When I was 10 years old, my mom let me dye my hair for the first time. My hair is naturally a very light brown. Always the dramatic soul, I wanted to go a very deep red, almost purple. The color I chose was called Egyptian Plum (they renamed the color Burgundy Brown and you can still get it!!) I was hooked. I don’t think my hair has been its natural color since then.
Around the time my first son, Mason, turned one, I dyed my hair black. It was the ultimate color that I had never dared try. It was so permanent, so full of mystery. There was no looking back because bleaching it out was sure to fail.
That was 11 years ago. Recently I had my second son, Paxton, and I knew it was time for a change. I wanted to go full-on bright purple again.
My husband, Joe, and I did some research. We went online to find reviews from people who had tried various brands of purple dye at home and narrowed it down to the one we thought would be best for me. We chose Splat Hair Color in Lusty Lavender:
Looks simple enough, right? Here’s where things get interesting.
1. Bleaching Gone Wrong
The instructions said to mix, apply to ends first, and apply to your roots later. I just applied it all over evenly. Rebel scum!
The instructions also said to use a shower cap to allow an even spread and saturation of the dye. Well, I don’t generally keep shower caps around the house so I shrugged this suggestion off. It said to leave on for a maximum of an hour, so that’s what I did.
I was surprised that it got as much color out as it did. It made my hair a sort of brassy orange color though, so I knew another round of bleaching was necessary.
Joe ran to the store again and purchased another Splat kit because we knew it worked well and bright colors have a tendency to fade, so I figured I’d need the extra color eventually to touch it up.
The next morning, I applied the second bleach kit. It really bleached a lot of the color out, but it was nowhere near as light as I wanted it. It was streaky and there were all kinds of different shades of color. I didn’t want to keep bleaching my hair and I thought that maybe the different shades would give my hair color depth, so I moved on to the next phase: the color.
What can you do to avoid this misstep?:
- Always. Follow. Instructions. Read them before you start dying your hair or you won’t be prepared. Better yet, don’t even try this at home. Just go to a hair dresser!
- Do yourself a favor and buy a shower cap! I like this (cute) pink shower cap from Target!
2. Color, color, everywhere.
The instructions say to thoroughly wash the bleach out of your hair, dry it all of the way, and then apply purple dye. Well, I did sort of rinse out the bleach and I did sort of dry my hair. I was ready to go though because this dye job was taking entirely too much time.
As I put it on, I got this crazy idea that maybe applying both tubes of hair color would make the color more saturated and make it fade less quickly. More is always better, right? Well, it was drenched in goopy dye. Pleased as pie with my quick thinking, I slicked my hair to my head and let it sit.
At this point, I didn’t even glance at the directions anymore. I have dyed my hair for 2/3 of my lifetime so I knew exactly what I was doing. Except, it turns out, I didn’t.
I didn’t see the warning to keep it off of your scalp. My normal black dye just washes out when it gets on my scalp, so I got crazy with it. Really crazy.
I went to wash out my new purple color. Rinse until the water runs clear is the golden rule, so I started rinsing. And rinsing. And rinsing. TWENTY FIVE MINUTES LATER it was still running a vivid hot pink color out of my hair and I had lost all hot water.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got out and looked at my hair. It was, well… different. After I dried it, I took a good look in the mirror.
It was mostly a reddish pink. The roots were dark purple and there was a kaleidoscope of colors on my head. It really didn’t upset me too much because it actually looked… cool. It looked like the pictures you see on the internet of crazy cool dye jobs.
Once I looked closer, however, I noticed some purple funk on my hairline. Upon further investigation, I noticed that my scalp was completely purple and it looked disgusting! I tried using my fingernails to remove some of it and it was not budging.
What can you do to avoid this misstep?:
- Wash the bleach out of your hair! I am almost certain that residual bleach caused the purple to lighten.
- If you want to have a solid color, make sure you bleach your hair evenly by, you guessed it, following the directions in the first step!
- Want to retain your natural scalp color? Listen when it says to avoid direct contact with your scalp.
- If you don’t need two applications of hair dye, don’t use two applications of hair dye! It takes ages to rinse out.
3. Residual Dye Damage
At this point, I’d like to stop and take a second to talk about the random side effects I experienced. You know, those little things that just put the icing on the cake of disaster?
The first problem was my pillow cases. Sleeping on my pillows at night in a very humid city equals hot pink stains on my pillow cases. That were from my Grandma. And used to be off-white. Mmmm.
Let’s not forget the collars and necklines of my shirt. If you sweat slightly, you get pretty pink dye all over your clothing. Last, my hands. Any time I touched my head or dried my hair, my hands and fingernails were stained a faint purple/pink color. Hot.
What can you do to avoid this misstep?:
- Make sure your water runs clear. I don’t care if you ran out of hot water 30 minutes ago. If you don’t want staining, rinse it out completely.
- If you accidentally happen to stain something, I do want to let you know that it washes out with this particular dye. You need to wash it quickly though, and with hot water.
4. Enter the Fade
Happy with my accidental outcome, I showed off my hair for three days before I did my first wash. I went in to the shower with high hopes and began scrubbing my scalp vigorously to get some of that stain out of my scalp. Once again, the water never truly ran clear.
When I got out and looked in the mirror, I noticed it was substantially lighter. The pink that was once the majority of the color was now a brassy red color and the purple was now a very deep pink.
Not only was the color fading at an alarming rate, my scalp was peeling. The dye was not washing out, my skin was shedding the dye off!
I left it alone for two more days and washed it again. Now there was hardly any pink left at all and all I was left with was a reminder of my terrible bleach job. More than anything I wanted the comfort of my black hair again. So I did it- I went straight back to my old friend: black hair dye.
When it was over, the beautiful even coat of color made me feel at ease. It was as if I was at war for a week and now the silence of finality set in. I had peace at last.
5. The Damaging Effects
As you can imagine, my hair was so brittle that it started falling out. I have very thick hair naturally so it made my hair thin but not noticeably so. My hair is something I pamper endlessly, so I started panicking.
Because I don’t work anymore, I can’t afford my usual fancy hair products so we had to head to Target and see if we could find something to undo some of this wreck.
After rummaging through countless options, my husband actually found the one we chose to purchase. The back literally reads:
Specially formulated for damaged, over-processed and chemically treated hair.
That’s exactly what I needed! We chose L’Oréal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm. I took it home, left it in my hair for about five minutes, and stood there stroking my hair in awe at the silky glory afterwards. Finally, something that went completely right in all of this.
(Update: I had an awesome opportunity to test out some more L’Oréal products to further repair my hair! It was ah-may-zing!)
Would I change this experience? No way! I learned a really important lesson here. What is my last piece of advice for you?
… or just go to a professional. You knew that was coming, didn’t you? Have any hair color experiences you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments and tell me. I’d love to hear them!This story about a purple hair dye fail just made me #LOL! Click To Tweet