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Ask the Q-Tip: I Want to Be a Ravishing Redhead but I am a Dark Brunette

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

It is time for another installment of Ask the Q-Tip. Beauty questions answered by the underrated beauty blogger and cotton bud, Olivia. This question comes from Roni who has been dreaming about the hair color she always wanted but hesitated when it came to the damaging consequences.  Can she achieve her dream hair color without bleaching?

This is what Roni wrote:


All my life I've wanted to be a ginger, but I am quite reluctant to do so specially because I don't want to mess up my hair, because it's always been really healthy, but also because I am not sure if I will be able to keep up with touch-ups. My natural hair color is dark brown, slightly chestnutty, and about two months ago I tried to go red by applying hair dye without pre-lightening it, but it only gave my hair a deep red glow and worked perfectly on two streaks of hair I had bleached blonde about a year ago. I used a Garnier Nutrisse permamanent color 6.46 (copper red) and the developer that comes with it, which is vol 20. I'm looking forward to getting a copperish tone, in between Sophie Turner and Karen Gillan, and I am not sure if I will have to bleach it or if using a 30 vol developer with the dye, instead of the vol 20 it comes with, would be enough to get it done (I read that online). Also, although my streaks came out the color I wanted, they faded and are now almost as blonde as they were before; I was told that touch-ups can only be done to the roots and that I am not supossed to dye the hair all over again each time so I am worried that if I do bleach it, this will happen to all of my hair. I don't know how much of that is true and I would like some guidance.

I understand the hesitancy to color one’s hair especially if it is in a healthy state.  Damage usually occurs most of the time from pure stupidity, experimentation, and not following directions.  Hair color isn’t just painting on color, it is a chemical reaction.  Once that is understood, proper preparation from pre-color conditioning to after hair color care will really keep those colored strands in pristine condition.

Roni, you want your dark brown hair to turn into a golden redhead like Sophie Turner and Karen Gillan

Sophie & Karen

In other words, your expectation is this:

Single or Double

And, can it be done in a single process (hair color alone) rather than a double process (bleaching plus color)?

Past Hair Color Adventures Drugstore Products

From how you described your hair as “chestnutty” already tells me you have a lot of red.  A good thing in this case since it will add to the end result.  You noticed with the drugstore box of hair color (Garnier Nutrisse 6.46), your natural hair color only changed slightly or just its reflection in the lights changed to red.  However, your bleach blonde streaks absorbed the color but it didn’t hold. 

This is all normal.  The developer in drugstore brands are about a 20 volume which will lift the color one level, in your case to just a brown and deposit the red/copper color giving your hair that dark auburn glow in the sunlight.  That is all it can do.  The 20 volume developer lightened your blonde streaks at the same time making them more porous which gives them the ability to absorb the hair color and probably made them into light orange/red streaks.  Then, you mentioned they faded. 

Drugstore hair color doesn’t contain enough pigments to really keep the intensity of the color.  Also, red pigments are the smallest molecules compared to the other hair colors, therefore, making them very hard to keep in the hair.  Many of them get washed out.  Although, technology is aiding in keeping those little red molecules in the hair longer, red is the color that has a tough time staying in hair.

Will it take a single process or a double process?  I would say you have a good chance at a single process!  But this can only be achieved with hair color bought at a beauty supply store.  Drugstore boxed hair color will not work!

What Color for Hair?

The healthiest and easiest way for you to achieve your hair color is with pro brand like Wella Koleston which has the best reds on the market (in my opinion and many other pros opinion).  Depending on your country, you can buy this professional color line from a beauty supply site or store.  Here, in the USA, unlike Europe or the UK, only licensed professionals are allowed to buy this brand; online has made it easier.  But, make sure to buy from a reputable source because there are fake tubes of hair color manufactured from overseas!

The Products

You will also need a 40 volume developer, preferably from the same line if possible.

Why Choose 40 Volume Developer?

Your hair is dark and the only way to really lift the natural color is to use a high volume developer.  As shown on this chart:


40 volume developer can make your hair 3 to 4 levels lighter.  Developer will raise the lightness level of hair like the bleaching stages.  Your natural level is close to a level 3 and it needs to go up to a level 6 or possibly a level 7.  The dark brown hair will most likely lighten to this with the 40 volume developer:

Why 40?

This alone guarantees a lot of red to be left in the hair which will aid in the end result.

What colors to choose from Wella Koleston?

I would choose 3 tubes of color at the most.  All can be mixed together or I would use at least two to ensure the color will be as red even after it fades (which is normal for all hair color), and since red fades the most out of all hair color, extra intensity never hurts.

From the Wella Koleston Vibrant Reds Collection, I would choose colors Dark Red Gold Blonde 6/43  (£7.75) and Dark Intense Red Blonde 66/44 (£7.75).

The Colors

swatches from Mcintyres.co.uk

6/43 is more on the gold/red side while 66/44 is on the red side.  These alone mixed together may be enough, but to really make the most of being a redhead and to get rid of the darkness of brown.  I would add a color additive to the mix, in this case the Wella Koleston Special Mix 0/43 (£9.95).

Color Additive

swatch 0/43

Color additives are meant to be mixed with permanent and some with demi-permanent to either intensify a color or neutralize an unwanted one. Most brands have their own version of these.

With all these colors, the mix that would most likely take your dark brown hair to a ginger-colored dream spectacle would be the following:

The Equation

Notice the amount of each hair color and they total to 2oz then the 1:1 ratio of developer is instructed, therefore, 2 oz of 40 volume.  I would let the color develop for anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes and within those last 10 minutes if I had previously colored hair to retouch, I would apply to those to refresh the color.  Also, notice heat is allowed for greater penetration.  Some brands don't allow this but Wella does.  You can stand there with a blowdryer and try to evenly apply heat to your head all around or you could get one of those hood dryers.  Better yet, a heat lamp is the best but those are pricey.  If you have nice warm weather, sit outdoors and enjoy.  Stay out of a draft which will slow down the process.  When the time has ended wash then dry and don't use shampoo for 48 hours.  Let the color absorb.  You may need to use a towel on your pillow just in case it bleeds. 

After the Color, the Maintenance

Yes, there will be roots and yes they have to be retouched.  And, you will also have to refresh the previous color.  This is usually done with the color which has been leftover from retouching the roots and the retouching method of application is used.  Some will dilute the leftover color with shampoo then apply for the last 5 to 10 minutes of hair color application.  This ensures even new color.


Probably not if you thought in terms of simple box hair color.  Customized hair color is a bit more complicated because it involves thinking about obtaining the dream color with the least amount of damage.  Something, all colorists do everyday.  This is what you pay your colorist for!

To answer Roni's question and to all the others, yes, you can color your hair at home and achieve your dream color, but you really have to think it out first to avoid any mistakes and damage.  So many people buy hair color on a whim which is fine but the whim can turn into a costly and damaging mistake.  Of course, the best attitude to take when your hair doesn't turn out correctly is to think it is just hair, and it will always grow!

Roni, I probably have confused you more than you were before.  I hope I answered most of your questions, but I know I didn't answer all of them. Please comment below.

Before I go, I have been alerted to a great promotion from Maple Holistics.  This is a brand that really cares about the ingredients their products are created with.  Their products are made in the USA and most are vegan friendly.  Great real ingredients with actually do what they are supposed to do in their natural state and with very little extra ingredients to bother them.

Maple Holistics has a promotion going on for FREE PRODUCTS.  The offer is for a full size product for a genuine review on amazon.  The details are written here.  Good until Sept. 30th.

Yes, I have been compensated to write this with a PR sample which will be reviewed in the near future.  And, this blogger compensation has also been made possible by Edumuch.com.  That's right, grammar is very important in education!  Just because you are on the internet, doesn't mean proper grammar or proper paragraphs are unnecessary!



*links to hair color sites are their for your convenience*

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