At some point, we’ve ALL debated whether or not we should dye our hair. Who hasn’t spent hours fawning after Ariel’s red locks or scrolled through Instagram pining after a new look? And, there’s clearly something in the air, we’ve seen some of our fave celebs taking the plunge with every color under the sun. However, experimenting with colors, or any kind of change, really can be a minefield and you don’t necessarily know what will and won’t work for you. In comes a hero in the form of temporary hair dye – all the fun without the commitment. We got in touch with Maria Dowling, the Creative Director of Maria Dowling Salon, and the Middle East’s ‘Queen of Color,’ to get the 411 on the semi-permanent hair dye. Here are the six things you need to know…
1. For the perfect color, think about your undertone
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Know. Your. Undertone! Whether you lean more towards cooler tones, warmer tones, or you’re smack in the middle in the neutral zone, this will really determine how well a hair color works on you. If you’re not sure how to determine your undertone, here’s a quick guide for you!
As a general rule of thumb, opt for a hair color that’s the opposite of your undertone, as hair colors complement your skin better when they contrast! If you have cooler undertones, you’re best suited to warm hair colors, which are shades that usually lean towards the yellow/orange side of the spectrum and usually include words that bring the heat such as “golden,” “copper” or “bronze.” If you have warmer undertones, you’re best suited to cool hair colors, which are shades that typically lean towards the blue side of the spectrum and usually include words that indicate coolness such as “ash” or “ice” and even “platinum.” For the neutral ladies among us, you can get away with any hair color because your skin will pop no matter what! There are also some great apps you can use too!
This app; YouCam, is ideal when you’re thinking of switching up your hair color as it gives you a really realistic finished look. All you need to do is upload a photo and outline your hair to create a template, then color away.
2. You may have to bleach your hair
Once you’ve chosen your shade, getting your hair ready takes major prep, so, let’s start at the beginning. If you want to go with bright colors, the best way (and only in most cases) to really get a vibrant hue is by bleaching your hair first. If you’re going a few shades darker, it isn’t totally necessary, but bear in mind, it’ll ‘stain’ your hair and be much harder to get your natural color back! Maria explains that “Unless you’re naturally blonde, your hair needs to be bleached first in order to achieve any of the fashionable colors. It needs to be lifted to a pale yellow, which is bright! If it isn’t lifted enough and you’re looking to achieve a blue ombre, for example, you may end up with a blue/green ombre instead. Bleaching is the most important part.”
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3. Remove color first
When you’re planning a total switch up, you have to make sure all the previous color is long gone. Otherwise, you’ll end up mixing the old with the new which can make a total mess. According to Maria, “If you are switching between different pastel colors, we would advise you to [go to a] salon and have a mild cleanse on your hair to lift the blonde and freshen it up for the new shade. For example, if you’re going from grey to pastel pink then you need to go back to your blonde base before applying the pink otherwise it won’t work.”
4. Remember, you can’t go light again (without bleach)
If you’ve gone much darker, your hair has officially got all the pigment in it that it can hold. Think of your hair follicle like a glass – if it’s full, you can’t add more! The only way to change your hair color to a lighter shade is by emptying the glass and starting again. Maria says, “If you have colored your hair a darker color, putting a light color on top won’t make it go lighter. If you want a red color and have dyed it dark, it won’t look any different unless you lift the color out.”
5. Semi-permanent usually means semi-lasting
Semi-permanent colors can only do so much, so don’t expect a “She’s All That” style transformation. As semi-permanent color doesn’t contain the chemicals that really make color latch onto your hair, such as ammonia or peroxide, so it’s more susceptible to washing out. “If it’s just a semi-permanent color you can’t have a huge change as it only changes the tone of your hair or slightly lifts it. Make sure you know what color you can achieve before you change it.” Maria explains.
6. Aftercare is essential
The more you wash your hair, the more the dye will come out. So, dry shampoo is going to be your best friend! Where you can, skip washing your hair completely, but when you do, use cool water as this will prevent the follicles from opening fully and will help keep the dye locked in. Avoid shampoos with harsh chemicals or sulfates because these will strip the hair. Instead, focus on conditioners and try to lessen the amount of shampoo you’re using in general. Conditioner will create a protective barrier around your hair follicle, making sure the dye stays put and lasts longer.
Our fave semi-permanent hair dyes
- For a natural wash of color: Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Dye, $16, comes in 23 stunning hues and is 100% vegan!
- For classic color: Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color, $7, is a cult classic for a reason. The color lasts for approximately four weeks and will remain through 28 shampoos. Plus, it’s drugstore!
- For easy use: There are over 130 shades of the L’Oreal Paris Hair Dye so you’ll be able to find your perfect shade. It’s also super easy to use as it comes with an applicator brush.
Bright and bold semi-permanent hair dyes:
- For easy use: Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Hair Color Vegan Fantasy Colors in Blue Steel, $16, this vegan cream is really easy to apply and comes in a ton of cray colors.
- For neon hues: The world is currently obsessed with neon, so why not try the Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color in Porange, $14, neon shades to stay on trend.
- Splat 30 Wash Original Kit Semi-Permanent Hair Dye in Neon Green, $11; these kits are great as they contain everything you need from the bleach to the hair dye, and they’re SO affordable.
Have fun switching up your hair, but just remember that the more mistakes you make, the harder it will be to rectify at a salon!