Dying to Dye: Tips for Dyeing Locs


Don’t get me wrong, I like the natural color of my hair…BUT I always admired those who had burgundy highlights or hair color. At first, I was thinking, nah, I’m all natural: no chemicals, no perms, da-da-da… Somehow I convinced myself otherwise (“Hey, you’re using twisting gel and crap. That’s chemicals, too!). Yeah… So…. You know, I’m a frugal type of gal. I have to do it myself. Not paying no one else to do it. What better way to learn how to maintain it than to do it, right? After two boxes of dye, I realized it did not go as planned. No, I did not fry my hair or thin them out, I just did not get the color I was looking for. Letting you know if your hair is dark, you’re not going to get brightness right away (in the back of my mind that stupid little voice is humming, “You should’ve went to the African hair shop…”). No I refuse! I like paying $15 tops for hair care. And that is what I did. You think I’m kidding?? My bathroom was a wreck afterwards, but I did it! Like I said, in “Loc’d and Loving It”…. It is far from glorious….Glamorous either (lol).
Here are some things that I have learned through dyeing my hair:

  • Prepare for the worst! Just kidding, but you must have generous amount of time to pay attention to what you are doing. I know you are anxious and want to see the result, but slow and easy does the trick. Remember, you are just a novice compared professional hairstylists.
  • Do not condition your hair a few hours before application. However, your hair must be clean before doing so.
  • If you do it in your bathroom, protect your rugs (especially if they are light colored). As a matter of fact, put newspaper down and remove anything that could be stained easily.
  • Make sure you have towels readily available. You may want to buy some extra ones for this job. If you can, but dark towels.
  • Make sure you have gloves for doing the job. Some kits do not come with gloves believe it or not.
  • Read—I SAID—Read the instructions before doing so. No skimming either.
  • Get a timer. They’re cheap and can be found in Wal-mart or Dollar General.
  • Have a shower cap or plastic bags (if you have longer locs) to cover your hair while waiting.
  • Be careful about where the dye gets on. Your face WILL get stained. You may want to use petroleum jelly around your hairline and on your ears to prevent staining (just like when you put in a perm).
  • Wear clothes that you do not mind getting stained, wet, or destroyed (lol). Notice my pictures…
  • Don’t overdo it! If you did not get the desired effect wait a few weeks before trying again. Or after a few days, try using hydrogen peroxide before shampooing. This could lighten the color a little bit. Also, your hair will lighten as you go into the sun. My hair is probably a shade or two lighter since last year. Ask or get professional assistance if you still do not get what you want.
  • New tip (8.8.09): If your hair has never been dyed or it is very dark, you may need to “lift” your hair. My impression is that you are basically bleaching your hair first before you apply color. I came to this conclusion (1) Someone I had told me the year I had first dyed my hair while I was complaining about not getting the desired hair color (2) I recently dyed my hair last week with a blonde-type of dye and realized that my older color was brightened. Therefore, if I had lightened/bleached my locs a couple of days or so before I dyed them burgundy, the color would have came out much brighter. A-ha! Told you I learn stuff from being a DIY-er and frugal.
  • After application and waiting, wash thoroughly. Any left over dye will strip your hair and slowly eat at the loc. You should rinse until the water comes out virtually clear.
  • **Tip (5/17/10): You can purchase “neutralizing shampoo” from Wal-mart or a beauty supply store. It’s the same kind of shampoo that is used in perm or dye kits to neutralize/cancel out/deactivate/clean out leftover chemicals.
  • Please, please, please deep condition your hair after application. You want your locs to remain healthly. I’ve seen some women with blonde locs and could tell that it was not taken care of. That is not a good look!
  • Oh yeah, clean out that tub afterwards!!

(Tip: If your locs haven’t locked yet, they will after your dye your hair! Mine surely did. You get why, right? Good. I didn’t want to make this post any longer, LOL)

**Update (2.2.10) Are you wondering about how I got my color?? Read below:

There isn’t an exact “color” per se in my locs, but there was a combination of colors I’ve used. I didn’t lift my hair color prior to dyeing my locs, but I used a burgundy/red color (from Creme of Nature) the first time I dyed my locs (that’s what I was aiming for). Instead of becoming burgundy, it gave my locs a reddish tint. Maybe another 6 months to a year, I dyed it again with the same color, but a little lighter color hoping it would’ve gave me a better result. Nope, just a little bit more reddish tint. SO… After discovering that I needed to lift my hair color, I said screw it, I’m going for a blonde color. I used the next to the lightest blonde (Clairol) and viola, this color came to be. First, I didn’t think that the dye didn’t do squat, but after a couple shampoos I saw the color. I was first like, EEK!! Then the orangey color kinda faded and the true color finally set. So there it is!
**All of these products came from Wal-Mart, by the way.

**Updated Pictures of my current hair color (5/17/10).


Have questions about locs? Email me at: locd4life@yahoo.com
Here’s a great tutorial on dyeing your locs:

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~ by My4tress on July 24, 2009.

14 Responses to “Dying to Dye: Tips for Dyeing Locs”

  1. Im so new to this bloging thing, but I am definitely sharing that please do not go blond with your locs!!! I have been locked for 5 years, my locs are named freedom ( Everyone should name their locs) Well, the lady that started them, I noticed she never conditioned me. I though maybe in the bowl after the shampoo, she would, but I never smelled it. I never received a hot oil treatment or was told what was going on. My locs looked wonderful, then the breaking once I started to shampoo on my own when my money was tight!! Now I know she had to see the locs snapping, and threw them away without telling me! What a deceiver!!!

    So I went to another lady who nursed me back to health, she cut off 4 inches, but it grew back so fast, but the shedding never stopped. Now She has moved and Im onto another lady. So, I love the color brown and read, anything to cover up my new gray! So, now I have received protein treatments to stop the shedding, and I hope I’m on the way to recovery!! Please, do not go blond. it’s the worst.

    • I dyed my locs, but not a blonde color. I just used blonde dye. Some (not all) of my locs are a bronze color. Just wanted a dash color and nothing outrageous! I have to keep my professionalism about this, lol! Thanks for your feedback!

    • I’m sorry for what you went through. It’s all a learning experience and I’m glad it worked out for you!

  2. Hi

    Thanks again for yet more valuable info on loc maintenance. I have to say thanks a million for this site as I seem destined to take a DIY approach to my locs, having been blown out by not one but two “professional” loctician salons, one in Paris and one in London. The Parisians refused to touch my hair 6 months after the BC, saying it was “too short” to loc and telling me to come back in another 6 months. When I asked wtf I was supposed to do with my unmanageable mane in the meantime (I can’t – embarassingly- corn row or anything like that) I was basically sent packing with a flea in my ear along the lines of if I didn’t want to follow their (bizarre) loc’ing advice then I clearly didn’t really want “real” locs, or have any idea what makes “real” dreads… er, um, ok then. Meanwhile, the salon was full of white studenty/hippy types, the owner is white and French and the guy screaming at me was mixed race.. and did I mention that I’m of Jamaican heritage??? Aaanyhoo….

    In the end I started my locs myself by combining the double strand twist method and then making them into teeny little bantu knots to keep them in place. Thankfully I then came across your site and have been checking in regularly ever since. Just as well really cos once the hair had started to loc and was still relatively short it was fine but then it started looking kinda messy because I couldn’t neatly twist the re-growth, I waited til I was back in London and went to a loctician there who told me there wasn’t enough regrowth to retwist (was she BLIND???) and told me to come back in a few months…. do I have a sign (visible only to locticians) on my forehead which says “just tell me to come back in a few months” or what??!!

    But I took your advice, my4tress, on the Jamaican mango and lime stuff and that really seems to be doing the trick, locs now 2-2.5 inches long (interesting that even without the processing and pulling, my hair still grows faster at the back and sides than the front – am I also destined to have a mullet? – EEK!)

    Anyway, the point of all this rambling was to ask, am I right in saying that I don’t have to search up the place for dyes designed specifically for black hair??? At this point, I have to admit to a dyeing disaster after my BC but before I started my locs. I decided I wanted to go blond. Don’t ask me why, I think I’d seen too much Amber Rose footage… cos obviously I look just like her, don’t I… ahem! Soooo, I bought blonde ammonia free dye for caucasian hair cos that’s what was available where I live and I couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way into central Paris. I got home and snapped on the gloves and totally ignored the advice about it not necessarily giving the desired results on very dark brown/black hair. I might have paid more attention if it had simply said that it would turn my hair Ronald McDonald red! I ended up bleaching and then using a dark brown colour over the top which eventually settled into a light brown (narrowly avoiding divorce btw as my husband was horrified at what I’d done to my head!). In fact the result is similar to what my girl above got when she used the bleach/lightener prior to dyeing her locs,

    So I guess the moral of the story is; when the pack says ‘may not give the desired results on dark brown/black hair’ what it actually means is, lighten your hair first or this is going to be a total frickin’ disaster! And small children may follow you around asking for a happy meal… LOL!

    Oh dear, I have rambled on, sorry to hijack the thread, shutting up now!

    • I love your post! LOL!!!! You are right, you don’t have to look for dye “specifically” for black/dark hair. Prior to applying the color, you need to “lift” your hair color; basically lighten it. I didn’t learn that until the first time dyeing my locs. I TRIED to get the bright red color and only got a tint of red that you could only see in daylight, lol.

      I’m so….sooooo disappointed about what those people were telling you about your hair. Then again, I kind of expect it from people who CLEARLY don’t understand a thing about locs. Um, it’s even more embarrassing b/c the person they were talking to is of Jamaican descent. *cutting my eyes* The things they were saying had me thinking, “Brrrr????? LOL

  3. Glad I made you smile ;o) I forgot to mention the loc forming method used by the parisian “experts” involved pouring some gunk (cactus sap apparently) over the hair, then shaking your head kinda like a wet dog to get rid of the excess and then rubbing your hair with a towel until locs form. Which is why they couldn’t do anything with my half-inch long hair!

    I’m sure it works great on hard to loc caucasian hair but it was the whole “this is the ONLY way to do it” attitude that got up my nose! That and the fact that Mr Mixed Race saw fit to chastise me at the top of his voice, going so far as to follow me into the street and then flip me the bird when I politely told him that clearly we couldn’t agree and I would have to go elsewhere…

    Aaah les Parisiens, you gotta love ’em! Or something….

    • Wow, does someone need anger management classes? I mean, they have an awesome marketing system with customer satisfaction.
      (-_-) Seriously, I’m glad that they didn’t touch one strand of your lovely hair!!

  4. omg! You were very helpful.
    I plan on dye-ing my hair and i want my back the lightest clairol color.
    But i want to dye the front of my head the midnight blue color from (dark and lovely).
    I was wondering should i do it one now and wait later to do the other (of course starting off with the blonde first) or could i do both at the same time?

  5. Here’s another video on coloring locs. Hope this helps. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0LfyIh2egfk#at=28

  6. Ur hair is lovely .can i dye my baby dreads?

  7. […] to get messy. I’m not about to repeat everything over, so you might to read up my post “Dying to Dye: Tips for Dyeing Locs“. […]

  8. nice job

  9. nicw work very helpful

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