The plum hair color sits somewhere between eggplant and burgundy hair, as it is a natural blend of red and purple tones that is dark but not too dark, and flatters almost everyone. This is one of those fashion hair colors that are not too out there, so it feels extremely special but is appropriate for all situations.
Because plum hair is actually made up of a complex blend of tones, we’ll help you figure out which variation on it will work best with your skin tone. We’ve given instructions in case you want to dye your hair plum at home, along with advice for the best plum hair dye you can buy in stores or online.
We’ve got some maintenance tips, as well, so you can keep your plum hair color looking vibrant for as long as possible. Those who like fashion hair colors are also fans of changing them up, so we’ve also included advice on how to remove plum hair dye for once you get tired of it.
Major hair color changes often require a style re-examination, so we’ve included some makeup and fashion tips for plum hair color so you can make sure your whole look from head to toe is as cohesive as can be.
Plum hair dye can be applied in all manner of techniques, with balayages, ombres, and colormelts all being super popular plum hair choices. We’re showcasing all of them in this article, so you can get inspired to try plum hair in a way that’ll fit your personal style.
How to Pick the Right Plum Hair Color for Your Skin Tone
Plum hair is a sort of purple-red color, meaning that it is mostly a mixture of blue and red tones. Blue is a cool color while red is a warm one, so plum hair color is neutral. If the plum hair color is a bit more reddish then it will probably count as “warm” while if it is more blue-based then it will be considered “cool”. This will have a big impact on how it is related to the skin’s undertones!
As far as darkness is concerned, plum hair actually tends to work just as beautifully for those with light skin as it does for those with darker skin. Very dark plum hair might look a little “goth” on someone who is very fair, so if that’s not the intention then a plum magenta might be a better choice. Other than that, darkness level doesn’t matter too much.
Now for undertones. With plum hair it is usually best to match undertones, especially for those who have warm undertones to their skin. By warm undertones we mean skin that leans a little bit towards yellow, with veins that appear greenish and very little redness in the skin. With skin that is a bit warmer it is best to opt for a very warm plum hair color that has a lot of red blended into it.
On the other hand, those with olive skin, which appears very green, are actually better off opting for an extra cool plum hair color that has very little redness in it.
Those with cool skin, which has pinkish undertones, as well as those with totally neutral skin, can actually wear any kind of plum hair, as the purplish tones tend to be extremely flattering no matter which direction they lean in.
Dyeing Your Hair Plum at Home
The best thing about plum hair color is that it’s one of those fashion hair colors that don’t really require bleaching! This makes dyeing hair plum at home much easier than dyeing it a light color, even if your hair is naturally darker. That being said, the darker your hair is naturally, the darker your plum hair will be.
If you are hoping for a plum hair color that leans towards magenta then you should absolutely bleach your hair first following our directions here, but in most instances that will not be necessary. Another option is to lighten your hair with the balayage technique, and then to use a semi-permanent dye all over the head in order to achieve a subtle, plummy balayage.
You can also simply use the balayage technique when applying the plum hair dye, although first consider whether the combination of your natural hair color and plum hair color will be a good one.
We give directions here for dyeing virgin hair all-over. Please note that dye will not lighten hair (especially not dyed hair) and that it is also hard to predict how dye will act over different colors, in general. If your hair has been through a lot or if you are hoping for a very complex look then you are probably better off getting your hair dyed professionally.
Before You Start:
• Avoid washing your hair for a day or two before it’s dyeing time. Unwashed hair is usually a little stronger and healthier because of the natural oils coating it, so it also tends to respond better to the dye and experience less damage.
• Make sure you have an action plan! Look at inspiration pictures like the ones we’ve collected below, and have an idea of what you would like the final result to look like so you know exactly how to go in with the plum hair dye.
• If you are hoping for a very particular shade of plum consider doing a patch test first, since it’s hard to predict exactly how the color will come out. Mix a small amount of dye and apply it to a single strand of hair that would normally be under the rest of your hair so it is not visible in your day to day, and then see if you like its color. This will also allow you to ensure that you are not allergic to the dye itself before you apply it all over your head.
• Make sure that you are already in the habit of not washing your hair too frequently, and of using hair-strengthening treatments like protein-rich hair conditioners or masks. Using a nourishing hair treatment the day before dyeing your hair is a great way of giving it a boost and preventing damage.
• Finally, make sure you have everything ready to go. Nothing is worse than starting to mix the color and realizing that you’re missing something essential, so do a full stock of what you’ll need and have it all ready in front of you before you start doing anything.
You Will Need:
• Plum hair dye: we really like the Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit in Volterra Amethyst from Ulta. You can also mix it with the Savona Scarlet kit to achieve a more red-based plum hair color. For a semi-permanent dye, we recommend Punky Hair Color in Plum, also from Ulta.
• Plastic gloves (included in the Madison Reed kit)
• Plastic shower cap (included in the kit)
• Hair dyeing brush
• Plastic mixing bowl
• Plastic hair clips
• Old button-up shirt or zip-up top
• Petroleum jelly or barrier cream
• Hair conditioner
The Plum Hair Dyeing Process:
• Put on an old button-up shirt or zip-up top that can be removed easily without needing to be pulled over the head.
• Begin with dry hair, and clip it up into sections. You can choose the amount of sections based on how thick your hair is, but I usually recommend four equal sections – two in the front, and two in the back. Separate the hair with the help of the pointy end of your hair dyeing brush.
• Apply Vaseline or barrier cream to the top of your ears and along your hairline so that the plum hair dye does not stain your skin.
• Mix up your dye in a plastic bowl. Permanent dye is usually made up of a color and a developer, although other kits also include other additives that should also be added at the same time. Pour them all into the bowl, and mix with the hair dyeing brush.
• Allow the color to develop, which will usually take a couple of minutes – the instructions on the hair dye kit will let you know.
• Unclip the first section of hair, and start applying the plum hair dye to it. Separate out a smaller subsection from the section, and with the brush apply the plum hair dye just a little bit away from the roots. Pull the dye down all the way to the end of the strands, and then massage it to ensure that every singular piece of hair is thoroughly coated. Move on to the next strand of hair, and repeat the hair dye application process.
• Once the whole section is dyed, clip it back up and move on to the next one. Repeat this process until all sections of hair have been dyed.
• Since you’re using permanent hair dye it is better to leave the roots until the end – the heat of the scalp speeds up the processing, so by not dyeing the roots first you avoid having a “hot scalp.”
• Finish up your hair by unclipping the front section and applying the plum hair dye to the roots, then clip them back up and repeat with the back sections.
• Pop a shower cap on and let your hair process. This will take around 35 minutes or so, although check your box of hair dye to confirm.
• Don’t throw out any extra plum hair dye! You might need it again to fix any errors or missed spots.
• Once enough time has elapsed, pop into the shower and rinse out the dye with lukewarm water.
• Next, condition your hair with the hair conditioner that came in the plum hair dye kit. Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse it out.
• Pop out of the shower, and gently towel-dry your hair without rubbing. Once the hair is dry, examine the color and see if any corrections are needed! If they are, apply dye where necessary, but if it’s perfect then go and take some selfies to show off your new look!
How to Keep Your Plum Hair Color Bright
• Frequent washings are the bane of hair dye, including plum hair dye. Try to limit how often you wash your hair to once or twice a week, and every other day at most if you have oily hair. If you have a problem with your hair looking oily or getting greasy, try to save on washing by using dry shampoo instead.
• When you do wash your hair, opt for a color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo. You can use a shampoo and conditioner set that contains a bit of pigment to refresh your hair tone, as well.
• Get in the habit of showering and washing your hair with lukewarm water. Hot water opens up the hair cuticles and causes color to bleed, while also weakening the hair over all.
• In the same vein, extreme heat styling will also damage your hair and your plum hair color. A bit of blow-drying (with the help of a heat protectant spray) every once in a while is okay, but straightening and curling irons can be too intense.
• Refreshing your plum hair color at home while also strengthening it is actually quite easy these days, as more people are flocking to fashion hair colors. The Uberliss Bond Sustainer in Purple Iris from Ulta is perfect for strengthening and softening the hair while also adding vividness to plum hair dye that is starting to fade.
• Chlorine is a quick destroyer of hair colors, so if you’re going to the pool make sure to tie your hair up and put on a swimming cap.
• Sun exposure will also fade plum hair dye, so wear hats on sunny days (your skin will also thank you!) or use a UV-protecting hair spray or oil.
How to Remove Plum Hair Dye
Removing darker fashion colors is not an easy process, but it is doable. You have a few directions you can go in, depending on the final color you are hoping for. Note that most of these methods for fading plum hair color are quite drying, so make sure to follow them up with a hair nourishing mask or a leave-in conditioner.
Option 1: Go Darker
The easiest way to get rid of plum hair dye is to dye over it with a darker color. It causes the least damage to the hair, and is a quick process.
It is important that the color that you choose is not only darker, but that it will also neutralize the red and purple tones of the plum. This means choosing a shade that is neutral or ashy, as these are tones that cancel out red. A warmer brown, on the other hand, will end up looking a little reddish when applied over plum hair.
Option 2: Use a Clarifying Shampoo
A clarifying shampoo is perfect for slowly and methodically fading out semi-permanent hair colors, including plum hair color. Simply choose any shampoo that contains sulfates.
Some people find that dish soap works well, while others prefer anti-dandruff shampoo. Combine this with hot water to open up the hair cuticles and let colors bleed out.
This method will not completely remove your plum hair color but it will help it fade away slowly, which is especially useful if you’d like to dye over it.
Option 3: Try the Vitamin C Method
The vitamin C method is perfect for both pulling out dye and for slightly lightening dyed hair without causing too much damage, and it works for both permanent and semi-permanent plum hair dyes.
This recipe requires a sulfate-based shampoo and some vitamin C powder. If you don’t have vitamin C powder on hand, you can also crush vitamin C pills into a very fine powder.
• In a bowl mix one-part vitamin C powder and one-part clarifying shampoo – you may also choose to add a bit of water or more shampoo if you find that the mixture is too thick.
• Apply the mixture to your hair from roots to tips, much in the same way you would apply hair dye. Once your whole head is covered, massage the mixture in a bit more.
• Next, clip your hair up and cover it in a shower cap. Wait 45 minutes-1 hour, and then wash out the mixture in the shower with hot water. You will see hair dye start to come out along with the mixture.
• When you’re done, do a conditioning treatment to restore moisture to your hair.
• You can do this method a few more times (though ideally not on the same day) in order to fade the hair a bit more.
Option 4: Bleach It
Think of bleach as a last resort, as it is quite damaging to the hair. However, it is the only way to lighten the hair significantly, which is especially important if you’d like to go from plum hair to blonde, for example.
To avoid excessive damage, bleach your hair with a 20-volume developer and bleach powder, and follow up the bleaching with a nourishing treatment or Olaplex. Applying a new semi-permanent hair color to your hair after bleaching is a great idea, as it will deposit pigment and fortify your hair – just make sure it’s a color you love!
Makeup Rules for Those with Plum Hair Color
When it comes to your makeup routine, there are a few changes you should make to keep your plum hair color nice-looking.
Complexion Makeup for Plum Hair
As with most darker fashion hair colors, it is usually best to opt for a slightly more perfected complexion. This might mean switching to a foundation with more coverage, using a bit more concealer in your makeup routine, or color correcting – this totally depends on your application styles and the starting condition and color of your skin.
With darker colors, ensuring that there is color in the face is also quite important. A touch of bronzer, blush, or contour color can go a long way towards keeping dimension in the face and keeping it from getting washed out by the hair.
Plum hair, because it sits between purple and red, actually works well with most blush colors, so don’t feel restricted to using cool, neutral, or warm blushes – any color will work beautifully, as long as it suits your skin tone!
Eye Makeup for Plum Hair
Eye makeup can make a big difference, especially for those making the switch to plum hair color from a lighter hair color. A touch of mascara and eyeliner will bring out your eyes and make sure that your features don’t get lost behind the attention-grabbing hair color.
When it comes to choosing eyeshadow colors, just be aware of the color wheel and the relationship your plum hair color will have with the eyeshadow you choose. Take these colors and the final scheme into account when choosing a lip and blush color, as well.
You can create looks based on a monochromatic color scheme with plum, magenta, and rose tones, or looks based on an analogue scheme with red, orange, and yellow tones or going in the other direction with purples and blues. The metallic and jewel tone versions of these shades are particularly gorgeous.
Playing with the complementary color (green) or a split complementary color scheme (blue and yellow) can be really unique, but is much tougher to match.
Choosing neutral eyeshadow colors is an easy way to get around this altogether. These neutral colors include champagne, beige, taupe, chocolate brown, gray and black.
Lip Colors for Plum Hair
The great thing about plum hair is that it plays nicely with almost all lipstick colors. Orange-based shades like brick, orange, and peach provide a nice contrast to the cool tones in the hair, while mauve, berry, and magenta lip colors are a nice match to it.
Neutrals always work well, of course. Just make sure to match your lipstick undertone to your blush, or you risk clashing.
The hardest lipstick color to match to plum hair is red. A red lipstick can be either blue-based and cool or yellow-based and warm. If you are keen to wear a red lip with your plum hair, it is better to leave the eyes neutral, to much the undertone of the red to your blush, and to ensure that the rest of your outfit is also well coordinated based on undertones.
Adjusting Your Wardrobe to Your Plum Hair Color
• Because plum hair borders on the verge of being a natural hair color (it’s not, but it looks like it should be), no massive wardrobe changes are rarely necessary.
• That being said, if your style is colorful then you need to remember that plum is now part of any color scheme you will wear.
• Plum hair can feel a little dark, so you can soften your whole look by wearing the “butter stick” look, with clothes in shades of beige, cream, and light brown.
• Lighter monochromatic looks with rose and mauve can have a similar though more feminine effect.
• If you’d like to embrace the dark edge of your plum hair color then embrace darker shades like black, deep olive green, or gunmetal gray.
• Primary colors like blue and yellow tend to look gorgeous next to plum hair, while red is a little too close for comfort and might clash against it.
• You can have a lot of fun with color blocking your outfits based on your hair. Yellow-orange and teal combine with plum to make a gorgeous triadic color scheme, for example.