Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.
Black is one of the easiest colors to dye your hair. As it is the darkest hair color possible, it will cover any other hair color almost completely, and there are no special requirements precluding anyone from dyeing their hair black like there are with blonde hair and many other colors.
Of course, like all hair dyes, you need to know how to apply it properly to get the best results, and there is a special rule to follow if you have blonde hair to ensure the color takes properly and lasts.
When you think of black hair color, you probably don't realize that there are far more shades possible than just plain old black. Blue-black is the most common alternative shade of black, and one that most people are familiar with, but did you know that you can also dye your hair red-black or violet-black?
With color brands stretching the definition of what black hair color can really be, you have the ability to create your own individual style. The various shades include:
- Natural black
A natural black shade is a true black and it is the darkest color you can dye your hair. Hair colors like blue-black work on a different principle where they are such a dark blue color that they appear black with a blue tone. In this case, your hair isn't a true black, but the difference is more a question of semantics. For all intents and purposes, the color is black with a blue tone.
Hair dye brands saw the rise in popularity of the blue-black shade, and some brands were innovative enough to realize there was the potential to create additional new hair colors in the same way. Violet-black and red-black shades follow the same principle where the violet or red color is so dark that it looks black, but you can clearly see a violet or red tone when viewed in bright light.
Then there is the idea of a soft-black hair color, which is also often described as off-black. This is a shade that is just a little lighter than true black so that it looks—as the name implies—softer and more natural, kind of like natural black that has faded a little in the sun. Another good way to describe this shade would be as being between dark brown and black as it has qualities of both. This makes it a great choice if you want to try dark hair but you're worried it might not suit you.
Black dye is prepared like any other dye and you'll need the following things for the application:
- Sectioning clips and a comb
- A tinting bowl and brush or an applicator bottle
To use the color, you need to mix it with developer, and the ratio used for this can depend on the brand used. It is most common to use a 1 to 1 ratio of hair dye to developer, but some brands do use a 1 to 1.5 ratio though, so be sure you use the correct amount for the product you've chosen.
Box Dye vs. Salon Dye
If you choose to use a box dye rather than a salon dye, the developer will already be included in the right amount, but these products tend to result in a color that doesn't last as long before fading sets in. They also offer fewer choices of shades to individualize your style so there is a trade-off to the ease of use.
You should choose the product that best meets your needs while understanding the positives and negatives to both.
The volume of developer you use should be 10 vol for permanent color or 5–7 vol for demi-permanent colors. If you're covering grey hair, this is a bit of a special situation where you will get better results by using 20 vol developer as a higher developer volume helps to force more color deposition.
To apply black hair color, you will also need to section out your hair in the same way you would to dye or bleach it any other color. Even though unevenness is largely non-existent with a dark dye like this—except if you were to miss a spot—sectioning out your hair helps to ensure you don't miss any strands and allows you to take a quicker and more systematic approach when you apply the dye to your hair.
To section your hair, part it down the middle from your forehead to the nape of your neck and then part it again from each ear. This will give you four distinct quadrants to work with, allowing you to take thin layers from the top of each quadrant, working your way down to the bottom. Cover each section like this with dye until you've completely covered your hair.
Gloves and Surfaces
Black dye is extremely difficult, if not impossible to remove from most surfaces, flooring, and clothing, it is important to ensure that your house is well protected from any dye splatter and you are not wearing clothing that you would hate to ruin. While other hair dyes can often be removed from your floors or clothes, the black dye will usually never come out, even if it only makes contact for a few seconds.
If you accidentally get it on your skin, however, this will still stain but it's temporary. You can expect the staining to last at least several days before gradually fading away from washing and skin renewal.
When you are ready to apply your black hair color, section your hair out as noted above and begin mixing your dye in the correct ratio with a tinting bowl and brush. If the color is a permanent dye, it needs to be mixed with 10 vol peroxide. This volume of developer will deposit color without unnecessary lightening, so it causes next to no damage to your hair.
Once the color is mixed, begin applying it by brush to thin layers of your first quadrant. Usually, this would be the back-left section of your hair, but you can begin anywhere. Start at the top of each quadrant and work your way down, applying hair dye to the top and bottom of each thin layer until you are done with a section.
When you finish a section, move on to the next and continue in this fashion until your hair is completely covered.
The dye will need up to 45 minutes to develop once in the hair, but this isn't set in stone. The actual development time will depend on the brand of hair dye you're using and can range from 20 minutes to 45 minutes in total. Resistant hair or grey hair should be left to develop for the maximum time.
When the development time is up, rinse out the color and condition your hair as usual. You can dry and style it right away if you wish.
- How to Dye Your Hair
Need more information about how to prepare, mix, and apply any hair dye? You can find it here to help your new color turn out great.
Dyeing Blonde Hair Black
Dyeing blonde hair black is a little more difficult than simply applying a black hair dye and waiting for it to process. In this case, your blonde hair is devoid of red pigment and won't look the way it should when the black dye is applied.
When a natural black dye is applied to blonde hair, it will turn out blue-black because the blue tones in the dye aren't balanced out by the copper tones that would be present in brown hair. When a blue-black dye is applied, your hair will be a very intense blue color but won't actually look as dark as it's meant to be.
These strange results occur due to the lack of red pigment in blonde hair. To dye your blonde hair a natural black color, you will need to fill it with red first. To do this, simply dye it with a demi-permanent or permanent warm brown hair color before dyeing it black or use a red protein filler and you won't have any issues with your hair color turning out a strange shade of dark blue.
Blue-Black and Other Shades
When you dye your hair blue-black, red-black, or violet-black, there is another problem you might face in that the vibrant tone you're expecting won't show on your hair if it is already a dark color.
In this case, your hair is too dark for the blue tone of a blue-black color to show up when you dye it with this shade. If the dark color is your natural hair color, you can avoid this problem by mixing your dye with 20 vol developer to lighten some of that dark color and replace it with your chosen dye more effectively.
For hair that has been dyed dark brown, there's not much you can do other than to wait for it to fade first or pre-lighten it one shade before you dye it black and this will give a much better result than simply dyeing it as-is.
Your new black hair color is susceptible to fading just like any other hair dye but you can keep it looking great through proper maintenance and care. Some of the things you need to consider in the after-care of your color include:
- Using a quality shampoo that suits your hair type
- Modest use of hair products like serums to prevent dryness and frizz
- Hair repair treatments if your hair has been dyed a lot
As dyed black hair is very dark, there is quite a remarkable amount of pigment deposited in your hair and this makes fading a more obvious problem than a lighter color tends to be. For this reason, you will likely need to retouch your hair after a few weeks.
To retouch your hair, dye any regrowth by first applying a root application, then mixing fresh dye and pulling it through your lengths and ends in the last 10 minutes of the application. This will reverse the fading and refresh the look of your hair color while minimizing damage to the areas of your hair that have already been colored in the past.
- How to Take Care of Dyed Hair
If you'd like more information about how to take care of your new color, it can be found here in detail.
Dyed black hair can be just as fun as any other color. To really spice your color up, try adding brighter streaks or under-layers to your hair to accent your black hair and play on the stark contrast. Your black hair color should be just as individual as you, and there's a lot of different ways you can make your style your own.
Do you have a question about black hair dye or need some advice to dye your hair black? Leave a comment and share your insight with other readers.
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.
© 2014 Maffew James
Farsana Akbar from Kerala, india on September 15, 2020:
Abdul Haadi from Lahore, Pakistan. on November 26, 2017:
Laurie on October 12, 2015:
Oh and my email don't work so I can't sign up. Anyway you can answer my questions without it?
Laurie on October 12, 2015:
I want to know how I can achieve a natural dark brown without it turning black. Thank you