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Felicity Ingram Bushwick Vampires
Make-up Erin Green, hair TsukiPhotography Felicity Ingram

Here’s what you need to know about dying your hair with Kool-Aid

The childhood DIY method is making a comeback in lockdown

In lockdown we’ve all embraced the DIY spirit of our youth when lack of funds, resources, and freedom necessitated imagination, ingenuity and a bit of plucky courage to cobble together our heart’s desire. When I was a teenager, that desire was to have pink hair and to achieve it I turned to Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid has a long history of acting as a DIY hair dye. It’s temporary nature, non-toxic ingredients, cheap price tag, and array of bright colours makes it a fun option for kids and young people wanting to experiment with their hair. And since everyone has decided that now is the time to try out a new look, from Kristen Stewart’s tangerine hair to Dua Lipa’s pink courtesy of boyfriend Anwar Hadid, why not try it yourself? 

So if you haven’t been able to get your hands on some real hair dye, just open your kitchen cupboard and get out that Kool-Aid. Here’s how it works.

Once you’ve chosen the flavour you want (try to get the sugar-free version), and keep in mind that as with any kind of dye the lighter your hair the more vibrant the colour will show up, there are two ways to approach your Kool-Aid makeover and your route will depend on how permanent and how bright you want the dye to be.


For a more temporary colour, put a few spoonfuls of conditioner into a bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds. Stir in your Kool-Aid powder until it has completely dissolved and then add more conditioner until you have the amount you need to cover the hair you want to dye. The amount of powder you use depends on how strong you want the colour to show up.

Apply the mixture onto dry hair using either a dye brush or your fingers. Consider wearing gloves so as not to stain your skin. Once your hair is completely coated, wrap it up and place in a shower cap. Leave it to sit for up to eight hours for the most vibrant colour or you can cut that time down to anywhere around 45 mins for a more subtle finish.

When you’re ready, rinse your hair until the water runs clean. Don’t use any shampoo or conditioner as it will subdue the colour. And voila. You’re done.


Note: This method is best used for achieving a dip-dye rather than full-head colour.

For a more permanent colour, boil roughly 1.5 cups of water and then stir in between one to two packets of Kool-Aid. When I was dying my hair as a teenager, I then dipped my hair into the just-boiled water however we wouldn’t advise that as the hotter the water the more damage it can do to your hair.

Therefore, allow the water to cool, enough that it is still warm but not too hot, and then dip the hair that you want coloured into the water. Leave your hair in the water for around 10 minutes and then blot dry. Allow the hair to dry naturally and then you are good to go.