Beauty Edit
Wondering How to Dye Synthetic Hair? Read Our Top Tips

Wondering How to Dye Synthetic Hair? Read Our Top Tips

Wigs and hair extensions are becoming more popular than ever these days. With the latest technology, it’s possible to change up your hairstyle every day, disguise thinning hair, or just give yourself a little extra confidence.

However, even synthetic wigs and extensions can be expensive. So, it isn’t too surprising that many fans of synthetic hair wonder if it’s possible to dye it different colors.

Synthetic hair is made from processed fibers like acrylic, polyvinyl and polyester. This makes it hard to dye. Synthetic materials lack the natural pigment that is in real human hair, and that means standard hair dye doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dye synthetic hair, it just means that you need a take a different approach.

Here, we give you tips to help you dye your synthetic hair, so that you can start enjoying a fresh look once more!

What Kind of Dye Can I Use on Synthetic Hair?

a bowl of orange dye

You cannot use normal hair dye on synthetic hair. However, you can make up your own dye which is just as effective. Follow these instructions:

Make up a ratio of 1:1 water and alcohol-based ink in your chosen color. First, pour the ink into the bottle then pour the water in after it. Put the top back on then shake well so contents are well-mixed. A standard wig requires a 29.6ml, or 1oz bottle of ink. If you are dyeing hair that is especially thick or long, you’ll need two bottles of ink.

If you want a more pastel shade for your synthetic hair, you’ll need to add some more water to the dye mixture. The 1:1 ratio of water to ink produces a vibrant, opaque color. To achieve a pastel, translucent shade you’ll need to dilute the mixture with around 8 cups of water per 1oz of ink.

If you have no alcohol-based ink, you could use a Sharpie marker pen instead. Choose the color you prefer then take off the pen’s cap and use pliers to pull the Sharpie apart. Take the ink tube out and cut the tube open using an Exacto knife. Put the tube into the spray bottle, pour in the water and allow to rest overnight before use.

How Do I Apply the Dye?

woman applies dye to a wig

To apply the dye, you first need to ensure that the synthetic hair you wish to dye is lighter in color than the shade you want it to become. Silver, pastel, light blonde and white shades are best. Once you’ve got your synthetic hair ready, choose a suitable location in which to dye the hair. The process of dyeing is quite messy so you’ll need to choose a space where nothing nearby will get damaged.

  • Cover any surfaces with an old cloth or newspaper, then put the hair onto a stand and put it onto the surface.
  • Make sure to put some latex gloves and old clothes on before you begin work on dyeing the hair. If the dye gets onto your clothing or hands it will be difficult to remove.
  • Begin by dyeing the hair’s top layer. If you part the hair naturally, the hair which is visible should be dyed first. Take the spray bottle then spray the dye three to five times in a single area so that a section of between 2 and 3 inches in width is fully coated.
  • Push your fingers into the hair’s root area then wiggle them about as you drag them downwards through the synthetic hair. Pull your fingers through the same section a couple more times to make sure that it is fully coated.
  • Once the first section of hair has been dyed in this way, take a second 2-3” wide section of hair and repeat the process.
  • Repeat the process all around the hair, focusing on spraying the dye onto the roots and the hair’s top half.
  • Once all of the top hair strands have been coated, lift the top sections and work again around the whole hair to dye the sections underneath.
  • Once all of the hair has been thoroughly sprayed with dye, use your hands to spread it out as much as you can. If the hair doesn’t look uniform all over, you can use a wide-toothed comb to even out the application, combing it carefully from root to tip all around the hair.

Is There a Fast Way to Dye Synthetic Hair?

If you lack time or you want to dye the hair without creating excess mess, there is a faster and easier alternative. All you need is a plastic trash bag. Pop the hair into the bag along with the water and ink mixture. Tie the bag closed then shake for several minutes. If you’d prefer the dye to be a pastel shade, allow the hair to stay submerged in dye for around 5 minutes.

Can I Bleach Synthetic Hair?

Although it’s possible to dye synthetic hair, it isn’t possible to bleach it. Synthetic fibers cannot absorb color in the same way as real human hair. If the synthetic hair has color already built into its fibers it cannot be lightened. The dye you use must be darker in shade than the hair that you’ll be dyeing. For this reason, you’ll find it easier to change the color of pastel, silver or white hair.

How Do I Finish the Dyeing Process?

Once you have finished applying the dye to the synthetic hair, the next step is to rinse it out and allow it to dry before styling it in your chosen look.

  • Put the dyed hair outside in a sunny spot to allow it to completely dry. On a warm day, it should take around 1 hour for the hair to dry, but if it is very thick or long, it could take longer.
  • You can check that the hair is dry by running your fingers through it. If you see any dye coming off onto your fingers, you need to leave it to dry for a little longer.
  • Once the hair has fully dried, take it to your sink. Turn the water on and rinse the hair until the water runs completely clear with no traces remaining of ink.
  • Place the hair onto a stand or onto your head.
  • Using a synthetic hair conditioner, spray the hair thoroughly, separating out small sections. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle each section of hair from the tip to root. This will help to detangle the hair thoroughly so that it can be styled. Repeat the process until the hair is fully detangled and smooth. Never use a traditional hairbrush on synthetic hair as it could damage it.
  • You can use a hairdryer to dry synthetic hair after dyeing. Choose the lowest heat setting to avoid causing any damage.
  • If you want to style the hair with a curling iron or straighteners, you should ensure the heat setting is no higher than around 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is It Possible to Use Acrylic Paint to Dye Synthetic Hair

There is another way of dyeing synthetic hair that doesn’t involve using ink. Instead, you can use acrylic paint, but you’ll need to take a few steps first to achieve the effect that you desire.

First, dilute the acrylic paint with some rubbing alcohol. You will need a ratio of ¼ teaspoon of acrylic paint to 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle then shake well so that the contents are thoroughly mixed together. You can then follow the same process above for applying the dye and drying the hair.

Can Synthetic Hair Be Dyed Multiple Colors?

If the synthetic hair is heat-resistant, you can dye it multiple colors but the process isn’t as easy as dyeing the hair a single shade. You’ll need to choose the same ink brand in all the colors to achieve the desired effect. Either separate the colors to achieve bold streaks or, alternatively, blend the colors to make them look softer.

You’ll need to separate the colors with foil, with the hair divided up into multiple equal sections. If you use foil, the colors won’t mix together.

The colors should blend effectively into each other, but not so much that the desired colors all become muddy and combined. For this reason, you should only apply a light coat of dye and leave the hair to dry for one day before adding a second coat, drying for another day, then repeating the process until you have achieved the shades you desire.

Use a hairdryer set to a low heat setting on several occasions over three days while the foil is left in place in the hair. Once three days have passed, you can remove the foil and allow the hair to dry.

Getting the Desired Result for Your Synthetic Hair

If you follow the steps outlined above, you should find it easier than you imagined to achieve the result you desire for your synthetic hair. Whether you want to change the look of your favorite wig, or you’d like to add some colorful extensions to your natural hair, with our tips you’ll soon have stunning locks!