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January 29, 2006 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to dye only the few white hairs I have, without also dying my very dark brown hair?

I want to dye the pesky whites bright red, but I don't want to change the color of the rest of my hair. I know that in order to dye my dark hair a lighter color, I would have to bleach it first or it wouldn't take. So it stands to reason, I think, that if I were to use a lighter hair color on my whole head it would only dye the white hair. Is this correct?
posted by amro to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total)
I wouldn't use permanent, drugstore-brand haircolor on your whole head. You never know what your dark hairs will end up doing, since the dyes contain peroxide and ammonia, etc. They may end up anything from carrot orange to black. Vegetable dyes, like Manic Panic or Punky Colors, would be safer, but still might tint your whole head reddish. Could you have a friend search out the whites and dye them only?
posted by juniper at 3:53 PM on January 29, 2006

I think that's basically right, but that it would give a reddish shine/tint to all of your hair when it caught the light.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:02 PM on January 29, 2006

Following on from what Juniper said - a friend and a red Sharpie?
posted by crabintheocean at 4:04 PM on January 29, 2006

You could Henna. It doesn't bleach the hair, and generally is only visible on the light-ish strands anyway. Henna doesn't normally attach well to grays, but there are several brands that claim to have solved that problem.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:17 PM on January 29, 2006

Elumen the only permanent color that will not disturb natural pigments. the red is very very intense,and durable.
posted by hortense at 4:24 PM on January 29, 2006

I knew some one who used semi-permanent color; her hair was a nice auburn and the white hairs got enough dye to be golden-red. Really gorgeous. We don't work together anymore, so I can't get more details.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 PM on January 29, 2006

A permanent dye (sometimes marked "Level 3" in stores) will lighten your dark hair. You can probably achieve the effect you want with a semi-permanent (Level 2) dye. If by bright red you mean like cherry red, Manic Panic and the like are probably your best choice. In drugstores I've often seen kits that have a bright-colored dye and a bleach; you could get that and just not use the bleach.

I tried for some time to get my dark brown hair to take a nonpermanent cherry-red dye, and it never worked even to the point of being at all noticeable. So I wouldn't worry too much about having overly dramatic results with anything nonpermanent. If you're nervous, just snip off a few hairs and do a test dye.

I must emphatically weigh in against the Sharpie method. It does look cool, but I can tell you from experience that it will leave you with pink ink all over your hands, clothes, and anything else that touches your head, until you wash your hair.
posted by zadermatermorts at 6:36 PM on January 29, 2006

Maybe go to a pro the first time?

Find a local salon (I personally go by what the local alternative weekly says is the best in their annual best-of-town issue) and tell them you need an appointment with their best colorist. Once the stylist has started, be honest and tell them that you're paying them to do it this time but you want to learn how best to do it yourself, as you can't afford this ...

Disclosure: male, never had hair colored, don't use "product" in my hair, don't blow dry, but I pay to to get my hair cut well and one of the best places in town ...
posted by intermod at 7:58 PM on January 29, 2006

Amro: I used Henna King. [Crappy web site but the transaction went fine. Scroll to the bottom to see the weirder colors.] One application and on my lightest hairs it faded after a while but never completely washed out. (It's been 6 months now.) It isn't harsh and doesn't require pre-bleaching. Word of caution...the stuff STAINS EVERYTHING (skin, nails, bathtub, towels, clothing, pillows). The only thing that got the stains out of my sink and tub was a clenser with bleach in it. It took a week for my purple skin to change back to normal. It wasn't irriatating to my skin, just stained it.

Wow, Hortense. That dye looks awesome. Have you used it yourself? I've been looking for a product like that for a very long time (want to dye all my dark blonde hair purple without having to bleach it or use a harsh dye). I may have to offer myself as a guinea-pig (I have a few highlights that are flax/near white).

On preview...take your chosen dye to a professional and have them apply it. You should get a more even result and less staining on your skin. The bath may still suffer if the dye is a temporary one that will bleed a lot the first few times you shampoo (Manic Panic, Henna King, etc).
posted by turtlegirl at 8:25 PM on January 29, 2006

I use it almost everyday,
posted by hortense at 8:42 PM on January 29, 2006

If your hair is really very dark brown, semipermanent dyes [along the lines of Special Effects] will not show up on the non-white bits. You might get a slight reddish tint, visible only in strong light, but if your hair's dark enough even that's unlikely. The color does "take" [inasmuch as the dye's in your hair]; it's just not visible over your natural hair color. Given that you'll probably need very little to dye the white hairs, doing semipermanent dye on your own is probably the most cost-effective solution. I should note that I've been dying my hair for four or so years now, and I've had very little problem with the color bleeding anywhere outside of the shower, contrary to turtlegirl's experience. Rinse very very thoroughly in the shower, but don't overdo the shampoo, since that makes the dye come out faster.
posted by ubersturm at 10:13 PM on January 29, 2006

Intermod--frequently those "Best Of" are purchased.
posted by 6:1 at 5:18 AM on January 30, 2006

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