Want pink hair? A review of 4 popular dyes

It’s been over a year since I decided to dye my hair pink. I’ve been all over–pink streaks, pink dip dye, pink all over, pink ombré–and while I decided I liked the ombré best, experimentation with different dyes kept going.

Odd colors come in semi-permanents, and of the colors, pink seems to be the most delicate. It’s hard to keep it bright, keep it from turning salmon, and keep it from turning my clothes and skin odd colors. I had a lot of recommendations from a lot of people, but I eventually settled on a handful of colors to try, so here, I’ll share my experiences of sampling those dyes–complete with terrible selfies to show off the color.

1. Pravana

Pravana pink and pastel pink ombré on lightly bleached hair
Pravana pink and pastel pink ombré, undiluted, on bleached hair

Applied by my excellent stylist whenever I’m in her neighborhood, I’ve tried an assortment of pink Pravana dyes. I’ve had the ChromaSilk in vivids, pastel, vivids locked-in, and they all did pretty much the same thing, though in varying degrees of brightness. Pravana dyes provide gorgeous color. They’re bright and not at all brassy, just exactly the kind of color I want. But when it comes to lasting power, they’re a little lacking. Even with careful care and consideration, using expensive shampoos formulated to baby these hair colors along–or not using any shampoo at all–I can’t seem to get them to last. They’re sound for the first wash, but after the second, the fade is quick. If I lived closer to my stylist, I wouldn’t be concerned, since she could help me re-apply more regularly. But since I live six hours away from her salon, it’s not a good option, even though the color and shine these dyes offer is beautiful.


2. Manic Panic

Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink, undiluted, on unbleached hair
Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink, undiluted, on unbleached hair

Manic Panic was the first crazy hair dye I heard of, and for good reason. The pink range offers an incredible punch, though my favorite is the Hot Hot Pink. If I want a lighter shade, it’s easy to dilute with white conditioner and get any effect I want. The richest color I’ve had came from Manic Panic. It’s easy to apply at home, and gave me the longest color life, too, a whole month of high-intensity color. Unfortunately, it’s not without its shortcomings. The color shed with Manic Panic is heaviest of all the dyes I’ve tried, and when you’re in a humid climate like mine, this spells doom for any clothing, pillow cases or furniture that aren’t black. I made the mistake of wearing a white leather jacket with my hot pink hair. As stylish as my hot pink leather jacket is, it’s a result I would have preferred to avoid. If you’re in a dry locale, it probably won’t present as much of a problem, but for me, it means lots of extra precautions to go with bright hair. As of right now, I don’t have any photos of Manic Panic used diluted, but it’s essentially the same as the results you’d get with something like Special Effects, which we’ll look at now.


3. Special Effects

Special Effects Atomic Pink, extremely diluted, on bleached hair
Special Effects Atomic Pink, extremely diluted, on bleached hair

Another vegetable-based dye, Special Effects was touted by a lot of beauty bloggers as superior to Manic Panic. I ordered a bottle of Atomic Pink off Amazon, not sure what to expect, but this dye is super. I’ve only used it diluted, but the color goes on unlike any of the other dyes I’ve used. What you see is what you get, so make sure the color is exactly what you’re looking for. For the color shown above, I used less than a tablespoon of Atomic Pink dye mixed into half a cup of white conditioner. After this initial experiment I’ve started using a tiny drop of Manic Panic Shocking Blue in the mix to cool off the brassiness, and it’s given me a very pretty pink that’s similar in color to the Pravana locked-in dye, though it doesn’t seem as shiny. The lack of shine is my primary complaint with Special Effects; it gives my hair a slightly chalky look, which lasts until it’s completely washed out. It’s also highly prone to turning salmon pink or apricot-colored as it fades, which means re-dyeing every 2-3 weeks or toning it out before it runs its course.



4. Ion

Ion Hottie Pink on bleached hair
Ion Hottie Pink, undiluted, on bleached hair

Out of all the dyes I tried, Ion came recommended most. All my friends have used it, though all of them used purples, blues and greens. Their colors last beautifully. Pink? Not so much. I applied two colors, Hottie Pink and Rose, hoping for an ombre similar to what my stylist gave me with Pravana dyes. After following the instructions to the letter, I was dismayed when my hot pink dye rinsed straight out of my hair in ice cold water with no shampoo or cleanser added. It left only a light pink stain in my bleached locks, extremely brassy and not at all what I was hoping for. My bathtub, however, turned the most beautiful shade of hot pink I’d hoped to see in my hair, and I’m still working on bleaching that out.

Of all the dyes I’ve tried so far, Manic Panic and Special Effects are my top picks. Manic Panic would win, hands down, if not for the extreme color shed.
Have a pink dye you think I should try? Leave me a comment–I’d love to check it out!

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