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