What makes a dip dye unique
Before we get into the how-to’s of at-home dip dyeing, let’s first establish what makes dip dyeing such a good choice for anyone with the itch to colour. With such a wide variety of hair colouring terms being thrown around the internet, what exactly is dip dye?
The difference between ombré and dip dye
The colour trend you may be more familiar with is ombré, which is the closest in appearance to dip dye, with some important differences. Ombré has been on the modern hair colouring scene for at least ten years now. What originally faced backlash for looking like an unfinished trip to the salon, has grown into a springboard for free hair expression, and rightfully so. Ombré exudes the devil-may-care vibe of life in the noughties, giving you a burst of colour, without the need to go all-in.
While many people think dip dyed hair and ombré are one and the same, colourists will tell you that is not actually the case. The two techniques differ considerably when it comes to how the looks are created.
What both ombré and dip dye styles have in common is a finished product that showcases darker roots and lighter, or brighter, ends. Beyond that, ombré hair colour is known for its soft gradient effect, as if blended with an artist’s paint brush to transition subtly between shades. Dip dyed hair, on the other hand, has a blunt, stark appearance – almost resembling a vertical yin and yang contrast that’s perfectly placed for an it-girl hair statement. This approach to dip dye makes it easier to achieve at home, as the gradient requires less blending.
How to dip dye at home
Now you’re able to tell your ombré from your dip dye, it’s time to get to the good stuff.
Before you begin dip dyeing your hair at home, you’ll need to choose exactly what type of look you’re going for. You can go dark to light or to any wild colour variation you choose. Whatever look you go for, it’s important to consider your base colour, as you may need to lighten your hair before you can continue with the dip dye process.
The finished effect will depend on your base colour, so applying a lighter shade, like honey blonde, to a darker brunette, like chestnut, won’t result in the dip dyed effect you’re going for.
Some colour kits that are designed specifically to help you create this look, like L’Oreal Préférence Wild Ombré Dip Dye Kit, contain lighteners so you have a one- stop-shop for your colour. However, if you’re looking to really go crazy with your colour of choice, consider a one-two combo of a gentle bleach, like L’Oreal Paris Colorista Effects Ombré, and a vibrant, power-packed colour like green, violet or rose blonde with L’Oreal Paris Colorista Paint.
For your most customisable option yet, consider L’Oreal Paris Colorista Washout. This line has 19 different colour options and each one fades out slowly over 1-2 weeks of use so, in combination with your lightened base layer, you can change your dip dyed look up as often as you like.
Preparing to dip dye your hair at home
Ensure your hair is as hydrated and healthy as possible, before you start the dyeing process. You could always throw a hair mask in for good measure. Hair masks are great for adding into your routine for nourishing care and a little ‘me time’.
If you feel like your locks could be in better condition, consider changing your routine and using a hair mask like L’Oreal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Nourishing Hair Mask Balm, which can really help you to increase the moisturised feel of your hair.
To get the best benefit out of this hair mask, apply it thoroughly from root to tip, being extra liberal with the amount of product you apply from the mid-lengths to the ends of your hair. This area is where your dip dyed look will come to life, so giving it a little extra TLC could be just what it needs to look and feel its best.
Any time you’re planning on going lighter, it’s also worth investing in a silver shampoo. Particularly if you have any warmer, more copper tones to your natural hair colour. Silver shampoo – like L’Oreal Paris Colorista Silver Shampoo – is massively beneficial when it comes to neutralising brassy or orange tones within your strands, and it works wonders to help to maintain maximum vibrancy post- colour work, too.
Applying your dip dye at home
Before you begin dyeing your hair at home, always read the instructions in the leaflet and on the back of the pack, and do an allergy alert test at least 48 hours before you begin. Ok, the moment of truth. Here’s how to dip dye your hair at home:
1. Get your space ready
The last thing you want to do is cause a dye disaster in your bathroom (or other at- home salon of choice.) This means being prepared with the tools you’ll need to keep your dye just where you want it. The most obvious port of call? Your clothes.
To begin, style yourself in an old t-shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty – don’t risk your favourite outfit! Also make sure you have gloves close by (Hint: they’re usually included with your at-home dye kit of choice). You may also want a few extra plastic carrier bags around to protect your surrounding. You can use them to line the sink or, if you really want to get creative, feel free to wear one like a bib so dye doesn’t touch your clothes, and you don’t need to find an old towel you don’t mind ruining.
2. Get your hair ready
With your wardrobe set and your bathroom prepped, it’s time to prepare your hair. Your hair, by now, should be feeling healthy and smooth after your conditioning treatments. All you need to do to prep your hair now is to simply give it a thorough brush-through. The key is to have super smooth, tangle-free hair when you’re ready to apply your dye. For a pristine dip dye finish, it’s important that the dye evenly processes on every strand, so removing the obstacles (like knots) makes a huge difference.
From here, part your hair along your the parting that you normally style it with, so that the dye coverage falls naturally when you incorporate your new look into your day-to-day styling routine.
If you’re the type that likes to mix it up? That’s great! Simply give your hair a stark middle part. This technique is your ticket to flexibility – no matter what part line you go with, you can rest assured that you have an even distribution of dye overall.
3. Determine where the dip dye will go
We strongly recommend considering the length of your hair when determining where you’d like your dip dye to go. After all, placement is everything. If your hair is medium length or longer, we recommend starting the dye somewhere between your ear and your chin. Benchmark this by using your finger. You want the dye to make an impact but not to look like a grow out gone wrong.
If you have shorter hair, take a look in the mirror and decide how far up you want the dye to go. About four fingers worth works best for bob length hair, five fingers for a longer, shoulder-length bob or ‘lob’. If you have a cropped or pixie cut, you’ll likely want to keep this look more subtle. We suggest getting a friend to help you achieve this look, as it works best by applying colour to the tips of your strands, which will be more difficult to do alone.
With placement in mind, smoothly brush the two sides of the part you previously created onto their separate sides and secure with hair elastics at the point you’d like your dye to end. If you happen to have super thick hair, consider adding a third section to the back of your hair so that the dye line stays even all the way around. The best way to make sure that your hair elastic placement is even is to take both (or all three) sections and compare them against one another. Bring the first two sections to meet underneath your chin. Are the elastics meeting at the same spot? If so, you’re good to go. If not, simply adjust the elastics to match.
4. Prepare your dye
First and foremost, as with any at-home product, take your time and read the instructions inside the box ahead of any colour application. There’s no better way to ensure that you’re fully equipped to achieve the look you’re after. With your hair sections mapped out and ready to go, the next step is to mix the dye. Following the instructions is paramount for minimising damage or user error here. Create your colour according to instructions, then mix well in the bottle provided in your kit. Then, get ready to colour!
5. Place the colour
If you’ve chosen L’Oreal Paris Préférence Wild Ombré for your introduction into dip dyeing hair at home, you’ve found yourself with the perfect product to simplify the process – the kit comes with an easy applicator brush that’s perfect for creating an even, natural application. Apply the dye onto the brush rather than directly onto your hair and it’ll practically do the work for you, creating the fullest, most natural-looking coverage, and to allowing for more precision, which is essential for a head-turning dip dye.
With your brush in hand and packed with colour, start by applying the dye to the ends of your hair first. Then, work your way up. It’s best to start dyeing at the bottom as the first strokes in your hair will have the most product. The ends of your hair are the easiest place to land any excess - as your applicator brush works its magic, it’ll help to redistribute the colour more evenly along the bottom section of your hair.
With the ends coated, use your applicator brush to apply your colour mixture up to the point where your hair elastics are secure. Make sure you work the colour in thoroughly across all sections. Then, one-by-one, remove your elastics and apply one last brush through with the applicator brush from the tops of your dyed sections to the very tips.
A technique like this will result in slightly more contrast between your natural shade and freshly coloured section. Make sure that all colour is deposited evenly and begin the waiting game.
6. Wait for the colour to develop
Allow the dye to develop for 25 to 45 minutes, depending on your natural hair colour and the level of intensity you want. Every person’s hair reacts differently to hair dye, so use the allergy alert test to ensure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients in your dye of choice. Alternatively, wipe the mixture off a small section of hair after 25 minutes to see how the colour is developing.
Once you’re sure your new hair colour has developed enough, rinse your hair thoroughly, keeping your gloves on to help you work the dye out of your locks until the water runs clear. With all the product rinsed out, you’re ready to apply your nourishing L'Oréal conditioner. Style your hair as normal, or experiment with no-heat curls or your favourite volumising products to give your fresh look some extra oomph!
Lightening your hair ahead of colour application
As we mentioned earlier, it is possible to turn the dip dye process into a two step one for further flexibility and colour choice. Repeat the above process with a product designed for ombré lightening, like L’Oreal Paris Colorista Ombré, and then follow it up with your favourite colour (or colours!), like L’Oreal Paris Colorista Washout for maximum levels of self expression. More on that later.
Maintain your dip dye
A colour care shampoo and conditioner such as L’Oreal Paris Elvive Colour Protect range are a must for dip dyed tresses. The products are specifically formulated for colour treated hair and contain Linseed oils that help to deeply nourish and protect your dyed hairs radiance.
We recommend investing in a heat protectant spray or cream to add to your hair styling repertoire.
One of our favourite heat styling products is L’Oreal Paris Stylista The Blowdry Cream. It not only protects your strands from heat damage, but also works as a styling agent to help hold the look you’ve created with your heat tools for up to 72 hours. It’s the perfect product to join you and your newly dip dyed hair on your journey of styling experimentation.
Experiment with your dip dye colour
Whether you’re dipping your toe in the world of hair colour for the first time, or you're an at-home hair colour seasoned pro, it’s always fun to experiment with new looks.
Add a pop of colour to your dip dye, such as hot pink or lavender using our vibrant 1- day Colorista Sprays, or, if you’re really looking to go wild, consider adding an array of different shades to your dip dye for maximum colour fusion. Who says unicorn hair is only for those willing to fully commit? L’Oreal Paris Colorista has a huge range of products designed specifically to help you get your creativity flowing and a dip dyed style is unquestionably the perfect place to start.