If you have dark hair but are all about that rainbow hair life, you probably know way more than you ever wanted to about bleach, damage, and chemical haircuts. Colorful hair is cool but it's *so* hard! Can't there just be an easier, less catastrophic way to dye our hair?
According to the brand, this includes "4 deliciously deep shades developed specially for BRUNETTES." These new semi-permanent shades tantalized us with visions of deep, rich rainbow hair color... all without needing to bleach your hair first.
Could this be the answer to all our dark-haired prayers?
Perhaps not. Although the initial launch promised a lot of magic in broad strokes, when the Lime Crime dark unicorn dyes actually launched, the description of the line seemed a little different.
According to Lime Crime, these four shades are "Pigmented enough to cover even light to medium brown hair, bleached or unbleached." Per the brand's own FAQ section, these dark unicorn dyes "will show up on all light to medium brown hair - bleached or natural," and on very dark hair "color will show as more of a tint."
Nicola, Marquaysa, and myself all have dark hair of various lengths, shades, and textures. Nicola is a natural medium brunette, Quay is a natural girl who has never dyed her dark brown hair (ever!), and I'm a blonde who dyes her hair dark.
Nicola has a lot of experience with rainbow hair dye — she’s colored her hair every shade on the planet, and probably a few that haven’t been invented yet.
Marquaysa has dark, natural hair — and she has never, ever colored it. She was really excited at the thought of having bright colored hair for the first time.
I dye my light hair black every other week, and have for years. I was curious to see how Lime Crime’s unicorn dyes showed up on my hair — which is literally the darkest color that you can get.
Nicola drew the Sea Witch card, and prepared to dye her hair a rich teal. But right off the bat, she had major concerns about whether this would work.
“There’s NO way that these colors are going to show up like that on dark hair,” she said. “You would have to beach your hair, or have really light hair first, THEN dye it.”
But what if, Nicola?
“If this actually works, it’s going to change my whole life,” she said. “But it’s not going to work.” ($17, Ulta)
Right away, we noticed that Sea Witch is ESPECIALLY intense. Everything from the formulation to the staining power — you read that right — tells you this is *not* a color to be trifled with.
All the unicorn dyes are VERY thick, with a consistency almost like melted wax. Sea Witch, as the kids say, is one thicc bih — unlike other semi-permanant dyes, it doesn't gloop out of the bottle like conditioner, you have to work for it.
At first, we were concerned that this would make the dyes blobby and uneven, but this thickness ended up working in our favor.
But it *was* immediately visible on Nicola's hair as we painted it in...
Next, hair dye rookie Marquaysa, who picked the maroon-red shade Chestnut — and was immediately REALLY excited for a huge reason.
"This color is PRETTY," said Quay. "I’ve never had colorful hair — and it looks like nobody has really tried these dark unicorn dyes on unbleached, natural hair before. I’m going to be the first!”
But also worried about running out of dye. If you have thick, curly, or natural hair, beware — we used the entire unicorn bottle on Quay. A little of this Lime Crime dye does *not* go a long way!
You've been warned.
Meanwhile, I was the last victim — I was given the tub of Squid, a deep blue-purple that I was hoping would tint my black hair a cool, galactic violet.
I'm realistic. I know enough about chemistry to understand that my none-more-black hair is not going to be neon purple without a serious bleach bath. But my hair is in great condition, so there would be no reason for me to not get at least a *touch* of purple on my noggin, right?
Even though Squid seems like a dark purple in the tub and in a bowl, the actual color is pretty light. It went on thick, but was practically invisible the second it touched my head.
So, super-sexy caps on our heads to prevent any dripping, we waited the prescribed 90 minutes for the dye to "take" to our hair.
And really, up until now, we maybe had a vague foreboding that these colors wouldn't be QUITE as bright as Lime Crime promised. But hey — the colors looked pretty, didn’t drip, and felt nice and moisturizing on our heads.
Nicola was the first to rinse her hair. This is what happened to her hands.
Though some discoloration isn't unheard of with rainbow dyes, holy hell, Sea Witch will stain your SOUL. I managed to get some of that green on my hands, and I honestly can't get it off. I may need to get new hands sewn on, and I'm only 70% kidding.
"Sea Witch will stain your life," said Nicola. "This green mostly came off after I scrubbed it multiple times. And I wore gloves!"
And while her hair may *look* really bright straight out of the shower, Nicola assured us it's because HER ENTIRE SCALP IS DYED GREEN.
"Honestly, not a lot of this dye stuck to my HAIR," she said, reminding us that she has the naturally medium brown hair this dye is meant to work on. "A lot of it is on my scalp, though."
"I wasn't expecting MUCH from this Lime Crime dye," she said. "But even so, this green is patchy and uneven. I would never, ever use this again. This is the worst rainbow dye I've ever used."
"I'd rate that cheap dye you get from the drugstore better than this," she said. "I don't feel anything like a dark unicorn — I feel like I took a swim in slime."
Meanwhile, Marquaysa was feeling like this as she waited to see her new, red-tinted hair.
Only to rinse her hair with cold water... and have ALL OF THE COLOR RINSE CLEAN OUT. Absolutely not a *hint* of red remained!
I'll remind you all again that Lime Crime's website says that "On dark brown hair" — which Quay has — "color will show as more of a tint."
"There is no red!" she said. "There is no tint! This is a lie! This is Lie Crime!"
Seriously. The Chestnut unicorn dye rinsed clean away, like it was never there. "I guess when Lime Crime said these dyes were formulated for brunettes, that brand didn't mean ALL brunettes," she said.
"I didn't have to be Rihanna with the red wig," said Marquaysa. "But I expected SOME color for all the time I spent on this. There's not a tint, not a hint! This is so disappointing to me."
Finally, I rinsed the purple Squid dye out of my hair. And... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENED.
As with Quay, I had not a hint. Not a tint. Not a skerrick of purple adhered to my dyed black hair — although thankfully, nothing stained my scalp or hands, either.
Like I said, I wasn't expecting to be a pastel unicorn. But I wanted something better than literally nothing. This was a total waste of my morning, the towels I stained, and of $17.
So, what’s the verdict? Is Lime Crime’s dark unicorn dye the life-changing rainbow brunette marvel we were promised?
Absolutely not. If your hair is blonde, or you’re willing to bleach it in order to dye it darker, then knock yourself out — this dye will be perfect for you.
But if you have darker hair that you don’t want to bleach? Sadly, you’re not going to get the dramatic results shown on the website. At best, you’ll get a subtle unicorn tint. At worst, you’ve wasted an hour and stained all your towels.
Sorry, dark-haired babes. This unicorn dye is not the rainbow future we were promised. But hey — at least we sank this ship together.