One of the first things you’ll notice living in Tokyo is the fact that most Japanese women are impeccably dressed, from head to toe. However, while clothes, shoes, and even nails are easy enough to change, hair is a bit more difficult.

Nonetheless, just because something is difficult does not mean it is not worth doing. Fashion magazines will tell you hair is one of the greatest fashion accessories, to the point that people will spend nearly a 10,000 yen every two or three weeks to get their hair professionally re-dyed.

As a cheapo, I think that is a waste. Everyone is free to do whatever they want with their own money, but I’ve found dying your hair with dye from a box is easier and safer (not to mention cheaper) than everyone lets it on to be. And by much cheaper, I legitimately mean a tenth of a price of getting it professionally done.

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However, as a non-Asian woman (specifically, a white woman from Texas), I’ve discovered the Japanese box hair dye made for Asian hair doesn’t work on my hair. Asian hair is different than Caucasian hair which is different than Indian hair which is different than African hair which is different than any other kind of hair. Hair dye needs to be tailored; different hair calls for different hair dye.

If you’ve ever visited Japan, you probably have realized that Japan is a mostly homogenous society, or at least nearly homogeneously Asian. Finding cheap hair dyes that work on non-Asian hair types (Caucasian, African, and any other) is difficult. As a result, over the last couple months I’ve run several experiments with Japanese hair dyes, using the most popular and cheapest brands to discover what works the best with Caucasian hair.

From best to worst: Japanese hair dyes that work on Caucasian Hair:

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Beauteen EX メガブリーチ

Cost: Around 400-500 yen (depending on stores).

Pros: Bleached my hair as light as it promised. The next morning my hair was soft and relatively undamaged.

Cons: None

Overall score: 9.5/10

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Every: Annadonna (Perrot Red/パロットレッド)

Cost: 1,600 (depending on stores)

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Pros: Significantly turned my hair red.

Cons: Expensive, only works well on already bleached blonde hair.

Overall score: 7/10

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Palty (きいちごマカロン)

Cost: About 600 yen (depending on store)

Pros: My hair turned out vaguely red. Even though it was dying my hair darker, it didn’t stain my skin around my hairline and neck.

Cons: Didn’t dye my hair darker (at all), and it ended up a light strawberry blonde.

Overall score: 6.5/10

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Palty (ブリーチ)

Cost: About 600 yen (depending on store)

Pros: Turned my hair blonde(ish)

Cons: Completely destroyed my hair for the next week; only lightened my hair a little bit. The end result was not worth the damage it did to my hair.

Overall score: 3/10

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Palty 泡パーク(マカロンブラウン)

Cost: About 650 yen (depending on store)

Pros: Easy to use. It comes in a cup that you can mix a foam formula. The foam is very easy to use, and ensures an even spreading.

Cons: Didn’t change my hair color too much…

Overall score: 5.5/10

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Gatsby: Natural Bleach Color (シャンパンアッシュ)

Cost: Around 500 yen (depending on store)

Pros: Very natural look. The next morning my hair was soft and relatively undamaged. I think it is perfect for dying roots.

Cons: My hair didn’t look anything like what the box promised…

Overall score: 8.5/10

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Liese Prettia 泡カラー(ローズティブラウン)

Cost: Around 700 yen

Pros: This hair dye comes in a bottle that creates an easy-to-use foam.

Cons: A bit expensive and while it changed my hair color a little bit, I hoped it would do a bit better…

Overall score: 7/10

Things to remember before you dye your hair using Japanese hair dye:

  • ドンキホーテ (Donki-Hote) is the cheapest place to buy hair dye, usually a couple hundred yen cheaper than at a regular drug store. Donki-Hote also holds weekly to monthly sales on hair dye.
  • Nearly all Japanese hair dye has bleach in it. Hair dye is meant to work on both naturally black and previously dyed hair. In order for it to work on naturally black hair, though, they have to first lighten it up a bit. As a result, even if you are dying your hair darker, you still need to be careful about bleach in the Japanese hair dye destroying your hair.
  • Asian hair strands are generally much thicker than Caucasian hair strands. If you are not careful, you can easily damage your hair by leaving the hair dye in for too long.
  • If your hair goes down past your ears, buy two boxes of hair dye. Nothing is worse than running out of hair dye half-way through (I’ve done that before).
  • Before you dye your hair, remember to deep conditioner it the night before. In general, just follow this guide.
  • If you have a sensitive head, please do the skin allergy test.
  • After you dye your hair, don’t blow dry it, use a curler or iron, or brush it harshly for a couple days. Give it time to repair.

If you’d prefer to just sit back and relax at a salon, here are our top 5 salons for getting your hair dyed in Tokyo.

Filed under: Fashion | Lifestyle
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