i've been dying my hair for almost 15 years. for real, and it's been just about every colour under the sun - and lucky for me, the majority of them have suited me. no more so than the chocolate brown i somehow maintained for a good ten years before finally making the decision to take a chance on the pastel hair i'd so been longing for for aaaaages, just before my birthday of last year.
wanna know how they lighten your hair before they colour it? bleach. wanna know what's really bad for your hair because it strips all the good stuff right out? bleach. not news to me, but considering the home-dye jobs i'd been performing every few months, always ensuring to use the included rich conditioner and treated it with oils to keep it shiny and healthy, i was wracked with nerves that my one-luscious locks would now be dry and strawy thanks to the chemical bleach.
wanna know how i make sure that never happens, and that my lovely pastel locks - whatever shade of rose gold they seem to be at, stay healthy and shiny? read on.
don't over wash it: this is a personal preference of mine, but i only wash my hair once a week. my hair is quite thick, and it takes an age to dry, and so over time i have conditioned it and myself to only being washed at a weekend - no matter the state of it. mid week, and in between washes, if it starts to look a little greasy it tends to just go up in a bun, but not before a healthy blasting of dry shampoo before bed to soak up some of the residue the in the night. my hair style is purely dependant on the cleanliness of it: days one and two tend to be down, three and four will be half up, half down, and five through seven with be a variation of a bun. you'll know how greasy my hair is based on the style i'm rocking, for sure.
trim regularly: this is one i've come to realise only since going lighter, because no matter how well you look after your hair, the bleached ends will always become a little frazzled with general day-to-day wear and tear, heat treatment, being tied up, etc, so a little trim every month or so is only going to benefit the overall health of your locks. i go cheap and usually book a junior stylist on treatwell (wahanda) during an off-peak day, or just go along to one of those walk-in 'super cutz' type places. if all you're after is a trim, then i wouldn't invest in a cut and blow-dry level appointment - unless you're after that highly sought-after head massage...
clarify and protect: when it comes time to actually colouring it, i'm taking my pointers from one of the experts. i'd tried using scott cornwall's candy toner recently to try and alleviate some of the yellow around my roots, right. i'd followed all the instructions and left the gunk on for well over an hour just to give my head a what's for, and yet the roots ~still stayed a shade of apricot yellower than the rest. scott suggested (via instagram) that the reason the toner wasn't taking was because the roots hadn't been lifted enough (as in, the bleach hadn't been left on long enough), and possibly a warm toner like the candy was increasing the yellow tones. which seems fair. he's suggested a platinum toner for next time, but also not without trying his pre-colour system to see if that helped in the colouring stages.
with that in mind, this weekend i tried it for myself. i used the clarifying shampoo* from his range after i had shampoo'd and conditioned with my regular stuff. the clarifying shampoo removes any product residue and build up that's already in the hair, and leaves it ready for a less patchy colouring. i gave this a good five minute scrub, making sure i lathered it up all over before washing it out and ~not conditioning after. once i had towel dried my hair, i spritzed a generous amount of the protein spray* through my damp hair, and combed from root to tip. the protein spray ensures the hair is well conditioned before you colour, and helps to protect weak and damaged hair in the process.
conditional colour: this time around i used the crimson red dye from the 'colour freedom' range, which was a new product for me. i picked it up while in edinburgh, but pleased to have found it in my local superdrug too. the colour freedom colours are quite clever in that they're sold as two shades in one; the crimson red is - as it says on the tin, a red, but mixed with their "pasteliser" (aka "conditioner") it becomes a pastel version of the colour. i did not succumb to consumerism and buy the pasteliser, opting to use the platinum purple conditioner i'd nabbed for a quid at poundland to dilute the colour instead.
the directions suggested one part colour to twenty parts conditioner, but i'm shit at maths and so guessed. at one point i did worry i was dying my hair red as the colour was prettttty instense, but i think that's mostly because the conditioner is purple and not white so the red was still pretty red. i left the colour in (wrapped in cling film) for a good forty minutes (think of all that lovely conditioner working its magic!) before rinsing it out for a solid ten minutes in the shower; i'm pretty stoked at the results!
toner, not conditioner: because my hair had been so well conditioned as it was being coloured, i did not think it needed more conditioning, so instead i opted for a quick lather of the candy toner* at this last stage, just to ensure those roots knew who was boss. i used as much toner as i would normally do conditioner, left it in while i washed the rest of me, then rinsed it out and towel dried again. i barely needed to brush it - let me tell you this: with all that conditioning, my hair basically brushed itself.
protect and save: something i've been really shit at in my life but something i have needed to pay attention to since going light is heat protector. i use a cheap argan oil heat spray that i grabbed for next to nothing in pound stretcher a couple of months ago, but it does wonders. i really only blow dry my hair once a week, but i do run the straighteners over it a few times a week, so it's important to protect the brittle hair to ensure it stays healthy and shiny!
and that folks, is the story of how i keep my bleached-within-an-inch-of-its-life hair in tip-top shape, and even tipper-topper health. i am suuuuper satisfied with the colour i created from the dye and conditioner combo, and i am ~certain the amount of conditioning my hair is getting is only a good thing. i really loved the way the pre-colour system set my hair up for the dye, as i reckon that with the amount of chemicals that go on it, having something in there ensuring it's healthy from the get-go is really important. the whole range is available from boots, and really affordable (from £3.99!) too, considering the lengths it goes to to protect your hair against chemical damage.