Notes From The Attic

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How to make your hair dye last longer

October 21st, 2011

Perhaps you’ve gotten the good news? Next week, we are FINALLY getting in a new delivery of Special Effects Hair Dye in the Attic! ARE YOUR MINDS BLOWN? Ours are!

We do our best to keep Special Effects in stock, but it does move quickly, and deliveries are, shall we say, erratic?  So when new shipments come in, it’s best to get it IMMEDIATELY. 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.

In the meantime, here’s some tips to keep that soon-to-be dyed hair looking as bright as possible, for as long as you can! Use these tips and you’ll look amazing!

Want some dye tips to make your hair stay brighter, longer? We’ve got ‘em!

  • Special Effects Hair Dye (and any demi permanent hair dye out there, like Manic Panic®, (which we also stock) will 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!

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Back to the Attic

Amalthea

Amalthea is the chief weirdo at Amalthea's Attic. She's a reader, writer, photographer, gardener, and seamstress. Sometimes, she naps.

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33 Responses to “How to make your hair dye last longer”

  1. Sabrielle says:

    I find that when I first rinse my dye out, if I rinse with half a cup of white vinegar mixed with cold water it helps the dye last and helps prevent the dye from rubbing off on things like pillow cases. ^_^

  2. admin says:

    That’s a great idea! The pillowcase rub off is always frustrating.

  3. Angela Kyler says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

  4. Miaka says:

    Thank you so much! I have never ever used this dye on dry hair, but next time i color it, i will absolutely try it out. Thank you for this great article!

  5. Joleen says:

    When ever I dye my hair I always used cold water and damage care conditioner.
    I try to refrain from straightening and blowdrying.
    Naturally curly hair. Soon to be Sonic Green ^_^

  6. K Milo says:

    I started using Tresume Naturals which has low sulfites. I noticed that using this shampoo kept my dye going at least 3 weeks longer when I used it two times a week washing my hair. Sonic Green still looked amazing after 3 weeks, and didn’t wash out completely for at least three months.

  7. tahnee says:

    Hey :) if you add some of the colour to your shampoo I find that works good to!

  8. madisonface says:

    If you flatiron your hair directly after dying it (obviously wait until it is dry) it keeps the color into your hair longer

  9. Kitty says:

    Lucky for me I have black pillows. Also, any care tips on how to stop it from frizzing after it’s been dried and or straightened?

  10. Amalthea says:

    My answer is condition, condition, condition. I found that Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Care Conditioner did a great job on my hair. Also, the old Aussie 3 minute miracle is a good one. If you have the time, pop these suckers in your hair, wrap your head up in plastic wrap, put a bandana on over it and just let it sit as long as possible. If you live near a beauty supply shop, you can also buy hair cholesterol and do the same thing. That’s pro level damage repair. And whenever you rinse out your hair, do a cool water rinse at the end. It’ll help close up the cuticle on your hair and make it more shiny and smooth.
    Now, all of this is what’s best for AFTER you’ve done the damage, but the best thing to do is avoid the damage in the first place. To do this, ALWAYS use a protective treatment before using heat like a flatiron or dryer. I’ve tried about a million brands and I’m a HUGE fan of got2b’s crazy sleek. It’s not greasy or gross and it keeps your hair soft and shiny. Another thing you should do is, if you can help it, NEVER bleach your hair twice! When touching up your color, only do the roots! It’s a pain, and it takes longer, but your hair will thank you. Also, for almost all colors, except the super bright yellows and light greens, you do NOT need to bleach your hair all the way to white! You can go a deep gold color and your dye will still show up really well. Use the lowest volume of peroxide you can with your bleach and, in the end, you’ll have much happier hair for it!

  11. MischiefsMuse says:

    Instead of using bleach for cleanup, try synthrapol. This stuff is magic! It worked much faster and more completely than the bleach and it doesn’t stink as badly.
    http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/2127-AA.shtml?lnav=chemicals.html
    There is a less expensive, non-toxic version as well but I haven’t tried it: http://www.dharmatrading.com/products/ptd.html

    This stuff is designed to remove sizing and oils and loose pigment/dye from fabric and dye baths. There’s Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available on the site to be sure you’re not in harm’s way.

  12. chalsae says:

    I never bleach my hair. I always color my hair a coppery brown color then use the Special Effects Cherry Bomb. I keep it on all day, then rinse it out before I go to bed. I wash my hair every 2 to 3 days. It usually keeps on my hair for at least 2 1/2 months. Probably because my hair isn’t fried and unhealthy from using bleach product. I have not or will ever bleach my hair. I always keep a bottle on hand for touch ups. :)

  13. Amalthea says:

    The fact is, if you’re dying your hair a lighter color, you are, in fact, bleaching your hair. You’re using peroxide and a lightener in a color kit, but it’s just as bleached as if you were using a bleach kit!

  14. Ecook says:

    Hey just followed your steps for doing blue. Plastic wrap slipped during the night. Ended up with a slightly blue forehead. After rinsing my hair I just took rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to the smurfyness and it came right off. Thanks for the great tips went to the salon a week ago and the blue from there had washed out completely. Have a better feeling about this one. When rinsed my hair very little dye came out. Thanks again.

  15. Amalthea says:

    Thanks for your tip! Next time, you can put a little conditioner on your forehead and around the hairline before you go to sleep, it’ll help any stray dye wipe right off!

  16. Brittany says:

    Hey there. I’m supposed to be dying my hair a REALLY bright blue, kind of like an aqua color. My hair is dark and light brown naturally, and I was wondering, what kind of bleach would work the best? I want this blue to really stand out and be as bright as possible, and I’m afraid that (with my luck) I will get ahold of a bleach that doesn’t work well enough for me to accomplish this. Any advice?

  17. Amalthea says:

    We, and many of our customers have had a great deal of success using the Manic Panic Bleach kits. You can find them here: http://www.amaltheasattic.com/catalog/hair-hair-bleach-kits-p-323.html
    You’ll want to go with the lowest volume possible, but these kits tend to do a great job! If you look back in the blog, we’ve given instructions here from start to finish, including the bleaching process, to get the brightest color possible!

  18. CheshireMoon says:

    Handy tip: Dry shampoos. It’s just like a hair spray can, but helps tone down the oils in your hair for another day or two. Just shower cap it up when showering and use the dry shampoo when needed. Less washings, means less color loss. I use Beyond Zone: Rock On dry shampoo.

  19. Amalthea says:

    Great tip! I’ve never tried those, but always wanted to!

  20. Redhair Riotgrl says:

    Hi! Thanks for this article. I went to cosmetology school forever ago and stopped the schooling about 2 months before i was set to graduate (i know… i was young and stupid) and now i know just enough to be a danger to myself. I read this article as a refresher because i’m gonna put bright red streaks in my hair.
    A small tip for those reading this who want to pre-lighten/open up the follicle with out lightening too much is to do what is called a “shampoo cap”. Basically, you mix a low level (volume 10) cream peroxide with your shampoo. Shampoo your hair with this mixture leaving it on for about 5 minutes. This should open everything up and ready your hair for semi permanent dye. Also, try this on a small piece of hair before you do it all over to see results… different hair acts differently.

  21. Good tips on dyeing! Being dye newbies my wife just used a paint brush to smush the Special Effects dye into my bleached mohawk. The blue haired freak color came out well! Very vivid. Though I did have the halo effect mentioned in one of the above tips from not getting the dye down to coat the scalp level hair. Oh well live and learn!

  22. Mika says:

    Another tip is to not wash your hair AT ALL. Well, maybe once or twice. Wash before you dye and once after. Then only use CONDITIONER. Co-washing, as it’s called, is SOOO much healthier for your hair. And if it’s curly, or wavy it will get curlier but more defined and pretty. LiveCurlyLiveFree.com and NaturallyCurly.com are great resources. The ‘method’ is called CurlyGirl method, but you can use it on straight hair, and tweak it a bit. This says no shampoo ever, no silicone or silicone derivitives, and no heat. I use cones (silicones) when I heat style, which for me is only flat ironing and not very often, and then I shampoo. Then it’s back to only conditioner. Vo5, and Treseme naturals work beautifully for me an they’re cheap an cruelty free. Volumizing works best for fine hair, moisturizing for coarse, and anything for medium. Hope this helps and a few people will switch over :)

  23. bananabatman says:

    I remember reading somewhere that if you mix the dye with your conditioner, it’ll help the color last longer. im not sure how true this is and i havent gotten the chance to try it. also i just dyed my hair red today, i used a permanent red hair color because i wanted it to be darker than it’d be when bleaching (and i figured out the hard way that i become addicted to bleaching my hair, took a year to get my hair healthy again) and i used splat’s luscious raspberry over it after a day (if you pre lighten your hair, wait a day to dye it, the color will take better and last brighter longer).
    Ps. if you want a pretty pink that lasts a really long time, use luscious rasperry from splat, its really a supposed to be a red color, but it fades to pink (quickly if you wash it enough) and it will STAY pink for a REALLY REALLY long time, every time i’ve used it, the pink will still be there 4 months later

  24. Katelyn Keeling says:

    Kay so I know it sounds crazy but put some food coloring into the dye and mix it up well. This helps to keep the color longer on top of all the other tricks. Works really well for blue dyes

  25. Great tips! Here’s one for removing the hair color that gets on your skin: use Dawn power clean. Yeah, the dish soap. That stuff is amazing. Rub it right on the dyed skin, let it sit a few minutes, then rinse it off. If the stain is particularly stubborn, give it a scrub with a washcloth or loofah or whatever.

    Just be careful not to get it on your hair. It can actually strip the color right out. It probably also works for removing remnants of color from an old dye job, but I always redye my hair pink, adding it right on top of the old pink, so I wouldn’t know.

    I also keep a bottle in the room with me when dying my hair. If I drop a bit on the counter top or floor, I quickly rub in a bit of power clean and wipe it away with a damp towel. Problem solved. ;)

  26. Amalthea says:

    I’m going to give that a go! Thanks for the tip!

  27. Katie says:

    For removing oops problems, on skin or otherwise, there is a product that professionals use (also available on Amazon) called Roux CleanTouch. It is specifically for this. I have used Nuclear Red for over a year and use this for all cleanup. Especially works well if you use baby wipes or a (red, lol) washcloth and just a squirt of this product. I’ve even removed it from white tiles in our b’room.
    I’ll lucky to have a black granite type sink in my kitchen so I don’t have to ruin my bathroom. I only wash about ONCE in between touch-ups. I do my roots (and lightly comb through) about once a month or so.
    Love SFX.

  28. Jess says:

    Special Effects is by far the best vivid color dye I’ve used out of all of them that I’ve tried. So anyone wanting to dye, I would definitely suggest that brand first. The other thing I wanted to add is how to make the color last. I have very oily skin, which means I have an oily scalp. On top of that, I have naturally curly hair that requires product to reduce frizz and that causes more build up. So going a day, let alone multiple days, without washing is impossible. My fix is using a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo and conditioner. I wash my hair DAILY using RenPure’s Rosemary Mint Cleansing Conditioner and after three weeks had very little noticeable fading. It’s all natural/naturally derived from what I can tell in the ingredients and it smells nice. My hair isn’t left feeling heavy or oily even though there are lots of essential oils in the conditioner and it’s tamed my frizz quite a bit so I use less of other products when styling. Cleansing conditioners have become more popular with brands like Pantene and Herbal Essences having them added to their lines. I’ll be honest and say that they might still be more harsh than an all natural one since it’s often the chemicals that strip our color. Anyway! Figured I’d share since it’s worked so well for me. =)

  29. Chrissie says:

    Just wanted to take a minute and give some tips I have found. I am in LOVE with Special Effects hair dyes!! They outlast tons of other dyes that have claimed to last the longest by a landslide!! I try and get sulfate free shampoos to avoid the quick fading… I DO NOT reccomend loreals version of sulfate free..it strips the color right out. But as far as getting the oops spots of of for heads, ears and hands…noxema pads take it right off..very little scrubbing required!! Happy dyeing :)

  30. nena says:

    I have just put in red hair it looks awesome and i love it.I was wondering how long can it last me???? I exercise every day so I have to wash my hair out what can I do? How long last????

  31. Amalthea says:

    Even with exercise, you don’t have to shampoo your hair daily! You can absolutely train your hair to handle a quick rinse and a wash once or twice a week, but it does take time! Red dyes can fade more quickly than others, but it depends on the shade. To keep your red popping as long as possible, here’s a few tips:
    Use COOL water to wash! Hot water fades that color fast!
    Only use SULFATE FREE shampoo! Otherwise, you’ll strip the color out in a heartbeat!
    Mix a little bit of your dye in with your usual conditioner and let that sit on your hair BEFORE you rinse! Then rinse in cold. That’ll help keep your hair dye bright and fresh for a whole lot longer!

  32. Tracy says:

    Great article! I’m wondering is I put a clear gloss a couple of days after using manic panic, will the color last longer?

  33. Amalthea says:

    Any kind of sealant will most likely give you a little bit of extra “staying power” with your color, but the number one cause of fading is too much washing, so bear that in mind, and give it a whirl. Let us know how you make out with it!

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