Dyeing your hair has never been easier, but with so many brands on the market, choosing one can be a minefield of confusion. Here’s some helpful advice on how and what to pick.

How to choose

First you have to take into account your natural or current hair colour. Does it need lightening first? Is it already several different shades? If you’re after the brightest possible colours, then bleach may be your friend. Don’t be scared of The B Word – that too has become both easy-to-use and gentler than ever before. Try one of the Garnier Nutrisse pre-lighteners that come with a high-quality anti-brassiness conditioner. It’s powerful enough that even the darkest hair becomes bright blonde with only one application, but gentle enough that it feels sleek and healthy afterwards.

What to choose

La Riche Directions

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One of the cheapest and most accessible brands out there is the La Riche Directions range, which not only has the broadest spectrum of shades but is probably the easiest to apply. The dye is gel-like and spreads easily, and while it’s better to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo first it’s not necessary. You can just spray on a little water to damp it before beginning, and the development time is a mere 15 minutes.

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Jess uses the Directions shade ‘Lagoon’ to create a vivid blue which fades to an equally lovely turquoise.

Schwarzkopf Ultra Brights

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Schwarzkopf has been producing lovely bright colours with its Live range for years, but now there’s the Ultra Brights collection of highly concentrated, vivid dyes. The formula is a lot thicker than the Directions dye, and for this reason I dilute it with a little conditioner so it spreads on smoothly. It takes 30 minutes to develop, but the results are stunning.

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I achieved this look using the Ultra Brights shades ‘Purple Punk’ and ‘Pillar Box Red’ (the latter was mixed with Directions ‘Apricot’ for a coral colour).

Colour -Freedom

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This is a brand I stumbled across quite recently in Superdrug and I had to snap some up. For science. Colour-Freedom is a range of 8 dyes plus a ‘Pasteliser’, and as much as I like this brand I can’t help but think the Pasteliser is ridiculous because all it is is a moisturising substance which dilutes your colour – in other words, conditioner.

Regardless, the colours are lovely, and the 150ml bottles provide decent value for money on something that requires so much topping up. The dye is smooth enough that it goes on easily, and there’s a 30 minute development time. This brand is also regularly on offer in Superdrug, and I’ve already stocked up on ‘Magenta Dream’, ‘Truly Blue’, and ‘Poppy Red’ ready for my next bleaching.

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For this combination I used Colour-Freedom ‘Pink Pizazz’ and Directions ‘Lagoon’.

Honorable mentions

Mainstream bright hair dyed brands which are as yet personally untried: L’Oreal Dip Dye Excess, Bblonde Maximum Colour Toner, and Fudge Paintbox Extreme Colours.

Verdict

The issue with all of these dyes is that regardless of how vivid the colours are, you still can’t be sure exactly what shade they’ll turn into on your hair. The Directions range has several pastel shades which won’t show up at all unless your hair is bright white, and generally any colour on the red/pink/orange scale will wash out and fade a lot quicker than the blue/green shades. As with any other cosmetic, dyeing your hair is about trial and error, but do try to have fun with it, and look after it (see our How to care for dyed hair post).