[Photo by: @kikachatterjee/Twitter, goodDYEyoung]

If you’re like me and grew up loving Paramore, you probably dreamed of rocking some of the same hair colors as resident legend (and personal hero) Hayley Williams.

Williams and hair mastermind Brian J. O’Connor made the dream a little bit more possible with the launch of goodDYEyoung, a “beautifully obnoxious,” cruelty-free and vegan hair dye line that fuses fans’ love of music and self-expression with super bright semi-permanent colors. 

“Hair and music go hand in hand for me, and that's part of goodDYEyoung’s identity,” Williams says to AP. “It’s not only these creative people who want to express themselves really loudly and differently, but also trying, when we can, to tie in music and to make people feel like this is a little world of its own.”

READ MORE: Here’s how to get Josh Dun’s goodDYEyoung Grammys look

Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well…maybe not, for those of us with super dark natural hair. I always wanted to rock a new color, but the unbelievable tenacity of my black hair resulted in a couple horror stories, including a particularly embarrassing DIY dip-dye bleach job that pretty much turned my hair into hay. 

Jaded from these mishaps, I was wary but determined to make a GDY color work for me after the much anticipated launch. And thanks to the good folks over at the company and a little help from my friends, I was able to make it reality! How did I go from dark black natural hair to Hayley-approved bright pink without frying off my hair and creating lifelong trauma? Read on to find out. 

Step 1: Start with a healthy base
The most important thing to know is that if you want bright color payoff from your hair dye, you need a light base to start—there’s no way around it. Some dyes claim to show up on dark hair, but you’ll never get the sort of color you see on goodDYEyoung’s amazing Instagram without bleaching your hair first. The darker the hair, the more rounds of bleach you’ll need, so your hair needs to be healthy enough to hold up. 

I’m not always the nicest to my hair: I’ve been hitting it with heat at least once a week for about eight years now. Blow dryers, straighteners, curling wands, you name it. That said, my hair is otherwise pretty healthy—thanks to my natural texture and the help of dry shampoo, I only wash my hair about once a week, which has helped to maintain its health. And good thing, too, because like I said, I started with pitch black natural hair, so I needed quite a few bleach processes.

 

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You’ll definitely want to start with a healthy base if you’re going from dark hair to bright. You love your hair, right? This is the time to show her some TLC. Treat her kind. Deep condition, lay off the heat for a week or so, the whole bit. 

Step 2: Get your tools and get bleaching
First things first: You need your supplies. Lucky for you, GDY sells both a tool kit and a lightening kit

Should you forego the tool kit, you’ll at least need the basics: A bowl, a brush and gloves. Invest in extra pairs of gloves, because you’ll be going through the process a few times. 

I highly, highly recommend the GDY lightening kit, which gives you the exact proportions of everything you need. If your hair is shoulder length, I’d recommend getting at least three to four kits to be safe, and more if your hair is longer or especially thick. If you do decide to buy your own bleach, chances are you’ll be using powder and developer. (For the love of god, don’t use kitchen bleach. Not the same thing.) 

Developer typically comes in 10, 20, 30 and 40 volume at beauty stores. Forty is crazy strong and will fry off your hair. You might be inclined to get it because you need some serious lightening, but don’t do it! That’s for professionals only! Even 30 is pretty strong. The GDY kit comes with 25 volume creme developer, which is the perfect happy medium. You’re way better off doing multiple rounds of bleach with lighter developer than one long session with strong developer—that’s a surefire way to lose all your hair. 

Once you mix up your bleach, you’ll need to grab the most important tool of all: a good friend. Seriously, don’t try doing this yourself. You’ll never do the back evenly. Once they slap on the gloves, you’re ready to go! 

It’s best to bleach slightly dirty, unwashed hair. I didn’t bleach my roots and instead went for the dark-root look, but if you want to bleach your roots too, make sure to leave them until the end. The heat from your scalp makes your roots lighten faster than the rest of your hair. Divide up your hair into more manageable sections, then start bleaching 1-inch wide pieces. Wrap the locks up in foil after coating them—once bleach dries, it stops working!

Check the instructions, and don’t leave the bleach in any longer than recommended. Rinse all the bleach out, then shampoo so there’s no skin-irritating bleach left on your scalp or neck. This is a good time to deep condition.

If you have super dark hair, chances are your hair isn’t light enough at this point. Don’t get bleach-happy and toss more on! Wait a day or two to give your hair a break, then repeat the process. It’s worth a few days of yellow hair for a healthy, bright finished product. I personally used two lightening kits for my first bleach round, waited two days, then used another two for my second round. 

Step 3: Tone, if necessary
After the bleach processing, you might be left with brassy, orange tones. To cut these, a toner can be super helpful. I used Wella Color Charm toner in T18 and had great success. Make sure to apply to wet hair and don’t leave it in too long, and it should help.

Quick reality check: There’s pretty much no way you’re getting platinum-blonde hair on your own if you’re starting with a dark brown or black base, and no toner is strong enough to make that happen. Even most salons don’t promise those results. What that means is it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do pastel shades. If you’re looking to do a bright color, though, carry on!

After using Wella, I went from the very nauseating yellow to a slightly less jarring blonde, pictured below.

Step 4: It’s time to dye happy!
Congratulations! You’re blonde! They say blondes have more fun, but I think having bright hair is even better, so let’s move on. 

Once you’ve picked one of the nine colors in GDY’s shade range, spring for a few bottles. You’ll definitely need more than one if your hair is longer, and you’ll want some extra for touch-ups. 

There’s no developer needed for goodDYEyoung, so you’re ready to go straight out of the bottle. Feel free to mix dyes for a custom color (I love making magenta out of Ex-Girl and a little Blue Ruin) or some Fader for a  lighter shade. 

Then comes the most exciting part: Slather on your dye! GDY is all-natural (and smells heavenly), so I left it on for about an hour without worrying about it hurting my hair. I tossed my hair in a shower cap so as not to make a mess. After Laughter is 42 minutes and 31 seconds long, so maybe have a jam session while you wait?

Once it’s ready, rinse your hair out with cold water, as cold as you can stand, until the water runs clear. Don’t shampoo—you don’t want to wash out all your hard work! No need to condition, either, since goodDYEyoung conditions naturally. Blow dry your hair to finish.

Personally, I used two bottles of Ex-Girl with just a bit of Fader, which definitely turned out pretty but wasn’t bright enough for me. I ended up going over with another bottle of Ex-Girl about a week later and was much happier with the brighter shade on my darker skin, and now I mix in a little bit of Blue Ruin, too.

Here’s the look with Ex-Girl + Fader:

And then Ex-Girl + Blue Ruin:

 

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Step 5: Keep up your color
Remember, GDY is only semi-permanent, so you’ll need to keep up with your color if you want it to stay as bright as the day you dyed it. GDY co-creator O’Connor advises avoiding shampoos with sulfates, and as a bonus tip, he recommends mixing some dye with your conditioner and letting it sit in the shower! And make sure to only be washing your hair with cold water, of course. Red-toned shades tend to fade quicker than blue-toned shades, so keep that in mind when deciding how many bottles to buy. I mix plenty of Ex-Girl into my conditioner, and it leaves my hair smelling amazing. It definitely stains my hands, but only for a little while!

There you have it: You’ve done the impossible and gone from dark hair to technicolor locks! Totally worth it, right? Going pink, blue or whatever color you may choose without the help of a salon definitely takes some time and maintenance, but goodDYEyoung makes it affordable and way easier than you might think.

Not to be dramatic, but coloring my hair was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Kind of like my tattoos, having an obnoxious, expressive hair color has made me feel more at home in my own body. There’s nothing more affirming than feeling like the way I look expresses who I am, and it’s made me a more honest version of myself, which is what goodDYEyoung is all about. Fellow dark-haired friends: The struggle is worth it! 

Did you go technicolor with goodDYEyoung? We want to see! Tag us on Instagram and Twitter @altpress with pictures of your beautiful hair!