Oh Hello, I'm A Redhead Again

Here's how I made the at-home journey into gingerhood as painless as possible.
Publish date:
January 27, 2016
hair dye, red hair, diy beauty, bleach

So, I'm a redhead again. Yep, again. I've taken the plunge into gingerhood before (major xoThrowback there), and after re-watching David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth recently, I felt my love for flame-red hair ignite once again.

Through the many times I've bleached, dyed, and maintained a red at-home dye job, I've learned a few important lessons, all of which I put into practice this time around. I will say that this took many years of trial and error. In fact, the very first time I went red (sometime around 2010, I think) it was the result of a messy attempt to go blonde.

I'd bleached my hair into an unattractive lump of yellowy frizz and threw some red dye on in a cover-up job. I fell in love with the copper hue on my complexion, but mistakes had to be made to get to that point. Ain't that always the story with at-home color?

But before I even did anything, I made sure the bleach wasn't intensely damaging and squeezed a bit of Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Conditioner, an intensely nourishing and creamy conditioner for damaged hair, into the mixture bottle. This thinned out the formula so I could leave the bleach on longer while also cutting the harshness and giving me a bit of hair insurance.

One of the key things I did this time around was properly timing the bleach (I used Garnier's D+ Extra Bleach). I know from prior experience (and science) that the hair near the roots will lighten the fastest as the heat from your scalp causes the bleach to work faster so I made sure to apply bleach to the lower 3/4's of my hair first and left that for 35 minutes before even thinking about going near my roots or hairline.

During this process, I also squeezed some bleach onto a Q-tip and applied it to my brows. A redhead with pitch black brows is just a bit too off-putting, and I knew that if I wanted things to look natural, I'd need my brows to be lightened. I left that mixture on for about 20 minutes before tissuing off and was left with golden brows that make me feel a bit alien-esque.

Once the 35 minutes had passed, I applied the remaining bleach to the rest of my hair, focusing on the roots and hairline and freshening up the application on the ends of my hair as well. Once everything was fully coated, I wrapped my hair in a plastic bag turban and sat around waiting and eating popcorn leftover from the previous night's IMAX viewing of The Revenant.After another 30 minutes, I checked my hair. It had reached the expected level of lift — I wasn't looking to achieve blonde status, I just wanted enough of the darkness removed from my hair so that I could apply the red — for the dye (L'Oreal Superior Preference RR07 Intense Red Copper) to actually show up. After rinsing, working in some conditioner and rinsing again, I was left with hair the color of a sort-of-old penny (and no eyebrows, of course).

After toweling off my wet hair, I sprayed some milk_shake Incredible Milk into the palms of my hands and worked it through the lengths of my hair, because I'm very serious about keeping frizz and damage away. Incredible Milk is one of my all-time favorite reparative hair products. It not only smells like a mouthwatering dessert, but it smooths hair, adds shine, offers heat- and UV-protection and helps to lock in color.

I let that sink in for a bit and allowed my hair to air dry before giving it a quick blow-dry with a diffuser attachment to encourage my natural texture to come out. And hey, I was a bit surprised ...

Simply bleaching my hair had lightened to a natural, auburn shade, eerily close to what I had wanted. I was so enamored with the shade I leaned towards nixing the dye idea altogether and leaving it be.

In the end, I wound up mixing the L'Oreal Preference shade and applying it to just a few sections only — the shortest, front layers (my bangs) and a few larger sections of under-layers. I left it on for 20 minutes and — after rinsing and drying my hair — I was left with the hair I'd set out to get: David Bowie circa Low, in shades of orange-red, copper, deep auburn and blonde all mingling.

I effing love it.

It's even Snapchat-filter approved!

I also feel like my world of makeup options has opened up. Electric blue liner contrasts so wonderfully with the orange tones, and I'm already going buck wild with peach and orange-hued blushes, like NARS' Orgasm and the soft and lovely Indecent shade of Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Blush.

Am I crazy for doing this at home? Have any of you made any wild hair transformations lately? Or have you any coloring mishaps you want to vent about (I'm suddenly thinking of Anne Shirley and her green 'do)? I've got quite a few hair horror stories lingering in my past, but let's save those for another article on another day.