Bionic Asks: Do you color your hair?

by Bionic Beauty on 07.Apr.2010 · 9 comments

Bionic Beauty Asks - Makeup and beauty question blog article series

This week’s Bionic Asks Do you color your hair?
Whether it’s at home, or at the salon, hair color is one of those beauty rituals that many women indulge in. Some of us do it for the range of colors, others to cover grays, and some just for highlights to add dimension; or any combo of the above. I guess I color mine for all three of those reasons… plus, I get bored with my hair color very easily.

So, do you color your hair? At home, at the salon, with a stylist friend? Do you even change colors with the seasons or your moods?


1 Stacy April 7, 2010 at 8:39 am

I do color my hair, varying shades of red and I have no idea why when I am a redhead anyway. lol. I have discovered that I don’t like Feria color. If you go to change your color the roots are always discolored. I’ve used the cheap hair color and have never had that issue.

2 Bionic Beauty May 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

I agree with your assessment of Feria, Stacy. I love their color for the highlights it seems to bring out in my hair, but it doesn’t last past 2 weeks for me (my grays show *really* quick with most drugstore colors). Red is particularly hard, as you know, due to the “hot roots” affect some colors/brands produce. It’s caused by the heat from your scalp heating up the dye at your roots. I use the Clairol Gray Solution when I use drugstore color and that seems to work great for me. But they have a horrible range of colors. It’s like medium blonde to medium brown. I like changing shades too much to use a brand that limited! 😉

3 NeCole Scott April 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

I color my hair because I’m over 50% gray( former natural brunette). I use light ash blonde because it helps hide the gray hairs that won’t take the color. Currently, I dye my own at home to save money–I’m a SAHM. When I work outside the home, and can justify the cost, I go to a salon. I prefer to use L’Oreal Excellence, but I have tried almost every brand.

4 Tashi April 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Do I color my hair? Oh, heavens, YES!! Thanks to you, Jami, I discovered Ion Brilliance last summer (at Sally Beauty Supplies — woohoo!) I have saved *SO* much money, over what I spent at the salon. Ion is better and cheaper for me, than any boxed store-bought colors that I tried previously. And I’ll never go back. Yes, I LOOOOVE the Ion, and recommend it to everyone. I color my hair every 4-6 weeks or so. I mix two shades, a blonde and a red, and haven’t changed depending on the season. I’m not ready to cave in to grays. I don’t want to be perceived as older than I am (41). I have received compliments on my color, which of course, is cool.

5 The Cheap Chick April 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Yep – I have partial foil at my salon every 1 1/2 months. Love it. Love being blonde(ish). I don’t even mind the price tag – my stylist is way affordable!

6 Kimberly May 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I just found this blog…

I’ve been an at-home colorer for ages now. The “habit” started when I was a poor, young thing at college and found myself too busy studying and working to hang out in the sun all summer (meaning, my dark blonde hair didn’t have the opportunity to get its usual natural highlights). So I started dyeing (to a medium blonde) my hair at home with box color.

Fast forward to my first post-college jobs. I felt the blonde made me look too young (I was the youngest person in my office, so I was very self conscious of my age) and so I started dyeing my hair a dark brown…

Now I’m back in school (grad school) and I’ve been trying to return to blonde. However, all those years of artificial brown dyes means LOTS of “Color Oops” applications and a fair amount of bleaching. My hair, thank goodness, is still in pretty good shape considering all the processes I’ve subjected it to lately, but the color just isn’t pretty and it doesn’t look anything like the blonde I was before.

My biggest problem is that I’m having the hardest time finding a natural looking blonde shade to stick with! If I bleach up to a level 9 or 10, my hair looks great, but it’s damaged (like, the hairs get “stretchy,” though they don’t break off or become brittle). Anything less than a 9, and the hair color just doesn’t look natural (I assume it’s because the bottom half of my head has had all traces of artificial and natural color removed so the color is always “incomplete,” if you know what I mean). I keep vacillating between a very light blonde–which means lots of maintenance and risking damage to my hair–and medium blonde (but I’m having a very hard time finding a dye that gives me a good-looking medium blonde…about a level 8).

Any advice? I have no aversion to going to Sally’s and doing color myself, but I need help identifying which dye color and brand to get, along with a developer to use.

FYI: I’m rather pale-skinned (with pinkish undertones), blue-eyed, and naturally have dark-blonde hair.



7 Bionic Beauty May 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Hi Kimberly, First… Welcome to Bionic Beauty!! We love to talk hair color here as you’ll soon see. 🙂

I started coloring my hair when I was 16. Mostly for fun, but also to cover some VERY early grays at my temples. My natural color is a light golden brown although I don’t really remember it, except through pictures. I’ve been almost every color of the rainbow- pink, red, auburn, brunette, black, very pale blonde, purple, blue, and all sorts of shades, combinations, and highlights of those colors. Thankfully, like you, I treat my hair with extreme care to keep it healthy.

The differences you are experiencing when you are going to the medium blonde are probably due to the undertones in your hair. Are you using a Neutral, Gold, or Ash color? And what was the brunette- ash, gold, or neutral? If your ends are still carrying gold tones underneath, and you cover them with an ash (cool) toned color, the result can be quite scary.

As for bleaching recommendations, I use the Color Prisms bleach in packets at Sally Beauty Supply. Typically I use the Violet variety since my hair carries a lot of red, copper and golden tones naturally. Plus I currently am using Medium Red Brown and Light Copper Brown dyes in different sections to give my hair more dimension. So when I bleached streaks in recently (I was adding Hot Pink highlights), I used the violet-toned bleach to “cool” off the warm tones in my hair. That way I ended up with a neutral pale blonde. If I hadn’t used the violet, and then added hot pink on top of bleached blonde with gold undertones, the results would’ve been more orange, than pink. You have to think a LOT about the color wheel and what you’ve previously layered into your hair to get the results to come out correctly.

As for a hair color brand recommendation- I swear by Ion Color Brilliance. I use the cream variety, but they have liquid available as well. If you read the comments section over at my review of Clairol’s Perfect 10 hair color, there are a ton of tips that I wrote up about Ion Color. Perfect 10 didn’t work too well, but the comments section on that article is worth it’s weight in gold for helpful hair coloring advice. Here’s the link:

You’ll see there that I recommend choosing a full shade or two lighter than you’d normally pick when you use Ion color. Since it’s a professional color, it is much more pigmented than “drugstore” color. For example, to achieve my current level 5 medium to dark brunette hair with red & copper highlights, I use a mix of their Dark Copper Blonde, Light Copper brown and Medium Red Brown. You don’t need to use so many of course, I just enjoy adding different tones to my hair. 🙂

With all that said, it sounds like right now you need to grow out those older sections that had so many layers of colors. Keep up with your trims and in the meantime, you can get your color even by using a slightly different color tone on the lower sections of your hair. If you want a level 8, I would suggest their Light neutral blonde with the 20 vol developer on the roots and more balanced/upper sections of your hair. On the lower section (let me know your tones you were using before when you were brunette & the tones you are using in the blonde ranges you’re doing now), you might benefit from the 30 vol developer or the 30 mixed with a slightly different level or tone of blonde.

I hope I didn’t confuse you at all… I know it’s a long response. Feel free to write back with more questions. I also have an entire series upcoming about at-home hair color. It’s going to be at least a 4 part series: Preparation, setup, choosing your brand/color/tone; tips for coloring & the process itself; aftercare, conditioning & bathroom cleanup tips; dyeing unnatural colors and bleaching. I may do one on at-home highlights too.

Again, welcome to Bionic Beauty! I’m glad you found the blog and I hope to see you around in the future!
All my best,

8 Kimberly May 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm


Thanks for the detailed response.

I went to Sally’s yesterday, but got a little intimidated by the Wella Color Charm stuff. They had both liquid and cream dyes, as well as liquid and cream developers (but they only had 20 Vol Wella developer, no Wella developer in 30 Vol), and I was sure if you could “mix and match” cream/gel/liquid items and the various brands.

Instead, I just got a Clairol Pro color in light neutral blonde (10N)–the creamy stuff in a 2 oz tube–and the matching 30 Vol Clairol Pro developer that the dye recommends using with it. I dyed my hair during my daughter’s naptime this afternoon–gotta love naps!–and it’s nearly dry now. The color is fine–the ends of my hair (the part of my hair that’s been bleached so many times now that there’s practically no natural pigment left in it) look great, but the roots are “warmer” than I would like them to be (that is, the roots are more yellow-toned, though not orange or brassy…perhaps the roots need more lift to get past the yellow stage?). The two different tones–the warm roots and the nice neutral ends–are closer to each other now that I’ve dyed, but they’re not perfectly matched yet.

(As an aside, it took the entire 2 oz tube of dye, plus the corresponding 2 oz of developer, to just barely cover my head…I have rather thick hair, between chin and shoulder length…so even though I have short hair, I still needed more than a full tube of dye to do it all!)

So my newbie questions are:

1. Must you use cream developer with cream dyes, or does it matter?
2. Can you mix brands? That is, can you use a Wella dye with any other developer and still get a good result?
3. How do you use toner? Does it need to be mixed with developer? If so, liquid or cream developer?
4. What about those porosity/protein treatments? I saw a couple different ones at Sally’s and I wasn’t sure how to use them or even if they worked.


So my newbie questions are:

1. Does it matter

9 Bionic Beauty May 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Kimberly, Your roots are “hot” which means the heat from your head processed the color faster there than the rest of your hair. It happens frequently with gold or red toned colors. Apply the rest of your hair first with color, then do you roots so that they are the last to be covered.

1. I’ve never heard of a cream developer. Developers are thick liquid. You use the same developer with either cream or liquid color.
2. Don’t mix brands because you could cause a chemical reaction since each formula is different. it could be heat output, or even something more extreme. Not a good thing. 🙂
3. I’m not sure what you mean by toner… if you mean the items at Sally’s that say violet toner, blue toner, etc., those really aren’t used too frequently. Mainly if someone REALLY screws up their hair, and then it’s best to have it corrected by a professional. Most “toning” and color correction can be done by picking the correct color dyes and tones for your hair (such as neutral red vs gold red vs ash red, etc). If you do use toner, I would advise asking a professional stylist to help you. You mix it in with your hair color mix and can totally throw everything out of whack if you have blonde with gold tones, and add a cool toner- your hair could each up with as gray with blueish tones.
4. Porosity treatments- I recommend and use White Sand’s Porosity the Fix:
Those protein treatments are totally different…. again ONLY use those if you have the guidance of a professional though. Too much of a protein treatment can really mess up your hair.

Also, I would suggest lowering to a 20vol developer like I mentioned above when possible. I haven’t had good luck with Wella lasting nearly as long as Ion, but you may have a different experience, and I have very stubborn grays- so that’s my main concern. In any case, if you got the results you wanted using the 30 vol, you can probably go to a 20vol developer easily. 20vol is MUCH GENTLER on your hair. 30-40vol developers cause more damage and are typically used when changing someone’s color over 4-5 shades from where it is currently (for instance- going from black to dark blonde).

I hope this helps. I’ll be away on vacation for the next week or so. There will still be articles publishing here on BB, but I won’t have much internet access, so I may be slow to respond. 🙂
Have a super week!

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