Heather Milward/Demand Media

People have been using homemade concoctions to color their hair for ages, trying everything from peroxide and lemon to achieve a beach-blond look to rinsing with sage and rosemary to remove the gray. If your children are desperate to go neon green or bright blue, there are temporary ways to indulge this form of self-expression. Hair dyes made with Kool-Aid can tint hair a wide variety of colors, but the effect only lasts for a few days and in many cases washes out with the first shampoo.

Choosing a Color

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One of the best things about using Kool-Aid to dye hair is the veritable rainbow of colors to choose from. Kool-Aid drinks are available in everything from hot pink to bright blue to dark purple. The color of the drink is the color you’ll be attempting to recreate. However, the natural color of your child's hair will influence the final results, so unless they have their heart set on a particular tint, keep the following tips in mind. Those who have light hair to begin with will be able to choose any color they like. The end result will be about the same color as the drink. Redheads should probably be steered away from green or blue dyes, as the end result can look a bit muddy. Brown hair works well with red or orange tints and those with black hair will see great results with blue, purple or dark red (black cherry) colors.


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If your child has oily hair, you’ll need to make it as clean as possible before the color is applied. Oil coats the hair follicle, making it difficult for the tint to adhere. So, wash their hair and then apply baking soda to it while it is still wet. Leave the baking soda in for 10 minutes and then rinse under warm water. If their hair is normal, wash it prior to applying color and if their hair is dry, simply spritz it with water to dampen it. Once the hair is wet, drape a towel over their shoulders to protect their clothing. Then, make the dye mix. Empty the contents of the chosen packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid into a small bowl. Add ¼ cup of hair conditioner and stir until well blended. If you do not have hair conditioner, use mayonnaise. For longer lasting color, add one tablespoon of white vinegar to this mixture prior to applying it.


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Once the dye is thoroughly combined, apply it to the hair. If you're applying it with your fingers, be sure to wear disposable gloves. Alternatively, streaks can be put in with a paint brush or by using an old ketchup style squirt bottle. To dye a full head of hair, apply the dye and then comb through the hair. Wrap the treated hair in plastic cling wrap and wait 60 minutes. Then rinse and style in the usual manner. To remove, wash hair as normal. The color generally washes out within three to five shampoos.


About the Author

Lisa Parris

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.