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The Beginner's Guide to Pink Hair

     I recently was able to fulfill a longtime dream and have my hair dyed pink. My hair had never been dyed before (that is technically called virgin hair, but I don't love that term, I'm not sure why we need to be referring to hair as virginal) and, in general, I don't have a lot of hair care and styling knowledge. I did as much online research as I could, beforehand, but thought I'd write the kind of reflection I was looking for when I did it, in case anyone else out there has similar ambitions ☺.

1. Setting the Stage
     For anyone who doesn't know, my hair is long, straight, dark brown and very low maintenance. I wash it every other day, wrap it up for a few minutes in a Turbie Twist to soak up the majority of the moisture, and then run a brush through it quickly and let it air dry the rest of the way. That's basically it. Sometimes I put it in a ponytail, and for special occasions I break out a curling iron. My hair doesn't hold curl well, and usually goes back to straight within a few hours. I followed the internet's advice and didn't wash my hair for two days before this whole process as it is better to have slightly oily hair to protect it during the bleaching process. 
2. But Whom?
     I found the stylist that dyed my hair pink on Instagram (I know, that sentence is so millennial). She was at a salon I'd been to before (although we'd never met) and was looking for a hair model to do pink pastel or vibrant hair color. After pouring over her photos I sent her a message, volunteering. I told her she could do whatever she wanted to it: color it, cut it, whatever. My only request was that she leave some of my roots showing at the top, so there wasn't a harsh line as it grew back.
3. The Process - Part 1
      Since my hair is so dark, in order for the color to have any chance of showing up, it has to be bleached first. The salon prides itself on using organic and safe products when possible, and she was using a bleach (whose name I sadly can't remember) that was ammonia-free. It actually had a very pleasant smell which was a relief. The only part of the process I had been dreading was having that smell encasing my head for 4 hours. We ended up having to do the bleach process twice, basically, because the first time it didn't lift enough, and it was still safe to do the second treatment and not risk overly damaging the hair. In practice, this involved dividing my hair into small sections, painting each section with the bleach and encasing it in tin-foil and then waiting for about 45 minutes to an hour. By the end, the mass of tinfoil was pretty heavy and, as it had already been about 4 hours, I was ready to be done with the bleach stage. 
     I had read a lot of articles about how bleach burns your scalp. This one didn't, probably because she didn't go all the way up to the root (another benefit). 
A few people mentioned they had never realized how much hair I had until they saw it lighter.
     Obviously once the bleach is on there, it is basically the point of no return, but the enormity of the transformation didn't really hit me until she washed out the bleach and I saw my blonde hair. It was a bigger shock seeing myself as a blonde than with pink hair, and I couldn't stop looking in the mirror. When she washed out the bleach, she also toned the hair, which is apparently something you have to do to bleached hair. It helps neutralize the brassy orange and yellow undertones that exist in the hair. As it lightens, the hair basically goes from brown to red to orange to yellow to pale yellow. Platinum is the furthest point and the hardest to get to, especially if you are starting with very dark hair, such as myself. In particular, because we were going for a dusty pink, as opposed to a vibrant candy pink, I needed to be an ashy blonde (think, a little more muted), so toning was a very important step. I may be getting some of this wrong, but part of what she used to tone it was blue and purple wash, as blue counteracts the orange undertones and purple counteracts the yellow. Who knew the color-wheel was so important in hair styling?
4. The Process - Part 2
     At this point we took a snack break, because we aren't machines. After food, she set about mixing up the colors. This part, honestly, really drove home for me how much this is a mixture of art and science. There are tons of different hair colors, but she decided to mix her own from the primary colors of a certain hair color line rather than use an off-the-shelf color. She had to take into account the blonde color we were able to get and then mixed three different colors she thought would look good together. I don't think I would be able to do this in a million years. 
What we ended up with was a pink, a peach and a purple. Then, she hand painted my hair with the colors. Again, this involved dividing my hair into one-inch strips, and going over each strip with the three colors. Some strips she would do more of a certain color, so that overall the effect would be more painterly. Again, she was sort of going with her gut here. I can see why having a stylist who is a pro is so important because there are so many places it can probably go sideways. 
     After it was painted, I paced the salon for the roughly half-hour it took for us to wait for the hair color to set in. 
Then she washed it out and......
5. The Big Reveal 
     Tadaaaa. 10 hours later, my new hair emerged. A big learning for me was that hair looks totally different when it is wet than when it is dry. This might be obvious to other people but my hair normally looks basically the same wet or dry. Either way it is dark brown. My pink hair looked awesome when it was wet, but as she started to dry it, and then style it, it looked amazing. We ended up with a sort of berry color, that was pretty dimensional with the lighter peaches and pinks. The curls she put in it were also amazing, completing the look.   
dying hair pink
dying hair pink
Have you ever done vibrant hair color? Would you ever?


  1. Wow, it looks great! I used to want to dye my hair purple, but it wouldn’t fit in at my workplace. I’ve been doing reddish highlights, and it always blows my mind how long the whole process takes. 10 hours, I can’t imagine! What do you talk about with the hairdresser after that long? I feel like I get awkward after a while...

    1. Thank you! The stylist and I had never met but luckily we hit it off and a lot of it was her explaining to me what was going on, which I appreciated.
      I feel like podcasts would be perfect for listening to while getting your hair done if there was some way to practically do it, since you can't have headphones in.