Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Temporary Hair Dye Review

I used to dye my hair pink

It's true, I used to dye my hair, often. It wasn't always a weird colour but I experimented a lot in my youth. I've been a few different shades of red, black, brunette, a blonde, a strawberry blonde and a few different shades of pink. Although I'm clearly accustom to dyeing my hair I actually haven't done so in almost a year. The reason I'm growing it out is because I can't afford to dye my hair professionally any more. I could dye it myself with cheap box dyes but the idea is unappealing to me. Really, I don't want to dye my hair at all. Last year I started to find uneven patches where my hair was rejecting dye. It looked like a Frankenstein dye job, it was very disappointing. The reason it looked that way is because I dyed my hair too much in the past. It became over-processed and eventually stopped taking dye. After undergoing a variety of dye job mistakes in one year, my hair dresser and I agreed to dye my hair a dark brown. We felt this would blot out the previous mistakes from dyeing my hair red over blonde. It helped for a little while but eventually it became more apparent that the dye job was patchy and unsuccessful. You could see bands of where the roots were dyed. I was torn, I liked the initial look of my hair after dyeing it brown but inevitably it would fade and the patchy colours would stand out again. I began to seriously consider growing my hair out.

I haven't had my natural hair colour since... the sixth grade? As a young girl I never really cared for it much. Hell, I'm not sure how I feel about my natural hair colour now! I used to think it looked mossy in colour. It's dirty blonde. I hate that term, what kind of asshat came up with that? Did they just look at one of us and say "Oh, it's kind of like a blonde, only dirtier." The professional term is apparently dark blonde, yet the samples vary. Sometimes dark blonde actually looks blonde other times it looks like a light brown. My hair is fair with some golden highlights but as shown in my picture in the sidebar, it looks brown. I have about three inches of regrowth in that photograph (longer now). Under certain lighting you can see a huge difference between my dyed hair and my natural roots. In the sun it looks yellow with red tips. It looks rather silly but I'm dealing with it. Luckily I'm a loner who never goes out so nobody has seen my messed up looking hair.

You might be wondering why I'm reviewing hair dye if I'm growing my hair out? Although I'm a natural now I still dream about dyeing my hair a funky colour like I used to. I'd love to dye it purple or green some time, I've never done either of those. I promised I'd wait until after I get married to mess around with my hair again. I won't ever use permanent dyes, mind you, only temp. I don't want to end up in the same boat all over again! I loved playing with the different colours of temporary dye. I come from an artistic family, so experimenting with colour came naturally to me. I'm going to share some of my experiences with temporary hair dye with you and hopefully it might help to better inform your dyeing decisions.

Fudge Paintbox

Paintbox is a temp hair dye by Fudge. It was my first temporary dye and I loved it. Unfortunately nobody has carried it in my city since then, I've only found it online. If I were to dye my hair temp I would try to get paintbox again. I was really satisfied with the product. Mind you, it's been something like twelve years since I've used it, so perhaps it might have changed. Paintbox offers a variety of cool colours to choose from. I was torn between using Mr. Green Jeans and Pretty Flamingo. In the end I chose pink and I was satisfied with the results; it looked bright Barbie pink in the sunlight and dark raspberry indoors. I used it over my natural hair colour so I ended up with different results than the sample. I really liked it.

Colour: Great selection, nice vibrant colour. It still looked hot pink even over top of my dark blonde hair.
Longevity: It lasted for two weeks and then the vibrancy began to fade and the colour washed out. That's impressive for untreated hair. It faded equally all over and it turned a pretty peach colour. I still had compliments even after the colour was washing out.
Complaints: It might not be the case any longer, but it use to come in small tubes. It seems like less hair dye than other temporary hair dyes. Somehow magically I managed to dye all twenty inches of my hair with one bottle. That might not be the case today. If you have long hair buy two bottles! I also wish it were more available because I'm not comfortable with buying hair dye online. The price was equal to Manic Panic, it would be nicer if it was a little cheaper.
Compliments: Wonderful vibrant colour that doesn't bleed all over the place. I had a little of the dye transfer to my pillow but that was it!

Manic Panic

Everyone has heard of Manic Panic by now either from experience or through a friend. It seems to be the go to dye, which isn't surprising since you can easily buy it at Shopper's Drug Mart (with the exception that they don't carry the yellow, green or blue dyes). After I learned that the boutique carrying Paintbox went out of business I had no other choice but to buy Manic Panic. I had heard mixed reviews from friends and classmates so I wasn't sure what to expect. Some people can't live without this stuff whereas others despise it. I'm on the fence. Although I enjoy the selection of colours, only some of them can be dyed on natural hair, the dyes fade quickly and they bleed like mad. I have used Fuchsia Shock, Hot Hot Pink, Pillar Box Red, Vampire Red, Ultra Violet, Cotton Candy and Spring Green. Some were very sucessful, others not so much. I tried Cotton Candy on untreated hair and it was an impossibility. You have to bleach your hair for any of the pastel or light coloured dyes because they just don't have much pigmentation in them. I dyed my brother's hair with Spring Green and it lasted for a mere few days. Luckily he had tons of it so he could just keep using it but it was so subtle it hardly showed. I also tried using Ultra Violet on my natural hair with no success; although it looks highly pigmented it's just too light for natural or dark hair. If you want lighter colours, green, blue or purple dyes then you have to bleach your hair. That's kind of disappointing because I don't want bleach my very fine hair! I like the unique way some of these colours look on top of natural hair. 

Manic Panic left and center; Paintbox Right 
Colour: Colour is fairly vibrant and there is a vast selection, however many of which require pretreating the hair with bleach.
Longevity: You should get at least one solid week of colour using these dyes but the lighter dyes tend to fade very rapidly. I've had some dyes that just won't get out of my hair, which is embarrassing because Manic Panic dye doesn't fade equally all over, it has this tendency to fade in patches. A friend told me his sister had pink dye stuck in one part of her hair for almost six months, they had to bleach it out.
Complaints: It's about $16 CAD to buy just one pot of Manic Panic and I require two for my long hair. Given that they don't last long, paying over $30 bi-weekly plus costs for pre-treatment dye just isn't worth it. This stuff bleeds on EVERYTHING. I've gotten it on my clothing, bedsheets, towels and even purses. Sometimes I'd finish work or school and come home, I'd look in the mirror and see dye all over my hands and face - and that was just from touching it! My bathtub was stained and my mother was so pissed at me for it. Whenever I would wash my hair the dye would come out as if freshly dyed. In fact, sometimes I'd feel my hair and it would be kind of chalky, like I could feel the dye on it. I remember once I spent almost two damn hours rinsing after dyeing. The instructions state the water should turn clear after rinsing... the water never turns clear...not for months. 
Compliments: Although it must seem like I have nothing good to say about them, I am impressed with their selection or colours, the availability of the product and the vibrancy of the colours. If you can tolerate all the bad stuff then it's a decent temporary hair dye. Sometimes you can mix colours and get new dyes that look even cooler. It's fun to play with, but as an adult who doesn't want the fuss, I'd rather buy a good coloured wig.

Loréal Colour Pulse

Colour Pulse is a temporary hair dye by Loréal. It comes in a limited selection of colours, most of which are marketed as colour enhancers (they will only work on top of certain hair colours). I have no photo for this one and technically I didn't dye my hair with this, I did it to a friend. We used this nasty looking copper one that looked like it was made from carrots. She put a streak in my hair and I dyed her hair at our school bathroom (very reminiscent of the My So-Called Life scene where Rayanne dyes Angela's hair). It's awful stuff. It stained the crap out of our clothing and it came out almost instantly. I wouldn't recommend it. It never sold either; I remember working in a department store and this stuff had to be reduced to well over 60% off just to get it off the shelves. It's still on the Loreal website so it must be in production but I would avoid purchasing it. Maybe it's fun for children to do some streaks that will wash out the next day but it's not for colour enthusiasts.

Colour: It's about as successful as putting Kool Aid in your hair. There's a hint of colour but it looks chalky and subtle. Not terribly vibrant but I suppose if you bleached your hair first it would show more. The colour selection is just bland and limited.
Longevity: Very, very short. 
Complaints: Messy and not a very successful dye. Good for kids, I guess.
Compliments: Readily available and cheap but sometimes a low cost is reflective of the quality.

Tips for dyeing your hair red

As I mentioned above, I prefer temp dye on top of natural hair colours because it allows for more varied and unique results. Many people prefer solid vibrant colour and therefore will bleach their hair before hand, which is fine, but I've found a better way to dye your hair red without using bleach. After dyeing my hair red I ran into a sixteen year old whose hair looked atrocious. She had bleached it and then dyed her hair using Manic Panic's Wildfire Red. It apparently had begun fading very quickly and turned all patchy and gross looking. She had some parts in pink, orange, red and blonde. It looked like a hot mess. I told her what I'm going to tell you; if you want to dye your hair red DON'T BLEACH. Pretreat your hair by dyeing it natural red with a permanent dye.

I pretreated my hair using a permanent ginger hair dye and then I used Manic Panic's Pillar Box Red. This not only enhanced the colour of the Manic Panic dye but it also lasted longer. When the dye faded out it revealed the underlying ginger which of course is red anyways! It looked very subtle and for a month no one could tell the difference. If I had bleached it instead it would have been a mess of colours. Potentially you could try this with other red dyes like orange or pink but you should change the underlying dye accordingly. If you want hot orange then use a lighter ginger/strawberry blonde as a base, if you want pink try using a red that has more blue tones for a base. It's colour theory using hair colour! : )

I hope this helps anyone out who might be looking to dye their hair temporarily in the future. I would love to dye my hair purple some day, so we'll have to wait and see if I do lol. How do you feel about temporary hair dye? Have you had any successes or failures?

Kind regards,

Images used are my own, with the exception of the Manic Panic, Fudge and Loreal product photos.


  1. That is such a gorgeous red! I have adventured a bit in hair colour too, but basic blue black is what I'm sticking to these days. You have the kind of complexion where you can rock the funkier colours beautifully.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! My fair skin allows me to get away with some of the funky colours for sure. For some reason I've never ventured far from the red family, it's my comfort zone I suppose lol. My friend would always dye her hair blue black and it looked awesome on her, I can see why it's a staple for you. :)

  2. Your hair is gorgeous! I wish I had thicker hair to do this!

    1. Thank you! My hair isn't very thick either, which is why I'm against bleaching it. Instead I used lighter dyes that are less harsh than bleaching. I ended up with great results using temp dye without bleach. I've known people who bleached their hair a lot and had it fall out, it's sad because it's so unnecessary.

  3. I love all your funky ex-hair colors, you look great. I have always wanted purple hair, but with dark brown hair it's pretty much impossible. The only time I've ever tried to bleach my hair (which I have to do before dyeing it) I basically killed my hair for the coming two years. I've also been natural for 10 years now.

    1. Thanks Ms Misantropia :) I would love purple hair but the pretreating with bleach thing really puts me off. I'm worried that it would require lightening beforehand because purple of course contains a lot of blue dye. Red dye seems to go on untreated hair perfectly fine but anything blue based or pastel doesn't. It's like I said about Manic Panic's Ultra Violet, it looked like it could get the job done but it failed miserably on brown hair. I'd like to experiment with Manic Panic's Nightshade even though it's a little dark it might have more pigment. I saw a video of a teenager who used Punky temp hair dye in purple over top of her brown hair with success. It was encouraging (although I have no clue who sells the stuff in my country lol).I really don't think anyone should bleach their hair, my hairdresser tends to agree, it just destroys the hair and has an unpleasant texture. I'm hoping we see advancements in temp dyes and hopefully they'll require less pretreatment and have stronger pigmentation.


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