Since moving to Alabama, I’ve had a heck of a time finding a good hairstylist. Part of the reason is undoubtedly because I had the most amazing and skilled stylist in Louisville. She was, in addition to being the most wonderful and kindest person I’ve ever met, was able to translate my hair wishes into reality and gently guide me when my expectations were *ahem* unrealistic. I have very thick, coarse hair, and it soaks up color like whoa, fades fast, and is too thick and prone to frizz for a the short, layered cut I always think I want. From the first time I sat in her chair, I always felt heard, comfortable, and walked out with hair that made me feel like I was in a hair commercial. I was spoiled, and after realizing it was simply not financial feasible to fly to Louisville every time I needed a haircut, I set out to find a good stylist in Alabama.
Almost three years and five different stylists later, I’ve only had one positive experience (and she proceeded to move two months after I discovered her). I must accept some responsibility–perhaps I am doing something that leads to these experiences, although I never had this trouble before moving to Alabama. The cuts I’ve received here have varied from bad to headband-requiring, and I can’t even go into the not-hoped-for color treatments I’ve received. I’ve never walked out satisfied, and I usually walk out wondering exactly how the hair color happened. But none have been as bad or as unexpected as the last one. I went in hoping to get some highlights to cover my regrowth, and I walked out with green hair.
Green. Swamp green hair, and just in time for a business trip.
Oof. This was an expensive mistake, and I was tempted to leave it because I simply can’t afford to get my hair done every week. Yet, I also can’t have green hair, so I went to a new stylist to have it fixed, and I walked out of that salon with dark purple hair! This might have been exciting had it been in the summer, and I didn’t have a major review at work coming up, but I did.
I also couldn’t afford another stylist visit, so following my new mantra to “work the solution,” I stopped panicking about the responses to my purple hair and started doing research on what I could do to fix this on my own. Through that research, I found a great article on how to remove red from hair and keep it healthy, but because I didn’t have three weeks, I started looking for quicker fixes.
Through that process, I came across the Color Oops line. Color Opps promised to remove dye molecules without damaging hair through a complicated process that requires application and a 20-30 minute shower where hair was rinsed and washed over and over to wash out the dye molecules. While the product promised not to damage hair, reviews were mixed, although most reviews did say that the product would remove the dye with at least a little damage. There were many before and after photos in these reviews, almost all of which showed bright orange hair. I expected, then, that if I used the Color Oops product, there would be some damage and I’d end up with orange hair.
At this point, I was okay with both potential outcomes. Anticipating orange hair, I next researched at-home dyes that could tone the orange color into something resembling my natural hair color (called a dirty blonde, a label I embrace, because it could mean so many things). I found that a good dye would be anything with cool tones, and to get close to my dirty blonde hair, I should seek out colors with ASH and “G” in the name. Armed with this knowledge, I headed to Walmart to buy two boxes of Color Oops (I have very thick and long hair, and I didn’t want to be stuck with half-color-removed hair). I also found the L’Oréal 8A Ash Blonde color line. The color on the box looked lighter than I wanted, but since I was only seeking to tone my hair, I wasn’t much worried about what the box said the outcome might look like. Further, in the color comparisons on the L’Oréal box, there wasn’t one for bright orange. Go figure. I was purely guessing that this would result in the outcome I hoped for. I bought two boxes of that dye as well, added a silver shampoo to the mix because of the recommendations from the L’Oréal blog, and left Walmart $50 poorer.
Not without trepidation, I headed back home, and prepared to apply the Color Oops to my hair. Reviews have said that this smells terrible, but it wasn’t terrible. It smelled like hair dye. I followed the steps exactly as described on the box. I did indeed need two boxes, and I took the longest shower of my life.
When I stepped out, I did, indeed have orange hair. Since I’d been expecting it, I wasn’t upset. And, frankly, I kind of liked it. But, since I have a job I’d like to keep, I stuck with the plan, and after a day with orange hair (the roots looked a lot like the color of the hair on the Color Oops box), I returned home for step 2: dying my hair with the Ash Blonde color. Again, I followed the steps exactly as described on the box, except that I let it process a little longer than it recommended (35 minutes instead of 25). Again, I used two boxes, although I probably could have gotten away with using one. After the most paralyzing 35 minutes of my hair life, I washed my hair and was relieved to see the dirty blonde hair I’d been seeking for years. My excitement only grew as I round brushed my hair dry to reveal the dark ash blonde hair I wanted (note: not the color on the box). It is likely darker than the color on the box because 1) I left it on the process longer and 2) I applied it over hair of varying orange shades. It’ll likely fade a bit after the first wash, so I have another box of color ready just in case. The first fade of a new color can be intense.
But, since the color costs less than $10, this is something I can afford. I’ll never go to a hairstylist for color again, when I can get exactly what I want at home for a fraction of the cost.