For almost a year now I have been trying to turn my mousy dark brown hair into a vibrant red velvet/burgundy shade. I have used many different box dyes that you can find at CVS or Walmart, and all they ever did was slightly tint my hair and result in a gross brownish-reddish that I absolutely hated. In order for the red to be vibrant, my hair would need to be several levels lighter, which usually means bleaching. I want to avoid bleaching both because it’s damaging, and because I am no professional and would probably screw something up.
So finally after hours of research, I decided to try the L’Oreal HiColor line. These dyes are designed for dark hair and they lift several levels while depositing color, all in one step. As with any lightening, there is a risk involved and some damage will happen, but not nearly as bad as bleaching first and then dying over in red. These dyes can be found at Sally Beauty Supply and cost about $4 apiece. In order for them to work, you will also need to buy cream developer. I chose the 30 volume because it lifts about 3 levels. A 20 vol developer is usually the same as the developer they put into box dyes at Walmart and CVS, so I knew I would need something stronger to achieve a more vibrant result.
To achieve this color, I decided to mix 2 different L’Oreal HiColor dyes. One of them is the L’Oreal HiColor Highlights in Red, the other is L’Oreal HiColor in Intense Red. The reason I chose to mix the two is because the first one usually turns out like a firetruck red – bright and punky, while the second one is usually not vibrant enough, more like a dark burgundy with purplish tones (despite its misleading name). I mixed the colors half and half and mixed with 2.5 fl. oz Oreor Crème 30 Volume developer. You will also need a plastic mixing bowl, a plastic tinting brush, a pair of gloves, and newspaper or something similar to cover your bathroom from evil red stains!
The application was pretty easy, but messy. I had red stains all over my forehead and neck and ears, but after showering most of it washed off. Here are my recommendations to achieve the best results:
- Put some Vaseline along your hairline and on your ears to prevent staining.
- Section your hair and begin with the lower sections.
- Make sure to mix the dye and developer VERY well – no chunks!
- Cover the middle and ends first – stay away from the roots as they will process faster, especially if you have previously dyed hair like mine. The “virgin” roots absorb the red almost instantly, while the rest of it takes a much longer time.
- Once you saturated your lengths, let them sit 15-20 minutes before applying the dye to your roots.
- Keep it in for another 25-30 minutes.
- Rinse out with lukewarm water until it runs clean.
I am pretty happy with the results, although I wish my hair was even lighter. The good thing about these dyes is that they lift with every application – so when I touch up in several weeks, the color will be lighter, gradually becoming what I want it to be.
Here is what my hair looked like before:
And here it is the day after! This picture was taken in the car, so it looks darker than it really is:
Here it is in the sun:
I hope this helps those of you looking to dye your hair red! Please keep in mind, if you have virgin hair (undyed previously) or light hair, your results will be brighter and lighter than mine.