I get a lot of questions about my teal hair:
Is your hair real?
How did you get your hair this colour?
Do you have to bleach hair to dye it bright blue?
Does the bleach and dye fry your hair?
Why did you dye it teal?
How long does the bright hair colour last?
Will you try another colour?
What shade and brand of hair dye do you use?
Does bright hair dye rub off on clothes and bedding?
The question I’m not asked is: “can I touch it?” – instead, people just reach over and pick up a lock of my hair, suddenly realize what they’re doing, and stumble away, wide eyed and muttering apologies. My hair draws people to me like a moth to a flame.
It’s been exactly two years since I first dyed my hair teal and I just recently chopped it all off (!) – see photos of my new ‘do at the end of this post – so I thought it would be fun to look back at how it’s changed over the years and answer some of the teal hair dyeing FAQs I field.
In April of 2014 (on April Fool’s Day, actually), I marched into a salon with a crazy idea: bleach the bottom half of my hair and dye it aqua. I had actually planned on a peachy-pink colour but, at the last minute, decided that aqua was more me (no surprise there). The stylist was really excited and went to town creating an ombre look that faded from blue to teal, with some purple tossed in. It was her idea to create the ombre look, and I loved it.
How Do You Dye Hair a Bright Colour?
Getting teal hair took a long time: first the stylist back combed my hair a bit (to avoid a harsh bleached line) and then applied bleach to the ends, lightening my brunette hair to a very pale, yellow blond. Then she applied the colours, layering in the different hues. It was an expensive, butt-numbing experience (three hours!) and she was so flustered when the dye didn’t take perfectly that she actually forgot to cut my hair (she had chopped it haphazardly before the dye job, but hadn’t gone back in to fix it up). When it was over, I decided that my turquoise hair would be short-lived.
(Rebecca, from A Clothes Horse, has a great post about how she changed her dyed hair from bright red to bright blue and she also wrote a thorough post for A Beautiful Mess about how to get the perfect rainbow hair.)
Hair needs to be bleached very light for bright colour to take, otherwise it can look sort of muddied – which you can see where the blue hair dye was overlapped with my naturally brown hair.
How Long Does Bright Hair Dye Last?
Afterward, the salon colour faded really quickly (it was pretty pale and splotchy after a week) and, although the stylist offered to touch it up for
free, I just couldn’t fathom spending another minute in a salon chair. I
wasn’t ready to let it go, though, so I ordered a bottle of Manic Panic Amplified Turquoise
and painted some aqua on the ends myself. I used tinfoil and a soft artist’s paint brush – it was so easy!
I couldn’t achieve the same ombre look on my own, but it turned out that I loved the solid teal. Dyeing my hair blue at home was a thriftier alternative to going back to the salon and I found that the Manic Panic dye didn’t fade very quickly, either; I only needed to touch it up every month or two, so aqua dye for me really wasn’t a lot of maintenance (although it might help that I only wash my hair every two or three days). Plus I didn’t mind if it faded to a more pastel hue – I loved every shade of aqua my hair became!
Whenever it came time for a trim, I’d whimper because each snip meant a little less aqua. At some point, though, I grew to love just having the very bottom ends bright aqua – like I’d dipped my hair in paint.
The colour varied a lot, starting out a deeper, more muted teal:
But then the Manic Panic Turquoise hair dye would fade to a lighter, brighter aqua. My hair naturally created a sort of gradient where the dye overlapped the bleached and natural strands of my hair.
With each hair cut (my Mom was trimming my hair for awhile to save money), I decided the days of my aqua ends were numbered because I’d have to endure the time and cost of having the ends bleached again – something I was way too scared to try at home.
But I couldn’t go back to being a boring brunette!
On impulse, I ended up at a salon on April 1st 2015 – exactly one year after I first dyed it aqua. I didn’t even plan it, I just phoned a Chatters Salon because it seemed like an affordable place, and that’s the appointment date they gave me (clearly the Universe has a sense of humor). The stylist I got was new there (fresh out of beauty school) and she was so thrilled about my aqua-loving ways. She gave me a trim and bleached the ends again. When she applied the teal-green hair dye (Joico Peacock), she also painted some colour onto my brown hair, which I didn’t love, but it faded and washed out pretty quickly, anyway (dye just doesn’t grab unbleached hair with the same vim and vigor):
My new stylist recommended Joico’s Peacock and although I loved the original hue (which was a bit more green than my old turquoise), it faded to a really bright green so I once again turned to my Manic Panic Turquoise when I needed a touch up. She was cool with me doing my own colour in between salon visits (although she would have preferred I used Joico – but I just found it more difficult to apply and it faded more quickly).
Does Bright Dye Harm Hair?
My hair is so thin
and weak and I do notice that from the bleaching, my hair gets a bit
drier on the ends. I have been trying to be generous with the
conditioner and have started using a leave-in conditioner, but I really
should be doing more regular treatments to condition the bleached ends.
Otherwise, I can’t say the hair is that much different in texture on
the ends than where my natural brown hair is. But because I dye my hair
on the ends, once it’s bleached I just keep adding colour until it
grows out and we start again – I don’t have to re-bleach it regularly to
hide roots, which I think is much harsher on hair and scalp. So
if you’re looking for low commitment brightly coloured hair, just
bleaching and dyeing the ends is an easy way to try rainbow hair! It’s
very difficult to go back from bright hair, so being able to get rid of
the aqua with a single haircut was a major plus for me – even though I
love the look of a whole head of bright colour (like Rachel’s awesome, allover hot pink hair!)
While I was in Toronto dealing with my family emergency, I stayed on a rural property for several months and the well water there did a number on my bleached hair. All of my hair felt gross, but the bleached part fared the worst. It just felt like straw, so I started wearing it in a bun all the time and gave up on touching up the dye, so it faded to a mint green:
When I finally came home, I had to chop a lot of length to get it feeling healthy again and I lost all of the colour, so I asked my hair stylist to bleach a fresh chunk and go nuts. My hair ended up two thirds Joico Peacock – the colour started a few inches from my roots. This snapshot from Instagram is the only photo I have of the colour from that salon visit:
It was beautiful when fresh but, again, the Joico Peacock dye faded to a really bright, yellowy green. Here’s another Instagram photo once it had grown out – one thing about my hair is that although it’s thin and lifeless, it sure does grow quickly (thank you, hair)!
I think the bleached part wasn’t bleached white enough and the yellowy, brassy blond beneath the colour was turning any shade yellower. I decided to counteract the yellowy green by dyeing the ends with Manic Panic Amplified Voodoo Blue, which is supposedly more of a dark teal but over my original dye and bleach, it just ended up a richer turquoise with more blue and less green – which was fine by me! I loved the aqua shade! And you can see that although you should bleach hair to dye it a bright colour, the Manic Panic brand of dye definitely did stick a bit to my brown hair a little (better than the salon brands, which turned muddy over brunette hair). There’s an inch of dye on my natural hair where the brown and turquoise meet:
Recently I wanted a change, though: something shorter for summer so I can spend less time blow drying and styling my hair, and more time on the lake (or not doing anything)! So I asked my stylist to chop it all off into a layered, angled bob with a twist: my hair stylist bleach the bottom half and dyed the lower layers Joico Cobalt Blue mixed with a little Joico Titanium, and the top layers Joico Mermaid Blue. She was ecstatic throughout the whole process because I’m so laid back with my hair – I just let her do her thing and default to her advice when it comes to the cut and colour. I have never before trusted a hair stylist as much as I trust her, and it’s making salon visits fun! After a series of terrible stylists and hair blunders, I had become a bundle of nerves but now I’ve relaxed.
Here’s a peak at the bright turquoise and cobalt layers that peak out. It was the first time I’d ever had bleach applied right to my roots (whoa, that was itchy!):
I’m in love with my new hair! It feels so light and it’s easy to get some volume in my flat hair now. Even my bedhead looks good – my hair stylist is amazing at understanding fine hair.
Why Do I Dye My Hair Teal?
I really didn’t think I would ever end up this smitten with aqua hair. It was a lark: something fun and frivolous to mark the end of my twenties and the completion of my PhD. I had spent so long trying to be taken seriously as an academic and I felt liberated when I finally got my doctorate.
But darn it, this aqua hair makes me smile! I’ve always hated my hair because it’s fine and flat and mousy brown. I’ve used hot rollers, crimped it, slept in a damp french braid for some waves, flat ironed, and back combed the life out of my poor (stubborn) hair. Over the years I’ve dyed it jet black, red, and streaked it blond. I’ve used henna, home dyes, and spent hours in salon chairs. I’ve had a pixie cut, short retro bangs, an angled bob, long sweeping bangs, I’ve grown it down to my waist and have spent a good chunk of time sporting only Mad Men-inspired updos. I’ve wasted a lot of my life trying to make peace with my hair, but I’ve never been happy with my hair until now. Even on my worst hair days, I still love my hair. It’s aqua, how could I not love it?!?
So I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep the aqua. I guess until it stops making me smile…
Does the Bright Hair Dye Rub Off on Things?
and no. When it’s freshly dyed, it will rub off on my hair towel after
a wash and also on my pillow if my hair is slightly damp at night after my bath or shower (I’ve only just started using a shower cap and it’s made such a difference). It
has never rubbed off on clothes or scarves once it’s dry.
Will I Ever Try Another Bright Colour?
I would say yes! Now that I’ve started to experiment with the colour a little, I am tempted to try new hues. I’d love to first get my hair to a greyed out shade of teal or steel blue hair (as opposed to such a bright, bold hue), but then maybe try an icy pale blue or something similar to this gorgeous lavender hued bob! I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to hair and fashion where I’ve been pinning haircuts for fine hair and colourful hairdos. Baby steps out of the blues!