Punk Hair Color: Don’t Try This At Home!

Punk Hair Color: Don’t Try This At Home!

Ever wanted to try a more adventurous hair color? It’s more work than you think! Having rainbow-colored hair is one of the most high-maintenance styles you can have. Here are some facts to know before you take the plunge!
‘Punky’ colors (those vibrant unnatural shades) are a completely different type of hair color from what we use as professionals to create your typical blondes, brunettes, and redheads. Regular hair color is used in part with developer to soften and swell the hair strand, allowing it to open up and permanently color the hair from within. This is also what prevents the color from fading completely, leaving a line of demarcation as the hair grows out.

Punky colors on the other hand are not permanent, nor do they change the natural color of hair. They are truly semi-permanent colors, generally sourced from vegetable dyes, which are not mixed with a developer, but instead act as a surface stain to the hair. That is why the hair needs to be pre-lightened ahead of time to ensure that the color will be vivid. That being said not all shades require the same ammount of pre-lightening.

Here is a good reference photo of the stages of lightening that your hair will go through. The underlying pigment in hair at it’s darkest (black or dark brown) is red, and as the hair is lighter so is the underlying pigment. This is how girls with dark brown hair can get highlights that end up looking orange or brassy if the hair isn’t lightened enough or toned afterwards to neutralize the red/orange tones.

When pre-lightening hair it’s good to imagine the color wheel to help determine how light the hair needs to be beforehand. If you want your hair to be a dark purple shade, you can pre-lighten your hair to an orange shade, as the violet tones will help neutralize the yellow but the hair will still be light enough to show the purple.

If you want bright blue hair, you have to lighten your hair to a more platinum shade, if your hair is too yellow it will make the blue turn greenish. The same goes for a pale pink shade, too much yellow will make it look more orange. Katy Perry is a great example of the importance of pre-lightening your hair to the proper shade before putting on the punky color.

Here is a photo of her hair after her colorist started taking her dyed black hair to blonde, trying to lighten it as much as possible in preparation for pink hair. You can see the noticeable difference between how light her hair is at the roots compared to the ends. Also notice how brassy the tones are in her hair overall. The darker ends are due to all the overlapping black color from previous dye jobs.

And here is the result of putting the pink color over that blonde. You can see how her ends are still darker, making the difference from the cooler toned pink at the roots look more reddish on the ends from the existing orange tones. After the pink color her stylist cut her hair shorter, made it a lighter shade of blonde, and then took her hair to a more electric blue. You can see how this time her hair was lightened more evenly resulting in a better and brighter shade!

So now that you know what it takes in terms of lightening your hair to the proper shade, you need to ask yourself – is it worth the maintenance? If you’re doing an all-over shade you’ll have to come in for a bleach and tone every 4-5 weeks, if you wait any longer than that your hair will end up with bands of darker shades where it’s grown too far from the scalp to lighten as evenly. If you are just doing a couple highlight pieces you can wait longer, but also know that the color stain itself only lasts about a month before it washes out, and it doesn’t wash out completely for every shade, remember it’s a hair STAIN. If your hair is pre-lightened to platinum and you want to do a pastel purple or blue, it will eventually wash out of your hair completely leaving your hair a more ashy-white tone. If you go more vibrant it probably won’t wash out all the way. If you try to wash out pink it will hold on to the red tones and leave your hair a peachy or salmon tone. If you dye your hair green it will wash out a not-so-cute shade of yellow with a green tinge. We’re not trying to persuade you to avoid these colors, because let’s face it, we LOVE them! However, we want to educate clients considering this route to understand what is involved and how to properly keep the look trendy, not trashy. With all that being said, having at least a small streak of color from time to time can be a fun change for your hair! Also, for those of you who want to add a pop of color without the damage or commitment we also have punky colored bonded-in extensions! They don’t damage your hair at all and last several months on average, so this can be a great option for clients who want to maintain the integrity of their natural hair.

If you’re curious about having vibrant hair color, the best thing to do is talk to your stylist about the different levels of commitment needed for different colors and your realistic ability to keep up with the maintenance. There are many ways to incorporate these great color options into your hair, but let us help you choose the right option for your lifestyle and budget. Please, do NOT try bleaching your hair at home. Many of the worst and most costly color corrections we have to perform are due to improperly performed bleach jobs. Even for trained professionals, lightening the hair consistently from roots to ends, and without over-processing the hair takes years to master. Please take good care of your hair by leaving your complex coloring projects to us! In the long run, your hair, and your pocketbook will thank you for it!