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Creating Dramatic Special Effects Using Hair Color, Page 2

Dramatic Hair Color Using Commercial Bleach and Hair Color

Now, if you have dark hair and are willing to go with the chemical napalm method of dyeing, how do you unleash your inner rebel by adding special effects to your hair?

You will need several tools to do this job right: a comb, tinting brush, a plastic bowl, rubber gloves and petroleum jelly. Unless your hair is fairly light blonde, you will also need something with which to bleach the heck out of your hair, and if your hair is really long and/or really thick, you might need two boxes.
I used Feria's Extra Bleach Blonding, which I extensively researched first in order to find something that I knew would work well on my very dark hair, and it certainly did. Oh no, heh heh, you thought I was actually going to recommend that you use that, right? Nuh uh, you won't catch me actually recommending someone else use a bad-for-your-hair product that easily, I wasn't born yesterday you know. In fact, we needn't discuss exactly *when* I was born at all, thankyouverymuch. Let's just assume I'm younger than your mother. Uh... grandmother. Maybe. Let's just say I'm old enough to know this kind of stuff is really bad for your hair and I don't recommend you ever bleach it with anything if you want your hair to stay in top condition. But since you're still reading, I will tell you of all the color-lifting chemicals I have used on my hair over the decades, this stuff has lifted my natural color more effectively than anything else I have ever used, but you should think really hard about taking this drastic step unless you keep your hair short and cut it often, or it is in strong and healthy condition to begin with. Bleaching fragile, damaged hair is literally begging for disaster.

Assuming I have not sent you screaming into the night at this point, lastly you will need your color. There are many different brands of hair dye for this purpose: Special Effects, Manic Panic or Punky Colour will all work well. You can use more than one shade if you like, or even mix them to make your own color, but it's best to stick with one brand per application. If your hair is thick or long and you're doing your whole head, you might want to get at least two bottles just to make sure you're covered. OK, grab your nerve and let's do it!

1. This is really important, so pay attention. Do a patch test to make sure you aren't going to react to the heavy-duty peroxide you are about to subject your hair and skin to. Even if you've dyed your hair before it's still important to do a patch text because allergies you never had before can develop over time. You soooo do not want to find out you are sensitive to these products after the fact! Be sure to follow the patch test directions in the box of bleach you are going to use.

2. You'll definitely need to to do strand tests (refer to the directions under "Using Food Coloring to Add Temporary Hair Color" on page one), going through the entire process in the directions with the products you are using so you can make sure you end up with the perfect shade of vampire red or whatever color you're after. When you are doing the strand test for the bleach, if at any time you notice any breakage stop what you're doing immediately! Your hair is not in good enough condition to use this method and you are headed for heartbreak. Even worse, when all your hair breaks off over the course of the next couple months you'll end up hating me, and frankly I just can't deal with that level of guilt.

3. Assuming all is good at this point and your hair seems to be handling the bleaching process well, when you're happy with the color and timing as predicted by your strand tests, you're all ready to go. Follow the hair bleach directions carefully and do not leave it on your hair longer than the recommended time or you will risk doing very serious, irreparable damage to your hair; however, do make sure you achieve the maximum lightening you can using the product you chose or your final results may not be as vibrant as you wanted them to be.

4. Now that your hair is lightened and a shocking shade of blonde, it's time to add the color. Again you will want to follow the directions that came with your specific brand and make sure that you completely saturate the hair you want to dye using your tint brush. You have more leeway here, you can even leave the color on your hair a little longer than the product says is necessary if you want it really vibrant. You can also wrap your head in plastic and then a warm towel, or sit in the sun. The heat will make the color last longer. Keep in mind that you must not wrap your hair or apply any kind of heat during the bleaching process, you can only do this during the coloring process!
After your hair is dyed, be sure to use a really great shampoo and deep conditioner (again, you may want to treat yourself and your hair to the fabulous and very good-for-your-hair organic hair care products from JustNatural, and maybe, just maybe, your hair will forgive you). Rinse, rinse, rinse until the water runs clear and be sure to wrap your newly dyed hair in an old towel you don't mind staining. Don't wear light colors until you've washed your hair at least one more time, which should be after as long as you can stand to wait to wash it again.

Make sure you condition every time you shampoo and use your deep conditioner several times in the near future to help prevent the damage that may result from the peroxide you used on your hair, and at least once a month thereafter. You might also want to seriously consider using a really great leave-in conditioner as well. Once you start using peroxide, you really need to do everything you can to keep your hair strong and healthy.
Emerald Green Hair Color
Photo courtesy of Dundee Photographics of freedigitalphotos.net

Hints and Tips for Getting the Perfect Special Effect Hair Color

I can't stress this enough: if you have used a product containing peroxide to color your hair, your hair will be much more fragile than it was before and much more prone to irreparable damage. Even if you haven't used peroxide, it's still important to be absolutely sure to deep condition your hair often and treat it extremely gently. You'll find a veritable wealth of information regarding keeping very long hair healthy in our award winning article, The Ultimate Guide to Growing Long Hair and for those with shorter locks, our Ultimate Guide to Healthy Hair: Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Hair Healthy at any Length.

Less is more. Choose a vivid contrast. Take time deciding just how dramatic you want your color change to be. If you have to color correct, it will be costly and can cause severe hair damage. Don't use inferior chemical dyes or take on a project like this impulsively, both can lead to major hair disaster.

Approach this as if you are creating self-epressive art. All art takes thorough thought and consideration and will be subpar if you rush through it; this is something of which I am intimately aware. If you are unsure about anything, consult a professional stylist!

The first time you do this consider just doing a streak or your bangs so you can live with both the style and color choice for a bit before you do something as drastic as doing your entire head of hair. More importantly, you'll also get a good idea of how your hair is going to react to hardcore peroxide if that's the hair dyeing method you choose to go with. You will rarely regret erring on the side of caution with something as important to your self-esteem and emotional well-being as your hair. Approach dyeing your hair cautiously and patiently and you will greatly improve the chances of getting exactly what you hoped for and loving your results. It's exceedingly easier to add to your dramatic special effects than it will ever be to correct hair coloring mistakes after the fact. It can mean the difference between living with a streak you're not wild about for a little while to having to do something as extreme as cutting off an entire head of severely damaged hair.

If you end up with something you hate (which you shouldn't if you're patient and have read everything above), remember that hot oil treatments will help to speed along the process of removing any form of hair color, it will even desaturate permanent color a bit. That being said, if you used the bleaching method, I strongly suggest you see a professional colorist to have your color corrected or you risk doing devastating damage to your hair (not with the hot oil, but with any other method you might consider, like dyeing over the new color).

It is always important to consider skin tone when choosing hair color, even when you are using unnatural colors. Make sure the color you choose plays up your natural beauty. Your hair shouldn't fight your skin tone. Whether you are looking for a wild or conventional change, the color has to complement your complexion and a mistake here could lead to uber disaster. Just because you feel emerald green doesn't mean green will make the best color choice for your skintone. Your ultimate look shouldn't only reflect what you are trying to express from the inside but it also has to make some sense with who you are on the outside. Our Hair Jewelry Color Chart can be very useful to get some idea of which colors will work with your skin tone based on your natural hair color but it's not a hair color bible, there are always other things to consider. Use common sense and ask like-minded people you trust to give you their opinion of what colors work best for you. You can even try holding favorite pieces of clothing close to your face and consider carefully how they work with your complexion to help you make the right hair color decision. To help make you even more sure of your ultimate hair color choice, do this in several different lighting conditions.

For those with light hair and peach-toned skin, the best hair color options include carrot orange, copper, rust, brick red, fire engine red, and burgundy. Icy platinum, cool blue, deep royal blue, spruce green, violet, blue-red, plum, deep purple and magenta hues tend to complement those with darker hair and olive or red skintones. These are only guidelines, go with what works best for you!

Layered coloring is a very dramatic option. Your natural shade becomes the base color and is left alone at the sides and back. A large top portion of your hair is gathered and bleached out to hold a severely contrasting color in the middle. You'll promenade in the world as a fashion sensation with an angular, very dramatic look.

If you're really bold and want to express the fearlessness in your personality, try doing streaks in different but complementary or contrasting colors. You'll find an artist's color wheel extremely useful for finding colors that work together perfectly, and you can even use it to create your very own personal colors by mixing shades together (I wouldn't recommend mixing more than one brand of color together however, and be sure you record your color ratios so you can duplicate your color again in the future).

If you want to create a gradient effect to achieve the very popular monotone ombré hair look, color the entire strand of hair and leave the color on only long enough to take and hold the color of the lightest tint you want. Rinse your hair and following the directions of the hair dye you are using, repeat the process, keeping the color off the top third of the strand of hair and completely covering it to the ends. Rinse your hair and repeat the process only on the bottom third of your strand. Your hair will now have an ombre effect of light aqua blue, to vibrant aqua, to deep Capri blue (or whatever hues would apply to your chosen color). Very unique and definitely not the look for those weak of heart (or those who don't have the extreme patience to take the time to do this right)! Keep in mind that to do this, you will also have to pay very careful attention to the exact timing your strand test gives you to get each successive shade you want.

Remember that all these methods of special effect hair dyeing are temporary (or semi-permanent in the case of the peroxide method), except the actual bleaching of your hair, which will be permanent until it either grows out or is dyed another color. Though using a vibrantly colored commercial dye will stay in your hair much longer than Kool-Aid or food coloring will, the color will still have to be refreshed occasionaly or you'll end up with that bleach blonde hue again eventually. Using shampoo and conditioner that is intended for colored hair will help you keep the color longer than if you use other types of hair products (and if you've gone for a red shade, using shampoo and conditioner meant for auburn hair that will deposit a bit of red every time you use it will extend the hold of your color as well).

And lastly, do not tell your mother where you learned to do this. I will deny everything.

Special Effect Hair Color as Art

When you choose and apply special effect hair dye correctly as outlined above, your reward will be an entirely unique look; an expression of your inner being. This is your chance to be whomever you always wanted to be that life has never given you the chance to be. Who lurks deep inside you? A prima ballerina, an ancient Japanese ghost, an autumnal sugar maple, a vibrant spring iris? How does your soul want to express who you are? Once you've answered those questions and carefully followed this tutorial, your hair will reflect your innermost self and will become your own very special form of expressive artwork, one that beautifully and boldy represents the real you.

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