It’s fair to say that I'm a complete coward when it comes to hair. I've had the same hairstlyle with different variations of length since starting secondary school no less than ten years ago and, when you can say you've had the same hair for a decade, you know it’s time for a change!
With this in mind, I’d been keeping an eye on hair trends for a while. Colour seemed to be my only option because, like I said, I’m a wimp and needed something reversible! I wasn't too keen on a whole head of new colour simply because I didn't want the bother of dyeing it back and I did consider ombré hair but there is an issue with that- I knew it would only remind me of my last, and only, travail into the world of hair lightening – highlights at age twelve which I let grow out completely. Trendsetter? Lazy is probably a more apt description, and, sadly, a few photos have survived from that awkward time!
I finally settled on dip-dyeing my tips as there were plenty of pros – if it went horribly wrong I could just have them cut off; as a student it was something I could (hopefully) manage without an expensive trip to the hairdressers; and, finally, it was something which was a bit mad and, sure, wouldn't it truly be a complete disaster if I ended my college career without ever having fluorescent hair at some point? My mother didn't agree on this one...
After I decided what I was going to do, I became borderline obsessive, making myself into what can only be described as a demi-guru on dip dyeing and bleaching in general (funny how I can never do that when it comes to study eh?).
I finally settled on a variation of all the methods I read about, and ordered the supplies online before I could convince myself out of it. The girls were nice enough to give me the little ego boost of asking me to do a step-by-step tutorial for you guys, so here's what I did.
Step 1: What you need
Time: Set an evening aside, the whole process will take around three hours.
Clothing: Wear an old top - trust me on this one!
Baby wipes: Come in handy for spillages.
Stargazer Peroxide Kit 30 Vol: Any powder bleach and mixing medium would do the job. Note: The liquid developer/peroxide mixing medium comes in different “volumes” 10, 20, 30 and 40. Basically, the darker your hair is the higher the volume you need and the stronger the volume is the quicker the bleach works (and easier it is to damage your hair) so it’s important you choose the correct one. I got mine on Amazon.
Tint Brush: One of these comes in the Stargazer Kit.
Plastic gloves: These also come in the kit but are pretty useless so I’d recommend buying some separately from a chemist.
Plastic bowl and a wooden/plastic mixing implement: Also in the kit but you will need a bigger bowl.
Tinfoil cut into 4 inch strips.
Hair Dye: I went with a mix of Paintbox in Pink Flamingo (€10.50 from Terrysales) mixed with La Riche Directions in Violet from Amazon.
Hair clips, hair ties and a hairdryer.
Deep conditioner: Clairol Nice and Easy tubes are around €1.50 in Boots - the red one would work well. I used Wella System Professional Colour Saver mask.
Helper: Would be useful for those bits on the back of your head. I had enlisted the help of my brother, but he ended up being so useless that I did the whole thing myself!
Step 2: Strand Test
Look, I know that we all hear white noise when any form of cosmetic says the words strand and/or skin test, but, this is bleach we’re talking about and I, for one, wouldn't take any risks. Follow steps 3-4 on a piece of hair on the back of your head, you won’t be going near your scalp so a skin test isn't really necessary.
Step 3: Hair Prep
Your hair can be dry or wet, some people say wet hair inhibits the power of the bleach, others say it can add to the ombré effect, since the bleach can diffuse up the strand and give a more gradual effect. I must have changed my mind about 50 times, and eventually settled on dry hair.
I decided I wasn't going to bleach the layers in my hair so I sectioned them out and tied them on top of my head in a little bun. You should then section off and clip up your hair to leave a thin strip of hair all around the base of your head, I began with this first strip and then worked up my head. It’s best to do this before mixing the bleach to avoid wasting time as bleach should be used as quickly as possible.
Step 4: Bleaching
Mix the bleach as directed in a plastic bowl with a wood/plastic utensil. This is where Stargazer falls down, the bowl was far too small and the directions are poor, simply saying “mix together”.
Using my noggin, I mixed half the bottle with one of the two powder sachets and got a paste the consistency of icing, which a quick search on Yahoo Answers told me was fine.One sachet was plenty for my hair, but if you have very thick hair you’ll probably need to use both.
Take a piece of hair around an inch wide and brush on the bleach as in the photo, making sure to cover every hair. Fold the tinfoil up and then over itself on both sides, creating a little package. Repeat all around your head and then gradually move up to the sectioned off hair. Try to work as quickly as possible, because you don’t want to have to wait much longer for the top hairs when the bottom ones are already bleached.
Once you've covered all the hair and end up looking absolutely fab with your head covered in tinfoil, you can blast a hair dryer on the “packages” every 10-15 minutes which helps the bleach work faster.
Stargazer recommends 20-90 minutes for my hair type, after 20 minutes I checked the packages every 10 minutes until they were the colour I wanted at 40 minutes (the lighter your hair, is the more vibrant the colour will be).
I really loved this part. I originally wanted to create a ombré effect with purple transitioning to pink but, I'll be honest, when it came to it, I couldn't be arsed and instead mixed the purple and pink to create a very pinky purple which I think is far nicer than either dye would have been alone.
You can apply this pretty much any way you want, I decided to do it the exact same as the bleach just with larger sections of hair but you could just slather it all over the bleached part and then cover and wait.
I waited half an hour (well I should have but I fell asleep watching Vincent Brown drone on so it was actually an hour for me, not to worry, the colour wont damage your hair!)
Wash out and hay presto, purple tips.
Step 5: Deep condition
Luck would have it that my mammy won a tub of "Wella System Professionals Color Saver Mask" the night before I bleached my hair (coincidences frighten me so, we won’t discuss that!). I applied a generous amount to my tips and being so used to the wonders of tinfoil at this stage I covered it in that, left it for half an hour, washed out and repeated for good measure.
Step 6: Stare at your coloured hair in wonderment.
Couldn't feel like more of an eejit taking this!
I think it’s definitely worth a go, since it’s easily reversed (I'll admit I kept some brown hair dye on stand by!) and my hair honestly doesn’t feel very damaged but this could be down to it being in pretty good condition pre-bleach. If you've had a lot of colour treatments on your hair I would suggest going to a hairdresser.
I’d recommend all the products I used, even Stargazer and its miniature bowl because the results were excellent, it’s cheap and I have enough bleach left to use again.