The extremely lazy perfectionist’s guide to brightly coloured hair

I was re-pinkifying my hair a few weeks ago and realized that there isn’t a very good guide out there for how to use the type of hair colour I prefer, so I’m writing myself some instructions and sharing them with the world for posterity. This thread on the Long Hair Community helped me figure a bunch of this stuff out, as Goldwell does not publicly document their products for amateur hair scientists like myself🙂

What you need

  • Bowls you don’t care about staining, or which are stain resistant (I used Corelleware ones and they didn’t stain; your mileage may vary)
  • Cling wrap (get good quality stuff, the kind that sticks well to itself)
  • 2-3 towels you don’t care about staining/bleaching
  • The following Goldwell Elumen products, which you can get on Amazon or eBay:
    • Prepare
    • Colour(s) of your choice – there’s a list here as they have weird codenames
    • Lock
    • Clean (this removes the colour from any skin you get it on)
  • You may also want the Return product if you’re switching colours – it will lift some of the Elumen out of your hair without bleaching. I’ve not used it myself, and have heard mixed reviews of its effectiveness
  • Optional: whatever bleach stuff you need; see below for links to better stuff others have written about bleaching

The bleaching process

I’m not going to write up much about bleaching, because it’s not my area of expertise. Seriously, last time I bleached I just followed the instructions in a Splat colour kit. The bleach worked fine, but the colour didn’t hold very well… so read on for better colour tips.

Also, importantly – you can use Elumen on un-bleached hair, and it’ll give you either a cool tint / sheen of colour if your hair’s dark, or various different intensities of colour if your hair is lighter. And it’ll make your hair feel supah soft.

My friend Courtney has a cool guide to brightly coloured hair over on her blog which includes extensive bleaching instructions, but the main thing for me in the past has been to not over-do it. The Elumen pinks and oranges, in particular, are so intense that it’s ok if you have some brassiness left in your hair. I haven’t done blues or greens in a while but I suspect you might need to bleach more for those… but regardless, it’ll look fine. Don’t stress, and don’t burn your scalp.

The key to my lazy process is to set yourself up so that your hair can grow out a bit, fade a bit, and you can re-colour again without bleaching and make it look good even if you have roots showing – it looks like you did frosted tips on purpose rather than that you’re lazy and hate bleaching😀

The colour process

Elumen is a 3-step process. There’s a prep step (“Prepare), the colour itself, and then a fixative (“Lock”). Sounds like high school chemistry, right? The colouring goes like this:

  • Wash hair if you’re not coming from the bleaching process. Don’t use conditioner.
  • Wearing gloves, apply Prepare to dry-ish hair. Smush it around until your hair feels slick; it doesn’t need to be soaked.
  • While you’re letting it sit, put out the colour(s) you’re using in some bowls. For short hair, I used up about 4-5 tablespoons worth (60-75mL).
  • Towel dry. The Prepare stuff doesn’t seem to stain, but still use a towel you don’t care about.
  • Using a cheap hairbrush, fancy dyeing brush, or just your gloved hands, apply colour to your head. Be careful not to get too much on your skin or fling it around the room, this stuff does stain. Also don’t get it in your eyes.
    • If you want multiple colours, you can separate them out with bits of tinfoil; if you don’t do this they will kinda blend together, which is a cool effect too! I like blending, because I’m lazy.
  • Comedy time now: once you’ve got a fair amount of colour on your hair, you want to apply heat to speed up and intensify the effect of the colour. Here’s my lazy technique:
    • Wrap your head in clingwrap, coiling/pinning it up first if you’ve got long hair
    • Blast your head with a hairdryer a bit
    • Wrap your toasty clingwrapped head in a towel
  • Chill out and do something low key for about half an hour to an hour. Write a blog post, perhaps. Take care not to drip colour out from under your tenuous clingwrap/towel arrangement.
  • Rinse time! If you’ve got a sink you can do this in, go for that, otherwise just hop in the shower. The colour will stain grout, so be careful if your shower features that.
  • Apply the Lock to towel-dried hair and let it sit for a while, then rinse again. You’ll get some colour bleed for the next few times you wash your hair, but it’ll stop and your hair will be super bright for many weeks.
  • Use the “Clean” product to get the colour off your skin. It’ll be on the top of your ears, I promise.

And that’s it! Enjoy how amazing you look, and how you brighten up the day of everyone around you!