Adventures in Beauty: The Quest for Ginger-ness

Lately, I have been really into makeup. Particularly bright red lipstick. But this post isn’t about makeup. It’s about hair. A few days ago, I became obsessed with the idea of dyeing my hair red. This idea came in the hair aisle at Wal-Mart. And because I have very little in the way of self-restraint when I am grocery shopping alone (it is a very dangerous thing, I swear), I ended up picking up a bottle of bright auburn. Or maybe it was medium auburn. I’m not entirely sure.

Anyway, it didn’t work. See, I dyed my hair black in October for my Tsubaki cosplay. Not only that, but I have been dyeing my hair either black or dark brown for years. And I have been trying to grow my hair out, so cutting it and starting from scratch wasn’t an option. I basically forgot that you can’t dye hair a lighter color without doing something else (probably damaging) to it first.

It was at this point that I actually began researching things. I found a lot of cool youtubers through this, and I discovered that I really hate SEO crap. It makes for terrible articles that don’t actually say anything, and that is incredibly annoying. That aside, there’s a lot of info out there, and after a while it begins to all look alike really when it comes to lightening hair. Corporate sites and hairdressers all claim that you have to visit a hairdresser. I considered the idea, but I haven’t seen a salon chair in over 5 years when I realized that my hair (curls, so many curls) is pretty much impossible to screw up whether cutting or dyeing. The curls alone make everything look good.

Once I decided to do it on my own (as always), I had to figure out how to go about lightening it. Of course, rather than actually focus on this, I spent hours agonizing over what color of red I should actually do. I wanted something natural, and I love the coppery, gingery look. But would it be ok with my skin tone? Because the other repetitive advice I heard was that you have to match a color to your skin tone. Makes sense, I suppose. But at this point, basically everything differed. Nothing I read seemed to actually agree on the whole warm vs. cool thing. Or yellow vs. pink thing. Or maybe my skin is just weird. Because while my veins look more blue than green, and I look better in silver than gold (I think so anyway), my skin has a very distinctive olive-y note and my eyes have gold flecks. Am I one of the rare neutrals? I doubt it.

So, in characteristic me fashion, I stopped by Walgreens after work, picked up a L’Oreal Color Removal kit and a light auburn home dye kit. A note about the color remover: it works dandy, but no matter how long your hair is, you will need two bottles if you want good results. I found tons of reviews telling me this as the product was sitting in my hair, but the information really wasn’t relevant by that point. So, not knowing this beforehand, I got one bottle, and my hair ended up like this:

Bonus: this is what happens to my hair when I brush it while dry. I look like Magenta from Rocky Horror.

Bonus: this is what happens to my hair when I brush it while dry. I look like Magenta from Rocky Horror.

So, yeah, not really light enough for what I want, though the picture is somewhat darker than the real-life result. So, I ran to Wal-Mart (Walgreens was waaaayy higher priced than I wanted to do again), and of course, they didn’t have the same product in stock. But, way at the bottom of the rack, there was a beat-up box of Color Oops Hair Color Remover. I thought, “might as well”, and I took the poor thing home. Of course, you need dry hair for this sort of thing, and guess who doesn’t own a hair dryer? Luckily, I have two wonderful friends a couple buildings over in my complex, so I was able to finangle away one of theirs for the evening. They’re such lovely ladies.

So, product number two for color removal. First note: it smells god awful. I really want to put a candle in the bathroom to help clear out the smell, but I’m actually terrified that an open flame might cause an explosion. It smells like straight up chemicals in there. Note two: quantity of product did not appear to be a problem, though it was hard to say for sure as it goes onto hair completely clear. Final note: This required me to take the longest shower of my life. I learned how to shave my legs while somehow keeping my head directly under the faucet, which is NOT easy because the instructions told me to rinse my hair for 15-20 minutes. ???? I feel that I have harmed the planet with my inordinately high water usage tonight. Also, the hot water in my apartment is finite, so I discovered too that cold showers blow.

Anyway, end result was this:



Again, the picture is darker than the reality, but as you can see, it came out much lighter. There were still some dark patches, but just on the underside. I apparently was not as thorough as I thought with the application. I generally only style my hair a couple of different ways anyway, so it is unlikely to show. Also, this wasn’t the final step. The next step: re-dye! It’s a good thing my hair was so healthy to begin with because otherwise I think this process would have annihilated it. Being a curly-haired girl, I have to condition religiously anyway, so none of this had much effect on it. It probably helped that I used my fairly heavy-duty conditioner after each step, though.

For the dye, I chose L’Oréal Excellence Creme in Light Auburn. It was the only decent-looking red on the shelf when I bought the color remover. I didn’t want anything too dark because then why go to all this trouble? I did have some reservations about it being all wrong for my skin (see above dilemma over my skin tone), but I figured, what the heck, I can always dye over it in a couple of days if I hate it. Hair dyeing is really about the experience for me anyway. It’s what I do when I’m bored; though unlike in high school where that meant ending up with blue, pink, and purple in my hair (sometimes individually, sometimes all together), I have a real job so it means trying to make my hair look semi-natural.

And thus after a winding journey full of spontaneous purchases and way too much time in the shower, I present my new hair color:

Final Result

Final Result

Well, it’s not quite the dramatic change I was hoping for. In the real world, there’s a slight red tint, but ultimately, my hair is pretty much still brown. Le sigh. At least It’s not black anymore.

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