Friday, January 14, 2011

To Dye For

It's time to dye my hair again! The danged roots are showing at my temples and in my (sort-of)part, and it's been around 5-6 weeks, so here we go. Inspired by Terri's post on being a redhead over at RAGS against the MACHINE, I thought I'd share my dyeing experiences with you.

I've been colouring my hair some shade of red for about 22 years (with a few ventures back into my natural brown when I was in my 20s). Except for one treat, I've always done it myself.

First off, I change into my hair-dyeing clothes:
The yellow tee is from when I was heavier - I have been using it for colouring my hair for about 4 years (I also painted in it when we renovated our living room/dining room/hallway back in 2009). The jeans are one of my wear-around-the-house pairs (I never wear them in public), and I've got my standard thick socks on. Stylin'!

This time around, I bought Feria's "Ruby Fusion" which says it's a dark rich auburn.
I also like L'Oreal, L'Image or any other brand that does a really vibrant red. 'Cause reds FADE, and I mean they REALLY fade fast. Washing, sun and just the impermanence of the red dye. However, I've learned to work with this: I call it the Dye Cycle.

You start with the super bright red, then after a week it fades out to a natural-looking red (a lot of people think I'm a natural redhead, or so they lie to me, heh), then it starts getting blonde highlights. It's like having a different colour every week.

I have unwashed hair to start with (nice bedhead, Sheila).
No make-up on either. I don't put anything on my skin to protect it from the dye because I have super-oily skin and the dye doesn't take over top of the oil. If you have dry skin, a smear of Vaseline around the edges of your hairline and on your ears (must get the ears!) would keep the blotches away.

This is a good reason why you shouldn't dye your hair the night of an event. A couple of days before is optimal.

I have tried putting a towel down on my bathroom counter, but it's messy.
My countertop is marble anyway - it doesn't colour. Neither does the sink. I do keep some paper towels handy in case of drops flying off.

I am very bad about droplets. Depending on the colour I use (and I change my colour up constantly), sometimes you can't see a drop when it gloops until the colour develops. Sometimes, you drop the bottle of colour, like I did here:
I wiped those up right away, but the dye is pernicious!

After I mix up the colour, I go around my temples and hairline at the front first, then do my part/crown at the back of my head:
I draw a line of colour with the tip of the colour bottle, then schmoosh it a bit with my finger (like the pros using their brushes to put on colour). I keep my glasses on for as long as I can - otherwise I can't see!

Then I make parts with the tip of the bottle, starting from the front to back - and then I draw the colour back to the front of my head, and then schmoosh it in with my fingers. Nice faux-hawk. I only do the roots and don't bother with the ends until later.

I have to take my glasses off to do the sides/temples, and I have to use the mirror on the back of the door (installed for this purpose, and so that I can do my make-up):
I then do the back of my head, including the area behind my ears, right up to the crown.
Now, everything's done except for the long bits at the top of my head. If I didn't do them, I'd have weird-looking blondish tips.

All done!
I gently rub all the dye in until I have a slick "helmet". At this point, I kill 25 minutes until the colour is developed.

This is always the freaky part:
Whatever shade of red you do, your developed colour will be either purple or a blackish burgundy. Zoiks!

A good rinse in the shower, a bit of Frizz-Ease, and voila:
A nice rich dark auburn, as promised.

All the roots are nicely taken care of:
And it's that simple!


  1. I am really impressed, Sheila! I've done my hair a few times, but now with the grey, I'm a bit worried it won't cover. I have a friend who does her hair (blond) and it is fried on the ends, and looks awful. I'm afraid! Permanent color, right? Paula

  2. I have about 50% grey, Paula, so yes, I always use permanent. When my hair was longer, I did have some problems with dryness on the ends, but I try to mitigate that with a good conditioner, once-a-week intense conditioners, and limiting my blow-drying as much as I can. I also get my hair cut every 6 weeks to keep it healthy.

    Blonde is really tough on your hair as it involves stripping your hair of colour first, then dyeing the blonde over top of it.

  3. It's time for me to dye mine again and I'm wishing it was still as short as yours! As it's gotten longer I've had to rope hubby into assisting. Yours looks like a quick job! And I love your bathroom countertop.

  4. Looks fabulous! I actually used that color on my hair last time. I found it too dark for me, but the store has been out of my 44 Paint the Town Herbal Essence dye. Yours came out a lot more red than mine did!

  5. Freeda, I've always done it myself (even when I had quite long hair). Mine is pretty quick, though, it's true. Thanks! The countertop/sink combo are from Home Depot!

    Thanks, Megan! My hair takes dye really well. I'm going to look for that Herbal Essence colour.

  6. Sheila--I am deeply indebted for this post. You have broken it down into such simple steps that I actually think I could do it. Do you ever panic/worry as the "helmet" color develops? One reason I haven't colored before is because of the fried appearance Paula mentions, but yours looks really healthy. But as you have replied, I'm wondering if I shouldn't wait to color until I have achieved the length I want. (I probably have 6 months to go)--so I can follow up with regular trims.

    I wonder if I had longer hair, would it require more dye?

  7. That brings back memories... my mom always used (uses?) L'Oreal, and has been dying her totally gray head since I was a preschool fashionista....

    To hear Mom tell it, I was a preschool nudist... but that's a tale for another time....

    I have zero confidence in my ability to get it right, and go to a pro. Not to cover grey... I don't have enough to care about. Just that my ends lighten so much over time, I have long hair... and eventually it looks like an overdue dye job anyway.

    I couldn't tell you weren't a natural redhead at some point in your life... good on you!

  8. No problem, Terri! Seeing the purple (when you do a more orangey-red) can be a little frightening the first time, but it's okay. You do get used to it.

    My hair is super-fine and prone to breakage - colouring actually plumps it up a lot and it feels wonderful for the first few days. That's when I have to really make sure I protect it (especially in the summer).

    I think it really depends on your own hair, Terri - take longer periods between colourings (like, 8 weeks), or wait until your hair is longer. If you have hair longer than shoulder-length, yes, you might need another box of colour (I don't use the entire bottle on my hair because it's so short).

    'Doll, ha, that's hilarious. You definitely need to share that story! Colouring is really not that scary, and once you've done it a few times, it's much easier. I just can't stomach paying well over $100 to have someone else take more than 2 hours to colour it - and it grows out just the same!

  9. Sweet technique Sheila. My hair dye has been sitting in my bathroom for a week. You have inspired my to dye my hair tonight. Good bye 50% grey hair, hello chestnut. Thanks for the post.

  10. What a lovely shade of red, Sheila!

  11. Thanks for sharing this. How do you manage to look so cute while dying your hair? I remember having fun experimenting with color in high school, but my complexion reacts really poorly outside a really narrow range of colors. I did once have purple streaks (and felt like a bad a$$, but probably didn't look like one). I dyed over the streaks with blue-black and I looked really weird (figured out my hair was not blue black the hard way).

  12. That is a really pretty shade of auburn. I used to color my hair a lot, but for the last few years I've just let it be. I'm starting to get torn now with the gray creeping in.

  13. How often do you do it Sheila?

    I'm a big fan of the vaseline trick, and smear big globs of it round my hairline and on my ears - so attractive lol!

    Mine's currently "Black Cherry", and I'm loving it - I'm still working with a semi permanent, but I'm getting to the stage where I'm about 50% grey, so maybe a permanent would be better for coverage, although I quite like the natural highlighted look you get a couple of weeks in, as the colour fades on the grey bits faster (and mine is patchy - naturally I look like a badger lol!) and as I don't really have a parting it's not so much of an issue - until I have it cut!

  14. Ah, so familiar!!!! I did red ages ago, tho my hair is naturally very dark, so it had to be bleached like crazy first. Which was even worse when the red faded fast, ew. Black is easier to maintain bec it's so close to my natural color -- at this point, it's mostly covering grey & adding shine. But it feels sooooo much better when it's done!

  15. Thanks, SU! Get on that colour, girl!

    Hi, Arya, thanks for commenting - and for the kind compliment!

    Rad, lol, cute? You're too sweet. If you have red-black hair, I bet it would look wicked with burgundy or even hot pink highlights.

    Thanks, Alison! My hair is so grey, it looks really mousy without colour - and that's just not me!

    Tat, I do it every 5-6 weeks, depending on how bad my roots look (and how lazy I'm feeling!). I love the colour of your hair - I get highlights in mine where the grey is really shiny, and it does go quite blonde in the summer with the sun.

    Trystan, you suit black so much! My natural hair colour is a medium brown, but I look fine in most shades of red to reddy-blonde (I was a strawberry blonde as a very young girl). I love the feel when it's fresh-dyed too!

  16. When I was in college, I once colored my hair pitch-black in the shower. Bits of me were black for quite a while!

  17. Your hair looks great, Sheila! Do you always use drugstore dyes? I dye my daughter's (super-long, super-think,OY!)hair red for her, and we've discovered that the "professional" brands from the beauty supply last much longer for her.

  18. Yikes, Wendy, that sounds scary! I once went black (by accident, was trying to go dark brown) and I looked seriously ill.

    Hi, Christa, thanks for commenting! Yes, I always use drugstore dyes - it would probably be a good idea to buy professional brands, but I'm lazy and cheap. :)


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