How to make your hair dye last longer

You want bright hair dye that lasts. We all do. Each of us has our own favorite. We do our best to keep Special Effects in stock, but it does move quickly, and deliveries are, shall we say, erratic. We’re taking a pause on those for a while, so our current stock is all we’ll have of that brand for a bit.  We also stock Manic Panic brand dyes all year round, and their formulas have REALLY improved in the past few years with regard to how long they last, so, if you haven’t tried out their AMP’D line in a while, you might want to give that a go. We’re also happy to be able to stock Arctic Fox in our store. This is a long lasting dye, formulated to both condition and run less (think less of a shower bloodbath!) Whichever you choose, we know you want  to keep that soon-to-be dyed hair looking as bright as possible, for as long as you can. So use the tips below, and you’ll look awesome for as long as possible! We’ve got ’em!

  • Demi permanent dyes, like Special Effects Hair Dye, Manic Panic®, and Arctic Fox  will always show up best on pre-lightened hair. That doesn’t mean you need to bleach your hair to white! It simply means that if your hair is highlighted or even bleached for a very short period of time, it’s going to work better. Why? Demi permanent dyes sit ON your hair, not IN your hair shaft, like permanent dyes do. When you lighten your hair, you open the pores in the follicle and this allows the dye to get in there and take hold a little bit better. It won’t be permanent by any means, but the color will be a lot brighter and a lot more long lasting. Do you HAVE to pre-lighten? Absolutely not. You’re still going to get a tint with these dyes (and with some colors, a very strong tint!) but if you want to go out there looking like a Fraggle, pre-lightening is the way to go.
  • Before you use demi permanent dye, a little bit of prep is in order. Whether or not you pre-lighten, make sure you wash your hair well. Lather, rinse, repeat. You know the drill. What you may not know is that you should NOT condition your hair before you dye! We know, you’ve just bleached your hair and it feels and looks remarkably like straw. It’s creeping you out! You MUST condition!No! You must not. Trust us. Demi-permanent dyes are suspended in a conditioning base. Your hair will feel better after you’ve dyed it. If you like, when you’re rinsing the dye out, you can use conditioner then.
    So, you’ve washed your hair, you’ve restrained yourself and you didn’t condition, now what? Now, you wait. Your hair needs to be BONE dry. If there’s water in your hair, it’s going to fill up the spaces where you want your dye to go. So you have to just wait it out. Can you blow dry? We don’t recommend blow drying freshly bleached, unconditioned hair. That’s just asking for trouble.
  • Alright. You made it. You’re super clean and super dry. You’re ready! As responsible people we have to warn you, this dye stains. It stains EVERYTHING it touches, and it does it just about instantly. When you dye, you’re going to want to keep a bottle of some kind of cleanser with bleach in it nearby. If you drip a drop, spray it FAST. This probably won’t save you, but at least you tried. We recommend doing the actual dying in a bright, preferably tiled room. Tile tends to resist the staining and the bleach works best there. So, after you’ve donned your dye gear, put on some rubber gloves. These should be non-negotiable. If you don’t wear the gloves, you’re going to look silly, for DAYS and days and days and days. Also, your fingernails are going to be stained and you’ll look quite ill even after the dye comes off of your skin. If you’ve recently painted your nails, and the color isn’t black, you’re going to ruin that too. It’ll still get ruined when you rinse later, but you can keep the pretty nails dream alive a *little* bit longer if you wear the gloves. Some people recommend putting vaseline around your hairline and on your ears. We don’t disagree. This will keep your skin cleaner and make it easier to get the dye off later. If you’d like to do this, go for it. In the Attic, we don’t do this. It’s just too icky. It’s greasy and difficult to get off your skin, it always seems to get *into* our hair and BLEH. We’d rather take the hit and just have red or blue ear tops for a week. Here, we declare it a badge of honor, and move on, but it’s up to you! You can also try a thick coating of skin lotion which is a bit of a middle ground.
    And that’s our “keep it neat” disclaimer!
  • So, you’re clean, you’re dry, you’re wearing the crappiest clothing you own and you’re in rubber gloves. Time to do the surgery.  There are two ways you can go about applying the color. You can use a tint brush (usually a plastic, stiff bristled brush with a “rat tail” at the other end which is used to pull apart sections of hair) or you can go kindergarden on the job and use your fingers. There’s no right or wrong here, only what makes you comfortable. A note of caution though, if you use your fingers, the bottle is going to get really disgusting, really quickly, and if it does fall off the counter, it’s going to make an absolutely incredible mess. If you’re a klutz, we recommend using the brush! You now have two choices, you can use a paper or foam plate as a palette, squeezing a bit of the dye onto the plate and then applying it to your hair with the brush or fingers, or, you can squeeze it right into your hair and spread it around that way. Again, there’s no right or wrong, it’s up to you.*Safety Disclaimer! You should, at this point, do an allergy test. You know the drill. Put a little spot of dye on your skin, wait 24 hours, if you have no reaction, go for it.Start with your hairline, being careful to avoid the “baby hairs” high up on your cheeks in the sideburn area. They’re going to get a little bit of dye on them anyway, but if you’re using a blue based color and you dye them, you’re going to have a smurfy glow for quite a while. You want to make sure you get the color all the way down to the scalp. Yes, we know, the bottles say to avoid the scalp. And, it’s true, when you get that dye on the scalp, it’s going to stain it and stain it badly. However, if you don’t go all the way down, and you’ve bleached, you’re going to have a weird, unattractive, blonde halo. Also, the good thing about your scalp getting stained is that your scalp produces oil. As this oil works it’s way, out, the stain will fade, and it will fade a LOT more quickly than on any other part of your skin. You’ll have a few days of stain for 6-8 weeks worth of  awesome looking hair.After you’ve done your hairline, do the tips. They’ll fade quickly, but they’ll pick up the dye quickly too, as they’re typically the most damaged part of the hair. You don’t need drippy gloopy coverage. When the hair is dyed, it’s dyed. After you’ve got the hairline and the tips done, take a large toothed comb and comb the dye through from hairline to tips. You’ll get some buildup between the teeth, just rub that onto your hair and comb again. Keep doing this until the dye doesn’t spread anymore. When you use this method, you’ll end up using a lot less dye overall. This will make the bottle last longer and make the next day a lot easier for you.
  • At this point, you’re going to want to start filling in the middle. Put a little bit of dye on, work it in, and then comb. Repeat this until all of your hair is covered. It’s extremely helpful at this point to have a buddy act as your spotter. A lot of times you think you’ve  gotten everything covered, but you’ve got lots of missed patches. Common places to peek at are the very top of your head, and behind your ears. Use a second mirror if you have to, it’s frustrating to have a great looking dye job with big patches of bleached yellow mixed in.
  • Once your hair is all covered with dye, completely saturated, twist it into a knot on top of your head and clip it securely. You don’t want loose strands falling out and brushing against your face. They’ll leave stains anywhere they touch.
  • Now, break out the plastic wrap and wrap your head! Yes, you’ll look positively foolish, but this will serve two purposes. First, it’ll keep your face, and your house safe. You’d be surprised how often your head brushes against things in your house. A plant, the edge of a door, your shower curtain. Keeping dye off of those items will make the post dye cleanup much easier. The second purpose this will serve is to hold in heat. The heat is going to “bake” that dye into your hair and help it last longer.
  • Once you’re fully wrapped up, you’re going to blow dry that lovely plastic beehive on your head. Don’t hold the dryer *too* close. You don’t want to melt the plastic. You’re just warming up your hair. Do this for about ten minutes. Again, you’re “baking” the dye into your hair and helping it to last longer. When you’re done with that, you’re at the hair dye commitment crossroads, and decisions must be made.
  • What are your plans for the next day? If you have any, skip the next portion and go right to “time to shower.” If you don’t, and you REALLY want your dye to last, get a bandana and tie it around your plastic beehive. Tie it tightly. Embrace your new look, you’ll be working it until tomorrow.
    The longer you keep your dye in at this stage, the longer you’re going to keep your color. Before you go to bed, get a large, dark colored towel, and cover your pillow. This will keep it from being utterly destroyed. When you wake up, it’ll be time to shower, and then, you’re almost done.
  • Time to shower! Ok, you’re ready to rinse this goop out. If you’ve done the previous step, your face is likely smeared with dye and you look a bit like you were assaulted by a Crayola factory worker. It’s ok, we can fix that in the end.Take off your plastic cap. Don’t be alarmed at how hard your hair has become. It’ll feel a bit like plastic, but that’s just the dried out dye. Carefully take off whatever you’re wearing on top and put it right in the washing machine. If it touches anything, it’s going to stain it. Now, get into the shower. Don’t use hot water, use warm. Hot water is not going to be your buddy for as long as you want to keep this dye in. It’ll fade it more quickly. All you’re going to do is rinse. Rinse for a long, long time. I’m not going to tell you to “rinse until the water runs clear” because, particularly if you’re using a blue dye, that’s pretty much never going to happen. With a red dye, you’ll come close, but not blue. You’re going to rinse until the water is *pretty* clear. Rinse until it no longer seems that your head is a paint can that has spilled out in the shower. Make sure you’re rinsing with your face pointed up, so the water spills over your back. This will keep your face from being more dyed than it has to get. If you like, you can put some conditioner on your hair at this point. Not a lot, just enough to work through. Leave the conditioner on while you soap yourself up, but rinse it out again before you wash your face.
  • Washing your face after dying your hair is a bit of a multi-step process. First, you’re going to use whatever you use for the rest of your body. If you have a shower poof or a washcloth that will lightly exfoliate your face while you do it, all the better. Wash it well and then rinse. The next step is to use some kind of facial cleanser. We find that acne cleaners work best at removing the dye. After you’re done with that, rinse your face again. Finally, before leaving the shower, turn the water on as cold as you can stand it, and rinse your hair in the cold water. This will close the pores of your hair and make it look more shiny and keep the dye in longer.
  • Use a dark towel to dry your hair when you get out of the shower. Once you’re no longer dripping, take a look in the mirror. If you’re incredibly lucky, you’ve gotten all the dye off, and hats off to you. If you have dye all over your face, you need to find yourself a smoker. The best way to get hair dye off of your face sounds completely gross, but it works. Get yourself some cigarette ash (if you’re not a smoker, keep a pack in the house and just let one burn down on its own, outside the house.) Once you have the ash, wet a paper towel and dip it in the ash, then take the towel and wipe it on the stains. The mild acid in the cigarette ash will take the dye off of your skin. You’ll be left with ash all over your face, but that’s easily removed with a simple face washing. Don’t rub for too long, or too hard. You’ll only end up burning your skin.

Finally, if you want your dye to last as long as possible, avoid shampooing. When you do have to shampoo, do it quickly and don’t use hot water. Your hair will, over time, get used to being washed less often and won’t look greasy or dirty. Your scalp will also thank you for not using so much shampoo. Sleeping on dark towels can be a good idea. There’s never going to come a time when your dye doesn’t rub off in the night. It’s just the price you pay for super bright, super cool looking hair. There WILL come a time, when it’s rinsed enough that it won’t come off on your face. Also remember that reds do not last as long as blues, no matter what you do, that’s just the nature of these dyes.

Do you have any tips to help make your dye last longer? Leave them in the comments! We’d love to hear them and share them with our other customers. Got photos of your gorgeous dye job? Send them in so we can post them in the Customer Gallery!

Close Menu