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Does Manic Panic Work On Black Hair?

by Gabbi

The brand Manic Panic has been an innovator of unique and creative hair colors for the last several decades. The colors range from soft and pastel to bold and vibrant, each depending on your mood and taste.

The hair colors are eye-catching and on-trend, especially as hair color has become another form of expressing our own unique identity.

The colors available within Manic Panic’s product line are vast and out-of-the-box, and seemingly bold enough to work on any hair color. However, it is important to note that these imaginative shades may require some additional work to get them to show up as vibrantly on the hair, as in the bottle.

The biggest question that comes with looking at the bold shades of Manic Panic are if they work on dark, black hair and, if they do, will they appear the same as they do on light, blonde locks.

So, does Manic Panic hair color work on dark, black hair? Ultimately, Manic Panic is going to work the best on lighter hair colors, but darker hair colors, like black, will not show any change or color. If you have a darker hair color, you can lighten your natural shade to a lighter tone and then apply the Manic Panic colors to have a subtle payoff.

Below we are going to discuss what make Manic Panic hair color special, what hair colors it works best for, and what shades you should look into if you have dark, black hair. 

What Is Manic Panic?

Manic Panic is a popular cosmetic hair care brand that specializes in creative hair colors. It is a brand that is vegan and cruelty-free, that offers a wide variety of vibrant and eye-catching shades. Manic Panic’s range of hair colors are semi-permanent, with the vibrant colors lasting for up to six weeks.

Along with being a semi-permanent hair color, their products are also formulated with moisturizing, conditioning products to keep hair feeling healthy and looking shiny. The nourishing formulas help to strengthen hair, especially as the product works best on hair that has been pre-lightened with bleach.

Why Use Manic Panic?

Manic Panic has been a leader in the cosmetic, semi-permanent, creative hair color industry for several decades, and is constantly evolving their range of products to suit any hair trend and style with their unique colors and shades.

They offer an array of innovative shades that range from pastel, to neon, to UV color that glows under a black light. It is not formulated with any harsh ammonias or chemicals that permanent dye consists of, but instead contains conditioning agents that soften and hydrate the hair.

Even though there is a wide range of colors offered within each of the Manic Panic lines, the colors can also be mixed and matched to create your own unique, customized hair color.

Depending on your natural hair color, and what level the pre-lightening process achieved on your hair, the semi-permanent color can last anywhere between four and six weeks, gradually fading over time.

Here’s a great tutorial for using Manic Panic if you’ve never tried it before from the creators of the brand themselves!

Does Manic Panic Work on Black Hair?

Overall, no, Manic Panic hair colors will not work on black hair without the hair being lightened with bleach first. Being the darkest hair color, black absorbs color so the vibrant tones will be lost and will not show up effectively.

Along with absorbing the color, the dye is a semi-permanent product which means it will only be coating the outer layers of the hair, rather than penetrating deeper to adjust the color of your hair from the inside out.

There are some shades that will show up without having to pre-lighten the hair, but it will be a more subtle tint than full-on color. In order for the colors to provide a tint to darker hair without pre-lightening, it is best if the natural hair starts as a dark/medium brown, which is generally a level 3 in hair color terms.

Any natural hair color darker than a level 3 will not show the color of the Manic Panic dye.

Bleaching the hair is a process on its own that can be unpredictable, so it is important not to push the hair too far with the lightening process to avoid the hair being overprocessed.

Although Manic Panic’s colors are semi-permanent and do not have the same chemicals are permanent hair dyes, the bleaching process can still cause potential damage to the hair. If the hair is overprocessed with bleach, it can turn brittle and break off due to the severe lack of moisture.

It is best to do a strand test to gauge the level of processing your hair can withstand from the bleach, as well as to see what level the hair will lighten to.

Once you are able to see where the color level will fall after being bleached, you can determine which types of shades you want to color your hair with. You can also start to see how subtle or vibrant the chosen color will be.

What Colors Are Best To Use On Black Hair?

If you have dark black hair but still want to capture some of the imaginative shades that Manic Panic has to offer, it is best to start out by lightening or lifting your hair with bleach to a lighter shade first.

Depending on your hair type, lifting the black to a light brown or medium blonde shade will help in getting the vibrant shades to show up the best.

However, if you do not want to lift your hair to that extreme, lightening instead to a medium brown shade can achieve a subtle tint of color. Any time the hair is bleached, it can cause damage and strain to the hair strands.

Although Manic Panic’s dyes have conditioning properties, making sure to follow up with other hydrating products to nourish the hair is important to maintaining the hair’s health.

Once the hair has been lightened to the best level it can be, the best shades to use are some of the richer, deeper tones. They will still maintain their vibrancy, but colors like purples, dark pinks, reds, and blues will give a nice hue to your lightened black strands.

Although the strands have been lifted, some of the lighter, pastel shades may still have trouble showing up.

How Vibrant Will Manic Panic Colors Be on Black Hair?

Colors that are applied to darker hair colors, without any lightening, will be very subtle. They will not show up on black hair, but on dark brown hair the tint of the shade can be apparent, especially when in direct sun light. Overall, the effect of the color will be very subtle and minimal the darker the hair is.

Also, because the hair has not been lifted, the semi-permanent color will not be as deeply absorbed as it could be.

Although it only coats the outer layers of the hair, on natural hair that has not been lifted, the hair is less porous to hold on to the color. It can result in the hair colors lasting between two to three weeks, before fading out of the hair completely.

Other Hair Colors With Manic Panic?

Throughout their brand, Manic Panic has a variety of color lines available that can suit any individual’s style or mood.

Being able to mix and match the shades to customize the color, as well as staying on top of trends, fits in with the semi-permanent color lasting for about six weeks. The lighter the hair is, the more vibrant and true-to-color the shades will appear.

As has been stated, the most important step to start with is the pre-lightening process. When the hair is lifted with bleach it becomes more porous, meaning it can absorb and hold the color for a longer period of time.

If you are applying the color onto hair that has not been lifted, there is the potential for the color to fade out quicker than it would in pre-lightened hair, even if you have lighter hair to start with.

Doing a patch test on your hair is crucial to ensuring the product will work for your hair type and you will not have any type of allergic reaction. From there, you can choose from their range of pastel, neon, or UV shades to last at least six weeks. With lighter, platinum blonde, some colors can even last up to 8 weeks.


Although Manic Panic offers a large range of color selections, in general applying the product straight onto black hair will have little to no color pay off. The vibrant colors will be easily absorbed in the black strands of your hair, and you will not be able to see any of the desired effect.

The only way to ensure the vibrant colors are able to show up on dark, black hair is to first lift the natural color with bleach to lighten the strands.

Although you do not want to push the hair to be lightened more than it can stand, depending on the level it gets to you can have a beautiful subtle tint of color, or a bold vibrant shade.

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