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Does punky color off lighten hair?

Hair color is an important part of personal style and self-expression for many people. Some choose to go with natural hair colors, while others enjoy experimenting with bright, eye-catching shades. Punky Color is a semi-permanent hair dye brand that offers a wide range of vivid colors, including light pastels and neon brights. One of their most popular shades is Off Light, a pale platinum blonde. But does using Punky Color Off Light actually lighten hair or just deposit color?

How Hair Dye Works

To understand if Punky Color Off Light can lighten hair, it helps to first understand how hair dye in general works. There are three main types of hair dye:

  • Permanent hair dye – Uses ammonia and developer to open the hair cuticle and alter the natural pigment inside the hair shaft. This allows for permanent, long-lasting color change.
  • Demi-permanent hair dye – Deposits color on the outside of the hair strand. The cuticle remains closed so the color washes out over 4-12 weeks.
  • Semi-permanent hair dye – Coats the outside of the hair with color that washes out in 4-8 shampoos. Does not alter natural pigment.

Punky Color uses a unique vegetable-based formula for their semi-permanent dyes. The color molecules are relatively large so they are deposited only on the outside of the hair, without penetrating the cuticle. This means Punky Color Off Light will add pale color to the hair but cannot actually lighten the underlying pigment.

Lightening vs. Depositing Color

True hair lightening requires the use of bleach or other lightening products that break down natural melanin pigment in the hair. Common lighteners include:

  • Hydrogen peroxide – Bleaches hair by releasing oxygen to oxidize melanin.
  • Ammonia – Swells the hair cuticle open so peroxide can penetrate.
  • Lightening powder – Mix with peroxide developer to lift multiple levels.

Semi-permanent dyes like Punky Color do not contain any lightening ingredients. Instead, they work by simply depositing a sheer veil of color over the existing shade. Off Light will make hair appear brighter and more platinum, but it cannot permanently remove underlying pigment or take hair to a lighter level.

Using Punky Color Off Light

Here are some tips for using Punky Color Off Light for the best results:

  • Pre-lighten hair to pale blonde first. Punky Color works best on light bases, around level 8 or lighter.
  • Remove any yellow tones. Off Light shows up best on neutral or ashy hair.
  • Apply evenly and thoroughly, leaving on for 20-30 minutes.
  • Rinse well until water runs clear. Shampoo 1-2 times per week.
  • Reapply as needed when color starts to fade, usually every 4-6 weeks.
Base Hair Level Result with Off Light
Level 1-3 (Darkest Brown/Black) Little to no visible change
Level 4-5 (Medium Brown) Slightly brighter, ashier cast
Level 6-7 (Light Brown/Dark Blonde) Noticeable shift to more platinum tone
Level 8-10 (Pale Blonde) Silver/White appearance

As the table shows, Off Light has the most dramatic effect on pale blonde and lightened hair. On darker bases, it adds an ashy tone but does not truly lighten the hair or remove warmth.

Using Lightener First

If you want your brunette or black hair to reach a platinum color, you will need to pre-lighten with bleach first. Here is a step-by-step process:

  1. Perform a patch and strand test to determine how many levels you can safely lighten your hair. For platinum, aim for level 8 or lighter.
  2. Mix lightening powder with developer according to package instructions. Apply to clean, dry hair.
  3. Check hair every 5-10 minutes until desired level is reached. Rinse thoroughly.
  4. Tone hair to remove brassiness. Apply a violet-based toner and leave on for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Rinse out toner and allow hair to dry fully. Style as desired.
  6. Apply Punky Color Off Light evenly from roots to ends. Leave on 20-30 minutes then rinse.
  7. Shampoo hair 1-2 times per week and reapply Off Light as needed.

Lightening to platinum levels should only be done by a licensed professional. This will help avoid damage from overlapping lightener or leaving it on too long. Always follow the instructions for any at-home lightening kit.

Maintaining Punky Color Off Light

To keep Off Light looking vibrant between applications:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo to help deposit last longer.
  • Rinse with cool water and use conditioner to lock in color.
  • Avoid chlorine, salt water, and hot tools which can cause fading.
  • Use a sealing gloss or mask to refresh color.
  • Wash less frequently, around 1-2 times per week.

Some natural shampoos that help maintain unnatural colors include:

Shampoo Key Benefits
Fanola No Orange Shampoo Neutralizes brassy yellow tones
Bye Bye Yellow by Punky Color Violet pigment counters yellow
Clairol Shimmer Lights Purple shampoo keeps hair icy
Celeb Luxury Viral Colorwash Sulfate-free, locks in vivid color

Using a tinted shampoo or mask once a week can help keep Off Light looking bright and icy between full dye applications.

Risks and Considerations

Before deciding to use Punky Color Off Light, be aware of the following risks and considerations:

  • Damage – Lightening and coloring can damage hair. Always do a test strand first.
  • Dryness – Lightened platinum hair tends to get drier. Use a moisturizing shampoo and mask.
  • Yellowing – Hair can turn brassy over time. Use violet shampoos to counteract.
  • Roots – Regrowth will be obvious. Plan to touch up roots every 4-6 weeks.
  • Expense – Lightening and color upkeep can get costly over time.

It’s smart to consult a professional stylist before committing to an extreme color change. They can advise you on your hair’s condition and capability to be lightened. Maintenance is also key to keeping ice white hair looking salon-perfect.


In summary, Punky Color Off Light alone will not actually lighten natural hair from a dark shade to pale platinum. To reach those light levels, pre-lightening with bleach is required first. Off Light is best for depositing a temporary icy tone over blonde and pre-lightened hair. Using a violet shampoo, limiting washing, and frequently reapplying the color can help keep the bright platinum hue looking vibrant. While dramatic, platinum hair is high maintenance. So be prepared for some damage, dryness, and root regrowth issues if you commit to the look. Consult a pro to see if pale punk locks can work for you!