Free Your Hair/Manic Panic Experimental Color Project 2.

Hello Dear Friends. Welcome back to the 2nd project in the Manic Panic/ HTHG Experimental Color Studios. If you are here for the first time, a little background information on the collab:

This little project was in an effort to provide HTHG readers/viewers and Manic Panic fans a little look into some experimental techniques for creating new color patterns and textures in the hair.

The techniques used in this color series borrow inspiration from the fine art world, and involve the creative use of tools such as small paint brushes, stencils, spray bottles, and braids. The purpose of the videos is to share with you our process for experimenting with color, as well as our results…….our hope is that you leave with some inspiration to experiment yourself, and push your own boundaries and beliefs about hair color.

IMG_7545We want you to notice the depth of inspiration for conceptual coloring that is all around you…..The natural world, the sky, the colors of the changing seasons, the city lights. We used the colors in this Floral Mandala from Filth and Beauty as inspiration to mix and blend our Manic Panic colors into custom shades.

With the Experimental Color Studios, we aim to demonstrate the versatility of using Manic Panic color, and show you that the opportunity for incredible color with this revolutionary line goes so far beyond what meets the eye.

The world of hair and beauty is moving fast, and new techniques scream through the industry at light speed…….It is a wonderful time for us as colorists/stylists to bridge the gap between hair, expression, and art and take the industry in a really exciting direction.

HTHG and Manic Panic are here to help inspire you and push you, encourage you to try new things and share your results so that other people can learn and be inspired. Let’s make this hue revolution explode into technicolor rainbows.

Thank you all for being here, and thanks to Manic Panic for inspiring me and pushing me to experiment since I was a 11 year old baby riot grrrrrl.

For more inspiration, follow @howtohairgirl @manicpanicnyc #freeyourhaircolor

xo, HTHG

Your Guide to Toning Your Hair at Home.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.18.14 AMThis post is being written as pr your requests about more information about toning your hair at home. Today we are going to talk about toners, what they are, why we use them and how they work, so that you can be fully informed and in the know.

In the Salon, it has come to my attention over and over again that most people who are coming in for color, especially those of you going lighter, don’t fully understand what toner is and why it is important. So here is your rundown:)

What is toner?

Toner is very low volume hair color that deposits pigment or ‘tone’ to hair without really changing the level of the hair. Put simply, it corrects the tone of the hair without lightening or darkening the hair at all.

Is it the same as hair dye?

It is the same concept, but because we don’t use it to ‘lift’ (lighten) or darken the hair, it has a very low peroxide/ammonia content which makes it more gentle and far less corrosive. Basically, it is the same as semi-permanent color but it has less pigment to it…….so it is more translucent when applied to the hair.

Can I use box dye to tone my hair?

I advise against it because your box dye is going to use a far higher developer (peroxide, which activates the dye) than what you need. When all you need is to correct the tone, permanent box dye will be too harsh, and most semi-permanent box dyes will add more pigment than you want, and won’t be toning as much as masking your color. Think of toner as more of a subtle thing, like a pink tinged clear polish  coat on your fingernails instead of a solid pink.Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.00.10 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.00.32 AM

Why do we love toner?

Because generally, hair that has been artificially lightened with bleach or a hi-lift color is left with some warm pigment exposed in the hair, which can range from red tones, orange tones, yellow, pale yellow brassy…….Colors that many of us don’t like to see too much of, colors that scream Bleached!Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.44.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.48.36 AM

It is toners job to neutralize those tones, softening them into colors that could actually be considered real or natural looking.

Toner is also great for just boosting and reviving color that has faded, and adding shine and reflection to the hair.

So for all those icy blondes, cool gun-metal browns, soft pretty colors in just the right shade, toner is your bff.

When should we use a toner?

Many of you know the banes of having brassiness and faded hair color, especially after Summer rolls into Fall. A toner can work wonders for brightening up and refreshing dull, faded color.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.11.00 AMThe perfect time for toning is when your color looks dull, harsh, faded, or generally off. In between color appointments, or after a fresh bleaching job at home or in the salon.

If you rock bleached hair, you will want to have a Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.12.56 AMtoner on hand at home to keep your blonde hair from regularly defaulting back to that yellow baby chick look.

How do I know my shade?

Great question….This is where it gets more tricky. This is why hairdressers have to go to school to learn the fundamentals of the color wheel and the chemistry of the color that they use. Here is my quick answer. Check out the color wheel above. Now look at your hair. Identify the color on the wheel that you are seeing too much of in your hair. Is it sort of an orange-y yellow? Red? Weird Green/yellow?

Okay. Now identify the color that lays on the wheel exactly opposite the tone you first identified. For green/yellow, the answer is pink/purple

For red, the answer is blue/green. This is how the color wheel works. We correct and nuetralize unwanted tones in the hair by applying their opposites to them. So if you are trying to tone out red, you will want to find a toner with a blue/green base. Go ahead and google ‘hair toner with a blue/green base’ and see what pops up;)

Use this theory when choosing a toner to correct unwanted tones, like after your bleach your hair.

If you are just refreshing your hair color with a toner, choose your shade in as close to what you want as you can find. Simple.

Where do I get toner?

My favorite options for at-home toning……..You can use Wella Color Charm toners from Sally’s, they are generally a safe bet.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.27.53 AMColor Conditioner- Make your own toner! Identify the tone you want to add to your hair to either correct it or brighten it. Find your color in Manic Panic (or mix a few shades to get it right) Add a teaspoon of your color to your conditioner and mix well. Use it in the shower as you would regular conditioner, adding tone every time to keep it fresh.

Revive color and toner with Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss. Use this gentle deposit-only formula to add tone, gloss, and massive softness in between your color services. This lovely stuff can be used to correct unwanted tones, to revive dull color, and to fill the hair when going dark-to-light, and it is sent right to your door!

I hope this post helps your DIY toning endeavors and allows you to find and master your hair shade. If you are a regular at-home colorer,  I  recommend using DIY hair color by Madison Reed, which is Resorcinol-Free.

If you purchase a Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit, you will receive not only the colors of hair colors your choice, but also the necessary tools to apply it. The entire line is designed for the DIY hair colorer.

Want DIY hair color inspiration? browse HTHG’s DIY color category and learn how to master your own color!

Interested in a DIY foil, Balayage, Dip-Dye, or Ombre? Check out the HTHG DIY color video library. Save yourself the salon prices and master these techniques yourself.

Also, I recommend a shopping stop at Beauty Store Depot for all your other DIY hair cutting and coloring tools to fill your toolkit.

For more on mastering your DIY hair color at home, check this post:)

7 At-Home Hair-Color Myths, Dispelled.

It has always felt very unfair to me that a person should be barraged by aisles of beautiful ladies on hair color boxes promising shiny and natural looking results, only to screw up their own hair so bad that they have to at worst cut it all off, and at best, live with shitty looking box-color.

There are some real intricacies to coloring your own hair at home. There is a reason why hair stylists must complete several years of schooling….The chemistry and color theory that must be understood to be able to achieve predictable color is very detailed, intensive, and different for every head of hair.

That said, it is NOT impossible to get great hair color at home….but there are some basic rules and points that your box-dye instructions won’t tell you, that I think you should know because I want your hair color to be beautiful, and I don’t want to have to fix it for you when you fall pray to the false promises of your un-informed box dye escapades. Before you dive in, here is what you should know.7U6A0606

The chemicals in this box are safe!

Unfortunately the chemicals in your box color are the same chemicals that other industries take very strict precautions to avoid having any contact with. Real talk. Not at all safe. Proven unsafe. Unfortunately, the hair color industry has not progressed very far from it’s original formulations.

The chemicals in box hair color are heavy chemicals, and they are being applied right onto your head. And rinsed down the drain, into your water system, and then into the ocean, contributing to the mass poisoning of our ecosystems and our bodies.

This may not stop you from using hair color. Strangely, It hasn’t stopped me. But it has made me think hard about the risks associated with it. And it has inspired me to seek out alternatives, like Bay Area based at-home hair color company Madison Reed, who are not using Recorcinol in their formulations, and are working hard to find new innovative and safe ways to formulate hair color for the public.

You can lighten your previously colored hair with box-dye!

Nope. Rule number one in color chemistry. You cannot lighten hair color with hair color, BB’s. That is what bleach is for. If you have ANY kind of artificial hair color in your hair, permanent, semi permanent, henna, etc, you CANNOT lighten it out with box dye in a lighter shade. What will happen is that your un-dyed roots will lighten up nicely, and the rest of your hair will get lot’s of unnecessary damage, and barely (if any) color change at all.

You won’t get brassy, we promise!

The nature of our hair is that when it is chemically altered, it will always want to be ‘brassy’. It will always tend-towards warm tones. No matter what cool, gun-metal brown hair dye we use to eliminate those gold and red tones. The brass will always come back. SO, the best thing to do is to be realistic and accept this reality. No magic will change this reality.

Instead, have a plan to control those brassy tones using a Color Reviving Gloss treatment or add some veggie-dye like Manic Panic to your conditioner and use it regularly. If your hair is looking orange, use a blue-violet. If your hair is looking yellow, use a purple, and if your hair is looking red, use a green. Consider it your DIY perfect tone secret. Shhh!;)

Color-safe shampoo is the best way to keep your color fresh and bright.

Nope. Sorry. The best way to keep your hair color fresh and bright is to not wash it. At all. Just rinse and condition. Just sayin;)

You can remove permanent color with products like Color Oops!

I can’t tell you how many people think that Color Oops will give them their natural color back after they have a hair-dye disaster. It is so hard to accept that your hair has been permanently altered after a dying mistake. Color Oops does remove hair color, but it will leave your hair is dire state of patchy uneven color and make future coloring very unpredictable. I always suggest using a less harsh approach to removing color, along with patience. Or, if you are desperate, call in a professional.

You bleached your hair, now you want it dark brown again. No biggie!

This is the most common way that people end up with green hair accidentally (myself included, age 11. Hair disaster story for another day.) When you are planning of going from very light hair to dark hair, you must first ‘fill’ the hair with an in-between shade that will restore the missing warm pigment to your lightened hair, giving it the base it needs for the dark color to be rich and deep instead of dish-watery and dull. My go-to filler? I love Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss in Miele as a universal filler. After filling the hair, you can dye right over it with your desired shade.

When you touch up your roots with permanent hair color, just pull the color through the ends to refresh it!

Can you do this? yes. Should you do this? no. If your previously colored hair needs freshening, use a semi-permanent color or a gentle Color Gloss Treatment to brighten it up while your roots are processing. Continually coloring hair with permanent color will just lead to extreme dryness, dullness, and muddy-looking strands. Not to mention split ends!

Choose a gloss shade to match your root shade to minimize damage and maximize vibrant, fresh color…. Madison Reed makes it really easy by sending your root color and your gloss treatment to your door every month so you don’t even have to think about it.

I sincerely hope this little guide helps you understand a little bit more about at-home hair coloring. Here is to dispelling myths, clarifying details, and being informed. May your at-home hair color days be bright and predictable! For more detailed DIY hair color information, check out this guide, the Do’s and Don’ts of DIY Color.

As a DIY hair blogger who is committed to quality information and tips for better hair care, I am a proud affiliate of Madison Reed as well as many other companies who’s ethics and goods I personally use and believe in.

Cheers to great hair!

Staining Hair with Plant Pigment…. Natural Dye Experiment

IMG_6176-2Ever since my Natural Fiber Dying class at The Spiritweavers Gathering last Spring, I have been OBSESSED with figuring out how to dye hair with plants. IF people have been dying natural fibers with plants for thousands of years, shouldn’t we be quite close to finding more natural alternatives to hair-coloring? We all know about henna, right? But there has to be more straightforward ways to use the pigment in plants as a way to add color to hair, in a bigger way than “enhancing highlights…..” I’m talking, let’s dye your hair green with plant blood.

The endeavor of natural fiber dyeing combines 4 of my favorite things…….Nature, Science, Art, and Craft.This is what drew me into the experiment. As of today, I have gotten this far…….Succesfully staining hair green with Spirulina and acid-yellow Tumeric. Unsuccessful was the beet. Next time, Hibiscus powder (or perhaps cranberry?) for my pink, and black walnut husk for a darker hue.

Here is how we conducted our natural fiber hair-dying experiment.

First, I got myself a very light-haired model, my daughter Mars. I also used my own hair, which is light on the ends, to see if plant color would grab to it (it did!) As is true with any direct dye’s, light hair will show color better.

I got myself some Beet Root Powder, Spirulina Powder, and Turmeric Root Powder which I found at my local apothecary. These powders can be found on Amazon by clicking the links:)

Then I got my Alaffia- EveryDay Shea- Moisturizing Shea Butter Conditioner, which I use as a base for all my experiments which require a creamy conditioner. I love this stuff because it works great, it is affordable, and the company is so incredibly cool. Check em out!

I got 3 bowls, 3 color applying brushes, a hair clip, a comb, and a few sheets of foil.

IMG_6181-2I mixed a tablespoon of each powder with 6 pumps of conditioner, blending thoroughly with a color brush till the colors were creamy and consistent.

colorThen, I painted the color on thickly to strips of Marley’s blonde hair in foils. I sealed up the foils, and then I scrunched the remaining Turmeric conditioner into my hair. We went about our business, me processing peaches we just foraged at a nearby neighbors yard, and Marley dressing up in a Santa Claus outfit that she made out of paper. Simple pleasures!

1/2 an hour later, we both rinsed our hair, and let it dry. Here is how it turned out…..

IMG_6216IMG_6233As you can see, Marley’s hair really picked up the yellows and greens, not the pink at all. I think perhaps that beet root powder was not finely ground enough, thus harder to penetrate the hair with pigment. My ends were a literal acid yellow, which tickled the shit out of me.

What would I do different next time to get a more saturated color? Probably add heat to the mix by clamping the foil packets with my flatiron on a low heat setting. I think that would help the color bond to the hair. And then, I would follow up with a Beauty Vinegar rinse to seal that color in tight;)

This experiment has been super fun, and we both smell like exotic herbs. Our hairs are shiny and bright! We will DEFINITELY continue playing with this concept, mixing new pigments and herbs till we get this thing figured out……And we will keep sharing what we find:)
Want DIY hair color inspiration? browse HTHG’s DIY color category and learn how to master your own hair color!

Interested in a DIY foil, Balayage, Dip-Dye, or Ombre? Check out the HTHG DIY color video library. Save yourself the salon prices and master these techniques yourself.

If you are a DIY hair-cutter who is curious about DIY home-hair coloring, I highly recommend using DIY hair color by Madison Reed, which Resorcinol-Free and quite clean chemical-wise, as far as hair dye is concerned.

If you purchase a Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit, you will receive not only the colors of hair colors your choice, but also the necessary tools to apply it. The entire line is designed for the DIY hair colorer! And if you need to tone in between coloring, be sure to check out their Color Reviving Gloss to refresh and revive your hair.

Also, I recommend a shopping stop at Beauty Store Depot for all your other DIY hair cutting and coloring tools to fill your toolkit!

xoxoxox, HTHG


Riot Grrrl Red, DIY

Raise your hand if the Riot Grrrl chapter of the 1980’s and 1990’s shaped you into the human you are today? Hand raised high.

I met my first Riot sister in the 6th grade, and her name was Therese. She was a Riot Grrrl baby with a weak spot for Gwen Stephani, and I was a Riot Girl Baby with a weak spot for Green Day. We shared our love of chick bands, Hard Candy nail polish, and our Converse sneakers, which turned into Dr. Marten boots by the 7th grade. Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.23.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.10.45 PM

Over the years, T and I went to many rock shows together. We saved up our money and bought albums, and we rocked out to them, feeling the angst of the entire world. I became obsessed with Seattle bands like The Fastbacks and Mia Zapata and the Gits. In my mind, Sub Pop was everything. T was partial to L7, Bikini Kill, and Hole.

This is my Riot Grrrl life anthem song, BTW. Thank you Mia Zapata. RIP forever, I can’t wait to die so I can meet you and fan-girl out on you in a big huge way.


Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.24.21 PMPhotos from Wikipedia.

Imagine my delight to get a text from T the other day, she was all like ‘I’m want to dye my hair Riot Grrrl red, and you can post the process on HTHG’

Then I was all like ‘Heck yeah!!!! when do you want to do it?’ assuming I was going to do her hair for her.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.24.56 PMShe was like ‘I’m going to color it myself. And document the process.’ Like a true Riot Grrrl. Because we all know that those DIY Riot Grrrl haircuts and colors are the best ones. Just ask Mia, Kathleen, Courtney, Tobey, Kim, Donita, Stephanie and Roisin.

So, Therese went for it, and she nailed it. #riotgrrrlforever



Here is how T suggests you DIY your hair Riot Grrrl Red.


You will need……IMG_5060 Clips, a color bowl and brush, a processing cap, a comb, gloves, Paul Mitchell The Color in 7OR and 8RO (2 parts to 1 part), 20 volume developer, and Paul Mitchell Veggie color in Neon Red and Orange, (2 parts to 1 part.)


And, you might want to get a soap dispenser shaped like a pine come;) This color is demonstrated on virgin-ish hair, with some highlights here and there. If you are working with previously colored hair, please refer to this guide to DIY color before you begin.IMG_5059

Mix up your color, 2 parts 7 OR, to 1 part 8 RO and equal parts developer. Put on your gloves, and apply the color to your hair roots to ends, working through it in 4 sections to make it easier.IMG_5061 Once you have fully saturated your hair with color, put on your processing cap and allow the color to process according to the directions on your color. When processing is done, shampoo out color and dry hair. NO CONDITIONER!IMG_5062 Conditioning the hair now would just close your cuticle back up so the veggie dye coudn’t get in!

Now mix up your Inkworks/Veggie dye. Therese mixed Inkworks 2 parts red, 1 part orange to get that perfect Riot Grrrl Red. Once the color is applied, put your cap on and process for 30 minutes.

Now rinse well, shampoo, and condition. IMG_5058Feel that old power coming back to you from those Riot Grrrl days. The Riot Grrrl never dies.

If you are a DIY hair-cutter who is curious about DIY home-hair coloring, I highly recommend using DIY hair color by Madison Reed, which Resorcinol-Free.

If you purchase a Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit, you will receive not only the colors of hair colors your choice, but also the necessary tools to apply it. The entire line is designed for the DIY hair colorer! And if you need to tone in between coloring, be sure to check out their Color Reviving Gloss to refresh and revive your hair.

Also, I recommend a shopping stop at Beauty Store Depot for all your other DIY hair cutting and coloring tools to fill your toolkit!

Need a custom DIY hair color consultation to help troubleshoot your hair color at home?

ad$30 buys you a one-on-one online consultation with HTHG regarding your color and how to get it where you want it. Click here.

xoxox, HTHG

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