Cover image @thick.cuts

In the world of creative hair, colour application techniques and overall designs allow hair stylists and their clients to take full advantage of their personal style. Over time, we at Manic Panic UK have been extremely observant of a particular technique that is increasingly taking the industry by storm; pushing boundaries and allowing creatives to explore their individuality! Hair painting is a form of colouring hair that involves directly painting different patterns and shapes onto the hair's surface and creating unique designs.

We have been lucky enough to watch this beautiful technique of colouring hair thrive within the Manic Panic UK brand, with our affiliates utilising it regularly. Since this hair painting technique has become a prominent choice for several stylists, we wanted to find out a little bit more about why the Manic Panic UK affiliates are enjoying it so much and what inspires them to create using this approach.

The Return

When we look at the return of this particular technique, we have questioned exactly what it is that sparked this trend of painting patterns and shapes directly onto the hair as opposed to the traditional solid colour or balayage applications. Ami Fall (@thick.cuts), a London-based hairstylist and Manic Panic UK affiliate is a specialist in this artistic method and has been talking to us about her views on the origin of the technique and how it has come to where it is today “It’s hard to place where exactly it all started, because there have been so many people before my time that have pioneered these types of hair looks.” “Dennis Rodman for example is someone I consider an icon in the world of hair art. It’s pretty crazy how he was so outgoing with his looks because no one was really doing that at the time, let alone in the NBA. He also went against what was expected of masculinity with his style, which I consider quite the power move.” 

Hairstylist and long-term Manic Panic UK affiliate, Rhiannon Groovey (@wundercuthair) has been creating vibrant transformations using our vegan hair dyes for several years and during our collaboration, we have adored the wide range of creations that she has produced for her clients. This popular hair painting technique has been something we often see Rhiannon integrate into her looks and we were interested to find out what she thought sparked this artistic and specific style to open its doors to a wider audience “Definitely the resurgence of styles from the late noughties, Scene Kid and Emo in particular! Combined with the popularity of ignorant style tattoos, nails and make-up, it makes sense that hair designs like this would follow. Hair is being viewed less as something which needs to be blended, soft and symmetrical and more as a canvas for whatever design you fancy.” Also a regular ‘hair painting’ stylist and Manic Panic UK affiliate, James Oxley (@jamesoxleyhair)from Haco Salon agreed that the modern world was less focused on individuals fitting in with the system and offered an opportunity for individuals to express individual style “I think people having more freedom with their image because of work from home culture has helped a lot.”

From raccoon stripes to precise mosaic designs, it's been proved that there aren’t many boundaries when utilising this technique. It is a great opportunity for both stylists and clients to come together with their creative decisions and produce something true to them. Ami mentioned how this technique stems from the original ability that hair artists are able to put into this type of work “If someone’s got the natural talent and originality that I think is required to keep going with this type of craft, then it’s definitely going to always be a possible option for clients. I think the best hair artists are people who maintain originality whilst also being open to building a network with other hair artists, collaborating and trying stuff that’s never been done before. “

Whether you’re looking for precision in your final result, or an abstract approach is more your style, it is important to paint using a hair dye that best executes this. James told us what it was about the Manic Panic hair dyes that did just that “I love to use Manic Panic colour on patterns and design work. It goes on very much like paint would on a canvas and blends well with each other without looking patchy”.  

Check out James' Instagram below to see his designs:


The Inspiration 

Due to the versatility of this technique, the creative possibilities are endless. We have seen so many different approaches when it comes to the final design that it can be easy to identify the inspiration but many come with a particular uniqueness about them. Due to this, we were intrigued to find out what it is that inspires our affiliate stylists when creating a look using hair painting techniques. When following the journey of a hair stylist, you can begin to notice and learn more about their styles; Rhiannon expressed her love for animal print and incorporating it into her designs “All the animal prints I’ve done have been my suggestions though, that’s probably because that’s my thing, which anyone who has visited the salon will know!” She went on to discuss how her clients are a huge inspiration when choosing a theme or rough outline of how the creative design will go “To be honest, 99% of the time, it’s usually my super creative clients that come with the designs! A lot of them draw pictures/bring in photos of textile patterns/have taken inspo from another hairstylist's work (like the star design I did which was inspired by Rakuto @ququ_raaakun7 work)”.  

The painted hair technique is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to grasp and put on display their personality; alongside fashion choices and beauty looks. Changing and getting creative with your hair can be an exciting option when exploring your style and allows you to become an even bigger part of the process. Rhiannon expressed her thoughts as to why her clients opt for this technique during their appointment and why it is so important “This trending technique has allowed my clients to take more ownership of their hair, like when someone designs their tattoo or wears a particular pattern to express themselves - the process of doing these types of services is the perfect balance of DIY + professional techniques.” 

The rules don’t apply with this technique as they may in other forms of hair colouring; stylists and the clients themselves find inspiration in a variety of areas from personal experiences and more. Treating the hair as a canvas allows the imagination to run wild and create results that exceed the boundaries! Ami talked us through what it is that she and her clients find inspiration in when creating her own designs “I think the most inspiring thing about this technique is that it’s completely up to you - or anyone for that matter - what the art itself is. You could paint your favourite art motif, and pay homage to your favourite art movement. You could even write your favourite sentence in your head or a cute bouquet of flowers. The point is, there really are no rules to this game which makes it so niche.”

We are fortunate in today’s world as we can easily find inspiration through our interests whether it be music, art, poetry etc. They are each in the palm of our hands with our smart devices! James told us about his interests and what it is that he looks for to inspire him “I love looking at fashion designer prints, my favourites are Dries van Noten and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. Art and album covers are also big inspirations for me too.”

In some cases a client may be keen to give the stylist full reign of their final result, it can be great to look at physical objects and what is available around us to find your inspiration. Rhiannon mentions how her interest in this technique often stems from her surroundings in day-to-day life “I’ve always had an interest in doing hair inspired by shapes and patterns I see in everyday life. I take photos of interesting textures and organic forms I come across when out for walks, but before the popularity of this style I would just take the colour inspiration or create a more subdued version to still work in a traditional sense.”

Find Rhiannon's vibrant designs on her Instagram here:

The Process

Do you have some ideas for yourself or a client of yours that will include this method of hair painting? With such a versatile application approach, you can create your look in several ways and each is guaranteed to provide a unique result. We spoke to our affiliate stylists about their approach to this technique and if there are any differences in their process depending on their client's hair type whether long, short, curly or straight. Firstly, both Rhiannon and James expressed the importance of consultations! “Consultation is key! The hair is an ever-changing surface, it's very different from any other medium people would choose to carry out these designs on” Rhiannon told us. She explained how the design will naturally change over time due to movement and other factors such as parting alterations.

When talking about different hair textures and using this technique, Ami took us through the options available if you are to find yourself in this situation “You can use different equipment to apply the dye, such as sponges, finer-edge paint brushes, long brushes, short brushes, and tint brushes. You can honestly use whatever feels best on the hair. Sometimes I like to use sponges on longer curly hair and sharp, blunter paintbrushes on short buzz cuts for more precision.” Rhiannon also had a tip to share when working with textured hair alongside this technique that ensures a visible result “With textured hair I like to paint a lot wider + thicker so it does not become lost in the curls. I like to start high up near the parting too for shapes as the hair tends to be flatter there and you’ll get more longevity before it grows out.” 

During the application, as we’re sure you can imagine there are many ways that you can choose to apply hair colour to create these wild and amazing designs and each provides a unique result. James took us through some of his favourite tools when working with this method to create his designs “I like to use crafting things to make shapes, tape for blocking straight lines, dipping string in colour and laying it on the head to create random swirls.” As a part of the preparation for your appointment, James tells us how important it is to ensure you have planned your tools beforehand so that you are well-prepared and avoid any unnecessary time wasting. Ami was also clear that different tools will work better on different hair types and each creates different outcomes “The brushes that you use really matter and make all the difference to the finished outcome. Stiffer, sharper brushes are best for precision, and looser, larger ones are better for abstract brush strokes.” Should you be questioning the actual mapping of your design, Ami had a great top tip to share that still allows the stylist to get creative with their design but also follow some guidance should there be any unsureness “You can create stencils to show yourself where things will be before the dye touches the hair. Consider using eyeshadow for a softer stencil and a pencil eyeliner for a darker stencil.”

Take a look at Ami's Instagram here to find her designs: 


A post shared by THICKCUTS (@thick.cuts)

This technique can easily produce different results, from clear shapes and patterns to those more blurred. Each individual will have a different idea for their outcome so it is great to be made aware of how to create these styles or avoid them. “The best way to approach a shape/object is to paint directly onto the hair and not section, as this can cause it to become blurry if you try to layer the bleach. But with something like stripes/line designs then you may want to work in small layers depending on how bold you want the outcome to be” Rhiannon tells us. If the goal is to keep the design clear and in one place on the hair then it is important to consider your approach when rinsing the hair. James discussed the importance of water temperature when rinsing the colour and how different temperatures can affect the colour differently producing alternative results “Rinsing with cool/cold water will help stop the colour running. But sometimes it's nice to rinse with warm and get some bleed to create a light watercolour backdrop.” 

What we have learnt about this artistic hair colour technique is that going in with an open mind can be a great benefit as it allows the mind and imagination to flow freely. Ami mentioned that many of her most-loved looks have been those that featured an improvised approach “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, improvisation is sometimes where the magic lies. My favourite pieces have been ones where I didn’t know what the next thing I was about to do was. It’s one of the things I love most about this job and what I feel is really rewarding, because it comes straight from your uninhibited brain.” Rhiannon was also clear when talking about the positive outcomes that come from a free-flowing attitude towards her pieces “It's usually best to not plan the design too meticulously, I like to have a rough idea and then go with the flow on the day, any plan too rigid never tends to work out, which is the same in all aspects of creative colour.”

So what do you think about this incredibly artistic hair technique? Our affiliates have been busy creating some of the most amazing transformations using the hair painting method and we were so pleased to hear all about their own experiences and also to receive some of that golden professional advice. We would love to know if you have given this technique a go whether in the salon or at home! Tag us in your designs at @manicpanic_uk and check out all of the awesome Manic Panic hair art on the Manic Panic UK website.