My journey to red (ish) hair

So yesterday I declared that I am past hating my hair. It’s finally getting to a stage where I think we’ve turned a metaphorical corner, and I no longer cringe in the mirror and want to pull it out of my head.

Progress.

It’s been slow going but colouring it has definitely helped.

I first pondered going red a couple of months back, in an effort to get through the god awful in between stage of dull-boring-bobbed-notgrowingfastenough hair (which is entirely my own fault as I decided to cut it all off last October). I thought it would be fairly easy. I’ve been there before. OK, so I can’t get as red as I’d like (because I’m not willing to too lazy to bleach it; the upkeep sounds too much hassle) but by using an uber-bright Schwarzkopf dye I can at least get some semblance of red colour, albeit dark.

Me, around 4 years ago

Red

As of last summer I’d been dying my hair very dark brown for a while, but the roots were fading fairly quickly whereas the ends were saturated with colour and looked black. As I wanted my hair very dark, it seemed to make sense to proceed to a black dye. I’ve been stung by this before, about 13 years where I had to grow it out (ugh) so I only ever used semi-permanent. Because, by default, it’s not permanent, right?

Hmm.

I stripped it using a Colour B4 application (which I have used successfully on previous occasions).

Colour B4

But the semi permanent seems to have worked quite literally. But only the roots were truly stripped. The other half…wasn’t. The ends seemed to have retained their darkness, although this wasn’t apparent at first. Only when I put the red colour on did the roots go dark red and the ends black. The red wasn’t bleaching out the remnants of the black.

I had reverse ombre hair.

Blaming myself for not applying a “second coat” of stripper as I had first intended, I gave my poor barnet a break for a couple of weeks (during which time I shampooed religiously with clarifying shampoo to remove any build up) before stripping it again. Twice. If you’ve ever used a colour stripper then you’ll be familiar with the time consuming, laborious and stinky process. If you haven’t – it’s a very time consuming, laborious and stinky process. It took me a whole afternoon of application, sitting with my head wrapped in a carrier bag to retain heat, rinsing, boosting, rinsing, drying and then doing the whole bloody thing again.

I’ve had more interesting Saturdays.

The good news was that this time I was 100% sure all the black was gone. I had pictorial evidence. Look! Brown! (with a hint of ginger!)

Stripped hair

Next step was to try red again.

Schwarzkopf XXL red hair dye

Schwarzkopf hair dye

Well blow me if the previously black section of my hair didn’t go dark again! Admittedly it was dark red this time, very dark red. But I was still two tone.

I sought assistance and advice from the husband – a man who has no hesitation in laughing at me when I’ve cocked up.

And he said it looked OK!

Kooky.

Almost deliberate.

And so I stuck with it.

I’ve coloured it a few more times since then and each time the ends are getting slightly redder (or I’m kidding myself). Obviously, as it’s growing, I have more “naked” hair coming through which picks up the red. So I’m not going to redye it black (toys out of the pram reaction number one) or cut it all off again (toys out out of the pram reaction number two).

I’ve come up with three conclusions following this experience. You may think that one of them would be to go to a hairdresser in future. It’s not (I still can’t get over my fear of the hairdresser).

No, my three conclusions are:

  • Don’t use black dye – even semi permanent. EVER
  • If you’re not sure whether something has worked, it’s probably best to make absolutely sure before continuing with the next course of action
  • I have far more patience and sense of humour with my hair than I ever thought possible

I can categorically guarantee that I have only taken this in good humour because it was at my own hands and not particularly expensive. If this had happened via the hands of a hairdresser and cost me oodles of pounds (which of course, technically, it wouldn’t because they’re professionals), I’d have been apoplectic with rage. Even the fact that when I wear it up in a messy bun (because it’s now long enough to do that, hurrah!) I look like I’m wearing a fake clip on because of the colour difference is just about ok.

Here’s where I am right now. It looks different in different lights, sometimes very red, sometimes not (and absolutely nothing like the box!)

Me dark red hair

It might not be quite a crowning glory. But I no longer want to walk round with my head in an opaque bucket to hide it away. So that will do for now.

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