It’s a natural part of growing up for young girls to want to copy adults in the way they do their makeup or hair. Dying hair has more impact then simply adding a swipe of lipstick or eyeliner. Unlike her experiments with make-up, your daughter can’t just wipe hair dye off at the end of the day. This needs more thought.
Safety Risks when your tween wants hair dye
In fact, most hair dye is not thought to be safe for children. Hair dye manufacturers provide a clear age limit of 16 on their salon products. If you look at home dye kits, they may contain PPD and also have an age 16 limit. I have read articles describing risks including rashes, asthma and allergic reactions. The risk of a reaction leading to female hair loss at a young age would worry me.
Should a parent agree to hair colour?
Fashions in hair colour are pretty bold these days. Strong reds, purples, blues and even grey are in vogue. My own reluctance to say yes if my tween wants hair dye is partly cultural. Times change. When my grandmother was young, any woman who painted her nails was thought to be “fast”. Now we paint our toddler’s toenails for fun.
Even so there are school rules to consider. Nail colour, obvious make-up and hair colour are all forbidden at my child’s secondary school. This does perpetuate a feeling of rebelliousness and freedom when the holidays come round and the nail art comes out of the cupboard.
Because the school ban these things, when my tween wants hair dye or makeup then I don’t have to make a rule that is different to other parents. That really makes life easier for me.
Our Kool Aid Hair Dye Adventure
Provided it’s the school holidays, and provided it is safe, I think I’m happy to agree if my tween wants hair dye. But how to do it safely?
Last summer while visiting family in New York State, my sister-in-law introduced us to Kool-Aid hair dye. Kool-Aid is not true hair dye at all; it is supposed to be a drink similar to squash. It is a powdered solution which you add to water. It’s just food colouring and flavours. The colours are pretty wild and in fact several contain e-numbers which are banned in Europe! They are legal in America and I hope most people suffer no ill effects.
My sister-in-law has no plans to feed her children these additives in a drink but she discovered that you can use them as a temporary hair colourant. It’s just food, so I’m happy that it’s going to be safe on hair.
Belle and her cousin V were 12 and 11 years old and had tremendous fun getting their hair dip-dyed in various Kool Aid colours. V’s hair is light blonde and took up the colours really well until she had quite a rainbow of dip-dye. It was all new to me so I was more cautious and just let Belle dip dye the very ends.
Washing out Kool Aid
According to instructions we found on the internet, Kool Aid hair colour should wash out in a couple of weeks. It was a good thing I was cautious because it did not wash out, and I had to get Belle a haircut before school started.
We brought home lots of Kool Aid sachets and at Christmas we dip-dyed Belle’s hair again. This time we just dipped the underneath layer of hair for five minutes. We used a dark red colour. I thought if it didn’t wash out again then it would at least be hidden under her natural hair for school.
Six months later, the colour has faded but it has not washed out! The internet has suggestions of using bicarb of soda to get it out but that sounds quite abrasive and I think it’s better to leave it. The red tone looks almost natural now.
Temporary Hair Dyeing Tips
As the colour sticks so well, I would only ever use it for dip-dye. I fear it would stain skin if we tried to do it all the way to the roots. Next time we will try just 3 minutes of soaking, and with luck it will come out more easily.
Each sachet of Kool Aid cost just 12 cents and makes 4 pints of squash, or half a pint for hair dye. It is ridiculously cheap, so if you know anyone going to America then why not ask them to visit the squash aisle of the supermarket? There are loads of instruction pages and videos on the internet.
If your teen or tween wants hair dye to try, I have researched a UK alternative. You can get wash-in wash-out hair gel called Manic Panic which has no lower age limit and no PPD. Here is my affiliate link for Manic Panic on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Hs0uJ8 The manufacturer still advises a patch test (and that’s a wise idea with Kool Aid too).
How do you feel about hair colour on children?
Related reading on this blog: Should I let my child wear make-up?
NB. This is my story and not advice, please follow manufacturer’s instructions on all products.