(I've had this post saved as a draft for a couple of weeks, so blogger thinks it's an "old" post and so it still has the Disqus comment system on. I know some of you have problems with Disqus, but this should be the last post without "normal" blogger comments.)
As regular readers of The Fish Tank will know, I've had red hair for a few months now, and I get asked quite a lot of questions about it, mostly about upkeep. So, I've decided to put together a little care guide for you.
I'm not a hair expert by any means, and this guide is not meant to be the last word in dyed red hair care, but here are a few tips and tricks I've learned.
1 - Dyeing
How long do you want it for?
Before you dye your hair red, think about how much of a commitment you're willing to make to it. I dyed mine first back last May, and I always have a "to hell with it" attitude regarding my hair, so I jumped straight in with a permanent colour. Red hair has become a bit of a "trend" now, for want of a better word, so if you know you're likely to go off it again once Cheryl Cole, Rihanna and the rest have moved on (and there's nothing qrong with that), then maybe you're best off with a semi-permanent colour. Fortunately, the recent rise in popularity of red hair means that there are a lot more semi-permanent red dyes out there now than there were 6 months ago.
What type of red do you want?
If you want a mahogany red (purplish brown-red - like Cheryl Cole), or a chestnut red (more of a red-tinted brown), then dyes in those colours are easy to find in most ranges of hair dye. Brighter, more unnatural reds, (like Rihanna's current hair) or more "natural ginger" reds are more difficult to find however. For these colours it's best to look beyond Boots and Superdrug and find brands that cater to the "alternative" market. Alongside the bright blues and greens you'll find a range of bright reds, ranging from pink to orange tones. Bee Unique stocks a huge range of different brands and colours of hair dye, and has a great gallery so you can see what the colours look like, and a review section, which I found really useful. The dyes are all really affordable too. "Alternative" dyes can also easily be found on eBay, and in alternative shops, like Affleck's Palace in Manchester and the Oasis Centre in Birmingham.
If you want a very natural looking red which will work with your natural hair colour, then you could try henna, which apparently gives lovely results and leaves your hair in lovely condition. It is permanent and almost impossible to remove though, so if you want to get rid of the red then you'll have to grow it out.
Red hair dye stains like nobody's business, so cover your bathroom floor in newspaper and have old towels to hand. If you get any dye on your sink or tiles then wipe it up immediately and have a bathroom cleaner to hand to spray onto spillages to avoid stains. Make sure you rub loads of vaseline around your hairline and on your ears too, as red-stained skin is not a good look!
DO NOT leave the dye on for too long
This can be tempting, especially as red dye often takes a while to "take" properly in hair, but if you leave the dye on for too long you can end up with a dark, flat, oversaturated colour that looks rubbish. Trust me, it happened to me.
HOWEVER, when washing your red dye out, ignore the instructions that tell you to rinse until the water runs clear. Not only will this take forever with red dye, you'll end up washing most of your colour out, especially if it's the first time you're dyeing your hair red. Rinse until the water runs a paler red, then stop and dry it. Leaving a bit of dye and letting it "rest" seems to result in a better colour.
2 - Keeping the Colour
Red hair WILL run, and fade quickly
Red is the hardest colour to keep in your hair, and will fade quite quickly compared to other colours. This means it requires a bit more upkeep, which you should consider before dyeing your hair red.
It's a good idea to use old and/or dark towels every time you wash your hair, not just when you dye it, as some colour will leak out. Also, some semi-permanent dyes can rub off on your pillows at first, so bear that in mind too. And be careful of the necks of t-shirts etc if you've got wet, recently dyed hair. Some of the colour could transfer onto your clothes.
Washing your hair
Try and wash your hair as infrequently as you can get away with to avoid fading and prolong the life of your colour. When you have red hair, dry shampoo becomes your best friend!
I use a moisturising shampoo and conditioner on my hair, avoid cleansing shampoos at all costs. I'm not a big fan of shampoos and conditioners for coloured hair, as I find them too heavy and they seem to weigh my hair down and make it greasy, and don't affect my colour at all, but each to their own, you might like them.
Wash your hair in water as cold as you can stand, as this will minimise colour leakage. It's not very pleasant, but hot water can damage your hair anyway, so it's best to avoid it. (Saying that, it is winter, so I don't take my own advice on this one as much as I should!)
Keep your hair in good condition
The better the condition your hair is in, the better your colour will look. A slightly faded red on healthy hair will look loads better than a vibrant red on dry, brittle hair (like mine :\ ) I use a leave-in conditioning spray which in addition to adding moisture, helps to detangle my hair, so there's less breakage from combs and brushes. You should always use a heat protector when blow-drying or using heat tools anyway, but it's especially important on dyed hair.
Permanent colours, even dark ones, can dry out your hair, so if you want to avoid that then go for a semi-permanent colour.
Top up the colour
Use a wash-in wash-out colour tint or a bright "alternative" dye (this website is a great resource for bright hair dyes and reviews) mixed with some conditioner to top up your colour quickly in the shower. This will give you more time in between "proper" dyeing sessions.
3 - Getting rid of red
If you're using a semi-permanent colour, then your red should wash away on it's own eventually. You can speed this process up by using washing-up liquid to wash your hair with, just make sure you rinse it well afterwards and condition thoroughly.
For permanent colour use Colour B4 by Scott Cornwall hair colour remover, which you can get at Boots. I used this is the summer to get rid of my first red, as it was too pink-based for my liking and kept fading to an odd colour. It worked perfectly and didn't damage my hair at all. It didn't even smell bad, which I wasn't expecting. No need to go and pay the hairdresser megabucks to remove your colour!
4 - My colour
My usual red is Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL in 43 Red Passion, which is really easy to get hold of. I buy mine in Boots or Superdrug, it's usually about £5 per box, but it's worth keeping your eyes peeled for special offers as I've often got my dye either reduced in Superdrug or in 2 for £7 offers in Boots.