Remember Siobhán from Fran and Siobhán’s feminist, disability-friendly, colourful, vegan wedding? Well she now has an amazing rainbow mohawk, and she’s letting you in on how you can get this look yourself.
I love experimenting with hair. From my teens I’ve generally had colour in it — starting with gentle rinses, up to bleached-bright shades, mohawks and shaven-headed designs. I’m currently studying for a professional degree, so I realized this summer before my final year might be a last chance to go wild for a while. Hence my rainbow mohawk.
With a helper, hair supplies, and an evening (it took us about four hours, including development time) you can become your own colour wheel.
Step one: Plan!
I used MSPaint but pens and paper would work too. It might seem silly if you have a clear vision in your head, but remember you need someone to help, so a visual communication of the plan could save tears later!
I planned diagonal stripes so multiple colours would be visible when down but make a complete rainbow when up. Red-spectrum went at the front of my face as it goes with my skin tone with a touch of violet at the front to tie it together.
Step two: Gather supplies!
- Most crucial – a willing helper. They don’t need artistic flair or hairdressing skill (although experience of hair-dying is useful) but you want precision. Thankfully I have that in my spouse, Fran.
- Bleach. For vibrant colours you’ll likely need to lighten it but do a strand test to check your hair’s reaction. I’ve bulk-bought 40 volume developer for maximum lightening, but if you’re hitting up a shop go for hair lightener rather than a blonde hair dye. (Note: if you have hair dye in your hair already I’d recommend a colour stripper. I recently used Colour B4 which lifted out a permanent black dye — witchcraft I tell ye!)
- Dye-suitable clothes for you both. Mine is a trusty stained hair-dying dressing gown.
- Tint brushes
- Hair grips and bobbles to separate and section
- Decent gloves. Gloves that come with dyes often break leading to stained fingers.
- A petroleum-jelly-type-product to minimize skin staining — I use Lush’s Ultrabalm.
- A spritz bottle of water to re-dampen hair.
- Cling film, to protect each section from other colours.
- The fun bit: a rainbow of hair colours! My favourite brand is Stargazer and I went with Rouge (Red), Dawn (Orange), Yellow, African Green, Royal Blue, and Violet, mixing Royal Blue and Magenta to give me Indigo.
Step three: Bleach out!
Measure and mix as per instructions and slap it on the areas you want to lighten.
I find a wooden hair ornament handy as metal can interfere with the bleaching process. This is also your first look at my hair-dye dressing gown — glamorous, no?!
Watch your hair as it develops (in line with the results from your strand test, because you totally did one, right? Me too, every time, honest). And when it’s light, or when you’re approaching the upper limit of your development time, rinse it out.
I treat my hair mean, so I also give it a harsh shampoo leaving it mega bristly and dry, ready to soak up all of the conditioning semi-permanent dyes. DON’T CONDITION — you want the hair follicles open and receptive to colour.
Your happy helper needs to section off your hair for dying. This is time consuming but the neater you section off now the better it’ll look, so it’s worth taking the time.
Secure each stripe with a hair bobble, tucking them in so they’re a protected from other colours and out of your way.
Step five: FINALLY, COLOUR!
We started with yellow, as the lightest colour on the tint brush and gloves. Get the right section and then undo the hair bobble to coat that section of hair in your yellow dye. Pop a good blob on the tint brush, lift, separate and use fingers to make sure it’s evenly coated. Once it’s good and covered secure with hair grips and move onto the orange, then the red, then the violet section(s) covering them in dye in turn.
Clean the tint brush and gloves between sections if they have too much of the last dye on, although this order means that cross contamination isn’t a problem. After a few sections your hair is likely to be drier, so spritz to dampen as necessary.
Once a section is coloured wrap in a piece of cling film, to minimise colour mixing. Have some loo roll on hand to swipe off any excess in the wrong place as quickly as you can. We also dyed side of my shaved head in the red and violet dyes when they were on the tint brush.
Step six: MORE COLOURS!
As before, your hair will be drying so spritz if necessary. Switch gloves and tint brush for the green, blue and indigo sections; they’re in a different spectrum so you don’t want bits of orange interfering. Continue coating each section making sure all hair is covered and wrapping in cling film until….
Step seven: ALL THE COLOURS!
Let the dye do it’s magic. Try and be patient.
Step eight: Clean up!
Vibrant dyes stain, a basic crème cleaner is best as it has a mild abrasive, but toothpaste has the same effect. Also get any major drips off your skin, although a pair of exfoliating gloves in the shower works wonders.
Step nine: Rinse it out!
Don’t shampoo, as you want your hair to hold onto as much of the dye as possible, but there’s no harm in adding even more conditioner to make sure the hair follicles are closed and hold onto that dye.
Step ten: Marvel over your new hair!
Turn into Cat from Red Dwarf, factoring extra time to negotiate mirrors on any journey. Let people with a good camera take lovely photos so that this hairdo can last the ages, as it will fade within weeks. You can keep it as long as possible by using dry shampoo rather than washing it — I found Lush’s dry shampoo “No Drought” is awesome and gives added volume too.