Trial & Error: Dyeing Your Hair at Home

This summer, Ishani Mukherjee made the decision to go from a faded green back to her original hair colour, and give her hair some room to breathe - at least till graduation! Since she is a very dark brunette, her hair has endured a substantial bit of pressure over the past two years. Here is what she has learned through her hair dyeing adventures!

My hair dyeing journey began when I was a mere second year trying to commit to my Halloween costume: Sadness from Inside Out. I had created an ombre before, which was also a part of the experiment-at-home series along with DIY-ing false nails and clothes. My attempt at dyeing my hair blue came as a surprise since it magically turned a bright emerald green. It looked very nice, but not exactly how I was hoping. Thus, Halloween 2016 was spent as a fancy witch with emerald curls instead of Sadness.

Ever since, I have been trying to achieve the hair colour I have in mind and am always genuinely excited to see whether the final outcome will match my vision (fun fact, it never does). So, to make someone else’s, who is up for a little hair dyeing fun, life a little easier, I have listed a few things I have learnt along the way, while subjecting my locks to my experiments.


1. Ensure your hair is healthy before starting. I cannot stress the importance of taking care of your hair enough. If your hair is brittle and unhealthy even before you start dyeing it, the chemicals from the products can damage your hair beyond repair. Oil and braid your hair the night before you plan to wash it.

2. Use some body oil or moisturizer to avoid staining. Before using hair dye or bleach, try to protect the areas of your neck, behind your ears and the ears themselves, arms till the elbows and your face since skin is sensitive and may also react. Professionals recommend a strand test before taking the plunge. In case of dye staining, oil acts as a barrier and prevents transfer to the skin, making the stains easy to wash away.

3. Bleach your hair in stages. Give your hair space to recover between heavy duty bleaching sessions. Space your hair lightening transition over 4-5 days and deep condition lightened hair as a considerable amount of moisture and smoothness is stripped by the harshness of the bleach. Avoid washing your hair with warm water to protect it from becoming too brittle.

4. Tone your hair after bleaching and before adding any hair dye. Toning the hair gives it a blank canvas feel by getting rid of the yellow-reddish brassiness. Adding a cool toned hair dye to brassy bleached hair does not mix too well and may give an undesirable result. I tried adding purple over slightly brassy hair which turned silver in random places, leaving a patchy dye job.

5. Try and apply product on both halves of your hair simultaneously rather than finishing an entire half first. Dyeing is very dependent on time. The amount of time you choose for the dye to colour your hair can affect the outcome. If you finish dyeing one half of your hair and then proceed to the other, both halves do not get an equal amount of time to colour the hair and the difference in resting time becomes obvious.

6. Use a hair dye remover before transitioning to a different colour. The remainder of the previous hair dye can mess up your new colour scheme. It is wise to invest in a dye remover and be one step closer to achieving the perfect hair colour than have bits of the previous colour shine through when you are in the sun. Side note, mixing vitamin c powder with clarifying shampoo does nothing much!

7. Avoid making dramatic jumps from one side of the colour chart to the other. To make the transition look effortless, it is better to gradually work towards the next vivid fashion colour. If you currently have blue hair and want to switch it up to red, transitioning through green, sea foam green, blond, auburn and finally red is possibly the best plan of action. Cutting across the colour chart might seem simpler but your hair might not reflect the colour accurately.

8. Be prepared to lose the original texture of your hair. I can say from personal observation and much to my hair dresser’s sorrow, my hair never felt as smooth as it did when it was hair-dye-virgin. I had to get my waist length hair chopped off to a short bob because the continuous rebleaching made the ends of my hair feel like hay! Using hair care serums and a lot of different conditioners could only try to restore the damage done.

9. Enjoy your hair despite the difference between your expectations and the reality. Dye your hair however you like because it will always grow back and give you a fresh canvas to begin your next hair dye masterpiece. Love your hair and it will love you back!