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How to Dye Hair Yellow at Home

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Yellow hair is certainly not for the faint of heart, and one needs to master expert hair dyeing skills to be able to DIY it at home. However, we are here to help, as we have prepared the ultimate guide to go yellow flawlessly. In this article, you’ll learn how to get yellow hair at home, as well as some hair dye maintenance tips, makeup, and fashion advice to wear yellow hair with grace.

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How to Dye Yellow Hair at Home

Once, you’ve picked out a yellow hair color shade that compliments your skin tone and undertone, it’s time to get to dyeing that hair! But let’s start from the beginning by setting some ground rules. Specifically, keep this in mind: color cannot lift color. Hair dye (regardless of whether it’s permanent or semi-permanent) isn’t designed to lift your hair color. It can only deposit color.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Starting Color and the State of Your Hair

For the sake of brevity, let’s just call yellow hair a fantasy color. It’s a bright and vivid color, regardless of whether you go for a bold neon or a muted pastel.

Bright, vivid or pastel hair colors tend to be the most visible on light blonde hair. This means that unless your hair is a natural light blonde, you’re going to need to lift your hair color before you apply yellow hair dye.

But if you’re not starting with virgin hair (hair that has never been dyed, bleached, or processed), you’ll also want to consider the current health of your hair. If your hair is over-processed from bleaching and relaxing, you’ll want to start by deep-conditioning your hair or applying a protein treatment and getting it back to a healthy state before you attempt to lift the color. Keep in mind, the more processing you apply to your hair, the more fragile it will be. 

Step 2: Consider How Vibrant You Want the Yellow to Be

Are you looking to go from a natural hair shade to something bold and vibrant? Or do you just want a subtle hint of color? If you’re trying to go for a shockingly bold hue, and your hair is naturally dark, then you’ll need to bleach or lift your hair significantly if it’s not naturally blonde.

If you’re only looking for a slight glaze effect (a hint of color in the sun but nothing bold) or are okay with the yellow appearing differently over previously colored hair, then ignore the lifting step and go straight to applying the color.

Step 3: Lift Your Hair Color – Bleaching

If you already have naturally light hair, you can skip this step and go straight to applying yellow hair dye. But if you don’t have naturally light hair, and your goal is vibrant yellow hair, you’ll need to decide which lift level is right to achieve your desired end result. In general, there are 10 levels on a lift chart, with one being the darkest hair and 10 being the lightest.

As a guide, you should attempt to safely lift two to three levels per lifting session. But there are high-lift options that can lift by as many as five levels in one session. To lift your hair color, you’ll need to mix bleach with a developer, get it to a creamy pudding-like consistency, and then apply it to your hair.

Depending on the current color of your hair and the lift level you’re targeting, you’ll need to choose the right developer volume. Developer is sold in 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume levels. Since you’re not just lifting the hair color but trying to open the hair’s cuticle to optimize future color deposits, you’ll want to focus on 20, 30, or 40 developer.

How to Maintain Yellow Hair Color
  • 10 developer will not lift hair color
  • 20 developer will lift by one or two levels
  • 30 developer will lift by two to three levels
  • 40 developer will lift up to four levels

However, 40 developer is extremely strong, so you should be careful if you use this strength and space out applications if you need to perform multiple lift sessions to reach your desired level. Still, don’t be stingy with your bleach. The hair should be fully saturated and not gritty or dry. So, you may need to purchase several bleach packets depending on how much length you’re attempting to lift.

Usually, for a fantasy color like yellow hair, you’ll want to target anything from level seven or higher on the lift chart so that you get visible results when you apply color later. Keep in mind, previously colored hair may need more aggressive bleaching to reach a blonde color light enough to give you the desired end result. So, you may need multiple bleaching sessions.

However, you need to space them out to give your hair time to recover between applications. Attempting to perform multiple bleaching sessions too close together can cause damage and even hair loss.

If you’re trying to remove previous hair color from your hair, this can be trickier. While there are a few at-home hacks that can be fairly effective, if you’re attempting to dye or lift over older semi-permanent hair color, the best path might be just waiting for it to fade out after the outlined total washes or using a stripper that can fully remove all color molecules from your hair. If you are attempting to lift hair with permanent color already in it, you should consider seeing a pro to prevent damaging your hair.

Step 4: Check the Health of Your Hair Again

After lifting to the desired level, you need to check your hair’s health again. Especially if you had to attempt multiple bleaching sessions, this is the time to deep-condition and baby your hair. It’s not necessary to make it a marathon hair day session where you lift and color in one day.

Even though most at-home yellow hair dye options are semi-permanent rinses that only deposit color, lighter hues can magnify dry and damaged hair. So, it’s worth it to take the time for a few deep conditions or protein treatments before you move on to depositing color.

Step 5: Applying the Hair Dye

For at-home color jobs, semi-permanent color can be the least intimidating and the most goof-proof. But you’ll need to check the instructions on your preferred semi-permanent color and follow them. While traditional box dyes allow you to apply hair color over dirty hair, some semi-permanent brands require that you apply color to clean damp hair or clean dry hair.

Depending on your style goals, you may want to apply color all over, just on your ends, or as strategic highlights. If you’re attempting an all-over color, you’ll want to stay about a quarter of an inch away from your roots to prevent accidentally staining your scalp. Whichever you choose, it’s best to use a hair dye brush for improved precision and to wear gloves to prevent staining on your hands.

Likewise, just as with bleaching, don’t be cheap with the color application. You want those strands fully saturated for the best color uptake possible. If it means buying multiple bottles of your preferred color, so be it.

Section off your hair to apply the dye easily, and as you are applying the dye, run the hair dye brush through the same section a couple of times to ensure even application.

How to Color Yellow Hair at Home

Also, you need to check the processing times, as this can vary (normally 30-45 minutes). Some hair colors recommend that you process with heat to help the color better penetrate the hair shaft. If this is the case, you can use a processing cap or a plastic grocery bag. Use a bonnet blow dryer for 360-degree heat penetration or a regular blow dryer if you don’t have one. Again, be mindful of the processing time.

Step 6: Wash and Condition

Once your hair has had time to process, it’s time to wash out the rinse. Assuming you started with clean hair, you don’t need to use shampoo and can go straight to the conditioner step.

For the best results, use a color-safe conditioner that won’t prematurely strip out the yellow hair dye. The same applies if you placed hair dye over dirty hair and need to use a conditioner. And if you can handle it, rinse your hair in cool water – or as cold as you can stand it. This will also help to close the hair cuticles and prevent the color from rinsing out.

Step 7: Evaluate the Results

If you were going for a vibrant yellow hair color and didn’t quite hit the mark, you may need to apply another round of hair dye. Since semi-permanent rinses are gentle and are only depositing color, there’s no risk of over-processing or damaging your hair if you need to do it again.

If you want to, you can immediately reapply the color – just be sure to follow the application instructions. However, if you picked a box dye that had a built-in developer in the dye, you should wait, deep-condition, and give your hair time to rest before you color it again.

Tips for Maintaining Your Yellow Hair Color

Now that you’ve got vibrant yellow hair, you probably want it to last more than a couple of weeks. This means that you might need to invest in products designed specifically to prevent bright hair colors from fading.

Add in Dry Shampoo

Traditional shampoos that need water and lather can wash out color with every rinse. So, dry shampoo is a great way to keep your coif fresh and maintain the vibrancy of your yellow hair color. Make sure that the dry shampoo is color-safe, as even this beauty hack has the potential to dull bright tresses.

Keep the Water Cold

Dry shampoo is great, but you can’t use it forever. When you do wash your hair, opt for cold water, as it’s better at maintaining color as opposed to hot water.

Fashion Tips for Yellow Hair Color

Embrace Touch-ups

Depending on how long you plan on rocking yellow hair, you’ll need to touch it up from time to time. While some brands like Overtone offer color conditioners to keep your hues vibrant with every wash, you can do this on your own too. Mix your hair rinse with your favorite conditioner and use it to deposit a bit of color each time you wash your hair.

Consider Co-Washing

While this is usually a hair care hack for the curly community, it also works for vibrant hair colors. Co-washing is the act of using only conditioner to wash your hair. Not only is shampoo drying, but also it can strip out yellow hair dye. Instead, a co-wash can preserve your hair color longer.

Update Your Hair Products

Vibrant hair needs color-safe products. If you can’t bear to give up shampoo, look for options that are designed for use on color-treated hair. This might mean you need to upgrade to salon-quality products, which are more expensive. But that’s the price of beauty.

Invest in Deep-Conditioning Treatments

Depending on how much you had to lighten your hair before applying yellow hair dye, your hair may be very dry. To make sure that it looks fresh and healthy, you’ll need to apply deep conditioning or hot oil treatments to infuse moisture and sheen.

Limit Heat Use

Excessive heat tool use is bad for anyone’s hair. But when you have vivid hair colors, if you had to bleach your hair to achieve that hue, you’ll want to minimize your use of blow dryers or curlers and flat irons.

Avoid the Pool

Color-treated hair and chlorine are not a good combination. If you can’t entirely avoid the pool, one of the best options is to wet your hair and apply a leave-in conditioner before you take a dip. This helps keep the chlorine from penetrating and changing the hue of your yellow hair.

Minimize Processes

Unless your hair was naturally light blonde before you shifted to yellow hair, you had to do some type of process to achieve a light-enough hair color. If you had to bleach your hair to apply yellow hair dye, take some time off before you attempt to further process your hair (i.e. relaxers or perms). Applying multiple processes on your hair too closely together can lead to permanent damage or even hair loss if the hair is severely damaged.

Your Makeup Routine for Yellow Hair

Much like our “finding the best yellow hair color” section, the right makeup is going to depend on your skin tone and undertones. In truth, there are no rules when it comes to makeup, aside from finding the right complexion shades that match your actual skin tone and undertone.

The reality is, if you were always wearing bold makeup looks before you dyed your hair yellow, you’d probably continue on that trend. If you prefer more neutral or understated looks, the same will apply. But the rules below are general guidelines that, truthfully, would also apply if you had a more natural hair color.

Makeup Tips for Yellow Hair Color

Blending Is Key

Harsh foundation lines or eyeshadow is a dead giveaway that you didn’t nail your makeup look. Blend foundation into your neck and chest and blend out eyeshadow to prevent lines of demarcation. If you don’t have a flawless look, your bright yellow color will highlight the flaws even more.

Don’t be Afraid to Match

While yellow can be an intimidating hue for hair and makeup, it’s not necessarily forbidden to match your makeup with your hair color. However, you might want to take it easy and avoid doing an entire yellow look complete with yellow hair, eyes, blush, lips, and cheeks. Pick one item on your face to match with your hair and play up that asset.

Try to Find Balance

As a general rule, only one item in your makeup look should be bold. A bold eye, lip, and cheek combination can make you look like a 1980s throwback. Pick one of the above and use that as your bold accent that anchors the rest of your look.

Shade-Matching Still Applies

Regardless of whether you like a bold face or something more neutral, what’s not forgivable is wearing a foundation or concealer that’s several shades lighter or darker than your real skin tone. Take the time to get your skin tone and undertones properly matched because yellow hair or not, we can all tell if your face and body don’t match.

When You Doubt, Go Neutral

With hair as bright as yellow, sometimes toning down your makeup game is the way to guy. A nude lipstick, neutral eyeshadow shades, and a soft look, in general, will flatter yellow hair colors the most.

Fashion Tips for Those with Yellow Hair

In truth, yellow hair is pretty bold and makes a statement all on its own. And while in theory you can consult a color wheel every day to pair the “proper” complementary or analogous colors with your vibrant hair color, this isn’t exactly practical.

Yellow Hair Dye Tips

Much like with makeup, you’re probably not going to overhaul your wardrobe just because you dyed your hair yellow – unless you’re sticking to yellow indefinitely. Seriously, if you were a bold fashionista before the yellow hair, we can assume you’ll be one afterwards. So, here are some general fashion guidelines that can go a long way in improving your overall look no matter what hue you rock on your head.

  • Pick one focal item. Maybe this is a bold accessory or a bright pair of pants. But every item you’re wearing shouldn’t be fighting for attention because your yellow hair is already going to turn heads.
  • Patterns shouldn’t fight. If you opt for a polka dot top, it’s not a good idea to pair it with a striped bottom. Again, pick one focal item and build your wardrobe around that.
  • Watch out for monochrome matching. It’s tempting to match your outfit to your hair, but you’ll want to make sure it’s complementary. Depending on the vibrancy of your yellow hair, finding the perfect matching yellow shade in your clothes can be difficult.
  • Don’t feel pressure to overhaul your wardrobe to match your hair. If you live by the strict rules of a color wheel, yellow should only be paired with hues of violet, orange, or green. While these are pretty combinations, that can be limiting.
  • Just have fun. Fashion is a form of self-expression, much like hair color. Don’t let something that’s meant to be fun make you feel tied down.

Photos via @hieucow, Instagram