The Commitment and Care of Purple Hair

Nov 19, 2018

It’s been two years since I first dyed my hair purple for a grad school event, but only recently do I feel I’ve finally uncovered almost all the secrets to maintaining this crazy color. I’m writing this to address the questions I’ve been getting lately with important things you need to know before you decide you want purple or any unnatural color, why you should absolutely dye your hair the color of your dreams, and how to maintain it (with plugs to my favorite products).

Disclaimer: This post is written for gals and guys with Asian hair, or dark hair. My hair texture is straight & fine, so outcomes may be different for others.

Three things you must know about purple hair upfront:

  1. You cannot achieve it without bleach. I guess the biggest shocker to me in the beginning was having to bleach my hair with at least a double process to get it light enough of a yellow to take any color. If you have black hair, you’ll need a triple process to achieve platinum blonde for pastel shades, and if you have thin hair like me, you cannot get a triple process. Other lightening methods for highlights, etc. are just not nearly as effective.
  2. It WILL fade. No matter what brand you use, purple is always going to be a semi-permanent dye. It will fade from bright to dim really fast, then takes a bit longer to get to silver, and finally the bleach yellow you started with. This process goes on about 2 weeks, but could take longer if you don’t wash your hair. I freaked out the first time and thought I literally was greying! The second time I had a hairdresser use a more red-based purple dye, which faded a bit slower into hot pink and eventually strawberry blonde. The third time I got scammed and had to pay an additional $40 because the lighter color just wasn’t staying. It also faded in 3 days.
  3. It’s a long-term commitment. You can’t decide to go purple and reverse it easily. You’ll have to re-dye it on a regular basis or else it will eventually become yellow, which is a whole other blog post in terms of maintenance. A lot of hairdressers will try to convince you to just dye your hair back to your natural color, but your bleached hair follicles will reject black/brown hair dye in the same manner! Is it worth paying all that money to dye your hair into your natural color? Since my hair grows very slowly, I had to settle as a blonde for well over a year in between my purples. Of course, this time can be cut short if you decide to cut short your hair! It might even be the only option if you don’t regularly take care of brittle bleached hair.

The first 3x I went purple at salons, and 3rd time was not the charm.

None of this means you shouldn’t go for colorful hair, because it is so fun, and you get a ton of compliments if you pick the right color for your skin tone. It is a big, bold move that’s well worth it if you end up loving your hair. Here are some important tips I’ve gathered on caring for your beautiful non-natural hair color.

Overtone Color will change your life.

Overtone makes vegan color-depositing conditioners and deep treatments and yes they work! They have a huge range of color choices and each color has three shades so you can decide your vibrancy. I wasn’t going to spend money on fake salon chemicals any longer so I ordered the Extreme Purple kit and started coloring my own hair. I put the deep treatment through dry hair, wait 20 minutes, and rinse it. That’s it! The color is bright, doesn’t smell terrible, and does not stain your pillow like purple dye does. You’ll require gloves, a dark shirt you don’t mind coloring, and have to be slow and gentle. The color will be hard to rinse out from your skin and anything it lands on, although will come out over time. The color conditioner is for regular maintenance, but I haven’t found it super necessary to use. The deep treatment costs $29 and one tub lasted me about two months (I don’t have much hair). You can also mix and match any Overtone products to create your own original color!

Vegan hair products are absolutely necessary.

I used to wash my hair with generic drugstore color protection shampoo, but don’t be mistaken because they only work on brown hair. When I made the switch to Acure, a cruelty-free shampoo / conditioner, I noticed how slowly my hair faded. Maybe it’s Overtone, maybe it’s Acure, maybe it’s both. Even if you don’t have bleached hair, Acure is still a great shampoo brand to try so you can stop washing your hair with a ton of toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through your scalp. The best way to maintain color however is still dry shampoo – for supplement, not substitution! Try Handmade Heroes, a cruelty-free powder that actually absorbs oil through the powder instead of spraying on a ton of grease. This is the one and only dry shampoo that can handle my amount of oil.

You’ll alternate between bright healthy locks to faded fuzz.

Maintenance is time consuming, and there are always days when you’re just lazy. I don’t condition my hair every time I wash my hair so the next day I wake up with a lion’s mane. A wood detangling brush has saved me from becoming bald. Sometimes I get too lazy to redo my hair with Overtone, so I’ve left it for three weeks at time until I had a dull, metallic purple-brown. I only take photos on good hair days but that’s a great example of Instagram VS. real life. Just think of it as not wearing makeup.

Hot tools are a no-no.

Do not even think about putting a curling iron or straightener on bleached hair – I have not tried it myself, but I’m already imagining my hair snapping. Perhaps I have a dramatic imagination, but hot styling tools damage healthy hair to begin with. Bleached hair is weak already and the risk is not worth it. There are a ton of ways to get nice curls without heat with tutorials from Rebecca (A Clothes Horse) or Vivian V. The John Frieda hot-air brush is a good choice to get straighter hair with minimal damage. If my suggestions don’t achieve the look you want, I still recommend not playing with hot tools because I’m sure your hair is magnificent already!

ABLE blouse, Patagonia shorts, 31 Bits drum purse, and Ravenclaw souvenir hat

I hope that answers your questions and helps you decide whether or not you want to get some color into your hair! Personally, purple hair has given me the confidence to express myself because I have always been self-conscious about my lack of flowy locks that other Asian girls are blessed with. It has taught me a lot more about ways to care for and style my hair with natural products. It’s become a part of who I am in this season.

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