Colour Me Pretty: How To – Dye Hair?

A guide to hair colouring for dark Asian hair types

I’ve been dying my hair since the age of 14 and have always loved being able to change the colour of my hair so easily. I suppose I’m lucky in having healthy hair and the constant dying is not an issue for me. However for those who may have thinner hair or more fragile hair you can still take part in the fun but will have to be more careful in picking the techniques and types of dyes to use.

Colouring techniques:

Whole head: 

All of your hair is coloured in either just one colour or along with highlights/lowlights.


Strips of your hair are coloured either a lighter (highlights) or darker (lowlights) colour to your natural hair colour – lowlights are not really possible with virgin asian hair. This usually refers to natural shades but can be done with outrageous colours as well.


This involves colouring random chunks of hair, large and small. This is usually used in conjunction with dramatic colours to match the technique style.


This is where one would take certain areas of the hair and ‘hand-paints’ the colour on. It tends to do be done to curly or wavy hair where there is more texture.

Types of dyes:

Permanent colours:

These either come in pre-mix boxes that can be found in pharmacies or can be mixed from scratch the way professional hair salons do it. It is usually done with mixing peroxide (volume developer) and the desired colour. Best to do some major research on this first if you intend on mixing from scratch yourself. Many box colours have some bleaching powder in them that can lighten darker hair; otherwise the colour would not show as the black colour in the hair needs to be stripped off before other colour can be placed in.


This is done using peroxide (volume developer) and bleaching powder. It differs to permanent hair colouring as it strips the hair of colour (turning it yellow/white) as oppose to putting colour in your hair, which is usually done prior to using permanent hair colour.

Hair colour levels and Peroxide Developer – Types of volumes (or intensity) of bleaching. The highest is not always best.


These usually come in little tubes that can be found at hair and beauty supply stores. The best I’ve found, with the largest range of colour is Fudge Paintbox (UK), if your country does not sell it, it can be found online. They last about 40 washes when done right. This is similar to using permanent colours except that there are no peroxides or bleaching agents, it merely stains the hair until it is washed out. Pre-lightening is crucial for Asian Hair.



For any first timers who are a little afraid of taking that first step, the salon is a very good place to start as we all know, experts know best. They will be able to tell you what colours will suit your skin colour and how to execute the process.

The types of colouring I would recommend you do at the salon:

  • Natural hair colour (with or without highlight or lowlights usually done with foils)
  • Bleaching (either as it is or prior to using semi-permanent dye)
  • Outrageous colour (not all salons will have stock these colours and you may have to settle for a more natural colour or use semi-permanent colours at home)

Make sure to ask for hair care tips and recommendations for everything else you may be concerned about as they are there to keep your hair looking awesome.

DIY at home:

If you have a very simple idea in mind or have prior experience in colouring your hair and want to take creativity into your own hands then DIY is a great way to execute it.

The types of colouring you could do at home:

  • Natural colours (box colour or mixed from scratch) – without highlights or lowlights

When using box colour make sure you always follow the instructions on the pack

When mixing your own colour, peroxide (volume developer) and the desired colour is used in the right amounts

  •  Bleach at home

Peroxide (volume developer) and bleaching powder are the mixing ingredients necessary to get this to work. Picking the right volume developer is important, the higher the number the harsher the chemical but the lighter your hair will go. The right amounts of everything is also crucial, here is a site that explains the volumes of peroxide and a tutorial of how to get started.

  • Outrageous colours (semi-permanent) – prior bleaching necessary

Once your hair is bleached, simply slap on the colour, it won’t colour anything that is black or really dark and will only stick to the blonde parts. This is also great if you want to mix the colours up and have 2 or even 3 colours in your hair.

The only rule to remember – Where ever the dye touches it will colour and stain, be careful when mixing colours on the hair, for example: if you are using red and blue and want separate reds and blues make sure to reduce them touching as you may go more purple than anything else.

  • Highlights/Lowlights/Chunking/Baliage  – These are the techniques you could use. When using specific colours please refer to the above comments

Highlight and lowlights are difficult to do on your own and if best if you have a friend to help you out. Otherwise a weave cap is a great tool to use when you are completely on your own.

Some pharmacies have highlight kits which could be useful but the problem most people face is the possibility of using too much of it.

Chunking and Baliage is probably the best way to go as they are more random and can account for stuff ups as it only adds more character to the mix 😉

After care

  • Make sure to condition your hair DAILY and to keep it moisturised
  • Don’t over brush it if its been bleached with no added colour, the ends are likely to snap off
  • If it is bleached, try to put a treatment through it to retain more moisture
  • Don’t bleach your hair more often than once in 6 weeks – make sure most of the previous colour has washed out before re-bleaching
  • Always touch up the colour on semi-permanent dye (4 to 6 weeks)
  • Chlorine and salt water are your worse enemies, especially right after the job is done

Some of my experiences:

All brown
Copper Tones
Red Highlights
Purple Highlights
Pink Half Head
Stuff up – Do NOT colour your hair blue and then think that bleaching will lift the colour. It just turns it green

I hope this has been informative and if there are any questions feel free to contact me via twitter, e-mail or simply comment.


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