My Hair Game – Dyeing Your Hair with Manic Panic

My Manic Panic game is on point!



I have been dyeing my hair the same combination of purple and blue for years now. Most of the time I put my color right over the old color (no matter how faded it has become, or even what color it has become), but once or twice a year I bleach the ends of my hair in an ‘ombre’ style. This technique helps with how I like the color to turn out (without harsh lines, more of a blended color). In order to get the ombre to look, that I like, I have adapted a few different techniques (since I am typically taking on the process alone, I have found this method to be the most even, and productive for self-dyers).

**Click on the photos to enlarge them**

1st! Straighten and Prep: 

This doesn’t have to be stick straight, or even straight enough that you would go out with it. Just straight enough to make the sectioning and teasing easier. You want to be able to tell what you are doing and where you are placing your color.

For prepping, you just want to get all your stuff out and ready to be used.

  • Gloves (PLEASE WEAR GLOVES! Even when washing for the first time.)
  • Hair Cap (for processing)
  • Color Brushes (for applying color)
  • Foil (yes, Aluminum foil. This makes life SOOOO much easier)
  • Your bleach and/or colors
  • Shampoo (only if you are doing bleach)
  • Towel (if you’re using bleach use a white towel, and for color use an old/color/black towel)
  • Brush and/or Comb (for teasing and sectioning)
  • Bobby Pins and/or Hair Clips (a lot)
  • Lysol/Clorox wipes (for easy and fast clean up of any color spots or splatter on hard surfaces)
  • Make sure you’re wearing your old shirt and bottoms (unless you want to ruin something you like)

2nd! Section and Backcomb / Tease:

So here is how I accomplish the first part of my ‘ombre’ technique. I backcomb the sections….very poorly I may add. It’s not meant to look pretty, you’re not going out for a night on the town (or even a beauty show pageant). You’ll want to pull some of the hair towards your scalp and away from the ends of your hair (allowing it to separate, i.e. backcomb). By using this technique, you can almost guarantee that your dye job will ombre itself (remember I said almost). I would say this is the at-home equivalent to a hair dresser sectioning your hair and then making the zig-zag motions in it for thin highlights. You don’t need a special backcomb brush for this, just use your normal hair brush.

  1. The first section should be the bottom third of your head. I like to work from the bottom > up, because your hair would naturally be darker underneath. To begin this section: place your thumbs at the top of your ears, draw them back towards one another til they meet at the back of your head, and then separate the top section into a bun/twist and clip it.
  2. Secondly: split this section in half, down the base of your neck. You will pull these two sections forward and continue to divide and tease.
  3. Lastly: Divide the new sections in a horizontal motion (from front to back), creating 2-4 sections and pin each one up as you go along to keep the larger section away from the smaller sections you are working on. The more time you have, you can create smaller sections. The benefit to this = being able to create a finer ‘ombre’. And you’ll be less likely to finish with the ‘dip-dyed’ look.

3rd! Clip and Pin (skip to step 6 if you are not bleaching):

This is kind-of part of step 2, but I wanted to make it clear that you should have your sections all ready to go before you start dyeing. And here’s why: it will take a little while to set up but  in the end it will help you accomplish a cleaner and more even look. Reason being: you won’t be wasting time trying to pull sections down with bleach on your fingers, then attempting to tease the hair after you just got bleach on the wrong parts because it was on your gloves, and then bleach falls on the floor…….you get the gist, don’t skip step 2! You want the bleach sitting on your hair for an even amount of time, throughout all the sections. If you skip this step, the underneath portions of your hair might process to be platinum while the top section comes out caramel because it didn’t sit as long.

4th! Bleach it (skip this step if you are not bleaching):

I don’t not have photos for this since I do not bleach my hair that often. However, next time I bleach I will update this post and add photos!

I bleach my hair using Manic Panic’s Flash Lightning kit with 30 volume. I know they have other volumes, but this is the only one that Sally’s carries and I’m usually getting it last minute. For the amount of hair I cover with it, I typically need two boxes. That’s only because there is so much hair. Sometimes I use one box and wash it out then re-apply a day later, other times I just do both boxes at once.

The kit lightens my virgin hair really well, and does an even better job on the pre-dyed hair (there’s always one stinking spot that i miss though, but your color will cover it so don’t worry about it).

*Always use foils, gloves, a hair cap, and color brushes!! I have learned over time that it’s just easier. All these things come in the kit, and you can reuse them!!*

*Be very VERY careful when bleaching your hair! I’ve witnessed (and learned from experience) what damage bleach can do to your hair if you are not careful. You may not see it right away, but it can make your hair so thin and brittle that it can break off in large chunks. This will not only ruin your hair cut (making it uneven), but also you waste color and product on hair that you’ve damaged. So please take your time, keep a watch on what you’re doing, and try to never bleach over a section that was bleached in the past (that’s usually when you get in to trouble)*

Remember to have your sections ready to go and already teased!

The way that I bleach is by holding my brush parallel to the hair (up and down / vertical), and I lightly brush the bleach on to the hair NOT IN A HORIZONTAL LINE! we are trying to avoid harsh lines here people, so make sure you are brushing the bleach on with a light amount on the brush, and in a somewhat ‘sloppy’ motion (I couldn’t think of a better word…maybe a delicate motion?). Some strokes should be higher, some strokes should overlap previous strokes, you should get less bleach on the portions that are higher (towards the scalp) and thicker amounts of bleach on the parts that are mid-shaft. Finish by covering the ends fully, with bleach. *Reference photo to be added later*

This should all be done holding a foil sheet under the section that you are ‘painting’ on to. Once finished with each section, fold your foils horizontally a few times, and start a timer. Be sure to check back every 20 minutes (don’t check the same section every time! once you open a foil, you are releasing the heat that it is building inside that helps it process. So, choose a different foil each time).

*When I get closer to the top of my head and I have more control and visibility, I tend to create even smaller sections. It just comes out more natural looking this way. And like I said, it’s easier to see once you get to the top portion, so you’ll also be going faster*

5th! Wash it Out and Let it Rest (skip this step if you are not using bleach):

Pull your foils out before you get in to the shower. Try not to get your roots wet (as they should be teased and it’s very hard to brush out wet teased hair, especially since you should never brush wet hair, on top of bleached and freshly damaged hair. If you must do so, use a large tooth comb and be gentle… BE VERY VERY GENTLE! you can use a detangler and/or lots of conditioner). Flip your head over in to the sink or tub and use shampoo to rinse out the bleach and stop it from processing any further. You really want to make sure you’re getting the bleach off otherwise it will inhibit the color from attaching to your hair during the next step (EVEN IF IT IS DAYS LATER!!).

If you have the time, or the ability… let the bleach rest after you’ve processed and rinsed it out. You have just caused a lot of trauma to your hair and your scalp. Letting your hair rest before applying color will allow the color to take A LOT better. So, if you are able to let your hair sit (blonde) for a few days, please use a good conditioner to help rebuild the hair after this trauma.

*If you are dyeing your hair soon after you’ve bleached it (within 2 days) I would suggest not conditioning it after you’ve rinsed out the bleach. There are so many conditioning properties in the color, by conditioning your hair before coloring it you will be preventing the color from being able to fill your strands of hair*

EXAMPLE: Think of your hair as a straw… when you bleach it, you are emptying/draining the straw (in essence drying it out). When you color or condition, you are filling up the straw. And if the straw is already full of conditioner, there is no room for the color!

6th! Coloring:

The way I color my hair is similar to how I bleach it. I section and backcomb just like before (but my backcombing this time around is a little more lackadaisical), only when adding color you can do these steps while you’re applying. Because your hair would naturally be darker underneath, and therefore it would look more realistic (even with the crazy colors….lol….like my hair). I just like how it comes out.

*A quick tip: If you have make up on…Leave it! If your skin is dirty…don’t wipe it off or exfoliate. And do not scrub your hands right before dying your hair. Reason being: any dirt or grim that may be on your face, hands, neck, exposed skin… is actually going to help you when it comes to removing color later. The buildup will act as a small barrier to color. So if you accidentally get color on your face (wipe it off immediately if you notice it) you can scrub off any color spots along with the ‘build up’. The color should come off with your make-up, build up, dirt, etc. As well, wait until after you rinse the color out to clean your face, you will more-than-likely get some more color on your skin somewhere while you’re pulling out foils or rinsing out your color, and then you can just scrub them off. If you want to take more precaution, you can use some petroleum jelly around the hair line to prevent color bleeding on to your skin as well. The caution with this method though is if you are coloring to your scalp… if you get jelly on the hair, the color will not take.

*Another tip: for the first few nights with your new color, sleep with a towel on your pillows, or wrap your hair in  a scarf, or in a t-shirt. No matter how well you rinse that color out, it’s still in there and it’s strong! AND IT WILL PROBABLY BLEED! There have been many times when I have awoke with a damp piece of hair on my face, and low-and-behold there is a blue line on my face for the rest of the day 😀 Isn’t colored hair fun 😉

OKAY so, have lots of foils ready to go, wear an old shirt and have something to do for the next few hours unless you’re sleeping with the color in (which I have never done, but is a recommended method by Tish and Snooky). I typically leave my color in for NO LESS THAN 2 HOURS. Damn straight I said TWO HOURS! One of the many MANY reasons I LOVE Manic Panic… they actually suggest you do this. Not only are you allowing the color to really get in there and take hold, but you’re also conditioning your hair. SURPRISED?? Don’t Be!! Manic Panic is loaded with conditioning properties and makes your hair super soft!

Now, Manic Panic instructions suggest that you ‘scrub’ the color into your hair until it becomes foaming/frothy, but I don’t do this. I never have due to the technique that I use. I don’t know if it changes the color or length of time that it lasts. By all means feel free to do this… I just never have.

I apply each color, one foiled section at a time, and make sure I mix and overlap where the colors meet. This will help your ombre and make the transition between colors more fluid. The order that I use my colors in is Purple Haze (when I’m feeling fiesty I mix in some Ultra Violet or do Ultra Violet in place of the Purple Haze) towards the roots, Rockabilly Blue (mid-shaft), and then Voodoo Blue (ends). I apply it using the same technique and angle of the brush that I did before with the bleach.

(1) Holding your hair section on a sheet of foil, (2) apply the color holding your brush parallel to the hair (vertical / up and down). Brush on in a painting motion, being light towards the roots to create a smooth transition between the natural color and the new color. (3) Once you get away from the roots you can start getting heavier and more sloppy with your motions and color. (4)I like to take small strips of the Rockabilly Blue (mid-shaft) down to the ends, through the Voodoo Blue to help create more dimension.You want to make sure when you transition between colors, you are really feathering the colors into one another. (*) If you end up missing a spot, you can always go back in with the color you need. Or if you think you need to add more color in to some sections, as pictured… I wanted more color on the baby hairs around my face, and they are really hard to get with the initial application. So, I typically wait until I have color on the foil (which will hold your hair to the foil) and then I go back in lightly with my brush and hit those little hairs.

I kind of think this while I’m going through. ‘Strokes, overlap, kind-of sloppy, overlap, brush, fold.’

Once you are done with a section, place another piece of foil on top of the section AND THEN fold. You don’t want to fold your color on to itself because you will negate all the work and blending you just created. By sandwiching the hair sections with foil, you will guarantee that however you painted your color on, is how it will stay. Once you have all your hair colored and foiled to your liking, I suggest wearing a plastic cap. It will HELP prevent you from getting color on something.

7th! The Initial Rinse:


Just cold water (like the directions recommend you do). I typically do this with my head turned upside down in the sink or the tub otherwise your whole body will be coated in color BELIEVE ME!!!

Kneel on a folded towel or bath matt to help reduce the impact on your knees.

Kneel on a folded towel or bath matt to help reduce the impact on your knees.

First take out your foils, then rinse with cold water. Agitate your hair with your hands while allowing the water to remove the color for you. BTW YOU STILL HAVE YOUR GLOVES ON RIGHT?? YOU SHOULD MAKE SURE YOU DO THAT!! Keep rinsing until the water runs almost clear. I can never get the water clear, and that’s fine by me (reference photo below). It just means the color will be soaking into your hair longer, and I’ve never had an issue with that.

For the first week with your new color, I would suggest not shampooing and lightly conditioning, and always dry your hair immediately if it gets wet. That means if it’s summer and you’re at the pool….wear a hair cap, don’t go under the water, don’t get in the water, or if you must get wet .. be prepared to turn your skin colors as you’re climbing out. I know, it’s a lot of maintenance to have cute hair. Also, after you work out dry your hair if you get sweaty!! You will probably get color on your shirt the first few days and it’s just because it may have seeped in to your skin and is then rubbing/exfoliating off on to your clothes. So wear colors that match your hair or just wear black! Lucky me, I love black…unfortunately I love white even more :-/ Either way….darker colors are the bulk of the colors in my closet anyways.

8th! Take Care of your Hair Color:

So, while you have color in your hair try not to shampoo…like, EVER!! I shampoo maybe once every two weeks, just on my scalp (which usually has no color on it, it’s just natural, with the exception of this most recent dye session in which I covered almost ALL of my hair). The shampoo/water runoff should be enough to rinse the dirt out of the shaft and ends of your hair. Condition whenever you need or get your hair wet, but keep in mind the straw theory (same goes for your hair being oily/greasy… if you allow it to get greasy/oily then that is what will be taking up the space in your strands). So, I use a lighter conditioner regularly, and then a heavy mask/conditioner like once a month.

Treat your hair nice, which you should always do even if you don’t have color in it. I always apply a lightweight leave in conditioner, a split end mender, and a heat spray after getting out of the shower. Even if you are not using any hot tools (curling iron, blow dryer, flat iron, etc.) I still apply the heat spray because of the sun! The products I use are not expensive, and I like it that way. *Addendum to this paragraph: I have been using OGX Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Instant Repair Weightless Healing Oil (<- link) in place of my normal routine products that I listed above. I love it!! I still use the heat spray with it, but I have only been using it for a week and didn’t want to write it in here alone as I have not been using it for very long, and don’t know what effect it will have on my color.

  • Split End Stuff (
  • Heat Protectant (
  • Sometimes I use this mousse stuff when I’m going natural, but I’m just so-so on it (
  • Rusk Leave-In Conditioner (
  • OGX Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Instant Repair Weightless Healing Oil (
  • And I love Suave hairsprays (the bottles with the pink caps)!!

If you must iron your hair (which I’m a sucker for a big curl or stick straight locks) let it rest for a few days after. Meaning, don’t iron it every day. My routine for a no shower week is below. And by no shower I just mean my hair, lol, I take a shower more often than I wash my hair.

Side note – I only purchase the Rusk Sensories Conditioner from TJMAXX. Because it’s half the price there, should be about eight buck-a-roos.

How to extend the wear of your hair by day:

  1. Defined Curls (sleep with a pin bun**)
  2. Loose Curls (sleep with a pin bun**)
  3. Bed Head / Messy Curls (sleep with a pin bun**)
  4. Messy Bun / Messy Ponytail
  5. Flat Iron
  6. Keep it Straight
  7. Keep it Straight
  8. Ponytail (might have to touch up with the iron)
  9. Braided Ponytail / Bun
  10. Bun

**Pin Bun: I will show you here (link to come), but it’s basically a bun without an elastic that you create using the movement and motion of the curls. And then pin it with a few bobby pins. This will create the least amount of kinks and dents in your locks allowing you to elongate the wear of your curls**

I will post another blog on how I style and extend the washing of my hair in more detail later.