Review: Live XXL Ultra Brights ‘Purple Punk’


It’s no big secret that I’ve been dying my hair since the age of 15, and over the last 7 years I’ve been just about every colour of the rainbow. I’ve used several different brands of semi-permanent veggie-based dyes, all with quite mixed results. So naturally, when we got the new Live XXL Ultra Brights range in, I was very excited! There are 6 colours to choose from at present, they have a bright red, hot pink, dark pink, purple, orange and blue. I’ve have red hair for some time now and fancied a bit of a change, so I volunteered to be a guinea pig for the ‘Purple Punk’ dye. Here is a picture of my hair before application – it’s a pretty faded red, more so on the ends of my hair:


The instructions say to apply this to clean, damp hair, but in my experience my hair takes the colour better (particularly semi-permanents) when it is clean and dry. The box also states if you have long (past shoulder length) or thick hair, you should use two boxes. My hair is just past shoulder length but very fine, so I foolishly thought “One box will be plenty!” I was wrong; there are patches where the colour hasn’t taken fully because there just wasn’t enough dye to go round. So, word to the wise – even with fine hair, if you have hair past your shoulders, you will need more than one box. Possibly the best thing about this dye is that if you do have any left over, you can just pop the cap back on the tube and keep it for as long as you like. So no wastage!

I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy this dye is to apply. I’m used to getting the mixing bowl and brush out, donning gloves and cape like a polythene superhero and throwing newspaper all over my bathroom to protect it from looking like a crime scene when I’m finished. But when you open the box, you are greeted with a tube of dye, an instructions leaflet, a pair of gloves and 2 sachets of conditioner. So simple! I read through the instructions and did the patch test as required, all was OK, so I popped the gloves on and squeezed the dye into the palm of one hand. The consistency of this dye is a little bit like tomato puree – it’s a thick paste, which is great as it means it doesn’t run everywhere and is much easier to control. You can just splodge it on your head and work it through to the ends of your hair with your fingers.

It says to leave the dye on for 15 minutes, but I left mine on for 45. My experience is that the longer you leave this type of dye on, the better. (Don’t worry; it doesn’t contain any peroxide or ammonia, so it won’t dissolve your hair if you leave it on for a bit longer than instructed). When it came time to rinse my hair, it took about 10 full minutes for the water to run clear. Don’t be tempted to rinse your hair a bit and then leave the shower whilst your hair is still pouring purple – if you do, the colour will ‘bleed’ constantly all over everything and you will have purple running down your face when it rains or when you sweat. Consequently, you will end up with purple pillows, towels and clothes. So… rinse that hair!

Having said that, one thing I noticed about this dye compared to others I have used is that it doesn’t stain anywhere near as badly as other types of dye – it was very easy to wash off my skin where I had accidentally splodged some on my neck, and it didn’t turn my shower purple! Therein, however, lies Ultra Brights’ biggest flaw. This dye has a limited strength of pigment, therefore you will find the colour result will be minimal, if any, on darker hair. If you have already dyed hair, such as I did, the dye will only cover so much. The parts of my hair that were the most faded took the dye the best, and gave a lovely bright purple colour, whereas the top of my hair where the red was still present, gave a more pinky result. Here’s how it looked once I had dried and styled it:


As you can see, I’ve got a bit of a two-tone thing going on, but I think this would have been helped with a second tube of dye. I was impressed with how shiny the colour is and happy to see that it came with two applications of conditioner (which smells gorgeous, by the way!) Semi-permanents can sometimes be very drying to hair so it’s great that they have included conditioner in the box.

On the whole, my experience has been a positive one, although I am aware that this dye is very low on the permanency scale – the box states 6-8 washes.* My hair is quite porous at the top but not on the ends, so I’m sure I will be seeing some major fading within a few washes, sadly. It’s already faded a bit and I’ve only washed it once! Still, it’s so easy to apply that it would not be a big deal to reapply this once a week if necessary and, as it’s a paste, you could even try mixing a little with your conditioner or shampoo to use as a top-up treatment each time you wash.


  • Easy to apply
  • Bold, shiny colour
  • Doesn’t stain as badly as other dyes
  • Comes with conditioner


  • Will only take on bleached/light hair
  • Colour fades within a few washes

Rating: 4/5

Express Chemist

Purple Punk and the rest of the Live XXL Ultra Brights range are available to buy from for £5.49 each.

* Do be aware that as with all semi-permanent colours, it can ‘stain’ hair. There is no guarantee you will get back to your original colour after using one.

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6 Responses to Review: Live XXL Ultra Brights ‘Purple Punk’

  1. OK, so I am an American…I have no hair…if I had hair it would be gray…and I’m not a big fan of anything “punk.” BUT, I have to say your hair with the new color looks pretty dang cool! And that comes from an old guy with no style.;-)

  2. Elle says:

    Did you achieve that colour without bleach? It’s beautiful! Just don’t want to bleach my hair!

  3. Jayde says:

    Thank you so much for this post, it helped me make the decision to use ultra brights 🙂
    I was a lil scared it wouldn’t turn out because I bleached my hair and it was an orange, I’m still waiting to wash it out, but it seems to be working 🙂
    Thanks heaps xoxo

  4. Niamh Mac Donough says:

    My mom bought me this dye a few days ago and I’ve been very hesitant to dye it (I’ve only used wash in-wash out dyes that last 3-5 washes.) but after seeing this and how amazing it turned out on you, I’m going to dye my hair this colour for sure, even though I wont get the same results since mt hair is a gingery-blonde colour naturally.
    Thank you so much for posting this review, it’s been a big help and you’re also very pretty! c:

  5. JC says:

    I used this brand last night shade pillar box red. Interesting to see you left the color on longer. I just did it for 30 minutes as ends are fairer I had to take this into consideration. My hair is naturally a dirty blonde these das with fairer ends. I do like the way they give the hair a healthy shine. Your hair looked nice before and nice now.

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