HOW TO: Kool-Aid Hair Dye


Photo by Cap’n Canuck

I started dying my hair with Kool-Aid when I was about 13 and my parents wouldn’t buy me actual pink hair dye. I’m not sure exactly how I came up with the idea that this would work, or even the formula used for that matter.

So, first things first, this is actually more of a stain than a dye, but it works – especially if you start with super light bleached blond hair. It also washes out after awhile. Emphasis on awhile depending on how badly damaged your hair is. I’ve had it last anywhere from a day with blue/green Kool-Aid on my natural hair color to a few months on overly bleached hair with black cherry Kool-Aid. And now, on to the instructions.

You’ll need:

* 2 – 3 packs of Kool-Aid in whatever color you want. I’ve found that black cherry works the best.
* A large bowl (big enough to fit your head in).
* A glass measuring cup or a medium sized sauce pan.
* Towels that you don’t mind ruining. This is messy!

First thing you need to do is mix the packets of Kool-Aid in either the measuring cup or saucepan with 2 cups of water – adjust this depending on how much hair you have. I use 1 pack of Kool-Aid for every cup of water – and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes.

DO NOT ADD SUGAR!! I know people that have done this. It’s not a pretty sight.

Next, let it cool enough that you don’t burn yourself and pour it in the bowl. From here, it’s basically just dunking your hair and letting it sit in the Kool-Aid for a little bit so it will pick up the color. It’s probably a good idea to have someone help you do the back of your head and near the roots.

Once your head (or the parts you want colored) is completely covered, blowdry your hair until it’s completely dry and then (using a very small amount) shampoo as normal. The color should last at least a few days depending on hair type/shampoo/how often you wash your hair.

Now, a few side notes. The boiling of the water, putting it on your hair when it’s still hot, and blow drying are all for a reason – heat sets the color, making it last longer. It’s the same as if you use Manic Panic or something, if you set the dye with heat before you rinse it out, it will stay longer. This is an incredibly messy project if you do it alone. Make sure to lay down towels on anything you don’t want stained. I suggest doing it over a sink or bathtub that can be easily washed out when you’re finished. Also, make sure to clean the sink/bathtub as soon as you’re finished so it doesn’t stain. There are still (10+ years later) hair dye stains all over the sink at my dad’s house because I didn’t clean up when I was finished.

F.A.Q/Misc. Questions:

What color will show up best on my black/brown/red hair? Probably some shade of red or purple. If your hair is really dark, more than likely you will only get a reddish/purplish tint.

How long does it take to wash out? That totally depends on your hair. If you have bleached your hair or have very light colored hair, it will take much longer to come out than if you have dark hair that has never been dyed. If you are looking to keep it as long as possible, reds and purples tend to stain better than blues and greens. You can also mix some of the powder into your conditioner when you wash your hair to brighten the color up a bit.

What can I use to thicken the Kool-Aid? There are a couple different things you could do. First, you could mix the Kool-Aid with conditioner instead of water. Second you could mix the Kool-Aid with only enough water to make a paste. With this method, you would probably need to use several packets of Kool-Aid.

56 Comments on HOW TO: Kool-Aid Hair Dye

  1. Lisa
    March 24, 2007 at 13:03 (7 years ago)

    Awesome advice I’m going to do my hair in a few minutes. By the way–those magic eraser things are AWESOME for picking up leftover cool aid stains. Get yourself one, and you’ll know what I mean.


    • Crystal's Rose
      October 21, 2009 at 13:12 (5 years ago)

      ok…well if oyu have black people hair, coloring your hair with kool aid can be a lil tricky LOL. i would suggest leaving it in for a long period of time…maybe from dinner time then wash it out right before you go to bed. :)

  2. Shelby XXX
    March 24, 2007 at 20:51 (7 years ago)

    Thanks Lisa! Take lots of pictures and let me know how it turns out!

  3. wave
    July 1, 2007 at 14:58 (7 years ago)

    uhm.. i dyed my hair with koolaid … i just got my hair wet and put the koolaid on it….. i left it for about 2 min. then got bored and washed it out… now it won’t come out and i have a half an hour till my mom gets home xD

  4. Shelby XXX
    July 13, 2007 at 01:32 (7 years ago)

    Eek! I’m sorry, I should have mentioned that that does happen sometimes, depending on the kool aid color and if you dye your hair a lot.

  5. Roberto
    January 9, 2008 at 21:23 (7 years ago)

    YEAH I CANT WAIT… but im gonna try a different method i hear all over the place. im gonna put it in conditioner and leave it on my hair for a long time! oh yeah my hairs black and curly so i dont know what would work best for me. im thinking a dark color so it becomes real strong in the sun but i dont KNOW! somebody reply a thought for colors!

  6. ☆star
    January 14, 2008 at 15:08 (7 years ago)

    (ツ)ヴнεу…ii have dark hair so ii tryd makin it a the sun it looksz realli cool…!!!
    BUT!!! it sucksz cause I wish I’d show more =/
    AND iitsz so messy
    but hey itsz safer than dyeinq & LESS EXPENSIVE 30 cents a pack….lmaoo..

    happy dye-inq…[ur hair]

  7. kat
    February 26, 2008 at 18:26 (6 years ago)

    It’s so cool that people are still doing this. I remember people doing this back in the 80′s! Be sure to post pictures!

  8. Winter
    February 28, 2008 at 12:04 (6 years ago)

    Hey! I’m going to dye my hair with Kool-Aid in a couple of days, I can’t wait! My hair is naturally medium brown dyed dark brown, it looks almost black normally but in the sun it looks kind of dark red. So I want to emphasize the red bits because it looks cool! Wonder if i could tint it this way with Kool-Aid? If it won’t work because my hair is too dark, I’ll just tint it with purple Kool-Aid instead ;P Anyway thanks so much for this guide, I wasn’t sure dyeing hair was possible but this has made it seem pretty simple for me!

  9. elysee
    March 8, 2008 at 11:36 (6 years ago)

    i have brown/reddish hair. will it come out? what color should i use?

  10. Harmony
    March 8, 2008 at 17:52 (6 years ago)

    my hair is dark dirty-blonde (or angel-touched brown as my friend says). im going to use blue or green kool aid…. how long will that last, and (if its a short amount of time,) how can i make it last longer?

  11. Su'Z
    March 30, 2008 at 08:53 (6 years ago)

    Otay I have dark brown hair and i dyed mine with black cherry kool-aid. = ]
    I love it!
    Its been in for a good 2 months now! If this is something you want to do …
    GO FOR IT!

    – Su’Z

    • Crystal's Rose
      October 21, 2009 at 13:13 (5 years ago)

      EWWWWWWWWW two months!? girl that kool aid is STRONG! lol

      • kay kay
        August 13, 2012 at 12:22 (2 years ago)


  12. estefania
    May 13, 2008 at 22:35 (6 years ago)

    dude im really considering on doing this for reals my mother is a hair stylist and i dont think she approves of me doing this but hey it comes off later right hahaha i guess im gona do it this saturday i should go to sleep i have a school day manana !

  13. *YVETTE*
    June 9, 2008 at 08:18 (6 years ago)

    i’M goiNg To tRy DoInG tHe BotToM HaLf oF mY hAiR pUrPLe:]
    I hoPe iT wOrKS!! i’m SO eXitEd YaY!!

  14. sofia
    June 27, 2008 at 13:29 (6 years ago)

    my friends and i were thinking about doing this for fun over the summer but their parents may be mad if it does not wash out within a week! are there any tips to make the dye come out quicker??

    • crystal
      January 29, 2014 at 13:49 (6 months ago)

      Boil water. Pour in container addd tablespoon of baking soda. Then dip the parts of hair in the container for about a minute. It should pukl it out.

      • Shelby
        January 31, 2014 at 10:31 (6 months ago)

        I’ve never heard of this before, thanks for the tip!

  15. Hiya
    July 3, 2008 at 08:34 (6 years ago)

    Hey Sofia , If you want it out quicker, toothpaste will speed up this process, but if you bleached the hair or you have really light hair normally, it will not remove the color totally.

  16. Carolyn
    July 21, 2008 at 15:37 (6 years ago)

    Um is there a way to thicken it up?

  17. Emily
    August 1, 2008 at 17:26 (6 years ago)

    hi i read this and if you use it on plain brown hair, will it show up at all? Please E-mail me back as soon as possible.

  18. Clary
    September 7, 2008 at 09:19 (6 years ago)

    me and a friend did this and black cherry turned my brown hair a pretty shade of red and green turned my friends blond hair neon green!!! its been about more then a month and mines still in and so is my friends!!
    my advise is if your blond make sure you reeeeaaaalllllyyyy like the color!!

  19. DD-and-EROO
    October 30, 2008 at 13:29 (6 years ago)

    Yo Yo so my best friend is dyeing her hair cherry-orange. shes gonna be peter pan for halloween tomorrow, but she has to work the day after at a fancy restaurant. HOPE IT COMES OUT A LITTLE FOR WORK!!!!!!!! AWWWWWWW <:0

  20. ErikaAnn
    November 28, 2008 at 16:13 (6 years ago)

    i have dirty blonde hair, maybe i’ll use like the yellow lemonade kind?
    to brighten it a bit?
    or would that be a bad idea?

  21. TOKIOHOTEL1011
    January 3, 2009 at 21:13 (6 years ago)

    hello people i have my hair that is brown at the top then it gets blond at the ends is it cool to do it purple?????

  22. Deezy
    April 6, 2009 at 00:10 (5 years ago)

    i have black black straight hair & i want to put purple streaks in my hair. im planning to use kool-aid, will it work? cos im totally unsure. do i need to bleach it first or just add the kool-aid mix on? help me pls?

  23. pussy k@
    April 24, 2009 at 13:51 (5 years ago)

    Hey Deezy with ur hair i would say bleach what you want done first and then put in the kool aid mix it with conditioner until you get a paste and put in a little water and there you go

  24. miss_sokrates
    May 19, 2009 at 02:14 (5 years ago)

    i live in europe, we have no kool aid here :(
    any alternative ways of making dark brown hair red??
    e-mail me asap pls!!!

  25. Emobuddy
    June 1, 2009 at 04:50 (5 years ago)

    my next door neighbor is a hair stylist and shes dying my hair today with koolaid i cant wait my hair is some what blonde with a little bit of brown i died my hair with sharpie before it turned out pretty good until it washed out in two days

  26. Alyssa
    June 15, 2009 at 17:26 (5 years ago)

    Hey! me and my friend did this. we both did purple. well actually, she did it yesterday and mine is in right now. im super excited. and my hair is gonna smell like grapes =). i prefer the smell of strawberrys but i like the color purple better

  27. Alyssa
    June 15, 2009 at 17:29 (5 years ago)

    It’s me again! I’m just so bored of waiting! oh, and I did the tips but I ended up doing almost my entire ponytail. woops! I have four days of school left. I did that on purpose so that people wouldnt laugh at me for a long time. like the second quarter or something

  28. Taiga
    June 28, 2009 at 13:52 (5 years ago)

    For those of you wondering weather it will work, it does. You just need to choose a color DARKER than the current color of you hair!

  29. RosieLeeROCK
    June 29, 2009 at 13:44 (5 years ago)

    Hey, I’m planning on doing mine with a mixture or grape and blue raspberry. I have normal brunette hair. I’m not looking for an extreme colour, just a tint of purple in it. I’ve always wanted really ecstatic hair but wasn’t sure if I wanted to go straight to permanent, so I’m taking one step at a time. Will it work the way I want it to ?

    • Shelby XXX
      June 29, 2009 at 23:48 (5 years ago)

      It should work, but if you are looking for something that will stay a bit longer I would recommend using something like Manic Panic or Special Effects. Since you have dark hair it will show up as a tint instead of neon colored hair. Also, they are not permanent dyes so they willfade out the more you wash your hair.

  30. Linglinf
    August 29, 2009 at 11:56 (5 years ago)

    Iwant to know what color of Kool aid shouold I use.I have Dark brown hair that looks black.With lighter brown highlighs that can be seen in the sun

  31. Megano
    October 22, 2009 at 13:01 (5 years ago)

    Hey I’m dying my hair purple with kool-aid this weekend, I have a deep gold to a REALLY light brunette colour with slightly darker highlights, and I wanted to know any tips for dying my hair? I can’t bleach it so please don’t tell me to. ^^;; So any good ideas?

  32. Erin Marie Mitchell
    October 30, 2009 at 06:50 (5 years ago)

    Hey, I’d be careful. It never did come out of my hair and I tried everything, I’m saying this two years later. I still have purple in my hair.

  33. chelsea
    November 11, 2009 at 10:26 (5 years ago)

    okay i have really dark brown hair and its kinda thick type of hair and i want to dye my hair with orange hair will it work? HELPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!

      April 11, 2010 at 08:59 (4 years ago)

      You may get an orange tint with Kool-aid, but no, it won’t turn bright orange or anything.

  34. Alexis
    December 30, 2009 at 18:02 (5 years ago)

    hay. i have dark brown hair that almmost looks black. what color wuld go better wuth my hair??

      April 11, 2010 at 09:00 (4 years ago)

      Probably a red or purple. Anything light isn’t going to show up much.

  35. Judy Burk
    February 6, 2010 at 07:56 (4 years ago)

    This is the nice site! I love the various articles which were written, and especially the comments posted! I will come back!

  36. Azadenya
    April 2, 2010 at 06:35 (4 years ago)

    Hey wussup. I have LONG dark brown hair and i also hav some kool aid. Should i use black cherry or just regular cherry?? IDK!!! can i hav some assistance plz? thnx.

      April 11, 2010 at 08:58 (4 years ago)

      I would use Black Cherry, but it’s really up to you. I’ve never tried either color over dark hair so I’m not sure how it will turn out. Let me know how it goes though!

  37. Delilah
    March 17, 2013 at 12:19 (1 year ago)

    Im doing this tonight. My hair is dark brown im doing red underneath. I jist wanna know if i dont like it if theres a faster way of getting it out…? (: thanks!

    • dielikedisco
      March 17, 2013 at 12:54 (1 year ago)

      It really depends. Are you bleaching your hair first? If so, then there isn’t much you can do to get it to fade faster as the Kool-Aid will stick to the bleached/more damaged parts of your hair better than it will to unbleached/healthier hair. If you are not bleaching it first, then it should wash out after a couple washes without too much trouble. In either case, if you don’t like it, you can try letting the shampoo sit on it for a few minutes when you wash it. You can also try washing your hair a couple times in a row without blow drying it in between – heat helps keep the color in so avoiding it as much as possible until you’re sure about the color may also be of some help. Sorry I’m not of much help on this one, I’ve never really tried to get color to fade out of my hair, I usually just dye over it :/

  38. bianca
    March 31, 2013 at 21:12 (1 year ago)

    I Have Black hair , How many packets would I use for the red Im only doing my tips . and my hair is some what damaged , how long would you think it would stay

    • dielikedisco
      April 1, 2013 at 11:52 (1 year ago)

      It really depends on if you are bleaching the tips first and how much hair you have. When I did mine regularly with Kool-Aid, I used two packs for a whole head of chin length hair. On my bleached blonde hair, it stayed anywhere from a couple weeks (it did fade to a much lighter shade the longer it was in) to a couple months, depending on how damaged my hair was and how much heat I used to “set” it when I initially dyed it.

      If you are NOT bleaching first and you are doing only the tips, I’d probably use 2-3 packs of Kool-Aid to start with and make more if you run out. As far as how long it will stay, I’m really not sure as I have never tried it over unbleached dark hair. I’m really not sure how well it will show up since the hair is significantly darker than the Kool-Aid.

      Whatever you end up doing though, let me know how it turns out. I’m incredibly curious to see it with dark hair.

    August 9, 2013 at 18:30 (12 months ago)

    hello i have hair that’s been dyed multiple times in a year for close to ten years my natural color is red and right now i have black streaks, i used ten packets of deep black cherry from a Mexican brand i hope it turns out great. :)

      August 9, 2013 at 19:02 (12 months ago)

      ok it did not work if it did it only made my red highlight redder but can’t really tell. oh well it’s time for me to buy some more Splat then.

  40. Amaya lucas
    October 2, 2013 at 15:39 (10 months ago)

    I have dirty blonde hair (My friends say itʻs brown) i wana to do pink for breast Chandler awarwness it is taika will it work pls reply

  41. Sierra
    October 24, 2013 at 17:51 (9 months ago)

    I have dark brown striaght har, i did this i think last year? And, it still hasn’t come out. I used the strawberry kool-aid and it actually doesn’t look that bad. My mom won’t let me dy e my hair for real until i’m 18 so i settled on this (: I just keep re dying it like one every 5 months. Sometimes less..

  42. Crystal
    November 27, 2013 at 07:11 (8 months ago)

    A few things- how it works, how it fades, how to keep it, how to test it.
    First on the chemistry of hair dye. Human hair is made of protein like wool or silk. It dyes permanently when an acid bonds a pigment into the fibers, and heat is applied. Koolaid works because it has an acid (vitamin c/ ascorbic acid) and a pigment (fd&c). But you can use any pigment, such as food coloring, and just about any acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Normal hair dye has a bleaching compound in it to remove your existing color before depositing the new color. This is a deposit only, it’s like coloring on construction paper with markers. Your old color plus the new color will equal what you end up. If you try coloring on black paper with a bright red marker, it will only turn the black reddish, not bright red.
    Do not mix it with conditioner if you want long lasting color. Most conditioners contain silicone or other -cone chemicals. They coat the hair shaft with a plasticy substance, and can keep the color from binding inside the hair shaft.
    The pigments fade from hair when detergents or other substances come in contact. Some absorb the pigment and pull it out of the hair shaft by opening the cuticle layers of hair, some actually destroy the pigment molecules by breaking them down (that is how bleaching agents work). If you want to fade the color quicker, wash your hair more often, use warmer water, and try adding baking soda and toothpaste to your shampoo. Don’t forget to deep condition or use a hair mask, because those methods are very drying to hair. If you want to keep the longer, condition hair well, use a gentle shampoo, shampoo as infrequently as possible, and add some of the pigment to your shampoo and conditioner to boost color every time you wash.
    If you are unsure how your hair will react, and it’s very important to you that it comes out quickly or the color is just right, do a strand test. Take a small strand of hair in an area that isn’t very noticeable, and apply the color you chose using your preferred method. You can see how long the color lasts, and what the final color ends up as. No one can tell you over the internet exactly how your hair will react to any color or method, testing it is the only way to be sure.
    Hope this helps anyone who had any questions about the koolaid aid hair dye process.

    • Shelby
      January 17, 2014 at 00:17 (6 months ago)

      This is AWESOME. Thank you so much for all of this great info!

  43. Jordan StMartin
    April 9, 2014 at 17:43 (3 months ago)

    How do u get neon colors in your hair and really light shades what flavor of kool aide would I use


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