I wasn’t allowed to dye my hair until I graduated high school with the caveat that I had to pay for it.
I give my mom some thanks for this- I have fine hair, but it’s always been extremely healthy. Also, my high school years were right in the prime of the emo era, so while I still have probably more than the required amount of embarrassing high school photos, at least they were somewhat subdued.
I did a lot of Lush hennas– which, if you don’t want to dye your hair chemically I 100% recommend. The upside is that you essentially sit your hair in cocoa butter for hours. It also gives you a great excuse to do nothing all day. The downside- or another upside if, like me, your life’s quest is to be Anne Shirley- is that everything has a very red tint. The one I had done in that pic was the noir henna (back then called caca noir which was a special treat for some language speakers) with added coffee to tone down the red a bit. Also, if you henna your hair you have to grow it out before you chemical dye it.
My first hair dye was a $3 black box dye that I bought at the late night pharmacy on the way home from a night out. There is one surviving picture that I do not have hold of. It was not good. I promptly got it lifted out and I got my hair redyed by a stylist who I’d been going to for four years. She was baffled but not surprised by my decision.
Seven years later I’ve become a bit better at dyeing my hair. I know box dye isn’t the best thing to put in your hair, but professional salons are quite expensive and honestly, it’s weirdly fun to put the stuff in your hair and have it come out. It’s almost soothing.
I’ve learned a few things in my box dye adventures…
Like henna, everything has an undertint of red.
I don’t know if this is because my hair is naturally auburn or if it’s just the way the dye is. Black and dark brown shine red in the sun. Any light or medium brown shines auburn. I’ve decided to steer into it and keep my hair about a shade redder than my natural auburn. I’m tempted to grow it out and see what happens, but I’m terrified I might find some grey and quash my “I’m still young!” delusion.
Wait 1-2 days between a hair wash and a dye
I started dyeing my hair by thinking that oilier I could get it the better. I mean, hair’s natural oils would protect it and keep it from drying out, right?
No. No baby Sandy, no.
Companies make the product knowing full well you have no idea what you’re doing. You could probably dye straight after a shampoo- you shouldn’t, but I’m sure there’s enough stuff in there it wouldn’t be completely tragic.
I like to wait for a day or two after my last shampoo. Short enough that I haven’t put extra stuff like dry shampoo in my hair, but long enough that my hair does have a bit of protection. The conditioners they include in the boxes tend to be pretty full on, so adding that on top of four days of hair grease is going to result in some grossness. It’s better to wait to shampoo after your colour to help prevent fading.
Condition, Condition, Condition
I always use the included conditioner after I dye, but they’re so intense. I’ll use it every so often, but definitely far short of the once a week recommendation. Instead, I love a good conditioning treatment- Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle is my fave. I like the nourishing and moisturizing as I found the reconstructor way too much- though it works fabulously on Adam’s beard, so hair type.
Look, box dye will never be the best thing you can put in your hair, but if you try your best to offset the consequences with basic hair care and a balanced diet, it’s not the worst.
And it’s certainly the most fun.