Zack: Honey, you missed auburn big time!
Alice wants to dye her hair black. Or bleach it blonde. Whichever she wanted, her hair ends up a very different and thoroughly ridiculous color—usually green, though other strange hues pop up. Sometimes, the only thing to do is to shave the head and let the hair grow back.
This is a Sub-Trope of Cosmetic Catastrophe specific to hair coloring, as well as a subtrope to Bad Hair Day. Also compare Never Trust a Hair Tonic. Kaleidoscope Hair can occur if Alice keeps re-dyeing her hair. Elderly Blue-Haired Lady is a specific trope for elderly ladies whose attempt to turn ugly yellow hair a graceful grey via blue dye results in blue hair instead.
Contrast Nonconformist Dyed Hair, where hair is consciously dyed an unnatural color to stick it to social norms.
- There was an advertisement for Outback Steakhouse with this trope. A middle-aged woman tries to dye her hair and it turns out purple or pink. Her husband cancels their reservations at some hoity-toity restaurant and they go to Outback instead, where there are "no rules, just right" and her worries are forgotten.
- Exploited in Gals! when Ran dyes her hair orange. The choice of color is deliberate, but when she gets in trouble at school over it, she claims that she was actually trying to dye her hair black (it was previously blonde with red highlights, which was also against the school rules) and that a failure in the bleaching process turned it orange.
- One Archie story has Archie's aunt leave a bottle of black dye in the shower, which he mistakes for shampoo. Jughead suggests using a few chemicals from Flutesnoot's lab, which, predictably, turns it vibrantly green. While Archie's annoyed at first, he lands a date with a punk girl by the end.
- This was used to explain Princess Sally's varying hair/fur coloring in the early issues of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): during a mission, Sally fell into a vat of chemicals. Though she came out unscathed, attempts to wash the chemicals out led to her fur and hair being miscolored (from red hair and brown fur to blonde hair and red fur to black hair and pink fur and back to red and brown).
- In Advantageous Appearances, WWE Diva Melina tries to dye her black hair blond, thinking it will lead the WWE management to use her more. It turned her hair orange.
- Played for Drama in the Ever After High fanfic And Hair as Black as Ebony. Feeling inadequate because she is blonde instead of the traditional raven, the next Snow White, Apple White, decides to dye her hair black. Unfortunately, it ends up coming out dark blue and purple. This sends her into an emotional fit.
- In Diary of a Lovesick Mutant, Fang tries to dye his hair blond, and tomato gets into it, turning it green.
- In Karma in Retrograde, Touya and Mina decide to prank Bakugou by slipping bubblegum pink hair dye into his shampoo. They originally intended it to last just a few weeks, but someone at the store had swapped the dye in the box for a more permanent one that lasts for months.
- In The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, Wilma ends up with green hair when the hairdresser of the future acts up. Fortunately, Rosie quickly fixes it.
- Averted in the anti-war film The Boy With the Green Hair: the kid's hair just turns green one day, perhaps as a result of trauma.
- Bride Wars: In retaliation for turning her skin a bright orange, Emma sabotages Liv's hair dye with something more complementary.
Liv: "My hair's blue! IT'S BUH-LUE!"
- The botched Dye job look was the inspiration for the approach to the Joker's hair in The Dark Knight.
- The Hole: In Liz's first version of events, she attempts to dye her hair with peroxide from the lab and something catastrophic happens, but Frankie is able to fix it for her.
- In Matilda, the titular character, after being chastised by her father Harry for being a "smart aleck" when she actually totaled up the sum of his earnings he made for selling defective cars, gets revenge on him by sneaking into his bathroom and secretly mixing his hair tonic with hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent, then barely escapes her parents' bedroom when her mother wakes up from a nightmare but thankfully had her sleeping mask on before she could realize her daughter was there. When the father later puts on his hair tonic, by the next scene, his hair goes from dark brown to a dirty blonde, much to the shock of his son and his wife while Matilda silently chuckles to herself at the situation. When Harry's wife points out about his newly changed hair color, he then starts looking at the mirror to prove it. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Anne of Green Gables Anne often mentions how much she dislikes having red hair, and this culminates in an attempt to dye her hair "a beautiful raven-black". Unfortunately, she buys the dye from a dubious source, the local soil contains so much iron oxide (aka rust) that the roads are red so who knows what's in the well water, and red hair is known to do strange things with dye to boot. Her hair turns a hideous bronze-green, and Marilla is forced to cut it very short. Due to morals at the time, there was definitely An Aesop against vanity in this chapter (the chapter is literally called "Vanity And Vexation Of The Spirit"), and Anne learns to accept the fact that she has red hair. However, as a Pet the Dog, her hair grows back in as a richer auburn color that she finds easier to live with.
- In Robert W Service's poem The Baldness of Chewed-Ear, Chewed-Ear Jenkins wagers $1,000 that his wife can't cure his baldness. The wife tries every hair tonic she can find, even selling stock to Chewed-Ear's friends so they'll try their own ideas on him. When their combined ministrations start to work, Chewed-Ear tries to cheat them by shaving and applying hair-destroying drugs to his scalp when they're not looking. The unholy combination of hair restorers and hair destroyers eventually makes the hair come in - green.
- The Final Destination 3 novelization mentions why Frankie had shaved his head shortly before the events of the film. His attempt at dyeing it resulted in it turning pink.
- In the Five Nights at Freddy's: Fazbear Frights story "To Be Beautiful", Sarah, the protagonist, tries to dye her mousy brown hair blonde, with the predictable end result. Her mother takes her to a salon to have it fixed (but says she should have left it as it was, to teach her a lesson).
- In Howl's Moving Castle, Sophie's meddling with Howl's hair products while cleaning the bathroom resulted in him unwittingly dyeing his hair pink. (In the film, his hair turns bright orange instead.)
- In the Star Wars expansion novel I, Jedi, character Corran Horn accidentally dyed his hair green in an attempt to disguise himself as Kieran Halcyon. Because the colour you got was dependant on how long you left it on, his head, facial, and body hair were different shades of green, no less.
- A short story that was called "In 50 years who will know?" or something like that, a woman who has said this phrase to her daughter throughout her daughter's life tries to dye her hair and ends up with it brilliant green. The daughter even likens it to "glow in the dark green"—whereupon she tells her mother these words of dubious comfort.
- In "The Inspiration of Mr. Budd" by Dorothy L. Sayers, a man walks into a hairdresser's shop just before closing time and demands to have his hair dyed. The hairdresser, who is the only person in the shop, recognizes the man as a wanted murderer with a large reward for his capture. The hairdresser knows he has no chance of physically overpowering the murderer but wants the reward money, so he deliberately arranges it so that the murderer's hair will turn bright green an hour or two after he leaves the shop.
- In one of Beverly Cleary's books, Ramona Quimby brings her doll Chevrolet to show-and-tell at school. Chevrolet has green hair because Ramona tried to use laundry blueing on her hair like her grandmother did.
- Stephen King's short story "Sometimes They Come Back" has a character with the Embarrassing Nickname "Bleach"—he had used laundry bleach on his hair, ultimately leaving it covered with orange streaks.
- In one Sweet Valley High book, Jessica tries to dye her hair auburn brown like Scarlett O'Hara's for a costume party and ends up with bright orange hair instead.
- In The Teenage Worrier's Panick Diary, Letty tries to dye her hair for a date. It's supposed to be "a lovely conker color" (chestnut brown) but comes out bright orange. Thankfully, it's temporary dye so washes out.
- The (mildly anti-)Soviet classic The Twelve Chairs, by Ilya Ilf and Evgeniy Petrov, has a scene where one of the protagonists tries to dye his hair and eyebrows and mustache a darker color, but the dye is counterfeit and ends up turning him a rabid green color. A second attempt with another dye of no higher quality results in multi-colored hair. The poor sod ends up having to shave his head completely devoid of hair.
- In The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, Samantha Sweeting is cleaning a bathroom and accidentally sprays her head with bleach. She ends up with "a huge grotesque streak of greeny-blond" in her hair.
- Stephen in the Wayside School series has green hair. In the third book, it was finally revealed to be due to excessive chlorine in a nearby pool.
- Variation: In the Kid Detective novel Whats A Daring Detective Like Me Doing In The Doghouse, Stevie and her friend Jesse find a stray dog and decide to give it a bath. While trying to find a bath product that will get the tangles out of the dog's fur, they accidentally use Stevie's mother's henna dye on it, turning the dog's fur green. They immediately nickname the dog "Swampwater".
- In the Adventures in Wonderland episode "Hair 'Em Scare 'Em," the Hatter's homemade shampoo turns Alice's hair green. His attempts to change it back to blonde turn it bright red and then purple before finally succeeding. In the end, the shampoo also turns the Queen's hair green, but unlike Alice, she likes it.
- Awkwafina is Nora from Queens: At a salon, Nora wants go blonde, despite Asha (the hairstylist) warning her that bleaching virgin Asian hair is "always unpredictable and often unfortunate."). Nora just becomes more determined. The result? Wavy red hair that Asha herself says reminds her of Merida.
Asha: (stifling giggles) I only feel like 20% bad about this because I did warn you multiple times.
Nora: What, what even color is this? And the texture! Is that a natural wave? Because I look like a Hot f——— Cheeto right now!
- In the last episode of The Brady Bunch, Greg buys some hair tonic from Bobby out of pity, and it turns his hair orange. Greg wasn't trying to color his hair; it just worked that way.
- This got blended with a Green Aesop, of all things, in an episode of Diff'rent Strokes. Kimberly tried washing/rinsing her hair with rainwater caught in a copper bowl. However, it was acid rain, which reacted with the metal and left a layer of verdigris on her hair.
- Full House had a Season 4 episode where Danny Tanner's shampoo was switched with green hair dye by Rusty (the son of Danny's girlfriend). Notably, up to then, Danny didn't believe Rusty was pulling a series of pranks on the other family members during the episode.
- In "Too Much Monkey Business", Wendy's pet monkey sneaks into DJ's room and messes with the dish of hair dye that DJ is about to use on Kimmy. As a result, DJ dyes Kimmy's hair a shockingly bright shade of orange instead of the subtle color she intended. Unlike typical examples of this trope, though, Kimmy ends up really liking the color.
- In "A Little Romance", Becky tells DJ that when she was in seventh grade, she had a crush on a guy who liked blondes, so she used a large amount of peroxide on her hair, but her hair came out orange instead of blonde.
- Emma of H₂O: Just Add Water decided to color her hair and Cleo used a dye called "Scarlet Fever", which was a clown wig shade of red. Luckily for Emma, since water was required for the dying process it only showed up in her mermaid form.
- Hannah Montana: Hannah's hair dye gel turns her hair green instead of blonde in "Super(stitous) Girl".
- On The Love Boat episode subtitled "Green, But Not Jolly", cruise director Julie boards the ship with a new platinum-blonde hairdo. When it becomes clear that the ship crew really doesn't like the new do, she decides to dye it during the cruise. But when Julie fails to follow the directions and sleeps with the dye in place, by the next morning her hair is green.
- One episode of Mork & Mindy involved one of Mindy's friends telling Mindy to dye her hair blonde for a job interview she was going to do. Her hair ended up green.
- An episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show was describing how she was involved in harmless pranks. One of the pranks had clients of a hair salon watch a teaser showing people using a shampoo/conditioner caused people's hair to turn out green. It was the same shampoo used in the hair salon.
- Reba: In the episode "Seeing Red", Barbra Jean dyes her hair red like Reba, which enrages the latter to no end. After attempting to dye it back blond, she said that most of her hair fell out and what was left had turned pink.
- Happened to CeCe in Shake it Up, although Tinka had secretly switched dye bottles and made it look like Rocky did it.
- In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Cody tries to dye his hair and it ends up bright red.
Cody: But the box said it was supposed to be a 'Honey-mist auburn!'
Zack: Honey, you missed auburn BIG TIME!!
- In the late 1950s or early 1960s, there was a Saturday morning panel show for pre-teens and young adults with a What Would You Do? theme. In one episode, a girl of about twelve is an initiate in a club called the Rats (perhaps "Lemmings" might have been too obvious). When the Rats vote to dye their hair as a badge of membership, the girl does so, accompanied by parents and siblings giving her the "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal. Her hair comes out grey. Horrified, she conceals it beneath a scarf, and when the club president comes over to check out her dye job, she screams that membership in the society has made her "an old woman before my time", dramatically rips off the scarf and tears down the homemade Rats banner on the wall. The leader does not take it well.
- Young Sheldon: In "Blonde Ambition and the Concept of Zero", Missy tries to dye her hair blonde, but it comes out multicolored.
- The refrain of the Daisy The Great song "Record Player" contains the lyric "Dyed my hair blue, it came out a seasick sort of green."
- Liz from For Better or for Worse goes for a dye job, and apparently ends up with her hair bright purple. We say "apparently" because it's a black and white comic strip.
- Frenchie in Grease accidentally dyeing her hair bubblegum pink is what leads into the song Beauty School Dropout.
- In Spirited Heart, the demonic dancer Reid eventually leaves to pursue a career at the local beauty shop. One of her clients is a wealthy elven noble whose hair turns green as the result of a botched dye job. Reid tries to pin the screw-up on you, but you can choose to play it off and try to convince the elf woman that her new hair color is just fine as it is.
- In Dela the Hooda Dela — an extraterrestrial anthropomorphic fox (Hooda) — tells that most Hoodas are red-green colorblind and her sister once bought green fur dye instead of red-orange. All her (multispecies) school thought she was being rebellious, but her family didn't notice. Her father wasn't colorblind (and a painter to boot), but for some reason, he didn't say anything.
- Referenced at one point in Questionable Content. Raven tries to bleach her hair blonde to appeal to Sven, but instead it comes out "all orangey and gross", so she has to settle for dyeing it neon-pink.
- In Rep!, this is is partly the reason Shorty is a redhead. Her mom brought some shampoo from a fundraiser and gave it to her to try. The shampoo turned out to be defective and turned her hair red. Worse it got into her roots and any attempt to reverse it would leave her hair prematurely gray. Shorty just learned to live with it.
- Lia in YU+ME: dream accidentally dyes her hair green when the protagonist forgets to add an ingredient to the (blonde) dye.
- In one of the subplots of Deadbeat Poets Society from 6teen, two of the clones, Kristen and Kirsten, dye their hair brown for some reason. However, after they see Jen and Caitlin wearing blonde wigs (which they're using to spy on Wyatt), they decide to dye their hair back to blonde—but unfortunately, they accidentally turn their hair green due to accidentally over-processing the hair dye they used (at least that's what they assume). Nikki helps her coworkers by giving them the blonde wigs her friends used, which the Clones can wear until the dye wears off.
- Jane wants to dye her black hair with orange tiger stripes and essentially forces Daria into helping. It comes out looking terrible, and Jane blames Daria, only to later realize that this wasn't really fair and she was sublimating her anger about something else.
- In "Is It Fall Yet?", Kevin and Brittany get a summer job as lifeguards. Eventually, the chlorine in the pool starts turning Brittany’s hair green. Kevin wastes no time in teasing her about it.
- One House of Mouse short was actually about Minnie Mouse accidentally dyeing Pluto's fur purple after mistaking a bottle of purple dye for shampoo. She then tries to find ways to get the purple dye off, including painting the dog with a can of "Pluto-colored Paint" (which is the same shade of orange as Pluto's fur).
- Doubly subverted in Pepper Ann. Her hair turned out green when she tried dyeing it blue.
- Rugrats episode "Chuckie's Red Hair". Chuckie gets tired of getting unwanted attention from his red hair, so he uses Grandpa Lou's black hair dye. Unfortunately, Chuckie soon sees that nobody seems to notice he exists without his red hair. He even gets upset when Angelica doesn't pick on him like the other babies. Eventually, Chuckie breaks down sobbing, and he begins ranting about how he misses his red hair. However, the exposure to the sun begins to melt the black dye away, leaving Chuckie's red hair underneath. The other babies tell Chuckie this, who rushes to a puddle and looks at his reflection and to his joy he's a redhead again. Grandpa Lou, on the other hand, is less than happy as the sun also turned his hair as bright red as Chuckie's. Didi chalks it up to buying hair dye off of an infomercial.
- In a show of Truth in Television, this also happened to Emma Roberts when she agreed to go blonde for her role in It's Kind of a Funny Story. Her hair was dyed green by accident.
- Chilean writer Isabel Allende described in her memoir Paula about a time in her youth when she attempted to bleach her naturally dark hair blond. However, the process left her with green hair instead. Rosa, the green-haired beauty from The House of the Spirits, was inspired by that experience.
- Sometimes, recently dyed hair has an... interesting reaction to the chemicals in swimming pools causing discoloration. Specifically, hair bleached with peroxide really does turn green when exposed to too much chlorine.
- Cheaper men's hair regeneration topical treatments used to do this.
- This is the origin of the Elderly Blue-Haired Lady. For some people, their hair turns yellowish instead of white or gray when they age. In the 70s, salons would typically treat this with a little bit of blue dye to counteract the yellow, but since different people's hair absorbs pigment at different rates, some people would wind up with bright blue hair.
- In general, if people want to dye their hair so they just get a tint of color, rather than actually changing their hair color, they must be careful or... well, read the trope name.
- A common trouble when using all-natural hair dye (the only dye available until the 19th century, and the best until fairly recently). Henna deposits red color, while henna with indigofera leaves gives a golden brown to black color. Put too little henna in the mix, and your hair may become green.
- Some hair lighteners actually turn the hair prismatic. While looking blonde normally, strong sunlight reveals rainbow colors.
- This is why salons will bleach your hair before they dye it. This trope usually occurs because of an interaction between the hair's natural pigment and the dye. Bleaching strips the natural pigment. However, they can't bleach too close to your scalp (or else they'll take your skin off) so they usually have to use a different dye formula for your roots. Home hair dyes get around this typically by having different formulas intended for different natural colors. However, some people can easily mistake what their natural color actually is. Though we tend to think of blonde-brunette as a continuum, true brunette hair actually contains a different pigment than blonde hair. Similarly, a person who thinks they have black hair might actually just be really dark brown. One way to tell if this is the case for you is if your hair "bleaches" with sun exposure. In addition, some people can have multiple colors of hair mixed together. If your body hair or beard hair is a different color than your head hair, this is likely the case for you. In that case, it's best to get dye jobs done at a salon.
- Why a certain degree of yellow cannot be avoided when bleaching hair. Washing the chemicals out too early, using the wrong strength, or simply not bleaching it often enough will leave the person with yellow hair that cannot be saved by purple shampoo.
- When you have bleached blonde hair, putting darker dye over it can actually lead to it turning green, especially if you use a cool or "ashy" colour as those have a lot of green. If you want to dye bleached hair black, you need to "fill" it with red first.
- On FMyLife.com, this person's attempt to dye their hair somehow ended with it turning out red, brown, blonde, and green all at the same time.