nine truths about having dyed hair

I’ve written more than a handful of posts about dyeing your hair. My guide on maintaining dyed hair remains number one in my popular posts even years after first hitting publish. Hair dye is kinda my thing (…or at least one of my things.) I’ve had the idea for this post for a while now, even had multiple drafts of it going. I can’t imagine myself without fun colored hair but it definitely has some annoying quirks. Here’s a list of things I’ve learned along the way, and things you might want to consider before making the leap…

Nine truths about having dyed hair…

Everyone has an opinion. Is it always a good one? NOPE. The first thing that comes to mind upon typing this is “you were prettier with ~insert color here~ hair.” Of course, unwanted opinions aren’t something exclusive to dyed hair but I genuienly think some folks are clueless how much those comments hurt.

It never lasts that long. There are lots of things you can do to help your color last longer (I wrote a post about it here) but the fact of the matter is those amazing dye jobs you see on instagram don’t last. Hair dye fades with every single wash. Dyeing your hair is more like a journey than a destination. The color will always be changing. You have to learn to just roll with it, and embrace the fade.

It might not turn out as planned. You can swoon over pretty hair photos on pinterest forever but there’s a good chance that even with the same dye that person used your hair won’t turn out the same color. There are so many variables that effect the color your hair will turn out.

You’re probably going to hear dumb jokes. “Lemme guess, you’re Irish!” Someone at the grocery store the other morning even said “Are you SURE it’s not for St. Patrick’s Day?” Orange hair is automatically for Halloween, and for some reason when I had blue hair I was asked multiple times if it was for New Years Day.

You WILL get stared at.  Point blank. Don’t think you’ll be blending into the crowd anytime soon! You’ll probably even get shouted at too. Can’t count how many times someone has screeched at the top of their lungs how much they liked my hair. Sounds nice… until everyone and their momma is staring at you.

You look like everyone else. Well, not really but with your pink hair as an identifier to strangers, you definitely look like that other person with pink hair. I can’t even tell you how many times I got strangers claiming I looked like Katy Perry when I had blue hair… except I literally look nothing like Katy Perry.

Me or Katy Perry? The world may never know.

 ▴ You’re going to stain things. Your pillow case, towels, probably the collar of your white shirt and definitely your finger nails. That’s just life. It washes out, most of the time. Some brands are worse than others but even the best dye will still inevitably get on things other than your hair.

It’s a conversation starter. People will want to tell you about that time they tried to dye their hair pink but it “didn’t work” or their cousin with purple hair. They’ll want to know who did your hair, and maybe if you’ll do theirs too. Also, I’ve been asked multiple times, each time by a dirty old man, “does the carpet match the drapes?” Ick!

“Semi-permanent” doesn’t mean it washes out. Dyed hair is a commitment. Your hair will never be the same again. I’m not saying that to scare you. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But just know that without the help of professional your hair isn’t going to be brown or blond after a few washes. Sometimes it’s really just smarter to buy a wig or colored extensions.

Fellow candy colored hair people, anything else you’d add to this list?

If you’re looking for some tips on bleaching and dyeing, check out my hair master post

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  • Love it, this is so true! 🙂
    I’ve tried a few colors over the last years though I was never as commited as you! I would just dye the tips of my hair and then eventually cut them off 🙂 I’ve tried the silver/granny look last year. I loved it but my hair didn’t. All that bleaching plus that aggressive silver shampoo, eventually I just let it fade out. Now I’ve gone back to copper, really love that color and I feel like it’s just “me”. The color is not as aggressive, but it’s still very hard to keep it vibrant.
    Just like you, I can’t imagine myself without colored hair anymore 🙂

    I’ve been reading your blog for many years now and I loved all your different hair colors!
    Greetings from Germany <3

  • Nice points!
    I’d like to add that my vibrant hair sometimes bring smiles. I had people telling me “Thank you” for brightening their days with my colorful hair! And a few kids asking me if I were a super hero / mermaid / princess 🙂

  • I get kids asking me if I’m a mermaid or a fairy. When I had purple hair I got asked about the fairy thing a lot. That actually might be one of my favorite things about having “fantasy” colored hair. I love that it’s a conversation starter. I also get the “It looks good on you, but I would NEVER do it…” (which comes out sounding more like an insult than a compliment).
    I haven’t had to deal with the dirty old man comments yet (thank God! I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with that!! ICK, indeed!) but I’ve dealt with baptist grandparents saying, “God made you with brown hair for a reason, maybe it should stay that way…”

    • YES! I love when kids look at me in awe or say “Mommy, I want green hair!!” It’s the best.

      I definitely get the “I would never do it…” thing a lot too!

  • Probably similar to number one – I get ‘why don’t you dye your hair *this * colour instead?’ – kind of like saying they don’t like my current colour but their choice would be better. It’s usually family who say that to me and it’s… Irksome!

  • Usually I get unwanted comments from elderly people while I’m out and about. My favorite so far is “Honey, you must not have many friends”. I try not to be rude in return, and usually just walk away. I’ve tried all the colors under the sun, much like you and I can confirm this list is well thought out 🙂 Love these posts!

  • Why does everyone always ask “why?”!! That’s the number one question I get… why did I dye my hair purple? “Because I wanted to” seems rude, so I’ve perfected the one-sentence answer about expressing myself. 🙂

  • I have had blue-green hair for the past 5 or 6 years now. I still get a ton of comments at my work even though EVERYONE has seen it this way for years! When people make comments, I try to respond with “Thanks! My hair color makes me happy!” or “Well I hope your hair color make you as happy as mine does for me!” or something like that. That either shuts them up or they respond in a more positive way after that. Once people realize that they are being kind of rude (especially with the “it looked better before” comments) and that I do my hair like this because it brings me joy, they tend to back off a bit.

    I think it’s important for everyone to remember that people modify parts of themselves or change their style up and have fun with appearance for more reasons than just to get everyone to look at them. It’s not all about everyone else! I do my hair and wear funky clothes sometimes because I enjoy it and I hope people that choose to live their life differently than me make their choices because it makes them happy too!

    Also, is it just me or do the little loose hairs that fall all over the bathroom when you are brushing your hair drive you crazy when you have colored hair? They leave long thin streaks of color all over the sink and tub!! So much cleaning!!!

    • Oh my gosh, how could I forget to mention that!? It’s gross enough when hair is left in the sink or shower but it’s so much worse when it leaves a little reminder that it was there.

  • People also make assumptions of your favourites. You’r hair colour must be your favourite colour and you must be fan of Sanni (she’s apparently a Finnish singer with blue hair and alternative looking celebrities are rare here). I also get those carpet-drape comments from older men every time I dye red. Ew!

    While I still remember, I was thinking of you when I saw this dog tooth fabric:
    I thought you might like it. 🙂

  • Oh gosh, the “I could never do that!” comments are the worst. Sometimes I straight up just tell people “Oh, actually you can, you just have to do it. Your hair will grow back.” Also is “you’re so brave” a compliment or an insult? I can never tell!

  • Much like tattoos, people think colorful hair is an invitation for touching without asking permission. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve found myself standing in line somewhere and suddenly some person I have never before seen or spoken to is combing their hands through my hair.

    • It’s incredible how many people do that!

      One time, before I got my earlobes reconstructed, a lady was very politely asking me about my ears. She asked what they looked like without jewelry so I showed her… and then she jammed her fingers into my ear. WHAT? Why!?!

  • Once I worked as a volunteer at a festival in a 150-200 person group, and there was one girl who had blue hair. Everybody was mistaking us for each other, because I had green hair at that time. We don’t look the same at all, even our hair were different shades, and still they couldn’t look past the first surprise of colourful hair… Oh and another time, an old man in the street yelled at me “CANARY HEAD!” even though I still had green hair 😀 but having fantasy hair is fun, no matter the rude people.

  • I would say just in general to do research before you try and do it yourself, that boxed candy colors NEVER work and will damage your hair very badly, and be careful with home use of professional/harsh chemicals if you’ve never done it before. Join a Rainbow Color Group on FB or something for help. And upkeep is totally doable! Don’t get discouraged if your color fades after one wash and use products that care for your hair and your new color.

  • I’d add the cost/time of maintaining your hair. I stopped dying my hair a few years ago, mostly because of the cost (about a good 50-80$ a month at home / 200$ if you go to the hair salon) and having to take a day (or two) each month to do it.

    Bleach… just bleach… 🙄

    Keeping your hair medium length because 1- less products, less expensive and less damaged ends. 2- easier to have an even color.

    Am i right? 😉

    • Yep! When I dyed my hair all over a “normal” ish colour it’s like £5-10 for a box at home. It was £30 when I had normal highlights and £45 when I had bright pink. As the girlies in the salon said, depending on how the bleach/lighter takes affects your overall colour. Because my hair is naturally a dark brown, there was no guarantee it would go light enough for the pink in the first place. One of my friends has naturally black hair and was told by the salon she went to that they wouldn’t be able to do her hair because of how the lighter/bleach could wreck her hair before they even got it light enough to take the colour dye.

  • I currently have bright red ribbon highlights in my light brown hair, and I LOVE IT. This is the second time I’ve done it, and my hair holds red colour like a two year old holds a lollipop: FOREVER. It’s amazing, and I love having a little pop of colour while skirting the stigma some folks have about people with dyed hair (“Their hair is bright red so clearly they are just a sassy attention-seeker who doesn’t know what they’re talking about” Nah dude, hair dye is not an indicator of intelligence level. I’m still just as smart, and even sassier, than I was a week ago with brown hair. I’m a library professional, and this unfounded stigma could potentially damage my reputation, unfortunately, so for now I’ll stick to ribbon highlights).

    And if I may: you are SO ADORABLE in the photo with blue hair and the mustard dress. I always think you’re fun and cute and smart and hilarious, but I squeed a bit when I saw that photo!

  • the first time i dyed my hair blue, i was a teen working at CVS. a child saw me and said, “BLUE hair?!?!” in this way like her entire perception of what is possible in the world had changed. her mom immediately dragged her away before i could say anything, but it’s still my favorite reaction 🙂

  • I have been bleaching my black hair and dying it pastel colors too. Unfortunately for me, my scalp is sensitive so when I redo my roots I try not to get too close the scalp. And I usually have to pick a day where I am free so I can relax after my husband help me bleach it because I get giant headaches from it.

    I would like know what your experience is in bleaching your roots. Do you find it as frustrating as I do? Do you some time want to give up? I always find that half way through bleaching I ask why I put myself through this pain, but then I tell myself just to be patient and get through it.

    For two years I have kept up with my roots, but I have not bleached it for a few months now and am going purple ombré, letting my black roots show, because I have gotten tired of bleaching my roots and dealing with the pain. I’m considering redoing my roots again.

    I would love to know your thoughts on doing touch up on your roots.

  • It’s awkward when you’re using a dating site as it makes you easily recognizable at the grocery store when you cross the guy who you never replied to. Oops.

    Also, some people are scared of you or ask annoying questions such as: does it glow in the dark? 🤦🏻‍♀️

  • I went for very bright pink hair this time last year but got like the bottom 1/3 done so it had missed the annoying roots stage. It lasted about two weeks and was nearly already gone. It went a lovely pale candy floss pink instead once it had washed out so that was great. My foster son helped me home dye it a second time that time it was a purple colour. Now I’ve had a trim so it’s only about the bottom inch or so that is still different colours to my natural hair. Would I do it again? Maybe. Did I like the attention it brought me? Not always. One little girl at church asked me why I had dyed it pink lol.

  • Girl, you have been my inspiration! I had been dreaming of dying my hair something different than everyone else I saw since I was a kid and found out what hair dye was. Finding your blog and hair care posts finally pushed me over the edge and I’ve never looked back! I mostly stick with purple because it’s my favorite. Along with your mention that everyone has a comment, it seems like 90% who say something also ask how to keep the color vibrant. They tried it and it didn’t work for them. Sometimes I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to chat, and sometimes I’m having a rough day and don’t feel like talking. I try to be polite but it’s sometimes hard when someone expects you to have a full conversation about your hair care routine lol. I love your blog and following you on other social media platforms. Thanks for being amazing and sharing your life with us!

  • Great Tips 😀
    I have been dying my hair for as long as I can remember love the fun colors they can make you very creative the questions are so true though I have been asked about my red color all the time, for the most part, I have received compliments. I remember when I moved into my cookie cutter neighborhood years ago I was the only one who had colored hair & tattoos, the looks I would get now its the norm here in Irvine Ca hahaha
    Love Your Posts Doll

  • Well my hair isn’t candy-colored, but it is very obviously not a natural hue(s) so I hope it’s still okay for me to weigh in. The stares and comments truths ring so, so true for me!! Usually the comments are very nice, but my favorite is when I see little kids staring at me–they’re clearly wondering how my hair does that, LOL.

    I’ve been having my hair dyed with Level 3 permanent color since I was 15 (my mother had a pretty relaxed approach to hair…) and for me, Truth #1 is “It’s not a hairdo, it’s a lifestyle.” It really changes everything from what colors I wear to how I care for my bathroom linens and fixtures to avoid ruining stuff! My runner-up truth has to be “Thou Shalt Not Wash It Every Day,” because that’s cruel and unusual punishment for vibrantly-colored hair. 😉

    Your hair is fabulous, and you pull off every candylicious color here beautifully. Keep on rockin’ it!

    • “It’s not a hairdo, it’s a lifestyle.” SO SO SO TRUE. It sounds so dumb and pretentious but at the same time it’s honestly true.

  • People will remember who you are. You’re the purple (or insert other color here!) haired person so they remember you even though you have no idea what their name is or why you know them!

    • Hahah! Yes, I always wonder how many people just see me around and recognize me because my hair is so obnoxious!

  • Most amazing comment I’ve gotten was from some women I really admire professionally. They are at the pinnacle of their careers and commented that I was sending a fantastic signal to women and others in the company I work for to be themselves. By noting my influence, they made me notice that I’d “arrived” a bit more than I’d realized in my own career and really made it feel special not only as a way to let my freak flag fly but in also letting others know its valuable to be themselves!

  • Trust me, it is even creepier when an old lady with orange hair like mine at the time asked “does the carpet match the drapes?”, started giggling and telling me about her current situation “down under”. Happened to me twice, and was actually considered a factor in my decision to dye my hair bright orange again.

  • My favorite is when (small) kids whisper-yell “Mommy, that girl has PINK HAIR!” And then the poor parent gets all embarrassed, but I don’t mind. I mean, its true, after all! It’s ok, parent, don’t be embarrassed, they just told the truth, and I probably made their day!
    I *used* to get a lot of anger-glaring and catty whispers from seniors, especially women. But that all stopped a few years ago, and now the trend is that they’re the most complimentary, and sometimes want to talk about if they could pull it off.
    I could not agree more with your point about dyeing being a journey, not a destination! It’s just a fact. A fact I actually take advantage of, adding adding a dab of conditioner to my demi dyes to make them even *less* permanent, bc I like to change color so often! I’m rather known for it, actually. Whenever I meet new people, they spend the first couple months going “your hair is a different shade, isn’t it?” every time they see me, until they realize it’s probably gonna be, at least a little bit, literally every time we meet!

  • It has helped me more than once get food! Food to car drop offs, meeting friends at restaurants, making sure you get your Starbucks order. It’s the key descriptive tool that everyone uses. Whoopiee. Even if i was wearing a flourescent yellow dress with lobsters on it, it’s THE HAIR. There should be a crazy hair discrimination forum. Like it’s not natural so everyone can get in on making you feel uncomfortable. And the “St Patrick’s day is over!” comments are super duper 😑👎

    • When people mention St. Patrick’s Day they always think they’re sooooooo funny too. Yep, you’re DEFINITELY the first person to ever say that to me.

  • Apparently my hair is going to fall out because I dye it…
    And dying your hair when when you’re 30 ? Not done.
    Also every other month I’m a fan of a different soccer club.
    And the one I hear the most: You must be a big manga fan. While I’m absolutely not.
    But once a little girl came up to me and told me she thought my hair was very pretty and I smiled for the rest of the week 😊.

    • Love when people who don’t know anything about hair say “Your hair is gonna fall out!” like a threat. Um, no, that’s not how that works. Thanks though!

      Comments from kids make it all worth it! 🙂

      • The very last one I heard was: You’re going to turn prematurely gray.

        Oh, no… I guess I’ll have to dye my hair then…

        But in general I feel like people, whether you have dyed hair or not, think they have the right to tell you how to wear your hair. “You’d look so much better with curls, short hair, long hair, blonde hair, browner hair…” Gee, thanks a lot…

        • Oh my gosh! I totally forgot about that one! I’ve heard that a few times and am always baffled by it.

  • I love all your amazing hair colors! I am always adding different strange colors to my hair and after I while I got really bored of the same old questions by the same people like “Hey, did you really put purple in your hair???” Or “Did your hair color change??? again??!!!” So now I usually respond with something ridiculous like “Nah, I got struck by lightning!” Or I just act shocked when they point it out, like I didn’t know it was there.

    • It’s weird how other people seem te be so excited when you change your hair color. Like: OMG your hair is pink ?! Yesterday it was orange !

      My go to answer, much like you, is sarcasm or ridiculousness: Oh darn, I was going for green !

  • I wonder how things are for Elycia as a mother? I’ve been wanting to dye my hair again (my current job doesn’t let me, or rather they would strongly prefer if I didn’t) and I even have the hair dye sitting upstairs, waiting patiently for me to get a new job XD But I have a kid so I wonder if it will curb the unsolicited shouting? I had bright orange hair once, but dyed it soon afterwards as waking early in the morning to go to class was horrible staring at bright and happy hair. I need black hair in the morning and orange once I woke up lol But then I pretty consistently dyed the bottom pink and the top brown. Easier to maintain.

  • Bright red longer hair= Ariel to every little girl EVER. Kids always have the best responses! Now my hair is soft pink and I get asked [almost always in a whisper] “…are you… are you a F A I R Y?” I like to play into those expectations. 🙂
    I’ve been dyeing my hair bright colors for 30 years. When I was younger and it wasn’t as accepted, I used to have bottles thrown at me on the street. Now, people in that same age group ooh and ahh over my hair and say things like “oh, I’d love to have the guts to do that!” I sometimes wonder if it’s the same type of people who threw things and yelled at me then, ha!
    I love that it has both simultaneously become more acceptable yet stayed a marker that helps one stand out a bit.

    • To Christiane: I can totally relate to the harassment over dyed hair! And now everyone’s had a change of mind. Another thing that’s really annoying is when hair stylists try to tell you how it’s done – when really, it’s like excuse me? Your salons have *barely* figured this stuff out!

      It’s a conversation starter, for sure!

  • As a mother of three very “different” kids, they like to give me ideas for my next color fix. For the longest time I would get upset when someone would say something not so nice to me, especially when it was an elder but I have learned that if you smile and say hello before they have a chance to say anything you can usually win them over. Plus they like to say something about the tattoos, which I can sometimes turn into a really fun conversation.

  • I’m 65+ with naturally platinum hair (I began going white when I was 28) and since I was shut in at home because of the pandemic, and unable to get my hair trimmed to its usual pixie cut, I finally took the plunge and colored it blue/purple with Punky’s 3-in-1. I’m thrilled with the result. My Facebook friends approve and some said they’re jealous! I’m getting suggestions for the next time I go with a different color, and some of my contemporaries who have had to forgo salon visits to get their roots touched up for the past two months because of the pandemic are now saying they’d like to try going with bright haircolors too, at least for the time being, so I may have started a trend in my tiny rural town. (When my friends have questions about haircolor I’ve been directing them to this site. Thanks!