I’ve been dying it since 2004.
To get bright, saturated color, you first have to remove your natural color, even if your natural color is gray or white.
If it’s your first time, buy a single-use bleach kit.
I buy powdered bleach in 2 lb jars and mix it with 20 volume developer. Liquid and “creme” developer are both fine, use whichever you can find. You ,ix the powder with the developer until you have a pudding-like consistency. I brush the bleach mixture in with the brush that came with my first bleach kit. A cheap plastic-bristled craft paint brush, 1-2″ wide, will do.
You’ll need to bleach roughly once a month depending on how much root you can tolerate seeing. Bleaching is a good opportunity to switch colors, though bleach is not as good at removing dye as it is at removing natural color.
I mainly use Pulp Riot dye, which is a professional brand you can buy on eBay for $15-16 a tube. I started with Manic Panic, used some Special Effects when they had better hues, tried Pravana Locked In, and Pulp Riot has better staying power than any of them.
I can vouch for the vibrancy, saturation, and stickiness of the following Pulp Riot colors:
- Absinthe (teal, not green as the box would suggest)
- Cupid (hot pink that wanders into pink-purple)
- Nemesis (neon turquoise)
- Velvet (purple)
Since Pulp Riot doesn’t make a good green, I use Lime Crime Unicorn in the winter as my “Christmas tree green”. It’s also quite long-lasting.
Colors to Avoid
I cannot recommend Blush — it’s an even lighter pink than the box would suggest, and it immediately looks washed out.
Goop the skin around your hairline with petroleum jelly to keep the dye from staining your skin. Take care not to get the petroleum jelly in your hair — it will prevent the dye from sticking.
I comb the dye in with a regular old plastic comb, leave it on for 3-4 hours, then rinse it out with warm water. Depending on how the color fades and whether you like the color it fades to, you’ll need to re-apply every 4-6 weeks.
You will get dye on any towels you use on your hair (bring your own with traveling), pillow cases, and sometimes light-colored clothing that rubs on your hair. These will often come out if you treat them quickly. I don’t, so I have dark-colored towels and sketchy-looking pillow cases.
Some dyes are less sticky than others. Back when I used Manic Panic, I had to also use a vinegar rinse (half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of water), which I poured over my head after the plain water rinse, combed in, then rinsed out with additional plain water.