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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!