Artists like Katy Perry and Kesha have flaunted a literal rainbow of hair colors, but don’t let their forever-changing styles (and team of personal stylists) fool you into thinking that dyeing your hair a similar hue will be easy. There are tons of glamorous, colorful locks on Instagram, Tumblr, and so on, but as this set of rainbow hair pics revealed, a lot goes on behind-the-scenes of a really great selfie.
So what’s it really like to have crazy colorful hair? It’s pretty cool, but it also comes with its own set of not-so-cool problems. I understand the struggle well, because I recently ombre’d my black hair into an evergreen-y, teal color. (Shout-out to Lataye from New York City’s Fox & Jane Salon for tolerating my gazillion questions and nervousness about the bleaching and dyeing process.)
It looks awesome, doesn’t it? The streak of blue-green permanently splattered on the wall next to my shower disagrees. Here’s what you need to know before sitting in the salon chair or opening that box of hair dye:
The color fades within days.
That sassy color retains its original vibrancy for approximately four or five days — if you’re lucky, over a week — until it dulls thanks to the lethal combo of shampoo and conditioner. Even if you use color-safe products, the color won’t last nearly as long as you hope it will. If you’re lucky, it’ll fade to a still-awesome color. If you’re less than lucky, it’ll look like you spent all day soaking your ’do in chlorine.
The color stains everything.
Your pillowcase and towels will never be the same again. When your hair is freshly dyed, it’ll bleed color for the next few washes. Keep your wet hair away from anything white, especially your favorite t-shirts.
If you dye your hair red, your shower will look like a crime scene.
bloodred everywhere. Buy some bleach and get a’scrubbbing unless you want to lose your security deposit.
To keep your hair from fading, you need to wash it in cold water…
This is especially painful in the winter. Eventually you’ll give up and get touch-ups more often rather than face one more freezing shower.
…and you can’t wash it as often.
This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have more time to sleep in instead of showering in the morning. On the other hand, dry shampoo only goes so far.
Gloves are a must.
These are especially important if you’re dyeing your hair at home. It takes an eternity to get dye off stained hands, and even styling your wet hair can leave tinges of color behind on your skin and nail beds.
Your natural hair color dictates how much work your crazy color is.
If you’re naturally blond, congratulations! You can dye your hair any color with the least amount of effort, because it’s always easier to dye hair darker rather than lighter. If you have dark hair, the color won’t show up without a generous dose of bleach. It may take multiple rounds of bleaching — in my case, it took three — before your hair is light enough for the color to adhere to.
Bleach and split ends are BFFs.
You probably already know bleach isn’t good for your hair, but you don’t realize how bad it actually is until you feel dead straw — OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration — where your hair used to be. Bleach makes your hair thinner, easier to break, and knottier. It’s difficult for me to find a strand that doesn’t end in a split end now, and it takes me double the time to brush out the knotty mess.
Because your hair is extra-delicate now, you need to take extra care of it.
Heat styling adds to whatever damage your hair is already dealing with. Proceed with caution.
Crazy colors require patience and commitment.
If your hair requires multiple rounds of bleaching, you need to wait several weeks in between each one. Don’t expect to walk into a salon with a color in mind and walk out an hour later with bright blue hair.
Pastel hair is one of the most difficult looks to achieve.
Hairstylists are even warning their clients to stay away from DIY pastel hair dyes.
Some colors are impossible to get out completely.
My hairdresser told me that once I go green, my hair will stay some vague shade of green until I cut it off. It’s a good thing I really, really love green.
But it’s all worth it! We promise.
When you shake out your hair and it’s that perfect badass shade of purple, green, blue, pink, you name it, you’ll feel like angels came down and blessed your hair. Look out, world, nothing can stop you now.