It’s no secret that I’m a fan of candy colored hair, so how could I not talk about the pic of Lauren Conrad’s tie-dye tresses that swept the internet last week?
My fairy-haired ideal is more Charlotte Free than LC, but there’s no denying that dip dyes are the of-the-moment trend. It’s not the awkward, blunt 3 inches of color that made a brief appearance circa 2004. This time around the colorful tips combine with an ombré effect for a more sophisticated style.
Lauren’s website, The Beauty Department, posted a full tutorial for creating the look, praising its temporary nature. … I know I can’t be the only one for whom 8-12 washes is nowhere near temporary enough, right? Even 2-3 washes would be pushing it. Luckily, I was already working on perfecting a zero-commitment alternative.
It started with this DIY Temporary Hair Dye post that Gregor discovered, detailing a method for coloring your hair with Crayola Washable Markers. According to Andrew of Pull Teeth, results washed out easily, allowing him to wear a different color every night of the week. I immediately had to try for myself!
I began with a few test strands (always – ALWAYS – do a test strand. You never know how your hair will take color). The highlights were a perfect pink and left no trace after a single wash – no extra scrubbing or special shampoos required.
At that point I had to know more. I’d been too excited to consider possible repercussions on my own hair, but I needed to clarify a few internet rumors – specifically, that this process will cause hair to dry up and fall out – before recommending it to readers.
I appointed Gregor to the task of contacting Crayola (an experience he describes as akin to “calling Willy Wonka’s factory… They told me to have a colorful day!”). According to the rep, their washable markers contain only water and non-toxic, water-based dyes. While she was hesitant to recommend using them on hair, she did confirm they are free of alcohol (terribly drying) and any harsh chemicals. Just to be safe, I also consulted with Alex, my color expert at Bradley & Diegel Salon, who agreed the technique should be harmless.
The original how-to involved breaking markers open and wringing out sponges for all-over color. The whole process sounded messy, erratic and better suited to short hair. I worked out my own method for precise application, perfect for achieving a dip-dyed look. (Apologies to my brunette beauties, but this technique works best on the fairer-haired.)
First, make sure you are using Crayola Washable Markers. (I picked up their Bold color pack, but only because I couldn’t find the pastel Tropicals.)
Work in small (1 inch) sections starting at the bottom layers of your hair. Hold the section you’re coloring, and use a clip to secure the rest of your hair out of the way.
Thoroughly color in the pads of your thumb and index finger (as in, marker directly on skin). Don’t worry, it will wash off!
For best results rub fingers together for a second or two before you begin. If the ink is too wet when you apply, you’ll end up with splotchy fingerprints in your highlights.
Begin quickly and repeatedly running inked fingers down the length of your hair, starting about an inch from the tips at first and working a little higher with each swipe. This will concentrate the color at your ends and create a subtle ombré effect. You can enhance the effect by letting small strands drop from the section you’re working on as you go.
If the ink gets too dry before you’re satisfied with the color, re-ink your fingers and start again around the middle of the color you’ve already applied.
Repeat throughout your head, working from lower layers up to add as much or as little color as you like.
For added effect and definition, go back through and tip select sections with a similar but slightly darker color. (I added purple tips to pink highlights and blue tips to teal highlights.)
Voila! You have yourself a perfect dip dye that will wash away without a trace by Monday morning.
With streaks of color appearing on famous (and infamous) heads from Cali to the Jersey Shore, some fear the dip dye is doomed to go the way of feather extensions, but I have hopes for its resilience. In fact, I don’t mind the trend’s mainstream turn. As Rainbow Brite highlights become less shocking, perhaps I can push the limits of my hair color in my conservative 9 to 5. They have accepted my bouts of silver… which is only a hint away from a cool, pale lilac… which, with slow and subtle progression, could transition into an icy white-pink almost unnoticed – don’t you think?
I have some amazing pictures (courtesy of Gregor) of the final results coming up in the next Costume Department… Stay tuned! Until then, here’s a quick preview: