Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From RED to Strawberry Blond


So what do you do when you want to leave the land of RED and go to a natural light strawberry blond hair color? Well lets say it's been an interesting journey. There was a lot more info online about how to get bright red hair, not so much on how to get rid of it. Apparently I'm the only one with bright red hair who can't afford a salon visit and doesn't want to go to black. Because most people with RED hair seem to color it black afterward. And now I can understand why.

Being an untrained colorist I am naturally leery of chemicals so I thought why not try some DYI solutions first. I found lots of them online and a few that scared me less than the chemicals. (There are some really crazy ideas out there!) There were lots of recommendations to wash color-treated hair with T-gel or Head and Shoulders for two weeks to strip the color. No way. I've tried those shampoos before for dandruff issues and they really reeked havoc on my fine hair.

So I went with a DYI that seemed fairly harmless - the vitamin C + dish soap method. I found some nicely priced Vitamin C powder at Trader Joes and combined it with Joy dish soap to create a gooey paste that I generously used to wash my hair with. It was HORRIBLE! It certainly stripped out some of the RED but it also dried out my hair badly and it took HOURS to rinse all the dish soap out. The suds just wouldn't leave! I will never do that again. I might consider shampoo with Vitamin C (another DIY recipe) but dish soap will never touch my head again. EVAR!

After that I went with one of the semi-professional strippers that Sally Beauty carries, Color Fix by One n' Only. The reviews I read online were mixed, it either worked wonderfully or was horrible. Not much in-between so it was a bit of a gamble on my part but I'd already started the process of de-RED-ing so I had to do something.


I enlisted my sister's help and after one application my hair resembled nothing so much as a My Little Pony Mane. Oy. In the end we ended up doing three applications, I basically used up the product. In the end the my hair still wasn't a completely even tone but I felt the product had done all it could so instead of buying more stripper I simply colored over it.


The results were livable but it took several more coloring sessions (over the next several months as I babied my hair with long breaks between color applications and lots of conditioning treatments) before my hair was even once again.

If I had to do it all over again I would have just gone to a salon. The amount of time, money and water I used with all those processes was close to what I would have spent having my hair stripped professionally, with vastly inferior results. The only way I would do it myself again is if I was going to a darker color - bright RED to strawberry blond was too much of a contrasting transition. Ah well you live and you learn and my hair hasn't fallen out so the experiments weren't total failures!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Redheads Have More Fun

I did it - I colored my hair bright red! I don't know how long I will keep it (that dreaded maintenance!) but for now I love it!


I used L'Oreal HiColor Highlights in Red with a 20 Volume Oreor Creme.
I'm really happy with the results - yay!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Adventures in Red

I've never colored my hair. I permed it for about 8 years in my youth but other than that it's virgin hair. I've always loved my natural gingery-auburn color and figured I shouldn't mess with a good thing until I had to.

The day has come. I now have enough grey and white hairs that bother me and for some annoying reason my reddish hair has gone a bit mousey in the last couple of years. As I have several months before I have to worry about my costuming hair pieces not matching (no events until October!) this is a good time to experiment. And so opens the Pandora’s box of hair coloring...

That box has lots of options and my thought process has been along the lines of "if I'm going to go through all the effort of coloring my hair, why not do something completely different and fun?". Loving the look of the stylist in the video above (which is also interesting for pin-up hair styling techniques!) and other images of gorgeous RED hair I'm inspired to color my hair Technicolor red. Yep, I'm crazy.

So I've been doing my research. Bad news is the type of red I want requires a lot of up-keep. Good news is there is lots of info out there on how to do it (YouTube to the rescue). After debating with myself for months I finally felt confident enough that I was up to the challenge of the doing, the hassle of maintaining and the courage of pulling off such an out-there color (you don't see a lot of un-natural hair colors in my neck of the woods!)

I was more than a little freaked out about abusing my incredibly healthy hair by beaching it (needed for a true bright red) just on a whim though. I worked hard to keep my hair healthy after my early abuse of perms and I was rather proud that every time I got my hair cut someone mentioned how healthy my hair was. As much research as I did it was hard to figure out what would work for me and would cause the least amount of damage to my hair - there just isn't a lot of info out there for people with a naturally medium-ish tone, fine, virgin hair wanting to go RED. Apparently that isn't a color people go straight for after 30+ years of their natural color. See I'm crazy.

In my research I found Manic Panic, a vegetable based semi-permanent red. I decided to get my feet wet in the coloring game by trying it on my hair without bleaching to see what happened. Some virgin hair people reported getting good results without bleaching but it was unclear just how dark their hair was naturally. Still it was worth a shot! For phase one I simply used Manic Panic as a rinse. I washed my hair as usual, squeeze some of the water out, grabbed a couple of spoonfuls of Manic Panic in Rock "N" Roll Red and worked it through my hair like a conditioner. I left it on for 2-3 minutes and rinsed. It amped up my natural red nicely but not enough to get rid of my desire for RED hair to completely cover the grey.

So last night I used the Manic Panic as a dye, on my natural hair. I followed the instructions on the package, with the exception of bleaching first. The color is okay, not really the dramatic color I wanted but I was skeptical all along I could get away without bleaching or using a developer. This exercise was really a test to see how I felt about having such an un-natural color. 'Cause at this point I could go forward to the brighter Technicolor red (i.e. bleach & permanent color) or back to my natural color (without too much fuss).


The verdict? I'm ready for the real thing. It's a crazy thing to do but I like it. I'm ready for a change and want to re-invent myself a bit this year. So tomorrow I'll spring for a dramatic permanent hair color - wish me luck!