Posts Tagged ‘hair color tips’


Post: Kristin Ess, top photo by Kristin Ess, bottom photos Kristin Ess, Angela Kohler + Tyler Jennings

MERMAID ALERT. Hands down the most frequent question I get asked when I meet people for the first time is how I keep my red hair so bright. Everyone looks at you when you’re a hair colorist as if you’re holding out on some mega-secret that’s finally going to crack the case on color fading. The truth is, there’s a whole list of secrets! There not just one magic potion to pour on your head. If there was, I would own it by now and I would share it with you right here. I’ve written about red hair color on TBD before as a blogger, but now I want to write from the perspective of a fellow redhead. I could just list off a bunch of color safe shampoos but there are plenty of color shampoo roundups online, right? Instead I’m going to give you a rundown of the things I do and things I don’t do to keep my hair the brightest! These are all tips that I know work because over the last decade I’ve been every single shade of roja and I’ve taken lots of notes. Here are my top 10 ways that I keep my un-natural (but totally natural) red hair on point…

  1. I have a custom conditioner made. You have to find a Davines salon and get a pro to make you one, but it’s worth it. HERE is a salon locator. So many conditioners out there for redheads are off on their tone. They’re either too pink or too yellow or too translucent. Trust me on this. Find a salon and let them mix your exact shade.
  2. Cool water washing isn’t a myth. In the winter time, I will even knock up the heater temp in the bathroom just so I can handle the cooler water setting. It doesn’t need to be cold, it just shouldn’t be hot. Changing my water temperature did slow the fading and made my hair more reflective in the long run.
  3. Swimming in a chlorinated pool? NO. Hair exposed for long periods of time in the sun? NEVER. Just don’t do it. Not unless you plan on getting your color done within the next couple days. No… just no. I only swim in salt water or fresh water. If I get in a chlorinated pool, I just won’t put my hair in, end of story.
  4. Spray leave-In conditioner is a must. I always use THIS ONE because I’ve tried about a hundred and there’s not another one like it. It seals, protects and shines like the top of the Chrysler Building. If I leave on a trip without it, it’s the first thing I have to locate when I land.
  5. Permanent color, then gloss. So for my own formula, I have someone apply my root color first which is a cream-based permanent color, then I put another cream-based permanent color through the ends. And THEN I go the extra mile and gloss over that while at the shampoo bowl (after my color has been rinsed). It takes about 20-25 minutes and it’s a similar process to a deep conditioning treatment. My hair used to fade like crazy when I didn’t put a gloss over the permanent color. I attribute most of my current vibrance to glossing over the regular cream-based color. You’re definitely going to get charged for that at the salon, but it’s not insanely expensive and it isn’t sold to people without a license. I prefer glossing my hair with Shades EQ which is from Redken. Ask your colorist or find a Redken salon HERE.
  6. Glosses in between colors. Again, it takes the same time as a deep conditioner so prioritize! I do my roots every 2 1/2-3 months, so I find a time right smack in the middle of my color appointments to get glossed. Again, I gloss with the same Shades EQ formula as before.
  7. I definitely keep blowdrying to a minimum. I’m not saying I skip blowdrying because my hair has strong wave/frizz and needs to be blown out, I just wash less (see next tip!). I’ve never done my own scientific study on this, but I know from experience that running hot air into my red locks on the daily is a no.
  8. Invest in a great dry shampoo. My favorites are THIS ($), THIS ($$) but mostly THIS ($$$). Once I became a dry shampoo addict, I started seeing my color fade much less. Obviously the less you’re washing, the less you’re fading.
  9. Every redhaired mermaid needs an ionic dryer. I use the Elchim 2001. I’ve used it forever and it’s my favorite all around. I won’t preach about the benefits of ionic dryers becuase I already did that recently RIGHT HERE.

In case we’ve never met or you’re just starting to follow TBD, I’m a redhead too, thanks to the powers of pigment. I’m also a hairstylist/colorist. As a professional, we have access to so many great things and I just wanted to share my personal favorites. If you have any tips or products that you’re obsessed with, I would LOVE for you to list them down below in the comments. We always love to hear what you’ve been using and how it’s working for you.

My last words of advice are… Always make sure you give red hair color a chance to stick. It took me about 4 rounds before my red stopped fading so much, mostly because I was blonde before. Don’t expect to go from lighter hair colors to red with no fading the first time, or even the second. Be realistic about it. Also, if you’re going red go through types of red (USE THIS POST IF YOU WANT!) with your colorist. It’s best to be on the same page about which red is which. Don’t be embarassed to take pictures with you! We love it.


post/graphic design: Kristin Ess

For my next several hair posts, I’m going to be posting on color tones. In fact, I feel like we have a lot to talk about with color in general. A lot of you have asked in emails and comments if I could help you get a better understanding of color tones, so we’re going to do just that. We’ll start with ashy tones, then we’ll go into neutrals, warm neutrals, golds, warm golds, subtle hints of red, and then all red tones.

ASHE TONES: First thing I want to tell you is that tone has nothing to do with lightness or darkness. Look at the grid of photos above. Do you see what they all have in common? It’s the smoky-looking silver-y sort of color. That’s what tone is. Doesn’t matter if the hair is super light or super dark because it’s just about the hue that the hair gives off. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you ever want to try ashe tones:

  • Who can wear it? The girl who’s skin is completely clean and clear! Any hints of redness from acne or rosacea will clash with ashy tones. If you have redness but you cover it well, you can still wear an ashy tone. Just know that when you wash your makeup off it may not be your favorite look. (Sorry, that’s real talk.)
  • Wait, ashy?? On purpose?? You’re probably wondering why anyone would want their hair to look smoky or muddy… some people hate it, some people love it. It’s just a personal preference. If you have the right skin tone, style your hair well and don’t let it look like a rat’s nest, ashy hair can be really beautiful.
  • Talk to a pro. Seriously– putting a warm glaze over your hair at home is one thing, but making an ashy tone look nice requires some mad skills that only a great colorist will have.
  • What can you wear with ashe toned hair? Monocromatic looks are my favorite with ashy hair. Try wearing all different shades of grey.
  • Makeup must: a pop of color on the lip. Icy hair color paired with a bright matte pink or orange lipstick can be stunnnnnnning. And it will keep you from looking too drab.
  • Be polished. With ashy hair you’ll want to put a little effort into your hair, styling-wise. If you have beautiful air-dried waves, that’s great, but if you don’t make sure to put a little effort into your hair. Ashy can tend to look dull so you have to OWN it! Become best friends with your curling iron.
  • Maintenance: Purple shampoo and a deep conditioner. Purple shampoo will help you maintain those silvery tones. And you must deep condition at least once a week to retain some shine on ashy hair.

Up next… Neutrals (it’s more exciting than it sounds!) xo