You should never dye your hair with Kool-Aid. Here’s why

Sometimes the desire to dye your hair crazy-bright colors is simply too much to resist, and never more so than during a nationwide quarantine, when there’s nothing else to do but sit around and wonder how to alter your appearance with just the products at hand. Just as the idea to smush a load of Nerds into your hair, or highlight it with Sharpies might seem completely nuts (until you’re stuck at home and everywhere within walking distance is sold out of hair dye), using Kool-Aid to color your tresses isn’t optimal either.

The hot new trend has seen tons of people resorting to the brightly-colored sweet drink mix to brighten up their hair and turn it the same fluorescent hues as the product itself. But just as we were always warned about drinking too much Kool-Aid, it’s worth noting you may want to pass on using it as an at-home hair dye as well.

Kool-Aid is not meant to be used as a hair dye

First and foremost, as master colorist Madison Garret explained to Teen Vogue, Kool-Aid is not meant for hair. “The dye used in Kool-Aid is a food dye, it’s not the same as a hair dye,” she advised, noting the substance will do nothing but sit atop the hair and stain it rather than penetrating the strands like actual hair dye does. Likewise, the stain could be permanent because there’s no guarantee that the dye will wash out. 

“In many cases it can’t be removed, so your only options are to grow it out, cut it off or dye it darker,” Garrett warned. Keep in mind, too, that repeatedly scrubbing your hair will damage it just the same as trying to scrub a stain out of clothing does. The Kool-Aid itself contains harsh artificial colors and preservatives that could cause damage by themselves, too, particularly because, unlike those found in hair dye, they’re not specifically designed to be used on hair.

Removing Kool-Aid from your hair takes time

If you’ve already gone down the DIY route with Kool-Aid and are ready to say goodbye to your new sugary hue, celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger told Today your best bet is to shampoo as normal, and just be patient with it, also noting a clarifying shampoo can help to speed the process along. Likewise, hot oil treatments can help.

“Dish soap like Dawn can also work in a pinch,” she also said, as long as you use a conditioning mask afterwards to treat your hair, as it may feel a bit dry as a result. Another option, suggested by cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos, is washing your dyed tresses with shampoo and baking soda however, again, you’ll need to deep condition after to combat the dryness. If you’re worried about damaging your hair further, it may be best to wait until the salon reopens so your colorist can tackle the challenge of removing the Kool-Aid dye head-on (no pun intended).

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