How I dye my hair red

Today I'm going to deviate from my usual sewing topics to discuss a subject I get asked about a lot - my red hair! The usual questions include "Is that your natural color?" (Nope!), "Who does your hair color?" (Me!), and "What color/brand do you use?" ( on to find out!).

I started dying my hair red when I was 16, starting with a boxed color that looked really horrible on me. I've done a lot of experimenting with my hair color over the last 13 years and I've finally settled into a regular routine that I think works pretty well for me.

I have had my hair colored professionally many times, and still try to go that route whenever I can afford it. But one of the big drawbacks of red hairdye is that it fades out really fast! Mine is pretty well faded after about a month, but I try to hold off on coloring it until my roots start to show. And with each hair color appointment costing anywhere from $80-$120 (not even including the cut!), I just can't drop that kind of money. Although my hair always feels really, really amazing after a salon visit (one reason I still go when I can), the color never lasts long at all and they very rarely ever get the shade right. So that is my reasoning for going the DIY route.

Please keep in mind throughout this post that everyone's hair is different. What works for me may not work for you. My natural hair color is dark blonde, which allows me to dye at home without having to use bleach beforehand. If your hair is darker and you want to give this a try, I've heard great things about the L'oreal HiColor line. It lightens and dyes your hair in one step! There are lots of reviews and tutorials for this product on Youtube if you're interested. And if you're going to DIY your hair color, do lots of research first!

Also keep in mind that if your hair is sacred and you would be horrified to mess it up, the DIY route is not for you! Go to a nice quality salon and have a consultation first.

The color I use most often is Ion Color Brilliance in Intense Red from Sally Beauty Supply. I've also tried Medium Intense Red Blonde, which gives more of copper rather than ruby red. Honestly, I think I will go back to that one next time. I like the copper red better on me.

The Ion brand colors are my favorite. I've tried boxed colors, but it's hard to find a nice vibrant copper red like I want, and they don't seem to last as long.

I always use a 10 volume developer, which means that I'm only depositing color and not "lifting" (lightening) my hair. I've tried using 20 volume developers, because I really prefer the lighter shades I can get with it, but it is more difficult to use. It takes me a long time I get all of the dye through my hair (I have a LOT of hair!) and by the time I'm half-way through, some of the color has already finished developing. I can also end up with hot roots like this:

"Hot roots" happen when the heat from your scalp causes the dye to develop faster than the rest of your hair - resulting in brighter roots and darker ends. This photo is from 2009, when I had it done at a salon! Yeah.

The supplies:

- 2 boxes of Ion Color Brilliance in Intense Red (for my long hair)
- 1 bottle Ion 10 Volume Developer
- plastic bowl
- hair dying brush
- a pair of colorist gloves
- Ion repair conditioner for after coloring

Here's what my roots look like:

I actually really like the color this dye fades out to. Here is the rest of my hair 3 months after coloring:

Totally wearing a tank top here, despite what it may look like!

For all-over color, you want to use a 1:1 ratio of dye to developer. Since there is 2.05 oz of dye in this tube, I measure out 2 oz of developer...

Tilting it back a bit so you can see the markings
...and pour it in with the dye.

Then mix it all up until it's nice and smooth.

Mmm, delicious goop! Ignore the color it looks like while in goop form, it won't look like that when your hair is done.

I then section my hair into two sides and put on my black gloves. Now I'm ready to dye!

I can't show you the actual process of putting the dye in my hair because 1. my usual photographer is gone and 2. I have dye all over my hands!

Focus on your roots first. Use the brush to paint the dye onto your roots, then use the pointed end of the brush to move on to the next section. After all of my roots are done in the front, I go ahead and start working the dye through the ends of my hair. Why not do the roots at the back of my head next? Well, because I can't see what the hell I'm doing back there anyway so I have to take a different approach to that section. I prefer to just move on to the stuff I can see well. Work in sections, holding the end of your hair in one hand and painting on the gloop with the other. Then put the brush down and use your hands to smooth the dye into your hair, rubbing it in all the way down until it's totally saturated. Once the front section is full of dye, clip it up out of the way and move on to the back.

If you have a friend willing to help you with this part, that's awesome. I've tried getting Scott to help me with the back but that proved unwise. So, I start at the top - the crown of my head - and pull out one section at a time, feeling where my roots are and painting the dye on. Then I hold the section over my head or to the side and paint the ends, rubbing the dye into each section with my hands as I go. I work on one half of the back and then move on to the other. I make sure I dye all the baby hairs at the nape of my neck and behind my ears. Then I take whatever dye is left and massage it into my scalp and ends, shampoo style, until I have crazy looking plastic doll hair piled on top of my head.

I used to be all careful about not getting dye on my skin, which is a really good thing to do with some dyes! But I've found that this particular dye washes right out in the shower so I don't worry about it too much anymore.

I leave the dye on my hair for 30 minutes, then hop in the shower and give it a good rinse before lightly shampooing and applying a lot of that awesome smelling conditioner!

The aftermath at my sink:

And the results (1 day later):

Oily bangs included.

I am not good at selfies. Where is my husband when I need him?! (answer: golfing)

The color will look really intense for about a week (I wash my hair every other day and my bangs every day because my skin is craaaaazy oily). I think it looks best around week 2 when the color softens a bit. It's usually best to color your hair a week before any big event for this reason - new color tends to look a bit harsh.

I hope this post was helpful for any of you aspiring redheads out there. Prepare for an onslaught of comments from strangers!