Hannah's Adventures In At-Home Hair Colouring

I decided to be a redhead, and I decided to do it at home. Excitement (and burning) ensued!
Publish date:
July 15, 2011
hair, hair dye, DIY, redheads, at-home, bleach

Everything I've done to my hair since I was 14, I've done at home. Haircuts, highlights, bleaching, colouring. For some reason I put more faith in my (in)capable hands than those of a professionally trained hairstylist.

I trust the side panels of hair dye boxes (even though they rarely ever predict the accurate shade I'll actually have at the end of it all). But it's always an adventure, occasionally with pleasant results.

I'd been growing tired of my hair, dark auburn with nearly black roots coming in, a cover-up shade for bright vibrant Joan from Mad Men red of last Fall/Winter (here's a photo).

I was craving being a redhead again. Redheads are feisty. Redheads get noticed! Lots of celebrities who aren't even redheads are recognized as being redheads! It's fun to be a fake ginger. I wanted that fun back.

True Blood's Deborah Ann Woll: haircolour inspiration and all-around pretty lady.

With Deborah Ann Woll's shade as inspiration (damn you, True Blood, for impacting my life choices), I headed to the drugstore. I picked up the cheapest bleaching kit I could find, and bought the dye on sale too. I'm not exactly flush with cash right now, ok ...

My home colouring kit: Garnier's 100% Color Nutrisse Intense Bleach Cream (similar product, $6.89, amazon.com) and Belle Color Dye in 75 - Light Auburn ($10.35, well.ca).

I covered the bathroom in newspaper, grabbed an old wifebeater to wear so as not to damage my precious clothes, along with my "hair dye towel" (it's a crusty old dye-stained towel I cover my shoulders with any time I dye my hair), and brushed out all my tangles to make combing the bleach through much easier.

I mixed the bleach according to the instructions and then started by applying it to my ends, seeing as they'd been dyed previously and would take the longest to lighten.

After waiting about 10 minutes I started to move on up to my roots. I slathered bleach all over my gloved hands and massaged it into the back of my scalp, hoping for even coverage. After all was good and soaked, I tied a plastic bag around my head (cute & classy) and waited. It burned a little bit, but whatever.

During this time I also bleached my eyebrows for about 10 minutes with the help of a favourite of both Cat and myself - good ol' Jolen creme bleach!

After about an hour, or an hour and fifteen minutes, I didn't really keep track (I told you I'm not a professional hairdresser!), I decided to rinse it out. I used the included conditioner, plus a bit of this L'Oreal stuff for about 5 minutes to try and soothe some of the damage I'd just done.

My hair was officially a gross colour. It was yellow at the roots, bright sunshine yellow, the shade on girls who want to be blondes but don't care about toning it or whether or not it looks natural. Then the rest of my hair was orange. It was REALLY NIIIIICE. I tried not to look at it and went to bed so my hair could dry and be well-rested for round two the following morning.

The next morning, I woke up with my messy multi-coloured mop, determined to be a uniform shade of ginger. I pulled on my spiffy powdered rubber gloves and got to mixing again. This time I started at my roots and HOLY SMOKES it burned. Like 10 times worse than the bleach.

It was probably because my scalp was left sensitive, aching for some TLC. Sorry scalp, Tuesday, July 12th was not your day! Oh well, after a few minutes the burning subsided and again I massaged all the dye in like I was in a fancy shampoo commercial.

Again I kind of just let the dye sit for however long while I checked my e-mail. Thank goodness for plastic bags, standing in as impromptu shower caps and preventing dye from dripping all over the place. I probably could have gone clothes shopping and not gotten dye anywhere. And people would have thought I looked really stylish, too.

Now it was time for the big reveal. I rinsed 'til the water ran relatively clear, conditioned like it was going out of style, and then let my hair air dry. I looked in the mirror after a bit and finally, with some styling product and the help of my straightening iron, I thought I looked OK. The results?

My personal thoughts? First I was thinking, "Wait, it actually turned out like the colour on the box! That is not normal!" Then: "Ahhh I really don't like it, but I also sort of do!"

I ended up going out for a reunion dinner with the cast of a play I was in a few months back, and they all seemed to like it. And the waitress at the bar we were dining at gave me a very enthusiastic compliment, so my confidence began to build. Still, I went to the drugstore afterwards and bought a darker dye.

But when I got home and laid out all that newspaper all over again, I realized I wanted to stick it out with the light red. And so I am (for now), and I love it a lot. Even though my roots are already starting to come in two days later (really, hair, really? Who do you think you are, a Chia pet?) Anyway ... I hope you enjoyed following me on this exciting adventure.

Now tell me about your own personal at-home hair colouring experiences. I want to hear horror stories, and I want to see pictures of beautiful jobs-gone-right.