How to Dye Hair Purple

Purple haired woman
Q: I have medium brown hair. I am a teacher and my students raised a significant amount of money for a fundraiser and I agreed to dye my hair purple! I am having trouble getting in with my colorist and want to get this done soon. I have done some of my own colors at home.
Do I need to bleach my hair first then use a purple color? Can I use a blond color first? Please advise me. Any help you can offer would be appreciated.

A: Starting with a medium brown base color you will want to use a lightener to lift the color at least somewhat, or else the color will be very dull. How "light" depends on how "bright" you want the purple color to be.
You will also want to take into consideration the base color of your natural hair color and watch for color tones that emerge as you lighten the color. This will affect the way you achieve your final color. If all things are agreeable as you finish lightening the color, you can simply add a purple color (such as from Manic Panic) to the bleached hair and get the color you are after.
I STRONGLY recommend that you opt for a professional to do the color for you and that you opt for a dark purple color (which can be more readily camouflaged when you have fulfilled the obligation of the wager) as your choice of hair color. There are some issues you will want to be aware of that will result from the type of color you are looking at:
•  The color will not be colorfast. Especially if you lighten the hair significantly for a brighter color result, you can expect the color to bleed onto bedding, clothing and furniture or other places where it may come into contact.
•  Lightening the hair significantly will cause damage to the hair that will require intensive care and treatment to help the hair stay healthy after the processing. This is also why I urge you to stick with a professional stylist if you plan to go with a very bright color.
•  The hair will be more porous, and the color will fade rapidly if the
hair was lightened significantly for the color. If the color fades, you can retouch without the bleaching step, but you can expect the hair to fade more rapidly than with traditional hair colors. Use of pectin based conditioners and cool water rinses can make the hair hold color better.
At the very least, be sure to give your hair a deep conditioning treatment before the color treatment and a few days after. This will help protect the hair. Also, try to select a color that will require as little lightening as possible to get a color with which you would be happy.
Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
See also:
How to determine the base color of your hair and hair products
How to stop hair color bleeding
Shampoo and conditioner that doesn't make hair color fade fast
Hair with damage