A Guide to Dyeing and Staying Red. Cons, Tips, and Why it'll Cost You.
April marks the one year anniversary since the day I decided to transition from a pastel purple to a full on red head. I've tried a lot of colours in these last three years (picture referenced below), but the one colour I stayed committed to the longest - yes one year is considered long in my books - is definitely red. Once I went red, I knew this was the colour for me, and to be honest I find it hard seeing myself transitioning to anything else at this point because I just feel like red is me. With that being said, there is so much maintenance and points you need to know/consider before even making the switch to red because there's a lot of work if you want it to look [consistently] presentable. Today I'll be going through some of the cons with going red, money aspects you should be aware of, as well as some tips on how to maintain the colour.
!YOU NEED TO KNOW!
As with all crazy colours, they're eventually going to fade. But did you know that RED is the fastest colour to fade? It actually comes down to a science, as larger molecules in the red coloured dye are less likely to attach to your cuticles. In addition, it's also one of the colours that don't fade out pretty. Depending on the shade of red you went with, it'll either fade out to a burnt orange or dirty brown. Definitely not the look you were going for.
Now with that being said, the extremity of how badly the colour fades is also strongly dependent on the base colour you dyed it on. If you bleached your hair to a nice bright blonde/white, the fade is going to be unbelievably crazy. If your base was dark to begin with, the fade would not be too noticable - granted your red would have been more of a red tint than a true red colour.
Here is an example of what this mean. In the picture here, you can see it badly split between the two shades of red. The top half of my hair was black transitioning to red, whereas the bottom half of my hair was a bleached blonde transitioning to red. Despite this, when I apply semi permanent colour to my hair, the colour will look completely blended and unified. The difference is more noticeable after every wash... until it looks like this - which is the worse case scenario because I rarely ever let my hair fade this much.
[How to Stop the Fading]
It's nearly impossible to stop the fading altogether, but I do have some tips to help slow down the process.
1) Wash your hair in cold water. Have you seen videos comparing dyed hair being washed in cold and hot water? The cup showcasing the cold water was significantly less vibrant than the cup containing the hot water. It may not seem like a big difference from one wash, but the amount of colour you lose each time will add up. Personally, I can't push myself to wash my hair in cold water because I absolutely hate it, so I religiously follow tip number two, which can be very costly over time.
2) Revamp the colour with Semi Permanent dye every 2-3 weeks. Semi Permanent dyes are great for three reasons: They bring your hair colour back to life. They make great hair mask. They don't do any sort of damage to your hair. The two brands I'm mostly familiar with is Manic Panic and Arctic Fox. Manic Panic is better in terms of staying power if you don't mind the mess, crazy stains, odd smell and slightly higher price tag.
Arctic Fox doesn't stay on nearly as great. BUT they come in bigger bottles for less $$, smells great (the red colours smells like grapes - not a fan of the black though), and aren't as staining.
With that being said you're looking at spending $15-20 every month just to maintain the colour, and that doesn't account for the time you take every two weeks to apply the colour and wait (1-2 hours) each time.
Going red has it's drawback, and the stains are one of them. White is not your friend when it comes to having red hair. In the process of dyeing your hair red / revamping the colour with semi permanent dye, you're going to make a mess. It's unavoidable. The first big stain you're going to experience will be the first time you wash off the dye. You are likely going to stain your bathtub - be sure to rub off the colour immediately after you finish your shower otherwise it might stain permanently. The water will run red each time you wash your hair, but the stains will be less severe after every wash. Note, don't ever leave clothes lying around in the shower in case you were planning to hand wash them - they'll turn pink.
Outside of the bathroom, you're also going to notice stains on the neckline of your clothes, pillowcases and towels (as shown in the photo below). If they end up staining to the point of no return, you just have to get rid of it. That's a lot of ruined clothes and $$$.
There's really no tips I can give you for this one, it's just something you have to live with. I could suggest switching to darker pillow cases and towels to hide the colour transfer a little better. Another useful tip is to make sure your hair is fully dried before putting on any clothes to avoid any droplets of red.
[Roots Growing Back]
All good things must come to an end. As with anyone who's dyed their hair before would know, roots growing out can be such a hassle. Especially if you're trying to be consistent about it, you're forking over a lot of money every two months just to maintain it. When I was blonde I use to get my hair done every two months and I was putting down $80 every session. Doing your hair on your own may sound scary, but it doesn't always have to be. I found a great product that only requires one step and works like a dream. L'Oreal HiLite is a box dye that instantly turns my virgin black hair into a bright red from just mixing the bottle with 1/4 cup of bleach. The colour I use is Magenta. I previously wrote a in depth blog post about this very product so take a look for a detailed account on this here.
Unless you're willing to get your roots done every two months, this kit is cheap solution to staying and maintaining red. I buy bulks of this on Amazon when it goes on sale for $4USD. You're spending $4 every two months to get your roots done, which is practically priceless if you're doing it in the comfort of your own home. Below is an image of my root growth after two months.
[Breaking up with Red]
When the time comes, and you've decided it's time to part ways with your red locks, you're going to run into your last and biggest problem from going red. Red may be the fastest colour to fade, but it's also ironically the hardest colour to remove.
If you plan on going lighter than the shade of red you currently have, you're going to have to put the health of your hair on the line. To remove the colour you're going to have to bleach your hair until the red tone is completely gone - and trust me it's stubborn. When I transitioned from bright purple/fuchsia to platinum blonde I was surprised by how well the colour stayed. I was only able to fully go blonde after the fourth session of getting my hair done, and by that point my hair was SO brittle that four inches naturally broke off, leaving my ends looking chewed up and uneven. Below is a picture of my black/purple hair turning into a blonde/pink during the first bleaching session. I know it's not exactly an example of going lighter from red, but it should give you an idea.
Lucky for you if you plan on going darker, you could just dye over the red base, but be warned, your colour outcome will be warmer than what you may be going for.
So there is it. A guide on what to expect when going red! It's important to consider all aspects of what you're getting into when switching hair colour including the cons. Let me know if you currently have red hair and how you've been dealing with the maintenance, or if you're considering making the switch and your thoughts on it below !