Pink Please! The Pink Hair Guide

I always get lots of questions about pink hair in my inbox, but checking out this article (written in 2009!) I’ve realized it was woefully overdue for an overhaul! It’s funny to see how much my blogging style has changed since then… just the formatting of the old article made me itch! After recently girl-crushing on Katy Perry’s new InStyle pink-haired cover girl shot, I just had to give it new life (by which I mean, totally rewrite it…)

Fair warning: Going pink is not something to be taken lightly. The reason why is in the nature of the dye. Pink hair dye does not contain a chemical developer – it’s actually a stain. It doesn’t change the hair’s actual color like other dyes do, but rather sits on top of the hair. This is why it washes out much more easily than other dyes.  Because it’s a stain, your hair needs to be white first. This means bleach. Pink hair dye, like other dyes in the unnatural spectrum, are like colored cellophane – they show up best and most vibrantly on white, and not at all or very little on darker colors. Natural blondes have the easiest time getting white, and the darker your hair, the harder it is. Naturally black hair may need to be bleached several times to get as white as possible. (Keep in mind that it’s not just the initial bleaching either – you’ll also have root upkeep).

“But doesn’t bleach kill your hair?!” We’ve all seen or heard horror stories of deep-fried, beyond-bleached blondes. I was pretty terrified to bleach mine, too, and my first attempts at pink hair came out raspberry over my own dark blonde color. Eventually though, I swallowed my fear and took the jump! Bleached hair can be done, if you take care of it correctly. (See below for aftercare.) But besides the bleach, you should also know…

Pink hair is a commitment (yes, maybe even longer than your boyfriend). I personally have been pink for so long that I can’t go any other color, short of growing out my hair from the roots. For a few months, I took a pink-hair break and tried to be brunette. It took two dye jobs to cover the pink, for starters. My hair, being previously translucent, couldn’t hold the brown color. Within a few weeks, the brown had slid right off, leaving me pinkish blondish brown, with strands of pink coming through in unusual places. You can’t hide from the pink!  I’ve heard stories of other girls who say they probably couldn’t go natural even if they wanted to, either.

It’s expensive. If you’re good with hair, the expense isn’t so bad. The most you’ll be out is your time and money for supplies (I use several bottles of pink dye for the initial dye and upkeep, at roughly $10 – $14 a pop.) But if you’re not, or are worried about bleach, or if you react to bleach (your scalp burns a little – if it burns a lot, do not try to dye your hair) then I really recommend you go to a salon and ask them to bleach you out at the very least. This is going to cost you anywhere between $50 – $100 depending on where you go. I an easily drop over $100 at my salon, which is just a little small-town place I am fiercely loyal to. Then add in root costs for upkeep, which can be in the same ballpark. Depending on how dark or light your hair is, you can stretch the time between roots, but at some point, you gotta go. (Yes it’s kind of like drugs.)

Keep reading for instructions and pink hair aftercare!

The other aspect you need to consider about pink hair is social repercussions. It’s unfair, but it’s the truth – pink hair is a body modification, and by making the choice for pink hair, your life will change. People may make unfair assumptions about you. You may be limited on where you can work, or you may be limited by where you go to school. And for good or bad, whether you like it or not, you’ll be getting attention on a daily basis.

Most pinks don’t consider the attention factor when getting rosy for the first time. When you’re at home dying your hair, the reaction of other people doesn’t really register. I don’t think of it as weird, and after a while, my friends and family don’t either. While at a restaurant one evening, my boyfriend’s aunt remarked, “Why is everyone staring? Is there a booger in my nose or something?” My boyfriend calmly remarks, “Victoria has pink hair.” “Oh,” she replied. “I forgot.” To the people who see you often, it’s just part of who you are. People on the street are another matter however, whether you’re fifty miles from the nearest interstate or in the center of Times Square. Most often, people comment that they like the color. Other times, people laugh. One kid has asked me, in a stoned sort of drawl, if I ‘rave’, and while getting my morning coffee a well-intentioned but mesmerized elderly lady tried to pet me.

So to sum: don’t dye your hair pink if attention really makes you squirm (or learn to cope, your choice) or if you need to keep your job, or if you want to avoid a gang of nuns washing your hair out in your Catholic high school’s bathroom sink (do they still do that these days?)

If you still feel the pink urge but for any reason it’s just not practical for you to get the whole bleach-and-dye, you do have other options. If you want pink hair to make a fashion statement or to match an outfit or style, pick yourself up a good quality (nothing you could buy at a Halloween shop!) pink wig for days that require pink. They come in a variety of shades, textures and lengths. This is especially true if you want lolita worthy hair. I still wear wigs, even pink wigs, to achieve a full and dollish lolita look. If you don’t know how to wear a wig, I got your covered.

For one night of pink accent, you can use Kevin Murphy’s Color Bug Powder, which will give you subtle pastels made from the same sort of pigment as eyeshadow. If you’re sure you want streaks, it’s easy to make your own pink human hair extensions for repeated use.

So if you’ve been thoroughly debriefed and still decide you are one of the few, the brave, who wants to go to Candyland…

 (I wanted to try this magazine-layout style tutorial – too much fashion magazine time for me! It may look simple, but this thing was so many layers!)

Now that you’ve sufficiently tortured your hair, it’s time to pamper it and baby it. This is especially true if you want long pink hair, if you want long-term pink hair, or both.

I often consider pink hair to be the love child of blondes and redheads, because it has similar care issues from each ‘parent’. Like bleach blondes, pink hair is very dry and prone to breakage. It can get those rough areas that crop up from damage. And like bottle blondes, pink hair can get its own version of brassy. Pink hair, especially when laid over not-quite-white bleached hair, has a tendency to go kind of orange, especially as it fades. A lot of girls with pastel pink hair often look ‘peachy’ a great deal of the time due to fading.

But like those who dye their hair red, or supplement their red hair with highlights, pink hair fades quickly in the shower and can even leave stains on white towels after a wash. If you’re not into the peach, you’ll have to start a new regimen to keep your pink hair looking fresh.

[ image via polyvore]

First: condition. Then, more conditioning. Pick yourself up a good conditioner for heavily damaged hair. I like Dove’s line for damage, though I just found out that they test on animals, so you may want something else. It is important that it is white in color. Why? I hope you saved some pink dye, because the best way to keep pinks bright is to keep dying it. Adding a little pink dye to your conditioner is like refueling. I pop on a shower cap and let it soak in for a few minutes while I wash up.

If your hair is very damaged, consider a hair mask. My stylist gives me a special hair serum for weekly treatment after a bleaching, and for after surgery (anesthesia is very drying for your hair).

The right shampoo. When I first dyed my hair pink, I noticed that shampoo was what really stripped my color out. I actually did the ‘No Poo‘ method for a while, but it just wasn’t my thing. Often I will still skip the shampoo and just condition because my hair is already dry and not very oily. But now I use shampoo formulated for blondes – specifically, the purple stuff said to reduce brassiness. Currently I use Jhirmack Silver Distinctions Plus. I know that sounds like old lady shampoo, but what it really does is keep silver hair from going yellow-y gray… And blondes shimmery pale. This has greatly reduced my ‘orange’ factor that happens with pastel pink hair.

Water temperature. Scalding hot showers, as much as we love them, are apparently bad for your skin and hair. Hot water dries out your skin, making it more susceptible to peeling, and it opens up your hair cuticle. Hot water releases color much faster than lukewarm or cool water. Turn it down as much as you can stand it to wash your hair; cold water is also said to add shine. (If you still want a long, hot shower, it’s back to the shower cap with you – or simply take a bath for a hot soak, and leave your hair out of the equation.)

Water in general is going to leech color from your ‘do however. Use dry shampoo between washing to suck up oil and add a little volume to roots. While any dry shampoo works well, I like to use Lush Candy Fluff powder for added texture, sparkle (it has iridescent and gold twinkles) as well as a sugary candy scent that compliments the cotton candy motif well. I just dust my hands with it and fluff from underneath – works great!

Heat protectant, or avoid heat wherever possible. If you use heat to style your hair, make sure you use a heat protectant, or simply lose the heat whenever possible. I like to shower in the early evening so that my hair has plenty of time to dry naturally. (I am still addicted to my straightener however.) If you’re a curly girl junkie, you may also want to look into heatless curls like rag curls or curlers or sponge rollers.

Psst! Secrets for hiding roots! If you’re looking rooty and your hair isn’t too dark, open up your blush compact and dust your roots with a kabuki brushful of pink blush similar to your hair color. Although it may not cover perfectly, you won’t have a big stripe of your natural color running down your head – more of a darker shadow of pink. You an set it with a little hairspray if needed.

If you need help, advice, or just plain ol’ pink hair love, check out the following:

mylittleponyhair // heckyespinkhair // welovepastelhair

If you have any other pink hair communities you’d like added, feel free to comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • carouselofcrowns

    Fab post – I admire your pink locks, especially since I just can't make the commitment myself

  • AngelShinigami

    Oh my goodness! It's Jem and the Holograms! You win so hard.

  • Poppy

    I have pink hair too – I use an organic, no chemicals shampoo as the parabens in ordinary shampoo can often strip out dye. I use SFX Atomic Pink, but I dilute it with conditioner to make the bottle go further. I also add some to my conditioner to freshen up my hair each time I dye it. Yay pink hair :)

  • lolitahime

    Thank you so much for this post! I was one of the girls who asked you to make it ♥ However, there's still something you didn't talk about and I'd like to know: how hard is it to touch up your roots? Do you have to re-dye the entire hair with pink after you bleach the roots because of the fading? Also, doesn't the bleach "bleed" to the pink parts and make them look weird? That sort of stuff ^^

  • Princess

    nice hair! someday XDDD
    i love jen *__* and thanks for your tips and webs

    take care

  • Ally

    Your hair looks lovely and your eye makeup is absolutely gorgeous!

  • Melody

    Hey Lolitahime: You have to bleach just your roots, and then apply more pink dye to your entire head. After 3 weeks, your color will fade to baby pink, and when you apply fresh color to your roots, you will need to re-do the ends.

    But you only need to bleach your roots. Seriously recomend finding a stylist for at least the initial bleaching. Some beauty schools can be a good option, as well.

  • SaffronSugar

    I recently dyed my hair pink and had the crappy luck of being recommended a colourstay shampoo which pretty much ate my hair colour.

    I just ordered some Special Effects dye in, so I'll try that out… and use baking soda, like you do. I will never trust shampoo again!

  • Naka

    i love the photos

    I've just dyed my fringe blue, becuase my hair is naturally thick and black I don't want to bleach it all by myself and leave it patchy

    great advice though especially the social aspects

  • lolitahime

    Thanks Melody!! I already have bleached blonde hair, and I dye my roots at home, so from what you said, I guess it won't be much different from what I usually do when I begin dying my hair pink right? Thanks again :D

  • Corvida

    Poppy, I did a quick search of PubMed after reading your comment and I can't find any evidence parabens strip color from hair. Since the internet hates parabens right now, I think that may just be a rumor. Granted, not every stuy is in PubMed, so if you know of one that shows otherwise, please let me know.

    I usually have purple hair (lilac in spring and summer, amethyst right now) and I've found that hair dye's worst enemy is water*. I try to only wash my hair in the shower once or twice a week. The rest of the time I wear a showercap. Yes, I may look like a toadstool, but at least I'm a toadstool with great hair! In between washings I usually use a dry shampoo to soak up accumulated oil and give me back some volume. My favorite is by Ojon, but it's a tad pricey. I've been experimenting lately with corn starch, too, but so far it's been kinda messy and leaves a whitish cast near the roots; I think I need to adjust my technique. I want to try the sodium bicarb method, but since I don't wash my hair as often as most people, I'm afraid it wouldn't be cleansing enough. Right now I just use Pantene.

    P.S. Here are two books that back up my claim that water messes up dye. They're also great reads for anyone that really wants to understand hair and not be taken in by marketing hype anymore! "The Science of Hair Care" (eds. Bouillon & Wilkinson), "Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair" (Robbins).

  • keynotecraze

    Awesome post <3 I love your pink hair. And yay, Jem picture is awesome!

    What always annoyed me the most was when people thought the pink hair was a wig. I guess because it's such a huge commitment, I didn't want people to think it was fake. I was proud of it!! But little kids absolutely loved it. Negative reactions (if any) were wiped away by their "Is she a princess, mom!?" comments.

    This makes me want to switch from purple back to pink ^_^


  • SweetAngelFreyaFreya

    I tried to make the commitment a while ago but the dye I bought wouldn't stay in my hair after washing it off. So now I'm back to a cherry red colour with pink wigs for whenever I fancy having princessy locks again.
    @Keynotecraze: I know exactly what you mean! When I wear my cat ears or lolita stuff in public, I always get rude and negative remarks. But the comments from little children perk me up right away!

  • Melody

    lolitahime: You should be fine, then. I personally always use a 20 volume mix up when I bleach out my roots. I find that 40v will make the roots too white.

    Other than that, just got for it! If your hair is dry, get extra bottles and just slather it on and leave it for an hour or two under a processing cap. Using a hair dryer intermittently while processing the pink will help the hair hold onto the product longer, too.

  • Kura

    it cost around 30 bucks to bleach long hair fully if you have a sally's beauty supply around. 3-4 packets of the dry black at 3.50 each, and a bottle of 30[strength] cream developer. 40[strength] if you have course dark hair.

  • SceneSeannn

    i've noticed a lot of people commenting about how they wash their hair. i'm not entirely sure how well it would work on the pink hair dye, as the only colour i've ever had that required bleaching of my hair was bright red, but i wash my hair with garnier fructis colour last (the green and red bottle / double action) and i've found that my semi dyes have lasted for literally ever. it's fantastic! that, and the shampoo/conditioner strengthen and make your hair more healthy, and has a nice sweet/fruity scent :) of course, not trying to sell it to you, but just thought i'd let people know that it's been fantastic for me and i definitely recommend it. hope i've helped!!

  • Paulina Rivera

    Pink hair dye– greatest invention since afternoon tea. ♥♥♥

  • As a purple/pink switcher myself, I swear by a single trick: After you dye, RINSE, don’t wash, the product out, then go as long as possible without letting even water touch your hair!  3-4 days if you can make it!  This gives the stain plenty of time to set into your hair, and afterwards I’ve had my crazy locks last a good 6-8 weeks before they need a serious touch-up.

    And Victoria isn’t kidding with the “you can’t go back” thing.  I mixed pink in with my dye for a blonde/purple split over the summer, and after 5 months of fading AND a bleach job, there’s still a pink sheen to half my head!

    • Good tip! Yeah if I wash my hair within a few days of a dye job, I can see my color running down the drain :( And it’s true, the stain is pretty permanent! Definitely a serious body mod!

      I’ve been considering lilac, is it easy to switch between the two? I suppose when my hair fades enough it wouldn’t be hard to go over it with purple. How do you manage it? Any tips? 

  • it’s a very good post! i always wanted my hair to be pink but bcse of my original col is dark so i think when my hair grows it doesnt look good bcse of the contrasting color :(

  • Andrea

    Dear Victoria Suzanne,
    I may not be a pink head but a turquoise head instead for a few months now(though I switch between turquoise and midnight blue a lot lol The midnight blue turns turquoise on my hair as it washes out anyway ;)) and by now, I couldn’t imagine going back to a “normal” haircolor. It gave me a lot more confidence when I’m out not all dolled-up since I give people a reason to stare at me. Even before I started wearing Lolita clothes I got stared at a whole lot and had many guys trying to talk to me. Since I have a Social Phobia it was almost unbearable for me to have strangers talk to me like that and completly froze whenever they did. For some reason I don’t really understand I don’t have problems at all having people ask about my clothes or my hair color.

    Anyway, I found your tips very usefull even though I use a diffrent color to actually dye it.^^

    Greetings from Germany,

    • Thanks for the great comment Andrea! I love hearing from girls with all kinds of alt-colored hair. It really does make you more confident and comfortable with expressing yourself I think!

      • Finally realized how to connect this to twitter XD I’m kind of slow with computers it seems >.<''
        Greetings again,

  • Lukeyjones8

    I reeeeally wish I could dye my hair either pink or lilac, but I have super super curly hair and I just don’t know if it’ll look right :/ Do you have any suggestions? :) Fantastically awesome post by the way (even though I’m commenting like..waaay late :P).

  • madeofcandy_

    I have brown hair, how will I be able to go pink, will the bleach still work??!:)

  • I dyed my hair pink yesterday and it is still very bright. I am gonna wash it a few more times to make it lighter. But i really love it!

  • Stormy Wonder England

    I’m actually in the process of bleaching my hair right now. (I give my hair a day rest in between bleaching!) This is my 2nd time going pink, I love, love love it. But last time it faded soooo bad.): Thanks for the dry shampoo idea! <3