First of all, my new hair! I now have a multi-green-turquoise transition for the bulk of my hair, with a purple and fuchsia pointed fringe.
Damaging My Hair
If you have naturally light blonde hair, getting bright hair is much easier, and much less damaging for your hair. If it's light enough, it won't need bleaching - especially if you're putting a colour over it that is sympathetic to the undertones (eg. bright green hair dye over pale blonde hair will probably pick up some of the yellows and pale browns to end up leaf green) and if it does need bleaching, it won't need as much bleaching to get it pale. If, like me, you have very dark brown hair, it takes a lot of bleaching to get it pale enough, and honestly I don't think it's a good idea to do that to your hair, having done it myself repeatedly and damaged my hair. I don't bleach my hair to blonde in one session - I do it in two sessions spaced out, which means it doesn't get prolonged exposure to one long cumulative reaction, and I also don't bleach all my hair out at once - that means no sudden colour changes! - I try to only bleach the roots. Getting my hair bleached professionally is out of my budget, but would probably mean greater damage limitation again, but with bleaching all you can really achieve is damage limitation because the colour stripping process is inherently a damaging one. Bleach does not cover your hair a colour the way dye does, it strips colour, natural or otherwise, from hair. It has two main components - an alkali that makes your hair more porous, and a peroxide that chemically reacts with the melanin in hair, and it is a harsh chemical.
I personally think it's much better to get hair bleached professionally if you can. Even using bleach to the letter with the instruction, you can have different results and problems, especially in relation to how naturally porous your hair is, oils, and very importantly, whether or not you've used home colouring on it before, especially permanent box-dyes as they can react badly with the bleach, or be very resilient to bleaching. I had a lot of trouble getting light hair after I had dyed my hair black for years with cheap(ish) dyes and had to grow the ends out. I have utterly fried bits of my hair, got very uneven bleach development leading to weird patchy hair, and even had chemical burns (as mentioned above).
Secondly, I used to try and do all of my hair on my own. That was a terrible idea - first of all, I am not a hair-stylist, I'm an amateur with unusual tastes, and secondly hair dye is really works best with a second person doing it, to get it nice without patches. If I am bleaching my hair at home, I get Raven to help me by doing the back parts that I can't see clearly even with two mirrors and when it comes to colouring, I get one of a few friends who are experienced with brightly coloured hair to help me. This means I get an even colour, most of the time. Sometimes even after all that, my hair ends up patchy and I have to go back and fix it. Ombre (or really, 'gradient' because I have transitions between colours over all my hair being lightened, not dark roots and bleached lighter coloured tips) hair usually takes me more than one session of dyeing to get the transitions smooth and even! It is very easy to make mistakes with doing your own hair, even if you research your plans first.
Edit: With bleach it is important to work fast as it starts to react immediately, and you can still be putting bleach on one part of your hair while a different part is done! With the application, trying to rush it doing it on yourself is a good way to get uneven application and patchy hair, and possibly even bleach-burning bits of your hair, or getting it on your scalp or ears and getting chemical burns on your skin. I really think that even if you're bleaching your hair at home, you should get a second person to apply it.
Being very visibly alternative and walking into a spaces that were mainstream-fashion centred, and in areas that are in general less accepting of eccentric styles, was somewhat daunting, especially for someone like me who is actually quite shy and socially anxious in person. While I have the confidence to ignore mean comments, and disregard other's opinions on my appearance in general, trying to persuade a hair professional that doesn't like alternative designs that yes, I really do want bright green hair, a pointed fringe, whatever else, is not something I really wanted to have to do. This isn't about ignoring professional advice on what my hair can and can't take (which, to be honest, I wish I had been given a long time ago, when I first started dying my hair vibrant colours!), but specifically about those who just think that the sort of things I want are weird, unfashionable, ugly, etc. Trying to find someone willing to do a pointed fringe was interesting, to say the least - the lassie that currently cuts my hair is an Goth studying hair at the same college building as I study architectural technology, and she put my pointy fringe in (and I couldn't make an appointment with her to get it tidied up before the start of university, so I did it myself this time... I regret it!). However, times have changed, and the availability of people willing to do more creative things has increased - especially if you find someone who likes having the opportunity to do something artistic and different once in a while!
Also, if you do things yourself, remember that there's actually a lot of skills and techniques in styling hair - for many it's the difference between able to do DIY home improvements and being a qualified tradesperson, but for hair. Just as you might be able to fix a ding in a wall with some filler and sandpaper, but maybe not plaster a whole wall in a way that is smooth and even, sometimes more complicated tasks are better left to someone who is trained and practiced, and if you do end up doing yourself, do realise that it might not work out right the first time. I've been regularly dyeing my own hair -with help!- for years (I started as a teenager, and I'm now nearly 30...) and I still can't get it as perfect and amazing as some of the salon-done examples I've seen. I've learned to trim my fringe, but on my fifth time keeping my fringe out of my eyes, I've still got a HUGE skill difference between how much better it looked the first time Melody (my friend who is a hair-dressing student) ever did a pointy fringe, just because Melody had a lot of experience and tutoring in cutting hair and fringes prior to the pointy one.
Internet Vs. Reality
Thirdly, there are definitely people who are only exposed to what my hair looks like on Instagram, here, Facebook, etc. and only see it in photographs. Even before the photograph is taken, I'll have probably spent a substantial amount of time getting my hair just right, brushing and combing it, styling my fringe, etc. etc. I also tend to take selfies within a week of my hair having been recoloured, so it is at its most vibrant. When I'm actually taking the photographs for my selfies, I make sure I'm well lit, against a white cloth background (actually a lined curtain turned inside out, so the pretty side is hidden and the shiny white lining cloth is visible behind me!) and in a mixture of natural light, reflected natural light (an array of mirrors out of shot!) and sometimes some artificial light. Usually selfies are a document of my latest make-up, so everything is carefully posed to flatter my face, too! After all that, I then make digital edits to photos to adjust saturation, contrast, colour balance, etc. Sometimes I do more substantial colour corrections - especially if I've not had the opportunity to take a selfie in optimal lighting conditions. What people see in a photograph is my hair at an ideal moment. It does not look like that two weeks after being coloured, when humidity is making it fluffy and weird, when the wind has blown my fringe all out of shape, in some terrible lighting that makes it look blue when it's not, etc. etc. This isn't just me, this is what goes on behind the scenes of a LOT of people who put their hair on Tumblr, Instagram, whatever. It was only recently that Ursula Goth went viral for posting their lovely pink, purple and blue ombre hair before styling for a selfie, and then after styling and ::writing about:: the need for honesty and knowing that there's a difference between social media highlights and real life.
Fourthly, unnatural hair colours take a lot of work to maintain. Solid colour permanent dark dye over unbleached hair is the easiest to maintain. When I dyed my hair black, all I had to do was re-dye my roots when they grew long enough to be obvious (that will depend on how your natural hair colour contrasts with what colour you have dyed it) and every now and again re-tone the whole thing as it started to fade back to brown - which took a very long time compared to bright hair, and with cumulative layers of black it became more and more permanent. Solid colour bright/light colours over bleached hair take more work, as first of all the roots need dyeing before re-colouring, and secondly, depending on the colour and brand of hair-dye, and whether it is permanent or semi-permanent (most bright dyes are semi-permanent), and other factors like sun exposure, how often you wash it, and with what shampoos, etc. it can fade in anything from a mere week and a half to much longer, but they usually fade in a few weeks, and to the point where it is very obvious in about a month. Gradient brights are even more work because of recolouring the length with several, but because it's a smooth gradient, it can be redone in a distribution that isn't an exact match to where the colours where before and still look good. Layered, sectioned, or any other hair colouring that involves lots of different sections of solid colour hair is really difficult to maintain the way it was done.
|Sectional multicolour hair, with ombre.|
|Weird green top to blue after fading and ineffective touchups|
Edit: Dyeing your hair at home is also likely to stain your shower/bath, as well as anything you spill it on, and many home semi-permanent hair-dyes are not colour-fast in rain/dampness! I live somewhere pretty rainy, and the collars of so many of my clothes have ended up green because I've been rained on and colour has transferred. Your towels will get stained too.