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Can you dye black hair purple without bleach?

Dyeing your hair a fun, vibrant color like purple is an exciting way to change up your look. However, if you have naturally dark hair, you may be wondering if you can achieve a bright purple hue without having to use harsh bleaching chemicals first. The short answer is yes, it is possible to dye black hair purple without bleaching, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

What is bleaching and why is it often used?

Bleaching refers to using chemicals to strip the natural pigment from your hair. This leaves your hair a very light blonde or white color so that vibrant dyes can adhere and show their true depth of tone. Bleach is often used when dyeing hair bright colors because it provides a blank canvas for the new color.

The reason most people bleach their hair first before coloring it a fun shade like purple is that the lightened base allows the true vibrancy of the dye to show through. If you dye purple straight on top of dark hair, the results will be more subtle with a deeper, darker purple hue.

Can you achieve a vibrant purple on dark hair without bleaching?

While bleaching does help achieve the truest purple tone, it is not always necessary. There are certain purple hair dyes made specifically for use on dark hair that can add vibrant color without having to pre-lighten.

Some things to look for when choosing a purple dye for dark hair:

  • Semi-permanent or demi-permanent dyes designed for dark hair
  • Dyes labeled “high lift” or “lightening”
  • Bright, vivid purple shades as opposed to dark purples

There are a few professional hair color lines that make purple dyes able to show up on brunette or black hair, like:

  • Pravana Chromasilk Vivids
  • Joico Intensity
  • Kenra Neon
  • La Riche Directions

Using these types of vivid, colorful dyes, you can achieve a noticeable purple tint on dark hair without bleaching first. However, the results will not be quite as dramatically bright and may fade more quickly.

What to expect when dyeing black hair purple without bleach

When dyeing black or dark brown hair a fashion color like purple without pre-lightening, here is what you can expect:

  • The purple color will look darker and more subtle, like a deep purple or eggplant shade.
  • Your natural dark root color will blend in more seamlessly as the color fades out.
  • The purple will fade significantly after 4-6 weeks.
  • There is less damage to your hair since you are not pre-bleaching.
  • The color is harder to remove since it stains the cuticle rather than lifting it with lightener.

The results can still be quite beautiful! Just don’t expect the same kind of vivid, bright purple you would get if you had pre-lightened your hair first. The purple will blend in with your natural color for a gorgeous ombre effect as it begins fading.

Tips for applying purple dye to black hair

To get the best results when dyeing black or dark brown hair purple without bleaching, follow these tips:

  • Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo before dyeing to remove any product buildup.
  • Blow dry your hair thoroughly so it is completely dry before applying the color.
  • Use a professional vivid, semi-permanent hair color like Manic Panic Ultraviolet or Punky Color Plum.
  • Separate your hair into four sections and use a tinting brush to apply the dye starting at the ends up to the roots.
  • Leave the dye on for the full processing time recommended on the packaging.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool water and use a sulfate-free shampoo to maintain the color.
  • Avoid washing your hair too frequently, use color-protecting products, and limit heat styling to help the color last longer.

By following these tips, you can achieve the deepest, most vibrant purple possible from a semi-permanent dye without having to bleach your dark locks beforehand!

Maintenance and upkeep

Since you will be dyeing your hair without pre-lightening, the purple shade will fade significantly in 4-6 weeks. Here are some tips to make the color last as long as possible:

  • Use cool water and limit washing to 2-3 times per week.
  • Alternate between a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner.
  • Use a weekly strengthening hair mask or deep conditioner.
  • Avoid chlorine, salt water, and other chemicals that can strip color.
  • Blow dry hair on a low heat setting and limit heat tools like curling irons.
  • Use a tinted conditioner or hair makeup to refresh the color as it fades.
  • Get a color touch-up every 4-6 weeks to maintain vibrant purple locks.

With the proper maintenance regimen, you can keep your deep purple hair color looking fabulous for as long as you want!

Can you bleach previously dyed black hair?

If you dye your hair back to your natural dark shade and later decide you want to lighten it to achieve a brighter purple, you can definitely bleach dyed black hair. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Coloring your hair black with permanent dye can penetrate the hair shaft, so bleach may not fully lift it.
  • Be patient – bleaching out black box dye can take multiple sessions to achieve desired lightness.
  • Use a toner or dye to neutralize brassiness after bleaching dyed black hair.
  • Give your hair recovery time between bleaching sessions to prevent damage.
  • Olaplex or a bonding treatment can help prevent breakage when lightening dyed black hair.

While it may take some work, you can bleach previously dyed black hair. This will allow you to achieve a much more vivid purple when re-coloring after lightening the base first. Just be gentle and patient so as not to compromise the integrity and health of your hair.

What about purple hair dye over box dye?

Many people use temporary box dyes from the drugstore to color or cover their gray hair. If you currently have black, brunette, or dark brown box dye in your hair, you can still use purple hair dye over it. However, because box dyes use more potent pigments to quickly color the hair, applying purple directly on top may produce results that are more muted and dark.

Your best bet is to grow out your box dye roots significantly before applying a vivid purple shade. The purple will show up better on the faded box dye ends versus directly overlapping the opaque root area. You can also incorporate fun purple highlights first before moving on to a full head of purple hair.

Using purple shampoo to maintain tone

Once you’ve achieved your perfect purple hair, you’ll want to use all the tricks to keep it looking vibrant. Using a purple shampoo and conditioner 2-3 times per week can actually help deposit color back into your strands as the purple pigments in the formula stain the hair over time.

Look for a purple shampoo that is sulfate-free to ensure it is gentle and non-drying. Apply it only to the purple parts of your hair and leave on for 3-5 minutes before rinsing so the purple pigment has time to deposit. Using purple shampoo as part of your regular regimen will help your vivid purple color last even longer.

How to remove purple dye from dark hair

Purple hair is fun and funky, but once you are ready to return to your natural brunette shade, you’ll need to remove the stubborn color. Here are some tips for getting bright purple dye out of dark hair:

  • Use a color remover or pre-treatment before shampooing to help strip the dye.
  • Wash hair several times with clarifying shampoo and hot water to help fade the purple.
  • Make a baking soda paste and apply to hair, then shampoo out.
  • Use an anti-dandruff shampoo containing sulfur to help remove vibrant color.
  • Try vitamin C powder mixed with shampoo – the acidity helps break down dye molecules.
  • Be patient – it may take several washes over a few weeks for the purple to completely fade.

Going to a salon for a color removal service can also quickly get stubborn vivid purple out of brunette hair. As a last resort, you may need to grow out the colored portions or re-dye your hair a dark shade closer to your natural color.


While bleaching is not mandatory, dyeing black or dark brown hair a fun color like purple does work best on lightened strands. However, with the right prep work, technique, and maintenance regimen, you absolutely can achieve a gorgeous purple hue without having to fry your hair with bleach first. Be realistic about the color results, use a semi-permanent dye formulated for dark locks, and take good care of your hair afterwards. You’ll soon be rocking beautiful bold purple tresses, even on your naturally dark hair.