We’ve all wanted pink or orange or blue hair at least once in our lives. But rather than risk looking like a science experiment gone wrong, we live vicariously through celebrities and their always-changing hair colors. Of course, they don’t have to go to the office every day, which allows them to try out wild shades from strawberry shortcake pink to tie-dyed tips. For the rest of us commoners, we can only dabble lightly into the color spectrum, for the fear of getting fired for your fire red hair looms over us all.
Still want to dye your mane a daring color? Same. We’ve got all the information you need to start your hair color journey. From celebrity hair color inspiration to some tips on the actual dying process, we’ve got you (and your hair) covered.
When it comes to hair color, pink, like other colors, can be done right or done extremely wrong. One thing you should know when choosing an intense color for your hair—like the highlighter pink shade that singers Pink (aka Alecia Moore) and Gwen Stefani had back in the day—is that it fades very quickly. And it may also ruin every pillowcase you own. Courtney Stanton’s firsthand experience with hot pink hair gave her some valuable lessons about vibrant at-home dye jobs. Learn from her trial and error.
For a less in-your-face color, take note of the faded pink looks sported by Charlotte Free, Helen Mirren and pop singer Amelia Lily among others. Model Charlotte Free typically lets her light blonde roots fade into pink, in a mock ombre style. It’s easier to go from blonde to pink than to go pink to blonde. Katy Perry on the other hand went from who knows what to pink. If you’re making a radical change like she did, you’ll likely need to bleach your hair until it's a white-blonde color before you try getting to pink. If you don't start with a white shade, your final hue can end up looking more orange than pink. Like Australian fashion blogger Annika found out, it may take a few bleaches to achieve the right shade of blonde, depending on the color of your hair to start.
Like pale pink, gray-toned lilac also requires bleaching first. We love the pastel lavender that Kelly Osbourne has been showing off for the past two years. With gray undertones, the color isn’t overwhelming and gives her a nice glow. British band Little Mix member Perrie Edwards' lilac rinse does the same for her and makes her blue eyes even more vibrant. Model Lilah Parson bleached out the tips of her dark hair to add a band of light lilac along the bottom of her hair. As you’ll see below, purple isn’t the only color she’s played with using this technique.
Of course, pale isn’t the only shade of purple you can play with. Singer Jessie J went with a deeper hue, playing with darker purple tips for her long black strands. The contrast between the purple and black really made the color pop. American Idol alum Jordin Sparks went with a similar streaky approach, highlighting her dark locks with a few strands of vibrant purple.
Even if you aren’t ready to dive all the way into the grape dye, you can always add a splash to liven up your look. London-based blogger, Laura, found an ideal way to get this dip-dyed look, without making any drastic changes: Dye clip-in extensions for a look that you can easily change out. This will give you Jessie J drama any time you want it!
Whenever we think about blue hair, Katy Perry’s candy land inspired look comes to mind. And Marge Simpson. But the truth is, celebs have been doing blue hair longer than Perry has been rocking the color. Back in her early No Doubt days, Gwen Stefani rocked a bright blue not seen on heads since she pulled it off.
Perry’s blue is a deeper tone also seen on Juliette Lewis and, most recently, Demi Lovato. All three of these blue-haired stars left their dark roots intact and let their locks fade into a bright blue hue that really pops under stage lights and camera flashes.
Jade Thirlwall of the British girl group Little Mix has also gone blue, sporting stunning with sapphire-toned locks. She totally hit the mark by choosing one of the season’s hottest colors, and we love that she added in some different shades for a three-dimensional shine for a look that really pops.
Kermit is known for singing, “It’s not easy being green,” and when it comes to hair, he couldn’t be more right. Green hair colors range from soft blue-green aqua hues, as seen on Lady Gaga and Lilah Parsons, to bright greens like those worn by model Chloe Norgaard and teen Willow Smith.
Rapper and self-proclaimed mermaid Azealia Banks tried out green locks last year. Rather than actually changing her own natural color, Banks covered it up with the best hair money can buy. Banks refers to her green weave as "#EARTHWEAVE" because of the grassy tones and is completely fine with everyone knowing it's weave. Her crazy-long locks are a swirl of emerald green and cold sapphire. If you want to achieve a similar look and can’t splurge on extensions or a pricey weave, start by lighting dark hair if necessary and then layering tones of green and blue to create a shimmery metallic aqua hue.
Model Chloe Norgaard has made headlines the past few years for the Crayola-colored locks she sports, but most recently sported a bright green on the runways for Nicole Miller and Zac Posen during New York Fashion Week this September. Dubbed “toxic sludge green,” Chloe’s color is as bright as it gets!
We love crimson locks, whether naturally fiery or from a bottle. Plenty of Hollywood icons have gone red, although most tend to choose hues some are naturally blessed with. And then there are those celebs who dare to go otherworldly red. From vino-stained to candy apple red, almost every shade has been done.
Christina Aguilera dabbled in red by tipping her platinum blond hair with a bright crimson. (She also tried out a few other colored tip looks as seen below.) Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams is certainly not afraid of bright hair colors. She rocked deep red with brighter red highlights before switching up her look for orange and even two-tone looks.
Last year, Rihanna danced on the line between burgundy and really red. She wore the color in almost every way possible. From an extra-long French braid, chopped bangs, and a shaved pixie cut, to a natural ‘fro, crazy spiral curls and even a Jessica Rabbit inspired style, RiRi did it all.
A number of other famous faces have gone the extreme red route. Tattoo artist and reality TV star Kat Von D, WWE star Eva Marie, and British media personality Jodie Marsh have all dyed their locks shocking shades of red. Honestly, we’re not huge fans of hair colors this bright on women this pale. Really washes out skin tones. It also tends to look so harsh that it ages anyone over 20. We’d suggest going with more burgundy tones if you have a similar skin tone.
Sometimes, deciding on one hair color is just too difficult. Who says you have to choose? Plenty of stars have rocked two-, three- or four-color looks lately. Christina dip-dyed her blonde locks in shades of pink and purple, Avril Lavigne added pink and green streaks to her honey-colored hair, and British reality star and singer Gabriella Ellis added a whole rainbow to her dark tresses.
As mentioned above, we’ve seen Hayley Williams with both bright red and electric orange hair colors, and they fit her spunky personality quite well. But when she attended the 2013 VMA’s this year, she’d changed up her look again, unveiling a two-toned style that paired orange with a complementary hot pink, in a split-right-down-the-middle style.
Before getting press for her bright green locks, hair-chameleon Chloe Norgaard walked the runway for the Rodarte fall 2013 show with bright red and orange hair and wore rainbow-hue locks on runways for Nicole Miller and Marimekko during the spring 2013 shows. The natural brunette opts to do the dyeing on her own and has been every color from purple and pink, blonde with rainbow tips, and even a green-orange-yellow ombre. She looks like a bag of Skittles, but not in a bad way.
Not afraid of changing things up, Norgaard told Vogue in July, “I dye it myself once a week, sometimes every two weeks; it just depends on the color and how bright or faded I want it to be. I don’t bleach the whole thing before I change the color; I just bleach my roots. Otherwise, I would have no hair left!” Norgaard also boasts about dying her hair just about everywhere she goes—including while in a car on the way to Coachella—but we prefer the advice of Australian beauty guru Jade, who shows how she took her own hair from dark to ombre blue and green.
Regardless of which colorful hue you choose, dying your hair rainbow colors requires some extra care. Going from your natural brown, blonde, or black hair color can be very damaging to your lock. In most cases, you need to get to blonde before applying a color like purple, green, or pink.
Bleaching can be one of the worst things for your hair, so once you’ve achieved your desired color, you should definitely pamper your distressed locks. That means major TLC. Award-winning beauty and alternative fashion blogger Phyrra has been through all of the colors in the hair-dyeing playbook and has compiled a list of her favorite care tips for colored hair. Check out her advice for even more pre- and post-dying hair care advice, but are the four core things you should keep in mind:
- Condition often. When choosing a conditioner, make sure you find one that can replenish all of the lost moisture with each application.
- Choose color-safe shampoo. Regular shampoos may strip your hair of it’s new hue, so choose one that is formulated specifically for dyed hair, and possibly even your specific color. If you can, test out a few before you settle on one.
- Steer clear of hot water. Hot water can make your hair—and skin—extremely dry, which is exactly what you don’t want. Opt for washing in cool water to preserve your color.
- Protect from heat. Make sure you’re using some sort of heat protectant to insulate while blow-drying your locks. It’s a good idea even if your hair isn’t dyed. In fact, if you can avoid using heat in general, your hair and color will thank you.
Fading and Getting Back to Natural
When you’re done playing with color and you want to get back to your natural shade, the process is sometimes just as hard. Good news: If you do everything you aren’t supposed to do to keep your color bright, the color will fade. Laura, an England-based video blogger has some other less-harsh ways of fading your color. Either way, the process takes a while, so be prepared to wait it out or cover up faded brights with a more natural color that will allow you to return to your natural color more easily.