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A guide to Alternative hair dyes

One thing we adore here at Alt fashion is the plethora of alternative dyes available on the market today.

Rainbow hair

When I first started dyeing my hair un natural shades of purple and red at 14 I was lucky to have a good selection of directions dyes to hand at my local alternative shop. But as I ventured further wanting to dye my hair all sorts of shades, it took a few years of raiding shops and websites to find other brands and shades to test to find the shades I'd envisioned.

The market for alternative hair dyes is much greater nowadays than it was back in the late 90's. These days its quite easy to find a wide selection on sale on line, through to a wider selection at alt shops across the country. But for novices to the world of multi coloured hair, and hair dye where do you start? We've put our years of experience to hand to assist.

Rainbow hair

What's an alternative hair dye?

Most of the brands you'll find on line are semi permanent hair dyes, this is what makes alternative hair dyes different to off the shelf permanent dyes such as Loreal and Garnier's ranges.

Semi permanent dyes don't tend to last as long as permanent dyes however the effect and shade you get can vary from how long you leave the dye on for, to your hair colour beforehand.

Alternative dyes come in much more vibrant and neon shades than you'll find in most chemists and drug stores. From neon pinks, to muted reds, and greens, you can find virtually every colour in the rainbow.

Shades tend to vary from brand to brand; there are 5 major alternative hair dye brands out there at the moment with each having a different range of colours and products available. Some come in uv shades (Manic panic), to shorter temporary spray on ranges (Stargazer).

Choosing and the first dye.

Which one you choose is up to you. You can find reviews of hair dye ranges and shades on line, amongst a gallery of results at Beeunique's hair dye gallery site, and forum.

For beginners we recommend trying a shade that you are comfortable with. Do a strand test first before you commit to the dye so you can see the results before a full dye job.

The beauty of semi permanent dyes is you don't have to worry about mixing it like you do with permanent dye packets, you can simply open the tub and apply to the test strand without worrying about leaving the peroxide mixture over night!

Manic panic

Of course most semi permanent dyes are much more effective over bleached hair, but we've also found that lighter hair shades will take dye just as well; light natural blondes and brunettes can still take on certain shades of dye rather well.

If you'd prefer to bleach beforehand you can find bleach kits by Manic panic, as well as brands such as Jerome Russell and Loreal on the high street. It's best to bleach the day before your dye job, and again taking a test strand on the bleached hair to time your results with the dye.

When it comes to the dye job it'self you can leave it on for the optimum timing of your choice. The recommended 15-30 minutes is usually enough for a quick tint job but if you want a more effective, vibrant result a few hours should suffice. You can always use your test strand beforehand to determine the length of time to leave your dye on to the desired result.


Now that you've dyed your hair

Rejoice in your hair dye success, not every first dye job goes well; my first few attempts left me with purple ears and a vibrant neck for a few days! But it's a matter of practice make perfect.

There are so many shades to try out, and with semi permanent dyes you can change your hair much more often, especially with lightened/bleached hair.

The results from your first dye job may fade rather quickly, there are no specific rights or wrongs to fix this but some companies do make after conditioners to help preserve the colour for longer. Directions have a range of colour protecting shampoos and conditioners that can help to prolong your colour and treat your hair after colouring.

You can find a wide selection of sites stocking alternative hair dyes at our directory.

You can also find hair dye images and further advice at Beeunique's hair dye gallery site, and forum.

Images: iStock, PhotoXpress, Manic panic, & Directions.

Editorial note : This is an archived post, find our freshly updated guide to alternative hair dye brands here.