I thought I'd post some of the things I've learned over the last year and a half, along with some pictures of the various colours my hair has been (with my face cropped out since I didn't want to post it online).
First, my natural hair colour:
Luckily, my natural hair colour isn't too dark, and responds well to bleach. I only ever need one bleach session of 30 or 40 minutes to get it to the point where I can apply another colour. Less processing means less damage and healthier hair. While it is possible to add hair dye to "virgin" (unbleached) hair, bleaching it first is said to allow the dye to sink in more and thus be more vibrant and take longer to fade. Apparently, there is no such thing as a truly permanent blue hair dye, only temporary or semi-permanent. All unnatural colours will eventually fade, but some dyes last longer than others and there are ways to help slow down the fading process in general.
Although I did a ton of research on blue hair dye, I decided to have it done at a salon the first time. Here's what my hair looked like after it was cut and bleached:
|it looks a little dry, I wonder if that's because they put me under one of those heating things|
And after the blue dye was applied and washed (sorry for the poor quality. Apparently I only took pictures on my tablet when it was first done):
|Rusk Electric Blue|
I decided to go with a dark blue since I figured it would fade to the lighter blue I wanted over time, thus lasting longer than if I started with a light blue. The dye used was Electric Blue by Rusk. I was instructed to use a shampoo that is designed for colour treated hair so that it wouldn't fade as quickly, and told that I only needed to wash my hair once or twice a week (which would also help the colour last longer).
Unfortunately I encountered a problem. The dye kept coming off on everything, even turning my skin blue on my hands and face. I got a bottle of remover that is designed to take the stuff off skin. It worked quite well but after a while my skin seemed to be developing a reaction to the remover. After a few days I'd had enough, and decided to just wash my hair over and over until the dye stopped coming out. By that point I didn't care if it faded the colour significantly. I lucked out. After washing it three times, the dye stopped coming out when my hair was dry, and the colour had hardly faded at all.
Indeed, I ended up having this dye in for over a year! Of course, it did fade to quite a pale blue eventually, but still pretty impressive. The following is about three months after dying my hair blue:
|Rusk Electric Blue after 3 months|
This was about the colour I really wanted. However, my natural roots were starting to show through (yeah, I'm not big on maintenance):
So I used this opportunity to bleach the roots and then add purple. I ordered a couple dyes from Manic Panic, Purple Haze and Ultra Violet and tried mixing equal parts of each to get a nice purple. Here's how it turned out:
|Manic Panic Purple Haze mixed with Ultra Violet and Rusk Electric Blue|
I was very happy with the result. Sadly, the purple faded after a couple weeks. It was almost completely gone after a month. I tried reapplying just the Purple Haze (which was the darker of the two) and it faded just as quickly.
While I don't have a picture, the next thing I tried was "Purple Desire" by Splat. It was a very similar colour to the purple in the previous picture. This dye lasted three or four weeks before it faded, but the last bit of colour lingered for quite a long time. It turned almost pink after a while.
For several months my hair had a "cotton candy" look, as one of my friends put it. Pale blue, pale pinkish purple, and then white on top where I simply bleached my roots as they came in (mostly because I was too lazy to re-dye it :P).
I started to get the urge to dye my hair orange, which happens to be my favourite colour. Unfortunately, it also happens to be on the opposite side of the colour wheel as blue. Why does this matter? Because when you mix opposite colours you get... barf brown. I did several things to mitigate this problem. First, I bid my time and washed my hair frequently, hoping the blue and purple dye would fade a bit more. Second, I bleached over the dye once. It only barely lightened it. I didn't want to do this again because I was afraid of damaging my hair.
Next, I tried washing my hair with a mixture of anti-dandruff shampoo and crushed vitamin C tablets, both of which the internet claims will help fade hair dye faster. After doing this twice I noticed even less of a lightening effect than with the bleach. I figured this would have to do as it didn't appear my hair was going to fade any further on its own. Here's what it looked like at that point:
|Rusk Electric Blue (faded 13 months) and Splat Purple Desire (faded 3 or 4 months)|
Note that the blue on the ends is the faded version of the Rusk Electric Blue, 13 months later.
Finally, I picked a very vibrant orange: Hi-Octane Orange by Special Effects. This dye was said to initially look more red than orange, and then "fade" to a bright neon orange. This was fine by me since I didn't mind the red and figured the strong pigment would help cover up the previous colours. Here's how it turned out (after a couple of washes):
|Special Effects Hi-Octane Orange|
It covered the blue and purple completely! There were small patches of the underlying colour showing through slightly after a couple months (as a brownish colour), but I'm told it was barely noticeable. I touched up the ends anyway at that point.
As my roots came in this time, I bleached them and wound up with a somewhat yellowish colour fading into the orange. I liked it so much I just left it that way. Plus it's less work. Here is what my hair looks like currently, about two and a half months after dying it orange:
|Special Effects Hi-Octane Orange (faded 2.5 months) and bleached roots|
|top view - looks almost like flames|
I'm very happy with my current colour and will probably keep it for a long time. Did I mention I love orange? It's awesome. It'll be interesting to see how long this brand lasts too. So far it's holding up quite well.
Below I compiled a table of my results. Please note that this is based purely on my own experience with my own hair. Everyone's hair reacts a little differently. Also note that in general I washed my hair one to two times per week, using a shower cap the rest of the time. The shampoo I use is called L'Anza Healing HairCare and I got a big one liter bottle when I first dyed my hair blue. (It cost me $40 which I thought was ridiculous at the time, but it's been over 15 months and I've only used 3/4 of it). I just used my regular conditioner (which happens to be Ogx brand), although technically I should probably be using a kind that's meant for colour treated hair.
|Brand||Color||Time to fade significantly||Notes on fading||Notes on staining|
|Rusk||Electric Blue||3-6 months||Lasted a very long time. Very difficult to get rid of the left over pale blue even after over a year.||Will stain everything after first applied. Make sure to wash it several times until it stops running.|
|Manic Panic||Purple Haze||2 weeks||Con: Does not last long. Pro: does not leave any residual color after it fades out.||Might come out a little on pillow case after the first one or two washes. Use a dark pillow case.|
|Manic Panic||Ultra Violet||2 weeks||Same as above.||Same as above.|
|Splat||Purple Desire||3-4 weeks||Leaves a pinkish color that is hard to get rid of.||Comes out even less than Manic Panic. Still might a little bit when wet, after first applying it.|
|Special Effects||Hi-Octane Orange||unknown - at least 2.5 months||Had a more reddish colour for the first two or three weeks. Covers other colours well.||Came out a little on my pillow case the first week, but my hair was wet.|