Becoming a Redhead Bombshell On a Budget

The one thing I receive the most compliments on is by far my red hair; it attracts quite a bit of attention wherever I go. It is always with great pride that I am able to respond, “I do it myself!”. This definitely shocks most and even more so when going to the salon for other services, the stylists are raving. One even said to me “don’t tell people, this might put us out of a job”. Well that is definitely not my intention nor why I started coloring my hair at home. When times got tough financially, I had to make difficult decisions and going to the salon on a bi-monthly basis was the first thing to go but giving up being a redhead was not one of them. So that started my search on how to do it myself on a budget and not destroy my hair with drugstore box color.

Photo by: Dana Brushette Photography

Photo by: Dana Brushette Photography

The very first step is to consult with your stylist or trained professional and never attempt at home color without doing so. I was thrilled to discover there was a Sally’s Beauty store in my small town which carried wonderful products available to the public. At least at my location, the employees are licensed hair stylist and able to provide educated information to their customers. I explained to the clerk that I had never done my own color and hoping to achieve  bright red with no pre-lightening or bleaching (something best left to the pro’s). She showed me a line by L’Oreal (L’Oreal Excellence HiColor) which is designed for medium to dark hair and will lift hair 3-4 levels (Note: your hair has to be virgin to lift the 3-4 level and won’t work as well on dyed hair). I decided this was definitely worth trying.

Available at Sally's.

Available at Sally’s.

Color selection all depends what shade you are looking to achieve. The L’Oreal is available in coppers to red hot shades. Personally I’ve tried them all and really love the Red Hot for a true deep red. To achieve a more vibrant red, I mix it with the L’Oreal Hicolor Red Hilights which is designed for highlights. If you are planning to mix products, be sure to stick to the same brand. I’ve tried several combinations in this line and never been disappointed.

The next step was to find the right developer to mix with the L’Oreal color. Sally’s recommended a cream developer as it’s definitely easier to work with since it drips much less. As for the level of developer, please consult with a professional as this all depends on your hair type. For me, I use a 30 Volume to get the brightness  you see in my photos. The higher the Volume, the more strain it puts on your hair so please be careful. The clerk then directed me on the accessories recommended/required for application: mixing bowl, wide tint brush, measuring beaker, black gloves, stain remover(great for reds or dark colors), hair clips, after care conditioners, etc. Don’t cheap out on these items, good tools make application much easier.

Purchase good quality tools.

Purchase good quality tools.

On how to apply color, please follow the instructions on the package and make sure you test it on your skin before applying. A lot of people have skin sensitivities and it can lead to serious damage if you don’t complete a patch test first. Also, reds are very messy as the dye will stain anything it comes in contact with. Wear old clothes, cover your floor/surrounding area, and have paper towels/rags ready for any spills. A personal trick to prevent staining on my hairline is applying a thin layer of Vaseline all the way around, including my ears. This is a life saver and works like a charm. Use old towels to dry your hair as the color will bleed each time you wash it. Be warned, don’t use white or light colored towels.

Color approx. 3 weeks after application.

Color approx. 3 weeks after application.

Also bear in mind, if you have long hair you will need to by more tubes of color. The last thing you want to happen is running out of color mid application. It’s always best to have too much then not enough. Currently, I use 2.5 boxes of color and consume it to the very last drop. To keep the cost low, Sally’s has “buy one get one” sales which will allows you to stock up at a great price. If you decide to change shades, they will exchange any unopened tubes of color. If you plan to continue with this, I definitely recommend signing up for Sally’s members card for $5. This gets you special pricing on everything you purchase for one year.

After coloring, proper haircare is essential to making your red last. First things first, DO NOT WASH IT EVERYDAY! This was the biggest hurdle for me as I was a daily washer and couldn’t overcome fear of oily feeling hair. Trust me when I say, your hair will be less oily if you wash it once every 2-3 days but there is a transition period. Buy a good after color conditioner/hair mask to add in moisture to avoid long term damage. I use Proclaim Argan Oil Intense Hydrating Masque from Sally’s immediately after coloring. When it comes to color shampoos and conditioners, I have yet to find one that works well and doesn’t leave my hair dirty/greasy as they are made not to lather (lather strips color). The key is not to wash often and keeping your hair hydrated. This should help keep your original color from fading for approximately 4+ weeks.

Hair Mask Conditioner

Hair Mask Conditioner

As I mentioned, before attempting home color make sure you consult with a trained professional as this is not for everyone. Application takes time, practice and most of all…patience!

12 thoughts on “Becoming a Redhead Bombshell On a Budget

  1. I’ve been following almost the exact same routine for nearly six years and I can back her up! The only difference is that I use Ion’s Medium Intense Red Blonde (odd name as it’s not blonde at all but comes out just slightly darker than the shade pictured above.) and I only wash my hair once a week unless I have a particularly sweaty day or get stuck next to a smoker. Luckily, my hair doesn’t really get greasy otherwise. I’m also still searching for that perfect shampoo and conditioner so if anyone else can recommend a miracle product, dooo tell!

    • HAIR ONE , from the sally store, its a cleaning conditioner. i love it. i colour my hair red with a blue/purple undercut and my colours dont fade. i used it when i was on vaca and swam in the ocean and no fade. i only wash 2-3 times a week.

  2. Thank you for all the details! I’ve heard good things about the L’Oreal line, just never tried it. My favorite shampoo/conditioner line is actually from L’Oreal– L’Oreal Everpure. L’Oreal makes the expensive but awesome sulfate-free Pureology brand, Everpure is it’s cheaper cousin. I used Ion, 7RR Intense Red back when I was a redhead. I am about to start dying again, I was red red for years and then I went through a Manic Panic phase that ended with me cutting everything off 😦 But I am looking for a new color combo or even looking at a new line like L’Oreal, Ion left me looking pretty brassy sometimes

  3. I use Special Effects on my hair without bleaching and its so bright, and stays in for quite a while which leaves me to wash every day still. (I tried to leave it a day but just couldn’t.) I just need to keep up getting it trimmed every six weeks, I’m really bad at that, I hate hairdressers so now my mum trims it 🙂 she hates it, especially after the whole “cutting all my hair off” episode.

  4. Have you ladies ever tried Chaz Dean’s WEN?? It’s the best. Keeps your color from fading and bleeding. And it keeps you from ruining light colored towels. I swear by the stuff. When my hair was platinum blonde up top and your color red underneath (which I later switched to blue-black), it saved me from having to do twice monthly touch ups. As a natural blonde, my hair doesn’t hold red very well at all unfortunately (or any color for that matter). The color would also, always bleed into my platinum blonde portion the first few days after dying it as well. That was a total nightmare trying to wash 2 sections of hair separately AND never letting them touch while wet. I accidentally tinted my blonde pink once when I first started dying my hair like that. It was terrible. But once I started using the wen, I never had those problems again. My color lasted for weeks and weeks longer, and I never ruined another towel after that. Not even immediately after dying my hair. I could dye it, rinse it, apply the wen, and then it would literally never bleed or fade. It takes a little getting used to with not sudsing up your hair with shampoo, but it truly is a really amazing product. My hair has never been so healthy and clean. Saved me a lot of money on hair dye and those special “no fade” shampoos, conditioners and other products. I think it would work amazingly on your pretty red locks!

  5. Just ordered hair colour or the third time online, saves me a lot of money(!) and after finding a brand that works and I like, I really regret not starting earlier.. I use Affinage (see YouTube for amazing results) and I co-wash – no shampoo, just conditioner. That way you don’t strip the hair 🙂 I’m looking into buying Macadamia all natural ‘Flawless’ which is both shampoo/conditioner and eases styling and blow drying 🙂
    Great post. Hugs xx

  6. I REALLY LOVE that there are so many redheads out there! Jill I’m on the fence about trying wen since a lot of reviews mention the gross heavy greasy way it leaves your hair. Mine take a lot to get clean as it’s pretty long at this point. I normally have to wash twice after going 2-3 days to get a somewhat clean feel. Plus I don’t even use styling products on a daily basis. Will look into all your suggestions, I’m open to anything at this point of finding so many useless products.

    • I have fine hair, but it’s long and I have a TON of it, so it takes me forever to wash my hair, too. The only time I got that icky, waxy feeling from Wen near my roots and scalp was when I tried a sample of the lavender/volume boosting kind. The sweet almond mint never leaves residue. I can’t stand the feeling of product in my hair for some reason. After photo shoots and stuff I can’t wait to get all of that gunk washed out of my hair.

      Speaking of sulfate-free shampoos… does anyone remember the orignal, oh so amaaaazing smelling Herbal Essence in the yellow and pink bottles from the 90’s? They finally brought back their original line of shampoo and conditioner! I bought 3 bottles of each a couple of weeks ago at CVS. Love that stuff. So glad to have it in my shower again after all these years! It’s so hard finding shampoos that are sulfate free AND easy on the wallet. I wrote the company twice when I was in college, begging them to bring back their original line of products, LOL. So glad they finally did! I’m in love all over again.

  7. Pingback: There is a Shade of Red for Every Woman | Pin Up Persuasion

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