SparkNotes Blog

How to Get Unicorn Hair

We’re no strangers to color when it comes to makeup. This time, however, I’m showing you how to turn your Infinity Stones to your glorious, interstellar locks without burning your hair off or winding up a muddy brown-grey. (If you thought I was naturally mint green, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s chemical magic!)

First things first.

Are you sure you want to do this?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to reflect on whether or not you REALLY WANT to dye your hair. Yes it’s beautiful, yes it makes you feel like a unicorn princess, yes it’s more fun than a jacuzzi full of maple syrup and blueberry waffles. It’s also hard work, expensive to maintain, and damaging to your hair. If you don’t think you’re going to have the time to keep your color fresh, research techniques to keep your hair healthy, and dish out the dough for high-quality haircare products, maybe you should go wig shopping. On the other hand, if you love playing with color, taking risks, and don’t mind living on the edge if something goes wrong, LET’S DO THIS.

The fabulous thing about hair? It grows back!

Get your supplies together.

Now that you’re aboard the crazy hair train, let’s talk about what you’re going to need:

  1. Powder bleach. I don’t personally care for the Manic Panic Flash Lightning or anything like it, so I use Ion from Sally Beauty.
  2. Developer. This is the liquid you will mix with your powder bleach to activate it. Everyone’s hair is different, so the associate at your beauty supply place should help you find the appropriate volume, depending on the color and texture of your natural hair.
  3. Direct dyes. This is whatever color you want your hair to be. Manic Panic is a pretty good and readily available brand, so that’s what I’m using today. If you can get a hold of Joico, though, that’s my FAVE. I hear good things about Pravana too.
  4. A basic conditioner to dilute the dye if you wish to make it lighter/more pastel. I personally like Tresemme Naturals for this. It’s cheap and it mixes well.
  5. A mixing bowl. (Or two, depending on how many colors you’re doing.)
  6. A dye brush.
  7. Gloves.
  8. An old t-shirt you absolutely hate. Trust me, don’t wear anything you even sort of like while you dye your hair.
  9. Some old towels, or better yet, a tarp. Believe me when I tell you there’s a good chance your bathroom might look like a Muppet murder scene when you’re done.

Start with a light base.

If you want your color to be vivid, and ESPECIALLY if you want your color to be an ever-popular pastel color, you need to start with a very pale base. Depending on what’s going on with your current hair, here are two options:

A) Bleach to a banana-colored base. If you don’t currently have any dye in your hair, you need to lighten your hair as close to the color of the inside of a banana peel as you can. To do this, you need to bleach.

Mix the powder bleach with your developer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then apply to your hair. Depending on how much your are lightening your hair, your instructions should tell you how long to leave it in before washing it out. You will need to keep an eye on your hair while it processes to make sure it’s taking the bleach alright. Everyone’s hair lifts differently, and you don’t want to fry all your hair off! This is honestly the trickiest part. If you’re not comfortable with it, you should go to a professional for the bleaching process. Even if you don’t have them do the color, sometimes there is some added peace of mind just to have them lighten the base for you.

B) Fade out your current color. If you already have a direct dye over bleached hair like I do, you don’t want to bleach it again unless you absolutely have to, otherwise you will unnecessarily damage your hair. Instead, all you have to do is fade out the current color and only bleach the roots if they’ve grown out. Personally, I don’t really bleach my roots that often because I embrace that grungy, rooty look. There are lots of techniques for fading out direct dyes. I find that washing it everyday for a week with a harsh shampoo (dandruff shampoo is especially stripping to dyes) usually does the trick.

This time, I’m going from emerald teal green to bluish-purple. As you can see, I’ve been fading out the emerald for about two weeks at this point. There is still a bluish tinge to it because blues are notoriously difficult to fade out. But since the I’m going for a bluish purple anyway and my hair is not going to fade anymore without bleaching, I’m just going to go with it.

Mix up your new color.

Now that you’ve got your base and your hair is clean and dry, you can start mixing up your dyes. I’m only mixing dyes because I want a very specific color, but you can just use whatever color comes straight out of the jar if you like. For my blue-purple (Blurple?), I mixed mostly Manic Panic Ultraviolet, a dollop of Hot Hot Pink, and a small gloopy-glob of After Midnight to darken it.

Apply the dye to your roots first.

Once your color is nicely mixed, you can start applying it to your dry hair. I like to start by applying to the roots first. Part your hair, then gently paint the dye along the roots and blend downward. Once the hair is saturated with dye, part your hair about a half inch over, and repeat the process until the roots of your whole head are covered.

Apply the color through the rest of your hair.

Now it’s time to dye the rest of your hair. Take small sections, paint the whole shaft of the hair with your brush and then work it in with your fingers. Keep the sections small and really take your time working the dye into the hair to make sure it’s fully saturated. There’s nothing worse than going through this whole process only to realize you missed a spot!


Once your hair is good and purpled, clip it up out of the way, and set your timer. I usually let it sit for about an hour. The minimum is usually 20 minutes, but most people go much longer depending on their hair. The nice thing about direct dyes is they aren’t damaging. You’ve already done plenty of damage with the bleach, so it’s a good thing the direct dyes only deposit color. Most of them even have conditioners in them, so you can wait as long as you feel the need to. For upkeep, you can keep some Manic Panic in the shower and mix in with your conditioner each time you wash.

Wash, dry, and flaunt.

Congratulations on your new look! How does it feel to be a unicorn princess?

Have you ventured into the dark, although sometimes pastel, waters of home hair-dye? Do you want Allison’s hair suh badly?