So, there goes that lovely illusion that Beauty Editors can’t make mistakes. Anyone who thinks otherwise just needs to take a long at my poor, tortured tresses, hanging limp and lifeless after a week-long descent into over-processing hell
Afternoon of 22 June: Down in the dumps and in advanced stages of desperately-need-a-pick-me-up-beauty-therapy syndrome, I impulsively decide to get brand new hair. Three shades lighter base colour, reddish-brown highlights, caramel blonde lowlights… the whole hog. All despite the fact that I had gone two shades lighter just two months back. Cost: Approximately Rs. 6,000 (US$110) for my medium-length hair.
Morning of 23 June: Hubby wakes up in terror, confronted by a freakily orange-blonde woman with brassy streaks running through her hair lying next to him. Fortunately (for him) it wasn’t some random stranger picked up in the night. Unfortunately (for me) it was my own hair, which had decided to really go the whole hog by showing me just how bad hair colouring can get when taken to extremes. Cue: Panicked call to hair dresser… “I can’t step out of the house looking like a very, very crazy redhead-turned-peroxide-blonde. Help!!!!!”
Morning of 24 June: Rush to the other end of the city, given soothing mint tea by said hair dresser (wanted tranquillisers but apparently the problem was not that irreversible). An hour-and-a-half of washing, toner and deep conditioning later, hair is a nice caramel brown colour. I like! Cost: Rs. 1,500 (US$30)
Morning of 25 June: Run brush through hair to find it coming out in clumps. What strands remain on my head are so brittle and frizzy and brillo-like that I can only tie a scarf over the whole mess and run back to the parlour.
Evening of 25 June: Four hours and a maxed-out credit card get me a keratin treatment, which not only smoothes and relaxes the tresses but also literally fills in cracks and gaps in the uber-damaged hair shaft, thereby strengthening and making it more resilient. Yup! Hair is finally looking smooth and shiny but… nobody told me that keratin strips the hair colour. The result? Freaky yellow-blonde strands, a cancelled dinner party as friends refuse to be seen with me in public and renewed wailing in front of the hair dresser. By now, I am this close to just shaving everything off, going bald and literally starting with a clean canvas. Would you blame me for the thought? Cost: Rs. 9,000 (US$160)
Afternoon of 27 June: Second round of washing, toner and deep conditioning. Another two hours of my life that I won’t get back and second credit card sent to rehab. but, finally, hair looks somewhat human. It’s a nice caramel colour (not exactly what I originally wanted but close enough – and I am definitely not taking any more chances) and the keratin hasn’t been destroyed by this touch-up. So, the sleekness remains. Touch wood! Though my scalp burns and my hair is significantly thinner than it was five days back. Plus, the ends are so fried by now that I will have to chop them off very soon Cost: Rs. 1,500 (US$30)
There is only so much abuse that hair can take before it rebels. And when it does decide to teach you a lesson, say goodbye to any chances at sanity, a social life (unless you don’t mind people pointing and shrieking with laughter), the ability to look into a mirror sans tranquillisers, hours and hours and hours and hours of your life that are now spent coaxing the strands out of their sullen deadness, credit card debt that needs to be hidden from hubby unless you want a divorce… need I go on? No?
I don’t know about you but I am now religiously going to follow these do’s and don’ts of hair colouring that have been handed to me by the country’s top experts. Well! Actually sanity would dictate I don’t as much as put a toe in a hair colouring zone from now on but we all know that resolution won’t go the distance for too long
The Do’s & Dont’s of hair colour
Honour thy hue: Use your current colour (even if it’s dyed) as a gauge and never lighten or darken more than two shades at a time. If you are aiming for a more dramatic change, do it gradually – this will help you in adjusting to the new look and you can easily back out if it starts looking too OTT.
Do a strand test: Since everyone’s hair has varying levels of pigment and porosity, a dye can give different results on different people. So, save yourself after-colour anguish (and a hefty colour-correction bill) by doing a strand test on your under-layer before colouring your whole head.
Assess the state of your strands: If your hair is dry and/or has split ends, steer clear of hues lighter than your current colour until you can nurse your mane back to health. Going lighter will strip strands and weaken hair even further. A darker shade will add richness, helping to mask hair damage.
Coddle your curls: Colouring curly hair is a delicate business – because it’s naturally dry and porous, it absorbs colour faster and is more susceptible to damage than straight hair.
Don’t shampoo right before dyeing: The natural oils in your scalp will help hydrate and protect during the colouring process. A week before colouring, treat your hair with an intensive conditioner to strengthen the tresses. And remember to get all split ends chopped off before you dye as damaged hair will soak in more colour and look uneven.
Say no to over-processing: Try and keep at least four months between colour jobs, especially if you are going lighter, as dyeing it too often can make hair weak and brittle. In a pinch, go darker – adding colour isn’t as stressful to your strands since you aren’t stripping away any natural pigment.
Don’t trash thy tresses: Ordinary shampoos will fade colour, so choose those formulated for colour-treated tresses and pamper with an intensive conditioner at least once a week to prevent strands from becoming brittle. The more you baby your hair, the better it maintains new colour.
Skip the flat iron: Don’t overuse heated appliances on coloured tresses. And protect them from the sun by using protective styling products that contain UV filters (try Kerastase Reflection Chroma Protect Polishing Cream, Rs. 1100 or L’Oreal Professionnel’s Tecni.Art Color Show Liss Cream, Rs. 490). Chlorine is another hair colour killer, so wear a cap while swimming and shampoo immediately afterwards.
Do you have a hair disaster tale? What happened? And how did you get over it? Do share – after all, misery loves company!!!!