly suggest putting the dye on, putting a shower cap over it, and sleeping with the dye in. (Note that this is for semi-permanent dye only, not bleach!) More time in contact with the dye only helps.
-You can absolutely dye without bleaching, and you will probably be able to get a pretty vivid color (though it might be closer to royal blue than neon), but it will be more likely to fade through a greenish color if you keep your natural blond hair underneath. However, if you're not planning on letting your hair fade out, this may not be a huge factor: Plan on one or two re-dyes this summer, and you'll probably make it through with minimal fading. Note that not bleaching will also make roots less of a problem (you can do at-home touch-ups more easily.)
-Some blues fade greener than others. I personally prefer Special Effects Blue Mayhem, which - at least on my hair - doesn't go nearly as mossy as some other blues. Purplish/indigo blues rather than teal blues will be safer in this regard, and again, if you're willing to re-dye once or twice this summer, you can probably get away without worrying about green undertones making too much of an appearance.
-Also, deeper colors will look better over unbleached hair. Light or neon colors are more apt to end up negatively affected by your underlying hair color.
-For semi-permanent dyes, Special Effects and Pravana have a significantly better reputation for longevity than Manic Panic, at least among the people I know. Honestly, I'm pretty surprised at the recs for Manic Panic in this thread! But even within the same company, different colors act differently (Special Effects Blue Haired Freak fades rather faster on me, for example.)
-Hot water and frequent shampooing are the enemies of dyed hair. If you can rinse your hair with colder water, or rinse your hair without shampooing for some fraction of your showers, your color will last longer.
-I am dubious that dye in conditioner does much beyond simply using a color-friendly conditioner and limiting shampoo/hot water exposure. If it's not a leave-in conditioner, it's spending very little time in your hair, and is probably doing very little as a result (beyond making your shower messier); if it is a leave-in conditioner, it's gotta be pretty messy out of the shower too. I redye every 1-3 months, which sounds like it's in line with what people get with dye/conditioner combos. Usually when I redye, most of my hair is still pretty clearly blue, albeit a dustier blue - it's either that my roots are becoming obvious enough to annoy me or that I want freshly dyed vivid blue for some event.
-Almost no one I know has bothered with dying eyebrows: they tend to be differently colored than hair anyway, they grow out fast, and trying to color your eyebrows is a guaranteed mess.
-I would go to someone professional for your August school-acceptable dye job, or at least make sure that you don't do it at the last minute, in case you do need a pro to touch things up; I've heard occasional stories about weird interactions between drugstore black/brown dye (esp. when bleach is involved) and colored semi-permanent dye.

Have fun - blue hair is awesome!
posted by ubersturm at 12:17 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing Special Effects. I'm doing Manic Panic right now because both of the stores I used to buy Special Effects at have closed and I have been lazy about ordering any; and, while it works WAY better than it used to, it still fades faster and greener than Special Effects. For brighter blue, Blue Mayhem is the way to go. For a darker blue which *definitely* fades purple, Blue Velvet. (Which I considered my natural color for some years.) I like to mix the two.

I bleach, but my hair is sort of a medium dishwater brown before I do so. I have never tried not bleaching. But the Special Effects somehow magically conditions my hair back into softness-- well, that and a boatload of conditioner, which I put on when I rinse. I think people are more scared of bleach than they need to be.

And I sleep in my dye. Put a bunch in-- don't skimp. Wrap your head in cling-film and put a towel over your pillow. Put vaseline, or even lotion, on your forehead before you dye so the dye is less likely to stain you, but be aware that it will still do so somewhat. Also, blue is a terrible stainer of bathtubs. I hear that in particularly dire situations you can remove it with oven cleaner, but I've never had to go that far.

And definitely go to a professional for returning to a more normal colour. I tried that at home once. It did not go well.
posted by Because at 5:08 AM on June 2, 2015

Best answer: I have been dying my hair unnatural colors for years now without being natural and I disagree with some of the comments here:

-If you want the dye to wash out, do not sleep in it. With most funky colored semi-perm/temporary dyes, the color they achieve does not change once the dye has sat on for 20-30 minutes. Leaving the dye on longer won't hurt you because it's basically just a color stain but the longer you leave the dye on, the more difficult it is to wash out. Some people have trouble getting temp dye to stick to unbleached hair, but you can always top it up.

-If your hair is bleached or damaged the dye will stick to it more easily and be less likely to wash out and in some cases actually stains the hair cuticle

-If you don't want to bleach your hair, you don't have to. Blue will fade green on yellow hair, though, so before dying your hair blue, first dye it pale purple and then use a purple-based blue (rather than a green-based blue). You might be able to skip dying it purple if your dye is strong/bright enough but it must be purple-based (so violet blues) rather than green-based (turquoise blues).

-You can do this yourself. Just section off your hair, apply the dye evenly (add a smidge of conditioner to it so it spreads and combs through more easily) and clip it up. Put a shower cap over your head so you don't get dye everywhere. This dye will stain everything.

-Apply the dye to washed but not conditioned hair. Product or conditioner will keep the dye from sticking.

-If you're not sure how a color will turn out just do a strand test first.

-The color will definitely fade each time you wash it. If you don't like it fading you can always slap more dye on another day.

-You can dye over this but I recommend you try to fade it as much as possible and then use another temporary dark natural color to put over top of the blue. If you use permanent dye it will probably be fine but do a strand test first because there are chemical processes involved and you can't always tell how it will turn out.

-Directions and Special FX are great brands but you're fine with Manic Panic and Crazy Color too. Prava is also good if you have access to that.
posted by Polychrome at 5:29 AM on June 5, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you for all your help!!! I am very happy with the results. (I didn't bleach it - though I did use some purple shampoo + toner a few days before I dyed it. I used Special Effects Blue Mayhem, and I picked up some Overtone conditioner too...we'll see how it holds up!)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:13 PM on June 13, 2015

Gorgeous!!! I might give that a shot on my tips, actually
posted by NoraReed at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2015

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