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What dye is curly girl friendly?

When you have curly hair, finding the right hair dye can be a challenge. Many conventional hair dyes contain harsh chemicals like ammonia and alcohol that can dry out and damage curly hair. The curly girl method recommends avoiding these ingredients and using more natural, gentle hair dyes instead.

What is the curly girl method?

The curly girl method is a haircare regimen developed specifically for people with naturally curly or wavy hair. It focuses on bringing out the health and beauty of curly hair by avoiding certain ingredients found in conventional hair products.

Some of the key principles of the curly girl method include:

  • Avoiding sulfates found in most shampoos, which can strip moisture from hair
  • Skipping silicones found in conditioners, which can cause buildup
  • Saying no to drying alcohols that can cause frizz and dryness
  • Using a lot of conditioner and styling products free of these ingredients
  • Only brushing hair when wet and with lots of conditioner
  • Diffusing or air drying instead of heat styling

By following these tips, curly girls can bring out the natural beauty of their curls and keep their hair healthy and hydrated.

Why curly hair dye needs to be curly girl approved

When dyeing curly hair, it’s important to choose a curly girl approved formula. Here’s why:

  • Ammonia – This is found in permanent hair dyes to open the cuticle and allow dye to penetrate. But it can be very drying and damaging to curly hair.
  • Alcohol – Added to make dye spreadable, alcohol is another very drying ingredient curly girls should avoid.
  • Permanent dyes – These drastically alter the hair structure and can cause frizz and dryness.
  • Bleach – This is very damaging to curly strands and should only be done by a professional.

Instead, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, or temporary dyes are better options as they deposit color without fully penetrating the cuticle.

What makes a hair dye curly girl approved?

When looking for a curly girl friendly hair dye, here are some things to look for:

  • No ammonia – Ammonia-free dyes are gentler on curly hair.
  • No peroxide – Peroxide is another chemical that damages curls.
  • No alcohol – Dyes without alcohol won’t dry out strands.
  • pH balanced – A formula with a pH between 4 and 5 is healthiest for hair.
  • Moisturizing ingredients – Dyes with oils, conditioners, etc. help counteract damage.
  • Semi- or demi-permanent – These last 4-12 washes and cause minimal damage.
  • No PPDs – PPDs are chemicals that can cause irritation and allergy.

Brands like Overtone, Arctic Fox, Manic Panic, and Punky Colour offer curly girl friendly dyes in fun colors.

Top curly girl approved hair dye brands

Here are some of the top brands for curly girl friendly hair dye:


  • Conditioning formula nourishes curls
  • Free of damaging chemicals
  • Fun, vivid colors
  • Can mix colors to create custom shades
  • Available as daily conditioner or coloring conditioner

Arctic Fox

  • Semi-permanent hair dye
  • Vegan and not tested on animals
  • Free of peroxide, ammonia, alcohol and PPD
  • Adds moisture and shine
  • Long lasting bright colors

Manic Panic

  • Classic punk rock hair dye brand
  • Uses vegetable-based formula
  • Free of peroxide, ammonia and alcohol
  • Conditions hair while coloring
  • Huge range of vivid colors

Punky Colour

  • Deposit only semi-permanent dye
  • Does not contain ammonia or peroxide
  • Adds moisture to prevent dryness
  • Leaves hair soft and smooth
  • Fun colors like purple, pink, green, etc.

How to dye curly hair without damage

When using curly girl approved dyes, follow these tips to minimize damage:

  • Do an allergy test before dyeing hair
  • Use a clarifying shampoo 1-2 days before to remove buildup
  • Deep condition hair the day before dyeing
  • Work dye through clean, unconditioned hair
  • Separate hair into sections when applying dye
  • Use non-metal bowls and applicators
  • Rinse with cool water and condition immediately after
  • Limit dying to 1-2 times per month
  • Trim splits regularly to keep hair healthy

What about highlights and balayage?

Full head dye jobs on curly hair should be done carefully. But highlights and balayage can work well and create beautiful dimension.

With highlights, small sections of hair are foiled and lightened. This causes minimal damage since only some strands are processed.

Balayage involves painting dye directly on the surface of the hair without foils. This looks soft and natural.

Use a curly specialist for these services. And avoid bleach – opt for gentler lighteners like high lift colors or oxidative dyes.

Temporary color sprays and gels

If you want temporary color that washes out quickly, try:

  • Hair makeup – These temporary coloring sprays last 1-2 shampoos.
  • Hair chalk – Colored hair chalk comes in twist-up sticks for easy application.
  • Hair mascara – Coloring gels coat hair strands temporarily.
  • Hair crayons – Like hair chalk, these color crayons easily apply color.

Spritz these on dry hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends. Avoid using them too often as they can dry out hair.

Common questions about dyeing curly hair

Does coloring damage curly hair?

Permanent hair dyes with harsh ingredients like ammonia and peroxide can damage curly hair. But demi-permanent or semi-permanent dyes that are free of these chemicals cause very minimal damage, especially when done correctly.

Should you dye curly hair when wet or dry?

Dye works best on clean, unconditioned damp hair. But not soaking wet. Damp hair allows the color to penetrate evenly. Dry hair won’t hold the color as well.

How long does it take to dye curly hair?

Dyeing curly hair takes a bit longer than straight hair. Expect the process to take 1-2 hours based on length and thickness. Curly hair is denser than straight hair and needs more time for the color to saturate all the strands.

Does coloring curly hair make it straighter?

No, dyeing curly hair does not make it straighter. The chemical processes involved only affect the outer cuticle layer of the hair, not the internal protein structure that gives curly hair its shape. So curly hair will still have its natural texture after coloring.


Dyeing curly hair while following the curly girl method may seem complicated. But there are many great options available that deposit vibrant color without damage. Brands like Overtone, Arctic Fox, and Manic Panic offer fun colors in gentle formulas perfect for curly hair. When used correctly and not overdone, you can safely add pops of color to nourish your curls.