Evaluating Hair Dye Reviews

If you’re like me, you like to check internet reviews before you buy a new dye you’re unfamiliar with. They can be very helpful tools for deciding whether or not to try a new product.

However, not all reviews are created equal. All reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, but some reviews should be viewed with more skepticism than others.


Negative reviews should be viewed with the most skepticism. I’m going to help you identify some things you should look for determine if a review is trustworthy. I’m going to provide you with some fun, possibly exaggerated, examples as well.



  1. One star. Most of the time, people who give a 1 star review are being slightly dramatic. I gave 2 stars to even my least favorite dye ever, because it had at least one redeeming factor, as do most dyes.
  2. Bad grammar and spelling. I’d like to think I outgrew my grammar Nazi days, but I still do take a lot less stock in what someone says when their grammar, spelling, or punctuation is terrible. If they don’t care enough to use basic subject verb agreement, do they really care if their review is accurate? Everyone makes a typo once in a while, but I’ve read only one valid review with terrible grammar.
  3. Very short reviews. Not all short reviews are incorrect, but they really don’t provide enough information to make any accurate conclusions about the product.



4. They used the dye wrong. If a reviewer is angry that the dye didn’t work when they obviously used it wrong, their whole review is pretty much invalid. I see a lot of people angry that light colors didn’t show up on their unbleached hair.

5. They say “I followed the instructions”. I’m not sure why all dye bottles say to leave the dye in for only 30 minutes, because you really should leave it in for at least an hour. When someone mentions they followed those instructions, it means they have no previous experience with this type of dye and they didn’t research basic dyeing techniques before using it.



6. They don’t know basic semi-permanent dye care. Experienced dyers know that semi-permanent colors require special hair care. In order to preserve color, it’s best to wash with cold water, wash less frequently, and use shampoos with little or no sulfates.If you plan on using these care techniques, then their review likely won’t be super useful to you.


Reading Reviews for Your Preferences

I’ve showed you a few ways to identify reviews that are bad overall, but once you wade through the bad ones, you should use the good reviews to decide if they dye is right for you.

Longevity. Do you like to change colors every month? Or do you want to put dye in and not retouch it for months? Look for information about staying power to decide if that dye will be good for you.
Side story: the Amazon reviews for SFX Virgin Rose said the dye is essentially permanent, but I thought they were exaggerating. It took a month and a half of extensive fading to get my hair to peach. I was dumb for not listening.

Bleeding. Does bleeding dye bother you a lot? Do you want to get the deposit back on your apartment? Read what people have to say about bleeding. If you hate bleeding, want to use multiple colors, or don’t want a stained shower, avoid dyes that are known to bleed.

Texture. Do you prefer thick dye or do you like it runny and easier to spread?

Amount. Read other peoples’ reviews to guesstimate how much you will need for your hair’s length and thickness. when in doubt, get more than you think you need.



Hopefully, this long post equipped you with the information you need to be an informed review-reader and consumer. Happy dyeing!


What does Semi-permanent mean? Demi-permanent? Direct dye?

When it comes to coloring, you hear a lot of terms thrown around referring to hair color, but what do they mean?


The most common term in hair coloring is “permanent”. Most hair coloring is done with permanent hair color. Most of your natural shades are going to be permanent hair color.

Here is a summary of permanent color: “Permanent color permanently changes the natural pigment of your hair. It contains ingredients that help the color molecules penetrate the hair cuticle and deposit permanent color. Because it is a stronger formula, permanent color provides the best gray coverage and also has the ability to lighten natural hair color.”

Permanent color uses a developer (usually 10, 20, or 30 volume) to change the color fo your hair. This color is, as the name suggests, permanent. It will not wash out.

Some people find that their hair will not hold permanent red hair color molecules. Usually this is caused by hair damage, but it could also be natural porosity issues.

Permanent hair color is supposed to be called “hair color”, not “hair dye”. I don’t know when it became the standard term, but a lot of salon professionals get really upset about it, so it’s best to use the correct term.


One of the terms you hear most when referring to crazy colors is “semi-permanent”.

Here is a summary of semi-permanent color: “These dyes only partially penetrate the hair shaft. For this reason, the color will survive repeated washing, typically 4–5 shampoos or a few weeks. Semi-permanents contain no, or very low levels of developer, peroxide or ammonia, and are therefore safer for damaged or fragile hair.”

Basically, they stain the surface of the hair, are non-damaging, and fade with washing.

Semi-permanent colors can be referred to as “hair dye” because that is exactly what it does to your hair strands. “Hair color” is also appropriate to use for semi-perm colors.


Pretty basic, right? Now we move on to a slightly more complex term: “demi-permanent“.

Here is a summary of demi-permanent hair color: Demipermanent color contains no ammonia and deposits only. It is mixed with a low-volume developer to help open the cuticle and lasts up to 24 shampoos. This type of color is great for blending gray, enhancing natural color, refreshing color, toning highlights, or for corrective work.” -Clairolpro.com

So, basically, demi-permanent color is in-between semi-permanent and permanent color. Demi uses a special low power developer for a technically temporary color.

It is important to note that some semi-permanent colors claim to be demi-permanent, even when they are not to be used with developer. They are using the term to refer to how long the color lasts, but it is not quite accurate.


Temporary hair dye refers to any hair color that is designed to wash out in one wash (although sometimes it takes more). This refers to your hair chalks, Halloween hair color spray, and the like.

Direct Dye

Another term you may hear is “direct dye“. All that term means is that the dye does not use developer and works by depositing color on the hair. Does that sound familiar? It probably will, because that is exactly what semi-permanent color is. Temporary color also fits this definition, but you don’t usually hear the terms together.


Oxidative vs. non-oxidative

Oxidative dye is hair color that uses an oxidizing agent (usually hydrogen peroxide developer) to make chemical changes to the hair. This term applies to permanent and demi-permanent hair color. Non-oxidative dye is deposit-only. The term refers to semi-permanent and temporary dyes.

Best Alternative Hair Color Forum

Hello there! It has been a while. I have some new posts coming up, but I would like to tell you guys about a great forum site for alternative hair coloring that has been very useful to me.

haircrazy_logoCredit:  Haircrazy.com

Summary: Over the past few months, I’ve visited HairCrazy.com dozens of times. The site has many different functions, such as user pictures of their results, an online forum, articles about hair coloring, a personal photo timelines, and a UK-based shop. But this site is not only for those with rainbow hair. They also deal with normal color problems/results, styling, and extensions.


In-Depth: The thing I use the site for the most is advice. A lot of us have gotten in some sticky situations with coloring our hair, and there are a lot of people on the forum who may be able to help. Some of the users helped me with the horrible pink disaster I experienced with my hair (which I will talk about in a later post). I also browsed advice given on other users’ posts.

Credit: Haircrazy.com/forum/

Another cool thing about the site is that your profile gives you a personal Hair Timeline. This helps others see your cool hair evolution and helps you keep track of what you’ve done with your hair. Below is a snippet of my timeline.

timelineCredit: Haircrazy.com/timelines

The results gallery is super helpful when picking a color. You can browse by Products, Styles, Colors, and the Photos of the Month section. I usually browse the Products section to see what kind of results I can expect with a certain dye.

Credit: Haircrazy.com/gallery


They also have a UK-based shop with a lot of products. They carry a variety of brands and they carry more than just dye. They carry shampoos, conditioners, and hair color removal products. Since it is based in the UK, the shipping is a little too high to get it shipped here, but people in the UK say it is a god-send to eb able to buy all these products from their own country.



Overall, it is a great site that I highly recommend to anyone who colors their hair.


Great news!

I whipped out the tape measure and I discovered that after growing my hair out for 19 months, Only the bottom inch of my hair has ever been touched by bleach! After I get a nice trim, I will resume bleaching, but MUCH more carefully this time.
First stop: purple.

My experience with using semi-permanent dyes on unbleached hair.

About 19 months ago, my hair was completely fried by the amount of bleaching I had done to it. I am still growing out the damage today. After that fiasco, bleaching my hair was no longer an option. I went to brown for a few months, but I just got so bored with having “normal” hair. I decided to try using crazy semi-permanent colors over my unbleached hair. Here are my experiences.
Note: I retouched my roots with a permanent auburn dye in between each semi-permanent coloring, because the color did not stick to my virgin, dark brown roots.
The first time I went on one of these expeditions, my hair started out as a dark-ish medium brown color, which can be seen below in this crappy ipod photo with my boyfriend.

before red

The first color I tried over this hair color was Manic Panic Vampire Red. It came out a deep crimson color. It was not quite as bright as every other red I used, and it was insanely messy. I do not recommend it. Excuse the crappy ipad photos.
vampire red
The next color I used on this streak of red was Nuclear Red by Special Effects. It was super bright and I personally loved it. It’s a great color for using on unbleached hair. Again, excuse the crappy ipad photos.

nuclear rednuc red

After these two colors, I went back to my normal brown for a while. This was around my 20th birthday in 2014. After becoming bored with that I again, I went back to the red.
The brown I started with was quite light.
brown 2
The first color I used on this journey was Poppy Red by Jerome Russell Punky Color (probably my favorite brand of semi-perms). It came out kind of dark. I used one full tub on my hair. For the price, I would recommend this color.

punky red_

punky 2

*Update: I had forgotten that I used Crazy Color Fire between this dye job and Pravana. I liked the color and it was fairly bright. It was almost the same as the Punky Color. The poor quality picture below may or may not be my hair with Fire over it.


The next color I used was Pravana Red. I applied it directly over the old dye which was still only about 3/4ths faded. The Pravana came out a darker Red color. I found the color to be kind of dull. I wouldn’t recommend it for unbleached hair.
pravan 2_
The next brand I tried was one I have never heard of, which is apparently a salon brand. The dye is Rusk Deep Shine Direct in Red. I found it on ebay for cheap. Excuse the angry-looking photo.

rusk deepshine_

The next color I tried was One N’ Only Argan Oil Perfect Intensity from Sally Beauty. The color was quite frankly pretty dull and it barely showed up over the other dyes I already had built up in my hair. The brand is normally good, but this color didn’t do it for me.


The next color I used was Ion Brilliance Brights in Red. I liked this dye a lot. It stained my fingers the first three times I washed my hair, but it wasn’t too bad about messiness other than that. I think the color was really bright and I liked it a lot. Sorry for the bad photo.

ion red

After 6 whole months of doing the same color, I got bored and wanted to change it up. I wanted to do pink. So, first, I did Vitamin C fading treatments to lighten the build up of red in my hair. I did 4 and this was the resulting color:


It was almost a natural hair color. After that, I applied a mix of 3/4ths Manic Panic Fuchsia Shock and 1/4th Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink. My hair was a very dark cranberry color and it still looks nice after 8 washes (this is my current color as of January 2nd, 2016). Let me say, though… I will NEVER recommend Fuchsia Shock. It is the messiest dye I have ever used. 8 washes later, my fingers, my neck, and my ears get re-stained every time I wash my hair. I plan on fading this color out because I am tired of the mess. I have used Hot Hot Pink three times, so I know it is not responsible for the mess. The first picture is day one, and the second picture is 6 washes (with sulfate-y shampoo and warm water) faded. It is hard to capture the pink in photos, so my hair is about 2 times pinker than it appears.

christmas hair

After fading out that mess, I applied Special Effects Virgin Rose to my hair. The dye itself was a raspberry color. It came out quite dark on my hair, just like the last pink did at first. I am waiting for it to fade a little to see the true color. This lovely picture with my boyfriend is one shampoo in.



Review: Special Effects Atomic Pink

sfx_ap(Swatch provided by beeunique.co.uk)

Special Effects Atomic Pink: 4 out of 5 stars

Intro: This dye is a very beloved dye in the alternative hair dyeing community. This was actually the first real alternative color dye I used. I used this in my sophomore year in high school and I set my small school ablaze with talk about my cool pink hair. While I found it to be a beautiful red-based neon pink, it did not exactly live up to my expectations.


Staying power: I’ve read many people who say it lasted for a very long time without any fading, but this was not the case for me. I found that after about 6 weeks, the dye had faded to a cotton candy pink color. While this color was very pretty, it was not the hot pink I wanted. I will note that I did not use sulfate free shampoo at the time, but I did wash with cold water.

prettypinkdress - Copy
Approximately 4-5 weeks fade

Method: I bleached my hair to a yellow blonde before applying the color and left the dye in overnight. Below is a picture of day one of the color.


Consistency: I am also personally not a fan of the consistency of the Special Effects dyes. They are very thick and I always have to mix them with a little water. I also need to use water to get the second half of it out of the bottle. It is also hard to spread on the hair. If I had not mixed it with water, I would not have had enough to spread on my slightly-below the shoulder length thick hair.

Messiness: One pro of this color is the lack of messiness. Compared to Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink (my favorite hot pink), the bleeding of color in the shower and onto shirt colors was fairly minimal. 

After bleaching the roots 8 weeks after putting this color in my hair, I switched to Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink, which I much preferred, and I will write about it in detail in a future review.


Not messy
Nice color

Medium staying power


Here are my overall ratings for the color:

Color/Vibrancy: 4 out of 5
Staying power: 3 out of 5
Consistency: 2.5 out of 5
(Lack of) Bleeding/messiness: 5 out of 5

Would I use the color again? Possibly, but likely not.

How to deal with a hair dye that runs

There are some hair dyes that will run literally every time they get wet. Some colors run even when you sweat. Red tends to be especially bad about this. You can’t really stop the bleeding, but you can deal with it in a few ways.

1. Don’t wear nice or non-machine washable tops while the color is still running. You will likely ruin them. Try to wear shirts that you either don’t care that much about, or tops that are the color of the hair dye. Black is also good, since it won’t show most dye stains.

2. Wear your hair up. If your hair is long enough, keeping it in a ponytail and off of your neck and collar will prevent a lot of staining. But don’t put wet hair in a ponytail unless you want breakage.

3. Use an old pillowcase in a darker color. If you notice your hair color rubs off even when dry or you sleep with damp hair, don’t sleep on a nice or light colored pillowcase.

4. Dry your hair with a towel that’s the same color as the dye or an old towel. The dye will stain other towels. I’ve found most towel-staining dyes I’ve used wash out with Persil detergent, but don’t use that brand new white towel, just in case.

5. Invest in some Oxiclean or Spray N Wash. You will end up with a lot of stained collars/shoulders, and possibly pillows and blankets. Make sure to test the cleaner on a small inconspicuous area to assure the cleaner won’t discolor the fabric.

6. Blow dry your wet hair, if possible. I don’t recommend using above medium heat due to the damage heat tools can do, but I understand how insanely frustrating it is to dry hair your hair on the cool setting. If you let your hair air dry, just avoid wearing nice shirts while your hair is still wet.


stained shirt

A lovely pink-stained collar.

Can I dye my hair without bleaching it?

I see this question a lot on the internet. People are generally reluctant about bleaching their hair, for good reasons, usually for fear of damage. Now, this is not a simple question. It is highly variable, in fact. The two most important factors are current hair color and desired color.

This article is going to be long, but stick with me.

Forenote: Every dye is different. Just because one color dye shows up vibrantly on your hair does not mean all dyes in that family will work. I will later post about good red dyes for unbleached hair.


Starting hair color:

There are two colors than I can tell you with complete certainty if you can dye your hair any color without bleaching. Black hair: In most cases, absolutely not. Virtually no color will show up on your hair. There are somes dyes with very  deep color, like blue blacks and deep purples that may give a tint in the sun, but do not count on any dye showing up for you without pre-lightening. The other color is pure platinum blonde. This is not golden blonde, or ash blonde; it is white-blonde. You can put absolutely any color (even pastels) on platinum hair and it will show up without being an ugly murky color.

But, obviously, most peoples’ hair colors do not fit into these two groups. For any color between these two, the answer is not so black and white (excuse the pun).

Brown hair: Virtually any shade of brown hair (possibly excluding very dark brown) will get some sort of result from using a semi-permanent red dye. If your hair is in the darker range, you will get a nice crimson tint. Medium brown hair will likely get a maroon color. Light brown hair will usually get a bright blood red. Very pigmented pink, purple, orange, and green dyes will likely also show up on brown hair. I do not recommend trying blue or yellow on brown hair. Pastels will absolutely not work out with any shade of brown.


Manic Panic Vampire Red over light/medium brown hair. It turned out a deep crimson color.


IMG_0254Manic Panic Fuschia shock over ~4 layers of different semi-perm reds on an original medium auburn color.

Red hair: If your hair is in the range of natural red colors, you will have a lot of luck with semi-permanent bright red. Intense orange should also turn out fine over ginger-red hair. No guarantees on darker colors of red.

Blonde hair: Those with light blonde hair are quite lucky. They can use red, orange, yellow, pink, green, purple, and possibly yellow if the hair is light enough. with great success. Colors like blue are not recommended on hair with a yellow, golden, or ashy tint. It will likely end up green or murky. Dark, royal blue may be an exception. Medium blonde would work well with red, bright pink, orange, and purple. Some forrest-type greens may work. Dark blonde would work well with red, pink, some purples, or possibly orange. Dark greens may also work on this color.

Those with darker blonde hair or golden blonde hair should not worry too much about bleaching their hair, since they would only need 10 or 20 volume developer, which is much less damaging than the average 30 volume. Now, if you are not mixing your own bleach from bleach powder and a bottle of salon developer and you are using a kit, it will most likely not list the volume. The average kit is 30 volume. Any kit labeled as intense is likely 40 volume and should be avoided unless you need serious color lift. I recommend getting packets of bleach powder (or if you have some frequent dyer miles like myself, a 1 pound bucket of bleach powder) and some developer from somewhere like Sally Beauty instead of buying kits. My favorite developer is Ion brand.


A note about pastels: For virtually any pastel, your hair will need to be platinum blonde or white. If your hair has a noticeable yellow tint, you will be able to see it after you rinse the dye out, and the color will not look as good. Use a toner to get platinum or white hair. Your hair will need to be lifted to a very light blonde with few yellow tones or the toner isn’t going to do much for you.


A note about bleaching: bleaching damages your hair, and therefore makes it more porous, and semi-permanent colors will last longer on bleached hair. The colors may also be more vibrant on bleached blonde hair versus unbleached blonde hair. Hair that has never been bleached but has been color processed (meaning damaged on some level) will get better results than completely virgin hair. If your hair is completely virgin and darker, the dye may not stick at all. I had this problem with my virgin medium/dark brown roots.

Check out my post about my experience with dyeing unbleached hair!

The miracle of coconut oil

Now, we all know coconut oil can be used for cooking, but not everyone knows how amazing coconut oil is for your hair and your skin. Coconut oil has so many beauty uses and it often does a better job than super expensive hair and skin products. It is so amazing, that I just have to share its secrets with you.

Since this is a hair blog, I will start out by discussing how coconut oil can be used in your hair.






Use #1: Coconut oil makes a great hair recovery treatment. All you need is to scoop some coconut oil into a microwave safe container and heat it for a few seconds until most of it is melted. (Pure coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts at 78 F. Unrefined coconut oil is the best, but refined coconut oil for cooking will still do your hair a lot of good).
Next, rub the coconut oil into your hair and comb it through. There are a lot of methods to put the oil into your hair: You can dip your ends in the oil, pour it (carefully and slowly) on to your hair, apply it by pouring it in your hands; whatever works for you. Just be sure to comb your hair once the oil is applied to ensure even distribution.
Put your hair up in a shower cap or a shopping bag secured with a clip to prevent dripping. You can leave the oil on as long as you want, although I wouldn’t recommend less than an hour or 2. I prefer to put a towel over my pillow and leave it on overnight.


Use #2: Coconut oil not only repairs damage AFTER you bleach your hair, but it can be used to prevent damage during the bleaching. I have not tried this (yet), but a lot of people swear by it. Apply the coconut oil through your hair until it is saturated and leave it on for as long as you want. I recommend no less than an hour. Apply the bleach OVER your hair without rinsing the coconut oil. Bleaching should take place as normal, but your hair will be more protected.


Use #3: On days when your hair looks particularly frazzled rub a SMALL bit (I emphasize small) between your fingers and carefully apply it to the worst spots and brush or comb the area. If you apply too much, it will make your hair look greasy and stringy.




#1: Moisturizer. Coconut oil makes a great lotion and doesn’t take all that long to soak into your skin. It also helps prevent stretch marks by keeping the skin healthy and therefore more pliable. Surprisingly, coconut oil doesn’t clog pores too bad and it actually has anti-bacterial properties.


#2: Shaving cream. I could go on and on about how great coconut oil is as shaving cream. It moisturizes your skin, protects it, and gives you an incredibly close shave. It’s especially great for sensitive skin, such as the bikini area. The only problem with using coconut oil as shaving cream is that you must rinse the razor every two strokes. You will need a small pile of soap nearby (I sqyeeze a little body on the shower floor), and after every stroke or two, dip or rub your razor blade gently in the pile and rinse it vigorously for a second or two. As long as you properly rinse it, it will not shorten the life of your razor. Coconut oil also makes a great aftershave cream for women who are prone to razorburn.


#3: Make up remover. We all know that eye make up is particularly hard to remove, even with the special make up removal products. Rubbing coconut oil over the area in circular motions and it will start taking the eye make up right off. It also removes other make up (even lipstick) very well. Just use a wipe after you’re done with the oil to remove it and the make-up remnants from your face.



If you do some research, you will find that there are many more uses for coconut oil than just the ones I mentioned above. Coconut oil has hundreds of uses. I bought a 54 oz jar of unrefined coconut oil and I have no regrets to this day. So what are you waiting for? Buy a jar for yourself!

Oops, I made a mess (cleaning up after dyeing)

As you may know, semi-permanent hair dye can be quite messy. It tends to stain stain skin, clothes, countertops, nails, floors, and pretty much anything else it comes in contact with. Some brands of dye wipe right up, other dyes, however, leave your bathroom looking like a crime scene. Here are some tips on cleaning up and preventing hair dye mess.


Shaving cream: rubbing a little shaving cream on your stained skin can help lighten the color up a little. It can also help on tile and shower floors.

Rubbing alcohol: this is pretty much your most surefire bet when it comes to removing dye from any surface. It takes a bit of rubbing and is harsh on your skin, but it will definitely help.

Taking a shower: Most of the time, any dye on your skin will end up coming off within a shower or two. I usually lighten the stains with rubbing alcohol or shaving cream and let showers take the rest off.

Toothpaste: Some people have had luck with toothpaste. I personally have not tried it.

Some companies make wipes specifically designed for cleaning up dye, but I can’t vouch for their effectiveness because I have never used them.


Oxiclean is a great stain remover.  It is one of your best bets for tough dye stains. Sadly, there are some stains that even oxiclean can not fix. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.

Vinegar is also a pretty effective stain remover, but is onyl fully effective on certain dye stains.

Borax soaks can do pretty well to remove dye stains from fabric as well.

Rubbing Alcohol can remove stains from fabric and carpets.

Bath tubs, floors, counters, etc.:

Borax is an old-fashioned cleaning product that our great grandmas used. It is fairly easy to obtain. It comes in a big white box and can usually be found in the laundry section. For tub and shower floors, it can be mixed with a little water to make a paste and can be used as a scrub. Do not use this method on tubs that scratch easily. It can also be used on some tile/linoleum floors and counters.

Vinegar: Vinegar can be used to remove stains on tubs, floors, counters, etc.

Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol can be a good stain remover on hard (and many soft) surfaces.


There are ways to avoid making a mess so that you will not have to do as much clean up work:

Cover the area you will be working with with puppy pads, plastic, or anything effective you can think of. If the color drips, you can just throw them away.

Use vaseline on your ears and hairline. Just be sure not to get it in your hair or the color won’t take as well, not to mention vaseline is hard to wash out of your hair.

This is kind of a no brainer, but… use gloves when applying the dye.

Wear an old shirt when applying the dye so you don’t ruin good clothes. I have a shirt I use specifically for dyeing my hair.


The delightful featured photo obtained from user WonderPup on poodleforums.com.