Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Hair Color Hacks

by Kris Phillips

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of vibrant colors. Take a quick scroll through my portfolio and you’ll see boosted blue skies and amplified saturation throughout. So is it any surprise that you’ll often see the same deep hues on my person? Specifically my Pony Purple hair. Over the last few years dyeing your hair any shade in the rainbow has become more and more main stream.

But achieving and maintaining those crazy colors can be tricky. I get asked all the time about it, so here’s the not so secret process that I cultivated from my husband! Yep, you read that right. HE taught ME how to get & keep that crazy rich color.

First you need to round up your supplies, and preferably a helper. I recommend going to a beauty supply store. You’ll get better quality products and they can help make sure you have all the things.

  • Lightening agent & developer
  • Permanent Color
  • Plastic bowl
  • Rubber gloves
  • A color applicator brush
  • Plastic clips
  • Lots of paper towels
  • Some towels you don’t care about (bonus points if they match your new hair color!)
  • A large plastic cup

Start by separating your hair out to the part that will be dyed and the part that will stay natural. This can be extra tricky if you’ve done this before and you’re trying to keep the previous parts the same. This is the first step where a buddy can come in handy.

To help protect your skin and make clean up a little easier put a light coating of Vaseline over the skin around your hair line. Just don’t get it in your hair or the color wont take.

If you just apply the color to your natural hair, it probably wont show up depending on how dark your natural color is. So the next step is the lightening. Follow the instructions carefully making sure to apply the lightener only the the part of your hair you want to color. Depending on the length of your hair you may be able to do this yourself in the mirror but having a helper do it will make mistakes a lot less likely. Make sure your hair is thoroughly coated with lightener, and missed spots will be pretty obvious. It’s not a bad idea to run a plastic comb through. Once you’re sure it’s coated, the waiting begins. My natural color is pretty dark so I leave the lightener on as long as possible according to the instructions.

Hop in the shower and wash the lightener out using shampoo. So that it’s easier to dry I keep the natural part tied up in a bun the whole time. DO NOT CONDITION.

Blow dry your newly bleached hair. It’s going to be fragile though so be gentle with it but don’t apply any hair products, they may interfere with the dye.

Next step is to mix up your dye. I mix purple & tanzanite because I’m really bad at making time for re-dying and when the purple fades it turns pink, but the tanzanite adds enough blue tones that as my hair color fades it turns blue instead of pink. I’ll admit, I’m lazy and want to get as much life out of my color as possible.

Then go through the same application process as you did with the lightener. Be sure to wipe up any spills ASAP with a paper towel. Once you’re sure it’s thoroughly soaked you can wrap the color in foil. Then wrap a warm towel around your hair. The heat helps open your hairs pores and lets more color in. While the color is setting in my hair I like to clean up all my tools & the sink. Pay extra attention to the floor and check the bottoms of your feet. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve stepped in a spot of dropped dye and tracked it through the house. The find something to kill an hour or two. A glass of wine and a game of cards or a few episodes of your favorite Netflix will go a long way to kill some time. Just don’t forget anything that touches your hair will be forever that color. 

Next step is to rinse all that dye out. It’s not a bad idea to use gloves for the initial part of the rinse, unless you don’t mind scraping that color out from under your nails. Try to keep the water as cool as you can stand. And this time- NO SHAMPOO. The rinse will take forever but just keep working it. You’ll be surprised by how much your shower will look like someone murdered a Care-Bear. This is where that big plastic cup I mentioned earlier comes in. Get that splattered dye-water off your walls & ceiling ASAP! Yes while you’re still rinsing you also want to be rinsing your shower. Once the water looks mostly clean you can go ahead and apply your conditioner. And seriously a lot of it. Do your usual shower stuff, including getting any extra dye off your skin. I use an apricot facial scrub to exfoliate the dye off my neck & shoulders. Cold water is super unpleasant but also super important as it constricts the pores in your hair and helps to seal the new color in. It’s harsh but refreshing!

Your hair has taken a beating, time to show it some love. My final step is Jojoba Oil. I pour about a dime sized drop into my hands then smooth through the newly dyed hair. It will leave it looking a little oily but I’d rather have slightly oily hair than the rough straw feeling. I don’t do this all the time. Just when my hair is feeling pretty rough. And it washes out a couple days later. You can also do it as a hot oil treatment. Apply the oil to dry hair, then braid it and go about your life. When you wash it out it’ll leave your hair soft and shiny. 







You wen’t to a LOT of effort to achieve your new color. How do you keep it?

  • Use a quality color-safe Shampoo & Conditioner.
  • Wash as cool as you can stand. And if you can’t stand to wash your hair with cool water, at least use cool water for final rinse after conditioner
  • Limit heat treatment
  • Limit washing- (I know you’re thinking eeew! ) but most experts agree for people with normal hair washing twice a week is probably sufficient. The more you shampoo the faster your color will go, even if its a color-safe shampoo. Need your hair wet every day? Try just rinsing and leave the shampoo to once a week.
  • Oil treat as needed. All processing is super tough of hair, and lightening is brutal. But necessary if you want to achieve vibrant colors.***Please keep in mind I am NOT a hair stylist. Just someone who hates sitting in a chair for 3 hours while the stylist does their magic. Read the instructions on your products, use common sense, and don’t blame me if something goes totally crazy. And the best advice I ever got, don’t worry it’ll grow back.

** And please forgive the cell phone selfies…no way am I letting my Nikon anywhere near purple dye.



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