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DIY: How to Dye Your Hair Purple

I love to dye my hair all colors of the rainbow. I love all things vintage. I also enjoy creating art, taking photos, and doing it myself.

Here's how to achieve DIY purple hair

Here's how to achieve DIY purple hair

For years, I have wanted purple hair. The only thing is that purple hair is hard to attain, especially for me because my hair is naturally medium-to-dark brown. The fact is, if you want purple hair, you're going to have to put in blood, sweat, and tears. I mean, ideally not blood but at least the latter two.

Since getting your hair graped is positively a pain in the ass, I've taken the time to write this step-by-step breakdown for you. You can thank me later.


Unless you already have magically white (or super light blonde) hair, you're going to need to bleach. In that case, here's a list of supplies for you:

  • Ammonia Free Bleach Powder: I use Magic Ammonia Free Powder Lightener, but turns out it can't be purchased now without a cosmetology license. Sally's will have some other ammonia-free options. I choose to use these because they are less damaging than a powder that contains ammonia!
  • Salon Care 20 Volume Developer: Cream developer is preferred to liquid because it seems to mix a little easier.
  • Dye Brush
  • Gloves

If your hair happens to be pre-lightened, you're good to start dyeing. Here's what you'll need for that:

  • Manic Panic Purple Haze: I think I used one tub in the tutorial video (too lazy to watch it and find out though), but at the length my hair is now, I would definitely need 2-3 tubs. You can typically find these at Sally's or Hot Topic.
  • Dye Brush
  • Gloves


If you're one of those who needs to bleach, you'll find a handy little advisory on that here. It can be a bit of a process (heh) depending on how dark your hair is. It took me several sessions to get my hair light enough to sustain purple.

The thing about purple that makes it so hard is rooted (heh) in color theory. Allow me to explain.

When you bleach dark hair, it turns various brassy tones. It's gross. Yellow, orange, nasty. That's literally the opposite of purple, if you check out a color wheel. That means when yellow and purple mix, they turn brown. The same goes for other opposite colors, like red/green and blue/orange.

The goal here is to eliminate as much of the brassiness from your hair as possible, to keep your purple from getting muddied.

This is where the sweat and tears come in—as mentioned in the linked article, it takes some time and patience to get light enough. Once you're there, I'd give your hair a little rest and then go ahead and dye it.

How light my hair was before going purple.

How light my hair was before going purple.


The goal is to get your hair about as light as mine is in the above photo. Purple will take very well to this lightness.

After that, the dye process is very easy. Pull on your gloves, open your Purple Haze (this is the hardest part of the process, damn seals won't come off without a fight), and section off your hair.

I usually start applying dye on the roots at my part and around my face. Then I will paint it on with my dye brush in horizontal layers working down from my part. You don't have to rush with this—Manic Panic dye is safe for your hair and won't cause you damage if you leave it in for a while. So take your time, work in thin layers, and make sure you coat each layer thoroughly.

It helps to have a big butterfly clip or two handy, so you can secure upper layers out of the way once they are thoroughly coated with dye. Work your way down your scalp to the nape of your neck.

I typically leave the dye in for at least two hours. The longer you leave it in, the longer your color will last. I know people who will wrap their hair up in a plastic bag or saran wrap and sleep with the dye in overnight!

Once you've deemed your dye-time sufficient, hop in the shower and get ready for some cleanup. It's going to look like you slaughtered a grape and his whole vine.

Use cold water if you can stand it (keeps the color from bleeding), but if you're a sissy like me, lukewarm water will do.

Take a look down at your feet. When the water is starting to run clear, you're good to hop out of the shower and dry off.


Taking Care of Purple Hair

The above photo is my hair the day after dyeing with Manic Panic Purple Haze.

As you could see in the video, my hair pre-dye was a very light pink. When the purple started to fade, it went in a pink-purple direction rather than a lavender.

Anyways, there are several ways you can upkeep your purple hair.

  • Use purple shampoo: Sally's has a purple-tinted shampoo, quite literally "Generic Brand," that you can use in the place of a normal shampoo. This stuff will help keep your color cool and tinted.
  • Put a little dye in your conditioner: I scoop a tablespoon of dye into my conditioner and then apply a hefty amount every time I wash my hair. I'll leave the conditioner in for a few minutes before rinsing it out. This is such a huge help with keeping the color vibrant.
  • Avoid water and sun: Obvious one here, but the sun will make your color fade faster. Plus, every time you get your hair wet, you're gonna wash some color out.
  • Use dry shampoo: I wash my hair maybe once a week so my color will last. My hair has adjusted to the change, but if it does start to feel oily, I dust some corn starch on my roots. Good for another few days!

There you go! You can officially be Barney for Halloween. Enjoy your purple hair, and stay out of the pool.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.