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OPINION: I Dyed My Hair with Food Coloring and I’m Never Going Back


I would describe my hair as ‘kinky’. Apart from the fly-aways, frizz and actual kinks, it’s really hard to tame. I would also consider it ‘quite damaged’ from all that dyeing. I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was 10, so it’s only natural my hair’s turned into such a crucial state. On another note, the state of my hair hasn’t stopped me from dyeing my hair. I’ve had my fair share of Manic Panic days, going wild and red, to implementing hidden soylent green streaks, and even dual colored bangs – half red, half blue. Ah, college!

I currently sport a fairly noticeable color set now. 1/4 of my head is peroxide blonde, and you know very well it’s only achievable with a the six-letter B-word of beauty – bleach.  I’d take a picture, but I’m gonna rock the hell out of my Samsung GALAXY Note drawing capabilities!



Now that I’ve sported this look that requires monthly maintenance, I sadly get bored with my hair very quickly. And with bleached hair, the best thing to do is to take the opportunity to infuse a zany color that’ll knock your socks off. And that is what I did. With damaged hair, you’ll want to avoid any form of chemical-coloring treatment, and that includes semi-permanent dye. Manic Panic may be as gentle, but after 10 times of touch-ups, you’ll wind up with split-ends anyhow. So, I decided to give food coloring a try, and I chose pink!



Food coloring is the cheapest (at RM2) when adding a little fun to your hair without the damage. The only downside is that it can get really messy and you’ll have to touch it up every four to five days, depending on how often you wash your hair. A lot of tutorials recommend mixing it with conditioners and shampoo and leaving it in for 20 minutes. That “can” tint your hair slightly, but if you want some full-blown effect, I recommend using food coloring on it’s own! You’ll have vivid hues and it’ll last longer than mixing it with shampoo or conditioner.

How to Dye Your Hair With Food Coloring*

What you need:
Gloves (lots of it)
A bottle of food coloring
Baby oil or Olive Oil
A mixing bowl
A hair-dyeing brush and comb
Old Towel
An old tshirt (preferably black if you aim to reuse it)

1. Depending on the thickness of your hair, how much coverage you want and the intensity of the color, pour out as much color as you can into the mixing bowl.  Remember to wear gloves because food coloring will absorb into your skin within a second, and it’ll be there for days, so watch out for that manicure!

2. Rub oil all over your hairline, neck and shoulders. The more the better.

3. Apply the hair color using the brush and spread evenly in sections. QUICK TIP: If you want a quick do, just pour the liquid into your hand and just spread it all over like you would with hair serum. That’s how I did it!

4. Leave it on for five minutes. Just five. Or ten. Five is sufficient. Apply heat with a hairdryer to help the color “soak in”.

5. Rinse it off with your gloves on. Use cold water and let the water run for a few minutes until the water gets less intense. Spread some conditioner to moisturize your hair. Just remember that the more you rinse, the more color will come off.

6 Using your towel, quickly wrap your wet hair into a turban. Give it five minutes and then use the hairdryer to set the color into the follicles of the hair.

7. Style as usual.

*This process only works on blonde or bleached hair.

The results:



Spunky bright pink hair that will fade off with each wash. If you want the whole pastel look, you’ll be happy to know that you can achieve it within a day or so. As you can see the roots look a little orange. The roots will be the first to fade since you generally shampoo your roots first. You can choose to pour some coloring into your shampoo and conditioner, but that will make the process really messy.

But for the effort of only RM2 a bottle, why complain? You can always play around with as many colors as you’re willing to try, and what’s available in the supermarket. And now.. I think it’s time for me to edit my sketch a little.



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Genevieve Nunis
If not comatose in bed watching Netflix, Genevieve (or Evie) is dressed to the nines sipping Gin-Tonics and devouring soup dumplings in a dodgy Chinese restaurant.
  • Hannah

    FINALLY, a Malaysian person who tried it out! Now I don’t have to worry about stuff like whether our food colouring works differently. This was really really helpful, THANK YOU. Off to retouch my pink hair…without horribly harmful made-in-China powder dyes, hooray!

    On a completely unrelated note – how/where did you get Manic Panic dye?

    • Genevieve Nunis

      Hey Hannah!

      Thank you so much. Glad you found it helpful. Don’t forget to tell me how it goes for you. 🙂
      I get my Manic Panic stock from eBay, or Australia when I’m there. I think you can get it from Singapore too.

      • Hannah

        Hahaha oh dear this is a horribly late reply but it worked wonderfully well! Thanks again 🙂 I was also wondering if I could possibly interview you about hair dyeing? (it’s for a feature writing assignment).

        • Genevieve Nunis

          Hannah, you’re not the only person who’s a big delayer of the internets! I don’t know if you’re still up for an interview that’s possibly 8 months overdue but I’m so happy to know I was on your list :xxxxxxx

  • leeya ㅋㅋㅋ

    black hair can ?

  • Allison

    Works great! I did “purple,” and it came out pink, so I did blue over it and got this lovely color 🙂 I feel like an intergalactic princess

    • Genevieve Nunis

      Oh my god, Allison. I wish I had seen this sooner so I could give you unlimited supply of high-fives!

  • nicole

    Will the food colouring stain on bleached highlights (mine are blonde and I have been dying my hair with normal dye also blonde colour)cos I really want to do the bottom of my fringe blue but I don’t want my fringe to stay blue.

    • Genevieve Nunis

      Hi Nicole.

      Food colouring is pigmented enough that it coats any lightly coloured hair, so it’ll definitely work. 🙂
      Just remember that it doesn’t last very long and it can fade out within a few days/washes, and the fade depends on the undertones of the colouring and your hair. Let’s say if you’re dying your hair pink and your hair’s a brassy tone of blonde, the pink will probably fade out into a more orange hue.
      Or blue might fade out on the green side.

  • nicole

    Oh and the bottom of my fringe is bleached

  • felicia

    Hahaha okay so this was really helpful. Thank you! I’m indian so my hair is obviously black, so I bleached a streak of it and then bleached it again after a week because it wasn’t as light as I wanted it. So haha I’m gonna try it! Thanks again. 😉

    • Genevieve Nunis

      Hope you had fun with it xx

  • esther

    Is it compulsory to apply conditioner after rinsing my hair with water? And is it okay if i wrap my hair in an aluminium foil before hairdrying it? Thanks and btw, Malaysian here 🙂

    • Genevieve Nunis

      Hi Esther,
      You can definitely wrap in foil! It’s an amazing idea actually, so you don’t get direct heat from the hairdryer which can easily damage your hair.

  • Alys

    Hi! Did you bleach your hair before applying the “dye” or you applied it on your normal dark hair?

    Thank you!