It may be tricky to get your hands on proper hair dye these days since people are panic-buying it. But what about getting your hands on some shelf-stable, fruit-flavored drink mix with an anthropomorphized pitcher on the label? With DIY dye jobs on the rise, now is a good time to appreciate the long-documented staining powers of Kool-Aid, which can temporarily punch up the color of hair like it does for tongues.
Kool-Aid’s main ingredients include sugar, another type of sugar, and food dye, all things that are safe for your mouth, and thus, safe and non-damaging for your hair. Other pros? It’s pretty cheap, smells way more delicious than traditional dye, can be drunk later unlike traditional dye, washes out if you hate it, reminds you of your simpler youth, and presents an excuse to say “OH, YEAHHH!” for hours on end. The only cons are that it may cause you to say “OH, YEAHHH!” for hours on end, but other than that, it’s relatively harmless. Here’s how to dye your hair with Kool-Aid at home.
1. Pick a Flavor, Any Flavor
What color would you like your hair to be? Pink? Green? Thankfully, Kool-Aid comes in a variety of unnatural colors and there are a number of corresponding Kool-Aid color charts designed with those looking to dye things with Kool-Aid in mind. Sadly, this method is a bit biased — the color shows up best and most vibrant on blonde hair, lighter brown hair, and hair that has previously been bleached or lifted to a lighter shade. The darker your hair, the more Kool-Aid mix you’ll need and the lower your expectations must be. But give some Grape or concentrated Cherry a try; you could end up with a nice, albeit subtle, all-over tint.
2. Make a Conditioning Paste
Kool-Aid is the easiest to apply to your hair in cream form. Squirt a few spoonfuls of your favorite conditioner into a mug and microwave it for 20 to 30 seconds. Stir in your desired Kool-Aid powders until it completely dissolves and you’re left with a dark, ominous paste. Add more conditioner into the concoction until it reaches the volume you need for covering the amount of hair you want to dye. Remember, you don’t have to do your entire head. Try dip-dyeing just your ends like a teen, dyeing just your face-framing tendrils for a Dua Lipa effect, or just dyeing your bangs every color of the rainbow. Streaks are also fun.
3. Prep Your Hair and Paint It On
Hair will absorb more of the conditioner mixture when it’s dry, so don’t do any special pre-punch cleansing ritual. Start with hair as is and simply brush through any tangles. Then, use the brush and elastics to section off hair if you’re relegating the dye to particular areas. Make sure you’re wearing something you’re fine getting stained, and consider slipping into some disposable gloves because things may get messy. Using either a dye brush or your fingers, begin to apply the Kool-Aid conditioner paste to desired areas, ensuring that the hair is completely coated and saturated. Also, make sure you’re taking deep breaths because your bathroom should smell amazing by now.
4. Wrap It Up and Wait
Once you’re pleased with your application, gather your hair and place something plastic, like a shower cap, over your head to keep it from staining other things like your couch or your back. If you only dyed small sections of your hair, sandwich bags secured with hair-ties can create mini shower caps for the ends of ponytails, pigtails, or braids. Either way, for the most vibrant, longest-lasting color, let the formula sit for eight-ish hours. If you’re confident in your stain-proofing abilities, sleeping while the Kool-Aid soaks overnight is a good way to pass that time. If you want more of a subtle tint, cut the time down to a few episodes of something or a movie’s length.
5. Rinse It Out
Once time is up, mosey back on over to your bathroom, remove your plastic contraption, and do a full rinse in the shower with water only — no shampoo, and no conditioner unless you immediately want to tone it all down. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear, and that’s it. You should emerge with fruit-scented hair and a new color that will last a few weeks and slowly fade away over time depending on how often you wash your hair.
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