Give Your Hair 'DIY Dye' Style

Posted by on Feb 14, 2014

Print this Post

Jason Hofmann for Ulysses Press


You brush it. You wash it. You may even complain about how you wish it was more "this" or "that." Whatever your relationship with your hair, you can change it up with just a little creativity!

In fact, your hair is an oft-forgotten canvas that's ideal for painting a colorful statement. You can even test the waters with temporary or semi-permanent hair color. When crafting your temporary hair dye, however, it's important not to jump in without a plan. Otherwise, you may end up looking like Marge Simpson (or even worse, Homer).

Loren Lankford
Our very own Loren Lankford, author of the book "DIY Dye: Bright and Funky Temporary Hair Coloring You Can Do at Home," is here today to share some advice for temporary hair color you can try at home.

Loren, congrats on your book, "DIY Dye"! How did you decide to write a book filled with recipes and techniques for temporary hair color?

Growing up, I was a bit of a rebel and alternative dresser, and was always looking for ways to change up my look and be unique. While I wasn't super interested in makeup, I did love fun hair colors and styles. Unable to afford going to the hairdresser every few weeks to maintain funky colors (and scared of what was actually in the Manic Panic being sold at my local Hot Topic), I began experimenting with ways to dye my hair at home using more natural methods. Back then, before everyone had the Internet at their fingertips, I had to resort to real trial and error. As luck would have it, my NYC hair stylist (and best friend) shares his upstairs studio with Ulysses (my publisher) and one of the editors there asked for his advice on a book idea she had about DIY dye methods. He thought of me and hooked us up ... the rest is history! Nowadays, I can afford to get my hair done regularly by a professional, but I'll never forget those younger days and the things I learned. Obviously, those old-school skills helped a lot with the writing of this book.

What is the best way for a beginner to get started with temporary hair dyes you can do at home? Are there some basic tools you'd recommend?

It totally depends on what you want to do, and where you're starting from (the length, color and texture of your hair). You'll likely need a comb, some towels you don't mind getting dirty, a really good hair dryer (invest in a Paul Mitchell, you won't regret it) and lots of patience. Natural dye methods are a lot more forgiving on hair, so as long as you don't have to bleach, you can really experiment and start all over if you don't like something.

Have you ever had a hair-dyeing catastrophe?

Yes, a ton, both on my own and from hair stylists. For one of my first movie premieres, my hair stylist (at the time, still a student) dyed my hair gray ... obviously, on accident. It was not cute, a very grandma-gray. Growing up I endured a whole host of disasters, from dyeing my hair orange, bleaching it so badly I had chunks of hair falling out, to having colors bleed together in a non-pleasing way. Luckily, I've always been really laid back about my hair. No matter how bad you mess up, it's important to remember that it's just hair — it's usually fixable, and even if not, it grows back, and it grows back healthier and stronger. A hair mess-up is not the end of the world.

Who are some of your favorite celebrities to wear colorful hair dyes?

I love Kelly Osborne's purple hair, which she's had for a while now. I think it's gorgeous and suits her very well. I also love pink ends, which has been sported by a ton of celebs (like Rachel McAdams, Demi Lovato and Gwen Stefani) for a short time. I thought Lauren Conrad rocked the look really well. Of course, these ladies have the funds to get these looks professionally and healthily done, which is nice.

What color is your hair dyed right now? What hair color and technique are you hoping to try next?

Right now, and for the last several months, my hair has been a dark red into yellow-blond ombre. I'm a big fan of that trend and have tried a few different color combinations with it, though I always seem to return to red. It's the color I have dyed my hair most often throughout my life. I keep bugging my stylist about what we should try next, though I have noticed that the older I get, the more welcome I am to keeping my hair consistent for longer periods of time. I am also now getting keratin treatments, which help keep my insanely wavy and frizzy mane a lot more manageable and straight. I love them and they're much healthier than Brazilians.

Log-in to Post a Comment: Craftfoxes shadow Google shadow


  • by mismis
    User profile

    I love to experiment and would love to try out hair chalk and other fabulous things in this book. I cut my own hair and have bleached and dyed it before (everything from platinum blonde to dark auburn red). I really want to experiment with some funky colors. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  • by mpaula.whelan
    User profile

    I have used henna. Just recently I bought a Razor comb so I could cut my own hair. Not as easy as they show on You Tube. I had to go to the salon to get it fixed. Not sure if I will try again.

  • by micheletimms
    User profile

    Last year I had a horror home dye job... My hair was bright orange when it should have been a soft mellow ash blonde! I consulted the company and things only got worse because not only was the colours even worse but I developed a reaction to the chemicals and my entire face was swollen!! I would love to use more natural hair coloring methods from now on!!

  • by marlene
    User profile

    I have very dark brown hair with red undertones. One weekend when I was 15 my girlfriend and I decided to bleach my hair blonde. We spent all weekend bleaching my hair, I have various shades of red, orange, yellow green and yellow. The ending shade of yellow and a bodily function have much in common. When I went home at the end of the weekend my father would not allow me back in the house until I dyed my hair back to its natural color. That was the only time I ever tried to become a blond.

  • by winwolfz
    User profile

    The craziest thing I ever did with my hair was attempt to dye it with lemon juice with my granma! When that didn't work we got out the bleach so I could have "blonde tips" like all the other cool kids (I'm a natural brunette). What a silly, but fun disaster!

  • by ggrmcmurray
    User profile

    I have tried henna, which I actually liked. I have had a horrible perm where the person left it on too long and It melted my hair, it was like mush. Thank goodness hair grows back. My granddaughter now wants to put streaks in her hair, I want something temp and natural.

  • by marymac
    User profile

    I attempted to cut my two year old grand daughters hair, needless to say she didn't want to sit still for it and she ended up with many layers.

  • by barbara.richmond2
    User profile

    I've never had good luck with hair. I cut (read hacked off) my own hair when I was four. This was the first of several self-inflicted bad hair decisions. More recently, I gave my blonde daughter 'temporary' purple streaks that never washed out of her hair. It's a good thing I didn't go into cosmetology. My daughter and I would have fun trying new colors.

  • by adrianne.brownpayne
    User profile

    I cut my own hair.......

  • by colleen
    User profile

    My brother met a beautiful and talented hair stylist, whom he just married this past fall. I love to let her experiment with my hair, especially when it comes to color-- she is a chemist with color! Most recently she has created my most favorite cut and color to date: it is a pixie, but with a shaved side and a little more length on the opposite side. She used various tones of pink and red colors to create what many have commented look like feathers in my hair. I also asked her if there was a way to mask my roots and she did an overlay of a dark red so that it was closer to my original color. I receive so many compliments when she styles my hair, but I love learning from her and watching her work. I have always colored my own hair, the worst was when I put blue streaks in my hair that promptly faded to green (a gross green!). I now love learning about new techniques and ways to color my hair that don't turn out booger toned, haha!

  • by kathy.smith.kellenbenz
    User profile

    I have brown hair with red highlights. I would love to be able to brush on different colors. I have stripped my hair of all color to dye it red, didn't care for that it was to bright. Then I was sun bathing and I had a bottle of sun in or something like that, my girlfriend and I decided to put it in our hair to highlight it. I think I brought the store out but all it did was give he orange highlights. I would sure have a good time with those colors. I would love to try the pink.

    Well GOOD LUCK to everyone