DDIY: Dip Dye It Yourself

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:

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31 Responses to DDIY: Dip Dye It Yourself

  1. lei ann says:

    lovely, lovely, lovely!!! amazing DIY! as one of your brunette friends, i’m (as the young kids say) jealousssssssss ^_^


    • holleigh says:

      But I’m horribly jealous of your masses of shiny, healthy hair! I tell one of the owners of Bradley & Diegel that my goal is to grow mine very long and he just laughs at me.


  2. You are beautiful


  3. noelani says:

    I would definitely be trying this fantastic DIY if my hair wasn’t so dark! Well I actually went nearly all blond once in highschool but that is a color disaster story for another day. Can’t wait to finally catch up with you all this week!


  4. Caroline says:

    That seriously looks so amazing, it looks beautiful in that colour! I love your little chain mail purse necklace in the lace photo too :D


  5. Marissa says:

    Ooh! I had only seen the pink. The blue looks great on you.


  6. Katy says:

    This reminds me of being in 8th grade and getting so bored one day in class that I pulled out my washable markers and just started coloring the tips of my hair. By the end of the day, the entire bottom part of my hair was a rainbow of color. Too bad my current hair color is too dark for that, but it’s giving me ideas. – Katy


  7. Kristen says:

    This looks great – but, as we discussed on Wednesday, I am an utter disaster when it comes to my hair. I would end up with it all blue. Or, on my face, smurf style. Somehow, I doubt “the blue in the face” look would become a trend…


  8. Pingback: This life has been a test… | covetous creatures

  9. I’m definitely trying this this weekend! I worried that my hair is a bit too porous (love myself some bleach!) but after a small test trend (of hot pink, naturally!) I’m ready to commit!


    • holleigh says:

      I had the exact fear! My hair is beyond bleached and pretty unpredictable with color. I’ve dyed it purple from too much blonde conditioner! This washes out so easily, though. Now I just need to get more markers!


  10. Andrew says:

    I’m glad you tweaked my tutorial and made it work for yourself!
    The results are awesome, congrats!!


  11. Jorja says:

    My hair is goldish, (So dark blonde!) Will this work for me?


  12. Samantha Willner says:

    My hair is dark borwn… Do you think this could possibly wrk? And BTW- GORGEUS! Amazing creativity !


  13. Tracy says:

    My daughter is doing a science fair project on how to make hair dye with marker. I added which colors work best on brown and blonde hair. Any help would be appreciated.


  14. Ann says:

    will it work on blackish brow hair???


  15. How many shampoos does it take for the dye to wash out? Please let me know!


  16. Tammy says:

    I’m really nervous about trying this. After ai use the marker one time can I reuse it?


    • holleigh says:

      If you’re using this method, you should have no trouble reusing the marker. And you can test this on a small section of hair if you’re nervous to see how it reacts and how it washes out on your hair type and color. Good luck!


  17. kriste. says:

    This sounds fun but i don’t think it’ll work in my red hair. Then again it never hurts to try.


  18. lauren says:

    this is so great! thank you


  19. Blu says:

    id love to do this, but ive tried many times and it didnt work. my hair color is like a jet black so colors dont show up. plus, i have mixed girl hair. lol. anyways, can anyone tell me how id be able to do this and get the color to stay?


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