Red Velvet hair for next to no cost at home

I have gotten pretty bad at keeping this up.  Honestly, I'm a little overwhelmed by the e-mails I get about a few reviews I've done, and more than once I've been contacted about free products to try but that really isn't my thing.  I started this blog because when Pinterest exploded I realized how few truly impartial reviews are out there.  I'm human and what may work for me may not work for you, and vice versa, but I'm happy to post honest, unbiased, unsponsored reviews of anything that catches my eye (when I actually do it anyway!).

So we left off here in my attempt to DIY red velvet hair.  I was testing the effectiveness of Manic Panic bleach, as all I was getting was a dark brown plum color and not bright red.  I had brought Pravana Vivids hair color and strand tested it several times but it just was not going to work without pre lightening.  Well, even on the spot on bleached in that last post, it didn't stick!  I can't tell you how sad I was.  Pravana has amazing reviews.

I kept googling around and kept coming across L'oreal Hicolor Hilights for Dark Hair  (not an affiliate link).  I had seen some bloggers who again just got a red tint, though better than any tint I managed in the past, and some who got gorgeous, nearly Ariel hair color.  I bought a tube of Magenta and a tube of Red at Sally's for around $5 each, plus a bottle of Orero Developer in 30 Volume for under $4.  Pay attention to the box- you want Hicolor Hilights, but it's wonderful for doing your whole head.  I already had a mixing bowl and gloves, and if you like to use a brush, you need one of those too.  I can say from several strand tests and several root retouch sessions that there is no color difference on my hair between Red and Magenta.

The box says 2.4 oz developer to 1 tube color, but I didn't feeling like dealing with that, so I just eyeballed 2.5 in my bowl (which is labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, no halves or quarters or .4s) and squeezed out the color tube.  I mix it up with a leftover chopstick until there are no red lumps, put on my gloves, and spread it all over my head.  Even when doing root growth I will still do all over color to brighten it up.  When my hair is saturated I will put it in a ponytail and hit it with the blow dryer for 5 minutes.  I then put a plastic bag over my hair and wrap the whole thing in a towel.  15 minutes later I will blow dry for 5 more minutes over the bag and then rewrap the towel for 15 more minutes, at which point I rinse.  I rinse in cold water and it's mostly clear after 5 minutes.  I then condition, usually with Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist, rinse that out, and go on my way.

To maintain, well, I really don't.  After the initial rinse I start taking hot showers again and I shower almost every day, 2 bad things for maintaining red, but this really doesn't fade.  I use Ulta's Red shampoo, conditioner, and every week or so the color depositing glaze from that line (not affiliate links), but it seems like a red-brown stain, and maybe that's why I lose vibrancy but not color?  Maybe I won't use the glaze for the next 6 weeks and compare.  I've also used a volumizing shampoo and a hotel shampoo without any issues, and if I really want my hair to look great or just every so often for hair health I will use Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist again.

It loses its shocking vibrancy over time, but not it's red color.  I hope the pics I will be showing you in a sec will help make that clear.  It does not fade to gingery-bleachy-auburny-browny-ick.  I do a root touchup and a head refresh every 6 weeks or so.  For that, I do the same thing as I've already described, but skip the heat since my roots take to color better than my length (has to do with the heat of your scalp and your type of virgin hair, because of hair type you may or may not have similar results with that method).

As for staining- I do not do a Vaseline barrier on my hairline/ears, but this has never stained my skin after I rinse everything off.  This does leave a red tint on my shower floor, but if I pour bleach over it and let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse, that tint is gone.  It will stain towels/clothes when it's in it's dye form, but I've had no issues with wet hair post-dye transferring to bed sheets, clothing, etc.  My shower water never runs 100% clear but the pink tint that still rinses out is so faint that you probably won't notice if you aren't looking for it.

Ok on to photos.  Please note- how the red color is NOT ginger after 6 weeks, and how dark brown my roots are.  While this product is mixed with a developer, I didn't have to pre-lighten it or bleach it or anything harsh like that.  My hair is remarkable undamaged after all it's initial abuse and now regular use of this product.

Please also note...would you call this magenta?  I wouldn't.  That's why I noted I saw no color difference.  Red and Magenta look the same on me.  I haven't tried any other colors.  I would love a darker, more magenta color for real, but I'm happy with this!  Photos taken in same window-less bathroom about 1 hour apart.  I will update with weekly photos over the next 6 weeks to show on the vibrancy and color changes over that time, and I will not use the color depositing glaze I mentioned just in case that affected things.


Manic Panic Flashlightning Bleach Before & After Review- on the journey to Red Velvet hair

Generally I post pics and reviews of things when I myself had looked for reviews and hadn't found any, or hadn't found the info I needed.  In this case, I wanted to bleach my dyed hair (as part of a whole hair change experiment of sorts, I guess) and couldn't find much before & after for the Manic Panic dye.  I've read that it's effective and gentle, and it's in a kit so it's nearly idiot-proof, but even in Youtube reviews I generally mostly saw only the after and the person just talked at the camera.  Or it would say it was a bleach review, but then you watch and they had actually used Color Zapp and then bleached 4x in one week (OMG, how does she still have hair???).  Anyway, I review things in hopes of helping, I don't get free products, paid to review, or even use affiliate links.  Click the links to buy the products or don't, I don't make money off it either way and I somewhat distrust reviews like that.

So, hair history.  My hair is light brown and I've been dying it dark for a long time.  I've also wanted Red Velvet hair for a long time.  First I tried L'oreal Power Reds in R48, over hair that had been dyed a few months prior with John Frieda 4N.  Power Reds are popular but also very hit or miss.  I was a miss.  I got nearly black hair with some red glint in the sun, like cherry coke I guess.  Pretty, but not what I wanted.

This is with a flash or else you wouldn't see anything but darkness.  It's pretty here, but it was nothing like this unless I was standing still in bright sunlight.

 After trying to fade it in the shower for about 2 weeks, I bought Manic Panic Amplified in Vampire Red.  Due to the before and after pics on their site, including the unbleached ones, I thought I'd be good.  Nope!  My hair turned faintly purple with a bit more red in the light.  It was actually gorgeous so I left it for awhile.  Keep in mind, my hair was DARKER than the pic above shows, before using the MP dye.

Ok, so still not red velvet.  After looking at these swatches and their claim to lift dark hair, no pre-bleaching needed, I chose L'oreal Hicolor in Dark Auburn Red with a 30 vol. developer.  I didn't really want to but I figured this is better than straight up bleaching.  Well, it didn't really work.  In fact, in normal light I just have dark brown hair again.  In sunlight there's SOME red.  I took this literally standing in bright sunlight.  I also used Ulta shampoo, conditioner, and glaze for red hair, but the reviews on that are so-so and I'm not sure they really help.

So now, I'm kind of at that point.  Screw it, I'm going to need to bleach.  But I've damaged my hair so much, haven't I?  Test strand time.

I grabbed some Manic Panic Flash Lightning in Vol. 30 and bleached a test strand of my hair from a few inches down to the ends.  I wrapped it in foil and left it on for 90 minutes before rinsing it out.  I wasn't sure what to think.  To me it actually looked like a nice red, but in photos and to my 4 year old, it was orange, so there went my dreams of bleaching once and being done.

I decided to bleach the bottom half of what I had already bleached a 2nd time, so I conditioned, left it on for a half hour, rinsed, dried, and re-bleached.  Don't do this to your whole head.  This is a small test strand and I was fully prepared for it to fall off at this point. 

I reapplied bleach to the bottom, wrapped in foil, and left it in for another 90 minutes.  Rinse, condition, rinse, dry, voila.  

See how most of my hair just looks dark brown?  Yeah.  Sigh.

I don't really know what to call the bottom color.  It's light orange.  That's the best I can think of.   However, it was bleached twice for a total of 180 minutes, or 3 hours, in the span of about 5 hours, and it's not fried, so that's a plus.

My downside to the MP?  This is all the bleach you get.  You get a decent amount of developer, but this packet mixed with developer isn't all that much more product in volume, so if you have long hair, I'd buy at least two, if not 3 of these kits if this is what you want to use.

My next step is attempting an ombre ponytail bleaching and then trying out my Pravana reds and magentas!  I hear they're the best unnatural color dyes on the market, so I'm really excited try this out.  I'll use my test strand first to see it on undyed, 1 bleach, and 2 bleach hair and see how much bleaching I really need to do.  I'm hoping none, 1 worst case scenario, but I'll update when I figure out what I'm doing :)



It's been awhile...anyone still out there?

I've been playing a lot with makeup lately, which isn't like me, but it's fun!  I always wished I had big, long lashes and I'm not interested in extensions any more.  I've tried two mascaras, Benefit They're Real and Smashbox Full Exposure, along with Younique 3D Fiber Lashes (I DO NOT sell them, fyi!) and Ardell false lashes in Wispies.  I also played with the old staple, Great Lash, that I've never actually liked but seems to always make "Best of" lists and NYX Doll Eyes which seems to have a cult following (it's in the drug store section at Ulta but I'm not sure it's a drug store brand.  It's cheap though).

Comparison pics, in order:

No mascara- nuff said

Younique 3D fiber mascara ($32ish shipping from younique's website)- I hate that you have to buy this stuff via a consultant (even on the company's website) but the effort required is minimal and it's comparable to the fake lashes.  One coat of gel, one coat of fiber lashes from 1/2 way up my lashes to ends, another coat of gel.  Bam.  Done.  If it appears to have a clump of fibers on my lashes I just hit it with a lash comb.  It lasts all day and seems waterproof (tear proof, rain proof, haven't gone swimming) as well.  I have Smashbox Full Exposure on my bottom lashes in this photo.

Ardell false lashes ($4.49/pair, $6.99 for Duo gel, $6.99 for a false lash applicator that is a toss up on helpfulness, everything from Sally's)- I'm using Duo gel and I trimmed about 1/4" off in the inside ends of these.  Putting them on was a PITA.  Duo gel smells, it's messy, it does take practice and you better have a good way to wipe the glue off your cheeks when you smear it trying to wash your eye area (tip, baby oil on a cotton ball works well in a pinch), you can kind of "feel" them, and also, I trimmed the length once they were on my eye as they were literally touching my eyelashes.  I like the look, I don't like the effort.  In the photo, I have just a touch of Benefit They're Real on my bottom lashes and have combed through to combine my real and false lashes.

Benefit They're Real! mascara ($23, Sephora)-  This is probably my favorite mascara brush ever, but the mascara itself seems average.  I put on a coat, then other eye, then back to first eye for coat 2, and repeat on eye 2.  Seems to have good staying power but is NOT waterproof.  This is on my bottom lashes as well.

Smashbox Full Exposure ($19.50, Sephora)- This is my favorite mascara, but given the choice I use the Fiber Lashes.  I keep this in my purse or travel kit as I don't like how Fiber Lashes is 2 tubes to pack instead of 1.  My lashes look really full and long but it does seem to flake.  I like to use Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat ($21, Sephora) over the top to help with that.  For comparison purposes I am NOT using Anastasia in this photo.  This is on my bottom lashes as well.

NYX Doll Eyes ($6.99, Ulta)- this is cheap, but I do feel like it elongated my lashes pretty well.  If I needed a mascara in a hurry, the drugstore is where I'd head, and I'd look for this over Great Lash any day.  This is on my bottom lashes as well.

Maybelline Great Lash ($2.99, CVS)- It's cheap and it does make a difference vs no mascara, but it's not even in the realm of favorites for me compared to above.  This is on my bottom lashes as well.

Summarize:  I like the look of the false lashes (especially the cost, in comparison!) but for ease and comfort I like the fiber lashes.  Full Exposure is my other favorite, which is even easier than fiber lashes and cheaper as well.  I like to use Anastasia Lash Genius on the top of Full Exposure, which negates the cost effectiveness, but makes it pretty much bullet proof.  I don't get the hype of Benefit "They're Real!" or Nyx/Maybelline value drugstore mascaras.