Lately, a lot of people have been asking me about at-home hair color. Truth is, I never really know what to tell them.
Though I spent a lot of my college career coloring hair, both my own hair and my friend’s, I haven’t touched a box in years. I’d include pictures of some of the colors I did in college but, contrary to popular belief, I do have some self respect. Trust that bleach, Pravana color, and a frat house bathroom sink don’t give you the best results. Doing it blind drunk isn't always the best method either, turns out.
For the past few years, I’ve gotten my hair colored professionally over doing it myself. This is partly because I found a stylist I can trust, partly because I got money now, and mostly because my hair is always some dumb pastel shade and you’re not going to find that in the drugstores (Manic Panic never really worked wonders for me, but seeing all of the awesome colors you all [MARCI] have been doing with it lately has me all in my feelings.)
A few months back, she (and you guys, actually) revolutionized my morning routine by hitting me with a bunch of smoothie recipes to slam before Pilates to keep me powered up through class, and changed my life forever. I figured it was my turn to come through.
She had previously told me she was looking for a good stylist in Portland, where she recently moved. Picking a stylist is more important than picking a boyfriend and relationship is always more fulfilling, so I tried to help her out as best I could. We went back and forth about it a bit until she found someone he was confident with.
After she pulled the trigger and got a cut and color, the results weren’t quite what she had hoped. She was aiming to go from her dyed red back to her natural brown. The stylist told her that her natural color was too “blah,” which is a dick move (industry term) so she made her a red-brown situation.
While that color is cute as hell, it's not what she wanted.
Claire liked the color well enough, but was disappointed when it washed out in under two weeks. As we all know, getting anything done in a salon is an investment, coloring especially, so she was understandably upset when she saw all of her money go, ~literally~, down the drain.
“Are there really no good DIY options?” she asked in a text.
There are maybe one or two boxes in the drugstore that I tell people to pick up if they’re really in a pinch, but for what Claire was looking for, I suggested eSalon.
eSalon is an online company that aims to give you personalized hair color that fits your natural coloring, your lifestyle, the current color and state of your hair, and your budget.
You start by taking a survey (I love surveys) asking about your natural hair color and shade, your percentage of grays, what kinds of dyes or treatments are currently in your hair, how often you color your hair, your ethnicity, and whether you’re looking for permanent or demi-permanent color.
From there, you get to pick your desired shade to be formulated for you by a real, actual person. You can even submit a picture of your pretty face for the colorist to reference when mixing the color.
Your custom color arrives with everything you need to successfully color your hair from the comfort of your own frat house bathroom, or wherever.
It comes with color, developer, and what they call their Perfect Match Kit.
The kit includes shampoo and conditioner, two pairs of latex gloves, a stain guard, so you don’t have color marks on your forehead or behind your ears, stain remover, for when your drunk ass gets the color all over, a color brush, and personalized instructions.
In short, eSalon hooks it up.
All of this for $20.
Drugstore box colors run you, what? Anywhere from six to twelve dollars? I know I’m an elitist snob but if you’re coloring your hair with a $6 box of color, then I’m praying for you AND your hair. No good can come of that. Throw a couple more dollars at the problem and get yourself a custom shade made by a real person just for you.
After Claire and I texted back and forth for a while, I fired off an email from the front seat of my car and less then a week later, Claire had her very own custom color.
So here are the befores, where Claire's brown-red had faded to a copper:
AFTER (this is after two weeks, when the brown had lightened up a bit, as browns do):
What she ended up with is even color with life and dimension. I think it looks gorgeous.
But, how did she like it?
The ordering process was as effortless as I'd hoped, and lucky for Claire, they save your formulas! "The ordering process was super easy, and I like that your order gets saved for future reference, because there is no way I'm going to remember what I did the first time."
At first, she wasn't sure about the color, but I convinced her to hang tight.
"The color came out very dark at first, but that's pretty typical with browns, and it has now settled into a natural looking brunette that I am very happy with. It's still slightly darker than I was expecting, but only slightly."
After two weeks, the brown has lifted just a bit, just like I said it would ~*~*~*~*~* and she's very happy with the color, which makes me very happy. And is a RELIEF.
Also, Claire and I had to have some real talk about washing (and not washing) your hair. Guys, reminder, don't wash your hair every day, alright? Color treated or not. And when you are color treated, make sure you're washing and rinsing with cool water, that's one of the many things you can do to prevent color fade.
As for how the color left her hair feeling, she says "I didn't notice any significant dryness or any real change in texture after dying; it feels pretty much the same as it did before, if not a little better. (Though I am washing it less so that probably has something to do with it.)"
As for how the color is wearing, she told me "The eSalon color has barely faded at all (after two weeks!), whereas the salon color faded almost completely in the same amount of time."
My final question was: Do you plan on reordering from eSalon, recommending it to a friend, and singing my praises?
"1) The whole thing is conducted online, so I don't have to talk to anyone face-to-face, which is always nice, because once I am face-to-face with beautician types, I can pretty much be talked into doing and paying for anything, so I prefer being shielded by my monitor.
2) The cut/color I got before using eSalon (the one that faded in two weeks) cost me 170 fucking dollars and eSalon only set me back $20.
3) As I mentioned earlier, I like that eSalon remembers what I ordered last time so I don't have to.
4) I also really enjoyed the personalized instructions, because I love seeing my name on shit."
Claire's happy, so I'm happy.
How do you guys feel about at-home color? Have you tried eSalon? Tell me everything down below!
Tynan is a sage on Twitter @TynanBuck.