The Blue Hair How-To
Pictures pending. Also, keep in mind, I am the canvas;
my wife is the painter.
Once about every 6 to 8 months, I get my hair bleached
professionally. I'm a big proponent of getting bleaching
done professionally, because it's easy to screw it up as a
do-it-yourselfer, not to mention easy to hurt yourself.
I've found a very good (if expensive) salon locally that I
go to for this.
My hair ends up being pretty damned porous afterwards, we
think, which is why it holds onto this particular dye very
well -- I get this to some extent even when there's enough
outgrowth of unbleached hair too, so it's possible my
hair's fairly porous (or damaged) as a baseline. At any
rate, bleaching more frequently than biannually would
translate into too much hair abuse, so that's where I draw
The brand of dye I use is Special Effects. Hot Topic once
carried it, but stopped for reasons of insanity (near as I
can tell). These days I order it in lots of 6 or more off
of various internet sites (such as amphigory.com).
It's powerful stuff -- uses, I think, pigments similar to
what are used to dye vinyl. It's a lifestyle decision to
use Special Effects, not a "oh, I'll just color my hair
blue for the weekend and it'll wash out" sort of thing.
The shade of Special Effects I use is "Electric Blue". I
think it's the best one they have, though they've recently
added more blues to their catalogue and I'm interested in
giving them a go. Electric Blue has the added advantage
that, as it fades, it starts shading towards middling and
then light purple, ending in a kind of silvery-lavender
when it hits the maximal fade point on bleached hair.
How powerful is the stuff? Well, what you see in those
wedding photos is from a dye job two weeks prior followed
by daily shampooing. And generally I've got a good blue
going for at least a month, and a good purple going for
another month or two following that. Then again, I leave
the dye in for quite some time, as you'll see below.
Things that are vital in the application the dye:
- Have someone else do the application of the dye.
Yes, some people have the coordination to dye
themselves, but it's tricky at best and can lead to
- Both you and your dyer should be wearing latex
- Brush, then shampoo, your hair in advance. Avoid
conditioner unless absolutely necessary; some
conditioners will block the hairdye from penetrating
as much as it can.
- Lay down a tarp -- extensively -- and cover yourself
with a disposable poncho if possible. Your dyer should
be similarly attired, or at least be wearing clothes
that can get stained. Sit in a metal folding (or
otherwise stainable) chair.
- You should cover the "perimeter" of your hair (the
hairline, the ears, etc) with some kind of thick
masque goop (though others may use vaseline for this),
because it will STAIN your skin. I use one of those
"Mint Julep" masques, I forget the brand.
- Use a toothbrush covered with dye to address the hair
that borders the mint julep demarcation. It's a little
slower going, but the attention to detail along the
borders keeps the end product from looking uneven or
- Once the demarc's done, lay the dye on thick (Special
Effects stuff is fairly "goop" like) on the rest of
the hair. Take a hair brush you don't really care
about using for anything other than hairdying and use
it to work the dye through the hair.
- Twist the hair up into a reasonably tight bun, keep
it in said bun using one or more hairties, and get it
all under a shower cap.
I leave the dye in for several hours at least (2-3
minimum), and sometimes, I wrap a pillow in several towels
and sleep with the dye in (if I'm feeling hardcore about
Now, before you wash the dye out, make sure you read these
- Your shower will become whatever shade you dyed your
- It'll take at least a week before the shampoo-water
stops running a darkly opaque shade of whatever you
dyed your hair.
- The skin where you let this water run over will become
a pale (or not-so-pale) shade of the dye. This can
continue for longer than the "dark water" period.
- The skin-dye residue can lead to potential
embarrassment when, say, the color ends up on your
ass, and you end up leaving a blue butt-print on the
toilet seat at a friend's house. Sorry about that,
- To address the shower: Dow Scrubbing Bubbles With
Bleach. Nothing else takes care of Special Effects
stain like Dow Scrubbing Bubbles.
- To address the skin: Noxema Clear-Ups (also branded
as Noxema 2-in-1's). Few other things have done the
job that these puppies have, but even so, there are
parts of you that will still be pale blue (or purple,
pink, green, whatever).
- When rinsing the dye out initially, I've found going
to the sink in the garage and having my wife do some
extensive shampooing salon-style can get out a lot of
the dye. More latex gloves are a must! Wrap your hair
up in a stainable towel afterwards and retire to the
shower for more shampooing, 'cause a second round may
- While I'm on that, keep latex gloves in the shower,
you'll need them in the first couple weeks.
- Failing a salon-style rinse, or even in the case
of one, shampooing in the shower is an interesting
exercise. Be careful of sudden turns or whipping your
hair around; you'll leave great big splatters of color
on the shower walls, curtain, doors, and, if you're
not careful, ceiling. Get a good (blue) lather going
with the shampoo, and don't be afraid to let it sit
for a bit before rinsing it out. If possible, hold
your hair a bit away from your body to keep the water
from running too extensively down your skin.
That's pretty much it.
Questions? Email iago AT iago DOT net.