Friday, August 1, 2014

My Hair Color Favorites

Nothing to disclose, I purchased the product shown.

I've dyed my naturally light brown hair black for many years.  It's been red on occasion too, and extremely dark brown, but I really prefer it black.  I've used all the drugstore box brands, whatever peaked my interest at Sally's, and various professional brands at salons and purchased online and done myself.

My go to for the last few years has been Pravana ChromaSilk in Black 1N.  It's a nice dark black, no hints of blue. I always try to use a low level developer, and recently bought Pravana's Zero Lift, since I'm only depositing color.   I absolutely love it!


For the purple areas, I have to bleach my hair first.  I use a 20 volume developer, on rare occasion I've used 30 but I don't like messing with anything higher than that.  I've been using Prism Lites in Violet and after going through numerous packets I finally went and bought a tub, but the Sally's near me only had Blue.  Works as well; the package says it lightens up to 5 levels and "adds cool tones to black to medium blonde hair", while the Violet lightens up to 4 levels and "adds iridescent tones to medium brown to light blonde hair."


I've used several brands of dye over the last few years, one not pictured is Joico, which worked really well and I would use again.  I didn't have luck with the Ion Color Brilliance, it faded really fast and looked very brown with a short time, but have heard good things from others about it, particularly when mixed with magenta.  I did some strand tests with the Adore but haven't gone ahead with it yet.  Special Effects is often touted as "the best" but the purples fade much more magenta on me than I'd like, and I'm just not patient enough to deal with their distribution issues.   Don't get me wrong, it's good stuff, but when I want to dye my hair I don't want to have to scour the internet for a shade and then stock up for a possible 6 month or longer drought.  When the urge to dye hits, it hits!  I always have a couple on hand for a friend who lives on it, when we can get it.


I do love the Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids Violet, it's super vibrant and has incredible staying power in my hair. (I have a regular ChromaSilk in this pic that wasn't supposed to be there, sorry!)   I recently debated switching back to it, but I've decided to stick with the Manic Panic for now.  Although I can easily mix with the Pravana, I feel I get a bit more variety with Manic Panic's great variety of shades.  I know many people complain about MP and swear it's awful and fades really fast, but it works great on my hair.  With the Pravana, it's more of a commitment and I know once I put it in, it's not going to easily come out.  All the recent bleaching I did, the Pravana still hung in there.


I have my method:
1) bleach regrowth
2) mix up a purple shade and apply
3) pop on a plastic shower cap & sit under my Laila Ali bonnet dryer for 20 mins
4) keep shower cap & dye on for 8-10 hours
5) rinse dye out, shampoo, and condition, then allow to air dry

Yes, that's an all day event, but I get fantastic results this way.   When I rinse, the water is tinged for less than thirty seconds, and I'm completely serious.  I ought to record my next rinse out so you can see it. I've had friends over while we help each other with coloring and they're always shocked to see how quickly the water runs clear.  My hair sucks it right up.  Someone warned me that it meant my hair was over-processed and too porous,  but I don't think that's the case.  I often have people touch my hair expecting it to feel stiff or strawlike and they're always amazed at the softness.

I should add that I really don't do much else with my hair.  I will blow dry my bangs so they're not dripping in my face, and always attempt to make them flat.  They look like I've sat with the curling iron and made them all 80's poufy, but that's just cowlicks that refuse to cooperate.   I wash it every 4th day, sometimes pushing it to 5 if I'm not going anywhere.  I don't apply any other heat, curling or flat iron, although my bangs definitely benefit on the once a year I do pull out my mini flat iron.

I was using Dermorganic shampoo and conditioner, and after finally using up the huge 33.8 oz bottles about a month ago, I've switched to Pureology Strength Cure.  I'd always wanted to try their stuff, so I bought some samples on eBay and loved them.

After I bleach or color, I love using Phyrra's Pretty Little Elixir.  I'll pamper my hair, apply the Elixir and let it sit all day with a plastic shower cap (and turbie twist over that) and when I rinse it feels so luxurious.  I've used Joico K Pak but it can feel a bit heavy in my hair, whereas the Elixir doesn't.  Futurederm  (yes, that's a handy link for you) has it on sale for $15.99 right now, a great price.  I gave one bottle to a friend (I use Pravana Violet on her hair) and  she recently told me how much better her hair feels all over after using it.


There's a key thing you need to remember with all these brands is - results may vary.  And that's absolutely true.  I've heard so many "what's the best dye?" discussions over the years, and my answer is always the same: it's whatever brand works best on YOUR hair.  Manic Panic works beautifully on me, but not on some of my friends.  And I know others who can't live without Clairol Nice and Easy, but that doesn't work well on my hair.  Pravana doesn't want to come out of my hair, but I have a friend who uses it and within two weeks it's completely gone.  It's trial and error to figure out what works best for you.  I'm always willing to try other brands though, because I never know when something will work even better. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recolor with Manic Panic Violet Night, Purple Haze, Ultraviolet Mix

Nothing to disclose, I purchased products mentioned.

This is the "part two" to the '3 Weeks and a Few Test Strands Later' post from earlier, which shows my starting color and various test strands I tried before mixing up mostly Violet Night with good sized dollops of both Purple Haze and Ultraviolet.  You can also see my 'starting point' color in that post.

outside no flash, indirect light



a by the blue arrow shows an area that's a bit more berry purple, in the photos from the previous post you can see around my face is some hair that's very reddish.  I had bleached some additional hair that's underneath where the purple had been originally, and that had been 1N black.  The regrowth lightened fine, but the black only got to about a level 4.  I'll wait and see how the purple holds there.

direct sunlight


crazy bright direct sunlight


I'm very happy with this shade, and plan to keep it or something as close to it as I can, for a while.  Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 14, 2014

3 Weeks and a Few Strand Tests Later....

Nothing to disclose, I purchased items discussed.

Last I posted my hair was a "light" Violet Night, not pastel but lighter than normal, having mixed it with conditioner.  Manic Panic normally holds really well in my hair, but mixed with the conditioner, it faded fast.  Within 2 washings it was a silvery lavender shade that was absolutely gorgeous, but I didn't like it on me.  I didn't remember to take any pictures to show you, sorry.  On July 3rd I decided to remove what was in there and take the long weekend to figure out what to do next.   I had a few different brands and shades of color and wanted to do some test strands before committing to any shade.

 Really, are we back here again?



 There's a strand test or two peeking through in this one, but since I'd brushed my hair you can see the colors


First I wanted to try Adore.  I liked the idea of it - it's inexpensive, good range of colors, and easily available on eBay / Amazon, and even through a few salons within an hour of me.  I had picked up two purple shades, #113 African Violet and #116 Purple Rage.  I'd also bought #120 Black Velvet, but didn't try it this time.

I did a test strand of African Violet.  It's a blue based purple, but a bit more blue than purple on me.


I did a test strand of Purple Rage, which is a bit more berry purple.  It wasn't quite the shade I wanted.


I did a couple of mixes of the two but didn't find anything that really wow'd me.  I was also starting to wonder if I should try the Adore, simply fearing that it wouldn't fade well and I didn't want to be back at this icky blonde mess anytime in the near future.  Sorry Adore.  I've seen drool worthy pics online, I just seem to be confusing myself with all these options.

Despite having two shades of Special Effects on hand for a friend, I didn't want to bother with it.  Yeah, it's good stuff, but they've had distribution issues as far back as I can recall, and I don't like the idea of a shade I want not being available for up to 6 months at a time.   It also bleeds on me a lot more than other brands.

I thought about going back to the Pravana Chromasilk Vivids Violet.   I was 90% sure I was going to use it and then decided to stick with the Manic Panic.  I'd looked through photos from the past 18 months or so and despite loving the Pravana Violet, I felt Manic Panic gave me a greater range of shades.  

a couple of other test strands, the one on the right is Violet Night mixed with Raven (black). This was outside with flash, but inside it looked too black and not enough purple.  I forget what's on the left!



I had three purple shades, Violet Night, Purple Haze, and Ultraviolet.  Ultraviolet is a great purple that I think looks purple on me, but people would always ask about my "blue hair" so I don't use it on its own.   Purple Haze isn't quite it either, maybe a bit too warmish?  Violet Night is my favorite, but I'd really like it a bit darker.  I've mixed these shades with each other in past and no matter the ratio, I've always liked the color.

I don't have amounts for you, sorry, I just eyeballed it.  I used mostly Violet Night with large dollops of Ultraviolet and Purple Haze, about double the amount I'd normally use, because I didn't want to risk running out of the color while I was applying it. This photo was outside in bright sun.



I made sure to really saturate my hair with the color, then wrapped it up and sat under the bonnet dryer for about 25 minutes.  I rinsed it after it had been in for 8 hours.   Not to make this a big dramatic post but I'm going to put the final photos in the next post, so it's not crazy long. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Light Violet Night

Nothing to disclose, I purchased the products mentioned.

I wanted to give the lighter purple a second try, and then if it didn't work I'd return to my original plan of going darker purple.   I did a little more googling to try and figure out what would work to help remove the conditioner and protein overload as well as work with lighter shades.   I ended up washing with Malibu Goo Undoo clarifying shampoo with some baking soda mixed in.  The baking soda acted as a mild abrasive, not something you'd normally want but it did work.  I've used this mix before with a very small amount of baking soda to give my scalp a good scrubbing.  While it's generally not recommended for color treated hair, the three times I've done it were within a few days of a recolor.

I meant to pick up some conditioner but in running around trying to do too many things at once, I forgot.  I knew I had some Matrix Biolage Smooth Therapie conditioner tucked in the back of the closet, so I double checked the ingredients and didn't find anything that was recommended to avoid with pastels.  I mixed up more Manic Panic Violet Night with the Biolage, this time using 10 parts conditioner and 3 parts dye.   Advice I'd read suggested the color in the bowl should be about 2 shades darker than what you want.  I figured this color looked good.


I started to apply and could tell right away that the shampoo prior to coloring had helped, and the conditioner itself didn't seem to slip off my hair.  It was still a different consistency than dye alone, but much better than my previous mix.  I put on a shower cap, sat under my bonnet dryer for 25 minutes, then left it on for about five hours.  All in all, it turned out much better than the first attempt.  It's no where near a pastel, but this is probably the lightest shade my hair has been without counting the in between bleaching!

These pictures are the next day, the first in indirect light.  It looks much warmer here, in direct light it looks more cool.


These next few were in direct sunlight.



The next few are sort of 'close ups' where you can see the reddish pieces, which had been black a few weeks prior.  I knew they were no where near light enough for the purple.  Pardon the fact that I look a bit zombified here.



Over the next month, I plan to carefully brush on a bit more bleach on the red strands and see if I can get them to lighten up a bit more but not damage them.  If I can, I'll make them purple, shade depending on where and how much lighter.  If I can't, the inch or so closest to my scalp will stay this current color and below that will go back to black, and as it grows it'll gradually become part of the purple with more and more black getting snipped off during trims.  

I also plan to add some darker purple from about halfway down to the ends, to freshen that up as well.  And then I still have to color all the regrowth in the black areas, which hasn't been done since March.  

Thanks for looking.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hair Change of Plan and a Fail

Nothing to disclose, I purchased products mentioned.

Remember how I wanted to darken my purple?  Well, that plan took a sharp turn after everyone I know decided to love the "I'm only halfway done I still have to dye it" hair, despite the multiple colors.   In my younger days I'd make a decision and stick with it, but as I get older and trying to teach my son that the world will not end if things don't go as planned, I though, what the hell.

I googled and read a lot of different tips about pastels and light colors.   I knew the top part of my hair still wasn't light enough for pastel, but I though I could mix up a lighter shade of purple and wanted to see what would happen.  I used about 10 parts conditioner to 2 parts dye, using Manic Panic's Violet Night.  I used Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil sulfate free conditioner, which in hindsight wasn't the best choice, but more on that in a minute.

Here was my starting point



Here's the dye mix, and yes, I mixed it a bit more thoroughly before I applied it.


I applied this to the lighter areas, mainly on the top and about to the tops of my ears.   The dye seemed to slip down, the consistency was different than without the conditioner.  I had to really work it into my hair, and was not at all confident that anything would happen.  I put on a shower cap, sat under the bonnet dryer for about 30 minutes, then left it on for about four to four & a half hours before rinsing.

I let it air dry and took these pictures that evening after my hair was dry.  First was indirect sunlight.



This one was in direct sun.


You can see the dye is very light, certain areas it's no more than a tinge.  You can also see the reddish pieces of hair, those had been black not long ago and that's about as light as they're going to get at this point.   I had included a lot more of the hair that was underneath the original purple on the last couple of bleaches, since it seemed every time I redid the black it overtook more of the purple.  More on that another day as well.

So what went wrong?  Well, multiple things really.  First, pastels / very light shades aren't as easy as dark ones.  Hair really needs to be bleached far more than mine was, which I knew from the start.  It has to be bleached more evenly, because uneven patches will stick out like a sore thumb.

I'd read several tips to avoid any product with keratin, and duh, the Marc Anthony conditioner contained keratin.  Because I'd done so much to my hair over recent weeks, I'd gone a bit overboard with the pampering, and I think my hair was over conditioned / over proteined.   Usually I wash with a clarifying shampoo - Malibu Undoo Goo - the day before coloring and don't use any conditioner, but I had washed after bleaching and used an intensive moisturizer for dry / damaged hair.  Good for my hair, not good for color.

I definitely respect those of you who achieve pastel shades, because it's a lot more work than dark ones.   This was definitely a good learning experience, and I'm glad I tried.  But now, what do I want to do from here?

It seems I've turned this into another ridiculously long hair story, but at least this one doesn't end with me losing 8-10 inches of hair and having the rest multiple shades of orange and fried!  More to come, it's a work in progress.  Thanks for looking.