Dyeing Naturally Red Hair

A few times a year, I get an urge to change my hair. Like, drastically change it. In the past, I’ve chopped it short, dyed it purple, added a rat tail, bleached chunks… and yes, I’ve done it all at once.

My hair now is at the longest its been since high school, I think. After daringly going for a pixie cut in college, I never let it get past my shoulders again. Short hair is super easy and spunky. I don’t normally wear many accessories (i.e. jewelry), and somehow short hair acts like an effortless accessory, doesn’t it? It looks styled and makes a statement without the painstaking updos and care required of longer hair. Plus, short lengths are great for fine hair, like mine. With short hair, I could actually get away with not showering every day and it would look even better the second day. I know people with normal-to-thick hair can go a couple days without washing, even at long lengths, and that this is supposedly healthier for your hair and scalp. But with fine hair just skimming my shoulders, if I don’t shower every day, I end up looking like a greasy band member.  I suppose there was a time I didn’t mind that look…  (Ugh, I just reminded myself of being at a show years ago when the long-haired guy in front of me performed an intense head bang – flinging rivulets of hair sweat into my face. Gaaaaaaaaaaah!)

I’ve been trying to grow my hair out, which has been difficult. Again, fine hair does not work with a clean one length cut. I need lots of layers, so many layers that what on some people might look like a full on mullet – on my head looks only “slightly edgy.” And I love pouf. I always tell my stylist to give me maximum pouf, to which she usually looks sympathetically into my eyes and says, “Your hair isn’t made to pouf.” 😦 At least not without more effort than I am willing to put in. I’ve been contemplating getting those Velcro rollers, but I don’t know if paying for those is worth the gamble that I’ll actually get up early enough to use them…

I want to keep my hair “long” and continue adding the mullet layers – yet I still really need a change. So, I’ve decided to enrich the red color. You can see from these pics that my current color a bit of a dusty red-blond, at. It’s a pretty color.  I know some people think I’m crazy for dyeing it. But it’s a little light. Plus, I think my skin and eye coloring really benefit from a richer tone, rather than a lighter one.

At first I thought I’d get it colored professionally and then I looked at my bank account (which hasn’t yet recovered from the wrecked car, plus impulsive iPad purchase) and decided I could try the color myself. Anyone with naturally red hair knows this is dangerous. Red hair acts bizarre with standard store-bought dye. You can’t predict the outcome well at all.  For starters, when you look at the side of those boxes, you know the side that has all the shades your hair might turn out, depending on lightness or darkness? Well, the chart goes from blonde to dark brown. There is no prediction for red. Many times, I’ve sought a chestnut brown… which unsuccessfully resulted in a violet red.  Actually, now that I think about it, almost every time I’ve dyed my hair, it’s turned out some shade of violet. A few times, it’s turned out reallllly orange.  Once it came out so brown I had a red-head identity crisis. I’ve rarely succeeded with at home dye. But here I am trying it again because I feel like taking a risk!

However, this time, I’m doing it a little differently. After talking with one of my friends who is knowledgeable in these things, I decided to try the professional color you can purchase at places like Sally’s. And I did some research first, especially in regards to dyeing naturally red hair. Most of the articles I read noted the first step was to match your current hair color with one of the professional swatches, paying attention to base notes. I decided to use Loreal brand because it had the largest selection of colors available at the Sally’s I went to.  Also, you can find some of the color charts online.  Basically the colors are identified from 1 – 10, 10 being the lightest. I found this color chart online, which sets things out nicely: Loreal Professional Color Chart You’ll see the different numbers are accompanied by additional limiters, which correspond to warm vs. cool tones. In the past, I’ve gone for rich reds, auburns and chestnuts – but from examining these charts and looking at my own natural hair color, I determined my natural undertones are more yellow and orange than red-brown.

Using the chart, I picked out my natural color as about an 8 (blond) with limiters G (gold) and C (copper). From what I’ve read then, I need to stick to the gold and copper base colors and simply move a few shades darker. For my target color, I picked Loreal Preference 7 (dark blonde) with C/ .4 (copper).  Since I want to go darker than my current color and I really don’t want to end up bright orange, I am going to get risky and mix in a small amount of a darker 6 – in a natural base. I say this is risky because I really have no idea what I’m doing and I’m only piecing together things I’ve read on the internet.  With these professional hair colors, you also get to pick your color creme developer, which comes in different “volumes.” Since I am going darker, rather than lighter, I chose the 20 Volume.

To recap: I am using Loreal Preference Haircolor and 20 Volume Oreor Creme Developer, purchased from Sally’s. Directions say mix 1 parts (2 oz.) liquid haircolor with 1 parts (2 oz.) creme developer. I am mixing two Loreal Preference colors at the following amounts: Burnished Copper 7.4 – 1.5 oz (or 3/4 parts) and Light Brown 6 –  .5 oz (1/4 part) You can see the exact products here: Loreal Preference Liquid-Creme Permanent Haircolor

I painted the color on with a brush (also found at Sally’s) and left the color on for a conservative 25 minutes. This is the result:

These are photos from the very next morning, with unwashed (but curled) hair. To set the color best, I didn’t want to shampoo this morning – but I had to curl it to look presentable at work. The result is okay, if a little browner and less rich than I wanted.  My hair feels soft and healthy.  It’s definitely not a drastic change, but it is a good base. It is not orange or purple! And I think you can tell the less blond/ orangey hair color compliments my skin and eyes much better.  I think I will dye it again tonight, with only the Burnished Copper, and let the dye sit for another 25 minutes. I’ll publish updated photos this weekend!


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