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!