There are way better ways to get that perfect color.

By Taylyn Washington-Harmon
September 25, 2020
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Master hair colorist Jeremy Tardo knows all the right ways to color your hair safely, and using Sharpie pens isn't one of them. The Sharpie trend, however, has taken hold during the pandemic, when store closings have forced us to get a little creative with beauty procedures—leading some people online to turn to permanent markers to dye their hair. Tardo caught wind and is here to share why he doesn't advise it.

He explains that the trend may have roots in the way synthetic wigs used to be colored, which was via permanent markers. But when it comes to real hair, markers just don't cut it. Salon and drugstore hair dye products are effective because the dye attaches to the proteins of the hair, and the dye in a Sharpie does not.

Then, Tardo watched a video of YouTuber Linzor attempt to dye her hair pink and blue with an array of pastel pink and blue permanent markers. Using a dish of water, Linzor tries to remove the ink from the Sharpie. "I would not attempt this on my own hair, much less [without] watching a tutorial," comments Tardo as he watches.

Linzor scissors off the Sharpie pen's base and dips the color tube into water, blowing on it in an attempt to release the ink, then blowing on it. "I personally wouldn't recommend putting that in your mouth," says Tardo. He mentions that in the old days of coloring wigs with markers, the color tube would be dissolved in alcohol overnight.

The color comes out orange. Tardo says this is because all dyes have an underlying pigment of dye, but this won't affect the pink color Linzor is going for. Linzor then dilutes the pigment with hair conditioner, squeezing it haphazardly into a container. The ink is clumpy and not fully dissolved. Tardo comments that the color may not come out the way Linzor hopes for.

Linzor parts her hair down the middle in an attempt to get a half-and-half color job and prevent the colors from bleeding onto each side. After painting on the colors with a dye brush, the orange pigment starts to appear pink. But after washing the color out, Linzor ends up with her hair half pink and half of her original blonde color.

"I'm personally surprised that she has no blue," Tardo says. "However there was no measurement when she was mixing, the blue marker looked like the ink was clumpy when it was coming out, it wasn't dissolved, which could have been part of the problem."

Tardo explains that dying your hair with a product not meant to be used as hair dye means that the color won't attach to your hair in the same way. "In order for a fabric dye or a dye from a marker to attach itself properly to human hair, you have to almost have to have damaged hair," Tardo says. "Hair that has typically been dyed or colored, bleached, or damaged from heat styling will open the cuticle layer of your hair and allow things that are not mean to stain your hair to penetrate deeply."

Tardo suspects that the side of Linzor's hair that wasn't colored could have been less damaged compared to the pink side. He wouldn't say she did a bad job of coloring her hair, but he definitely wouldn't recommend using non-hair dye like markers. His overall comment: "Have fun, but don't color your hair with Sharpies, okay?"

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