Tag Archives: color

How to Dye

For those of us who are going gray, or want to jazz-up their color without making a permanent change, today’s post is devoted to semi-permanent dyes. There aren’t too many options out there for ammonia-free hair color, which lasts about six shampoos before it starts to fade. Permanent dyes contain ammonia which can cause breakage, and they they don’t wash out, they need to be stripped out of your hair using very strong chemicals, so you’d better make sure you’re in love with that color before you apply it to your head. Trying a Semi-permanent dye can be helpful since it lets you do a trial run, and if you don’t like it, just shampoo until it fades.

Let’s take a look at three of the options for semi-permanent dyes on the market today.

Garnier HerbaShine Color Creme, $7.99

Herbashine was unfortunately a let down for me. First off, I wasn’t a fan of the smell, maybe it’s the bamboo extract and I’m a crazy person for thinking chemicals smell better than plants, but the scent really got to me.

It’s a cream formula rather than a liquid which is helpful, and the bamboo extract is supposed to make hair stronger and shinier which is also a plus. Garnier is actually describing this product as a “soft lift” rather than a semi-permanent dye, but sorting out the difference between the two gets very chemical, and since I dropped my high school chemistry class (in favor of art classes to the dismay of my guidance counselor) I really couldn’t explain any of it to you.

Herbashine did leave my hair shiny, soft, and bouncy, but it didn’t cover the grays very well, there were more than a few stragglers. I’ve read some other reviews of this and it seems that a lot of people have had bad allergic reactions—so remember to do a strand test before you dye!

Pros: Creme formula, soft hair, comes with nice conditioner packet (which smells much better)

Cons: Uneven gray coverage, strong smell

Clairol Natural Instincts Rich Color Creme, $8.99

I tried Clairol Natural Instincts when it first launched in 1999, I was in high school and I thought the color Egyptian Plum was totally amazing. I hadn’t tried it since then, but when I started dyeing my hair again this year I went back to it. The rich color creme is especially good because you don’t have to worry about dripping. The only problem with the creme is it’s only available in 10 shades rather than the 54 available in the original formula.

I find this stuff covers my gray pretty darn well, the smell isn’t great but it isn’t bothersome either. It also always seem to be on sale at my Stop & Shop so that’s a bonus. This is an ammonia-free dye, and I’ve found it lasts 4 weeks if you wash your hair about twice a week.

Pros: Nice gray coverage, creme formula, shiny, soft hair

Cons: Limited shades in creme formula

Lush Caca Noir Mama, $22.00

If you can’t stand the idea of putting chemicals in your hair, or if you’re vegan, or if you aren’t going for a dramatic color change, you might want to try one of the all natural henna hair dyes from Lush.

I personally can’t endorse this product since I don’t have the time or money for it. In theory it’s a great idea, and I was excited to try it, but I’ve found with Lush I either love their products or I regret buying them. Dyeing my hair with this stuff became a full day ordeal. After researching the proper way to melt it, painstakingly chopping it up as fine as possible, and then trying to apply the gloppy, drippy, muddy substance to my hair, by the time it was ready to wash out I was glad to be rid of it. Sadly, rinsing this stuff out isn’t as easy as one might think. I must have gotten the chemistry of mixing it wrong (maybe I shouldn’t have dropped that class after all?) because although it was smooth when I first applied it, it dried in big clumps on my hair, which not only hurt but also made me fear clogging my sensitive shower drain with mud. This fear resulted in me furiously shaking my head out in my backyard at 10pm, freezing my ass off while my fiance (now husband) alternately cracked up and painfully pulled chunks of henna out of my hair. In the end after struggling to get it all out, I guess my hair was softer, but it didn’t cover my grays at all which was the whole point. These dyes have a very strong, earthy smell, not necessarily bad, but definitely distinctive.

The hair hennas get mostly great reviews on the Lush website, so I have to guess it takes some practice and patience to get the application correct, but I have neither the time nor the money ($22) for this hair dye. If anyone else has tried it and liked it, I’d love to hear about it.

Pros: Vegan, all natural, gentle

Cons: Difficult application, cost, poor gray coverage

Whatever method you decide to go with for dyeing your hair, here are some essential tips:


1. Do not do your nails first! – It seems obvious, but the number of times I’ve ruined a manicure from dyeing my hair makes me question my intelligence. It’s usually not until I’ve shaken the bottle up that I realize I have pastel nails which will soon be stained brown. Obviously you should be wearing plastic gloves when you apply hair color, but it’s the wash-out process that always ruins my polish.

2. Vaseline – Before you dye, rub some Vaseline all around your hairline, try not to get it on any grays you want to cover, but definitely rub it around your ears and your forehead, it really cuts down on staining.

3. Witch Hazel – If like me, you still somehow end up with dye everywhere (how do I always get it on my forearms?) Witch Hazel is your best friend. After you’ve rinsed out the dye, just dab a cotton ball with some of it on any stained parts of your skin, it really fades the color. You can get it at the drug store, it’s usually with the astringents.

4. Brush your hair – This also seems like a no-brainer, but you should brush your hair before you apply hair dye, especially if you have long locks. Struggling through knots with dye in your hair is not only messy, but can cause your dye job to look uneven when sections of your hair are so knotted they avoid saturation by the dye.

5. Wear a shower-cap – I’m a big fan of shower caps, not just because they protect your hair from frizz in the shower, but also because they trap in heat when you’re dyeing or deep conditioning your hair which supposedly helps penetrate the hair faster and better, it also keeps you from dripping dye all over the place.

6. Shampoo – You may notice the instructions on these hair dyes tell you simply to rinse the product from your hair and then apply the conditioner without shampooing. Some might disagree with me here, but I always shampoo after I dye. Maybe the color doesn’t last as long, but it saves my sheets and towels from turning black (which has happened to me numerous times), so if you have dark hair, it’s something you might want to consider.

If you have any of your own hair dyeing tips and tricks let me know about them! Don’t forget to come back for Beauty in the Movies tomorrow!

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Do you Dye?

My whole life I’ve had people casually say to me “you dye your hair right?” it’s usually more of a statement than a question, whether it’s friends, acquaintances or salespeople shilling products. It’s pretty insulting when people assume a part of you is fake, especially when it’s not, it makes you feel bad, like everyone thinks you’re a poser. People don’t seem to think you can have pale skin and dark hair naturally, maybe because of Dita Von Teese or Elvis. We do exist though, just like natural blonds or redheads, or size zeros, or straight teeth, I promise. Unfortunately in my case (and most of my family’s) that natural color soon finds itself streaked with silver, proving to the skeptics just how natural it is.

I found my first gray hair around age 15. I might have had them earlier, but I was in a punk phase so they were probably camouflaged by purple or blue manic panic.  After I found that first gray hair, bleaching and streaking didn’t seem as appealing. At that moment I decided to enjoy my natural color as long as I could, and then when I went totally white (somewhere around age 30) I would just dye my whole head purple, and I wouldn’t even need the bleach! I’d only just gone through puberty when i started graying, so I wasn’t panicking it was a sign of aging, maybe that’s a blessing. My first thought was actually The Fairy Rebel a book by Lynne Reid Banks, in which there is a girl with 20 blue hairs at the nape of her neck that hold magical fairy powers—if my gray hairs were imbued with magic I wouldn’t mind them so much.

I didn’t take much notice of my gray hairs for a long time, it was only once people started pointing them out to me as if I didn’t know they were there, or like they were shocked by them, that it started to bother me. Especially good was when someone would first ask about my natural color, and then follow it up by saying “oh yeah, you’re going gray already”, yup, thanks for pointing that out. Despite being sick of people’s interest in my grays, or awkwardly telling me how cool they were after putting their foot in their mouth, I was content to keep them until I saw them standing out in pictures, more and more obviously.

What people without gray hair don’t understand is that the color isn’t what is hard to handle, it’s the texture. Gray hair is twice as coarse, so when you go salt and peppery, those gray hairs stick out at funny angles, just to make sure people know they’re there. I eventually got self-conscious about wearing my hair anyway but down, and I stopped wearing a ponytail outside the house because someone would inevitably mention my gray hair to me. There were also the requisite visits by a colorist at every salon I went to whether I wanted them or not (god-bless my current stylist who kept the colorists away from me after the first time I told her I wasn’t interested). If my grays grew in sleek, perfect, contained streaks like Rogue from X-men or Lily Munster, I wouldn’t mind them, but gray hair rarely works that way. Whether the plethora of starlets with ironic gray hair know it or not, gray is harder to manage, harder to make glossy, and can be a general pain in the ass whether you want to cover it up or get it to sit right.

When I realized I didn’t want gray hair in my wedding pictures, I started putting a rinse in my hair. I wanted to look 26 in my photos, and I didn’t want the hairs on my head turning up whiter than my dress. So far I have no regrets, I had a hard time letting go because I worried I was betraying myself somehow. Now whenever someone knowingly tells me “you dye your hair” I  have to say “yes—but only a rinse, and it’s really naturally this color—I swear, I’ll show you my elementary school pictures!”.

Honestly though who gives a crap if I dye my hair or not? Lucille Ball wasn’t a natural redhead, neither is Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, and god knows that natural blonds are as elusive as unicorns—but if they can pull it off, what does it matter if it’s real or not? I always wished I could play with my hair color more, having dark hair makes it hard to experiment, I’m sure I would look natural with my black eyebrows and strawberry blond hair. Whether you dye or not shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of, but we also shouldn’t assume anyone with a certain hair color dyes it either, we people come in an astonishing number of colors and combinations, there are endless possibilities, and even if it’s obvious that someone dyes their hair, mind you own beeswax, they probably look good!

Maybe one day I’ll let my hair go totally white, and I know when I do I’ll look exactly like Emmylou Harris (dreams can come true). For the time being though, I’m going to put a rinse in my hair each time I notice those little white strands sprouting from my temples again, because I’m just not ready for it yet—maybe after I turn 30, or maybe I’ll have my grand-kids come dye my hair in the nursing home for me, who knows?

So, what say you readers? Do you dye your hair, do you love your natural color? Hate it? Are you prematurely gray?

Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow everyone!! Watch the parade, listen to Alice’s Restaurant, tell the people you love how awesome they are, and then eat turkey until you fall asleep—god I love this holiday!

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A Visual Ode to Nail Polish

I think a lot of people have that one thing they can’t seem to get enough of. Maybe it’s black boots, or pens, or comic books, but I think we all have at least a little something like that. For me it’s nail polish (and to a certain extent ribbon) I’ve tried to kick it, but I never have. I’m starting to think I need to give some of it away, or start a swap or something. I have shades that are so similar, only I and the manufacturer can tell the difference, but I love each of them. I like testing them on my fingers, matching them to outfits, and just taking them out and looking at the little bottles. When I was in high school I went through a phase of painting hair clips with nail polish, I was making art! Actually in high school I did use nail polish in art pieces. See how versatile nail polish can be?

It all started for me because I was a nail biter, painting my nails gave me a reason to break the habit. It’s difficult for me to walk past a beauty supply store without buying a new shade now. I rarely go to the nail salon, but when I do I am always disappointed that their collection isn’t as diverse as my own. I mix up my own shades when I can’t find the color I want (sometimes it works out, most of the time it’s messy), and I am constantly looking for new and interesting brands and hues. I know it is a luxury, but there are more expensive things to collect, and I found a beauty supply store where Essie is $5.99 and OPI is $6.99, not too bad.

For me painting my nails is ritualistic, before I lost my job, every Sunday night I would sit down, wipe off the polish from the week before, and choose a new color for the new week. There is something cathartic about it for me. I really enjoy painting my nails, it gives me at least an hour to do nothing because I have to let them dry. No multi-tasking, no work, no worries, just watch some mindless TV or listen to music, it’s an excuse to relax. Now I don’t paint my nails on Sunday if I don’t want to, but I still paint them every week even if most of the time I’ll be working from home.

In preparation for this post I dumped out all my polish and counted it, a little scared of the result, the final count was 64 not including nail art pens or base/top coat. Is it bad that I expected it to be a lot more?

In order to share my collection with you, my fiance and I spent some time playing with nail polish in the backyard yesterday. It makes for a good evening, except for the getting eaten by mosquitoes part.

I had to stand on a ladder to get this shot, scary.

Then we had some fun with vegetation.

Buddha got involved, he loves nail polish too.

And our cat Loki, he was super pissed he couldn’t knock over those polishes, that’s usually how he rolls.

Flamingos!

Gnomes!

Isn’t nail polish so pretty?

How can you not like something that comes in tiny colorful bottles?

Love those reds.

Whoa, those polish birds are hungry!

If only nail polish did grow on tree stumps.

This one is my favorite, it’s like Anne Geddes, only with nail polish instead of a terrified baby.

If you want to know any of the nail polish colors, leave a comment and I’ll let you know! Doing this post made me realize I don’t have nearly enough blue nail polish, I will definitely have to get on that. I mean I only have 64 right? Totally room for more.

I’d love to hear if other people have something that they just can’t help collecting. Beauty product or otherwise, let me know!

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