Friday, 9 August 2013

My Journey To Ombre featuring Jerome Russell and Schwarzkopf

Ever since the sun made its brief appearance here in England, I felt I should change up my hair colour. My semi-permanent black dyes weren't lasting well against the bright sunlight so I decided ombré was my only way forward.
If you thought ombré was impossible on black hair - well, you weren't wrong, but you weren't 100% right either. This story doesn't end as well as you'd think.

I started off with the cheapest bleaching product in Superdrug - Jerome Russell's Bblonde Hair Lightener. It's meant for medium to dark brown hair but you'll know there isn't a bleach designed for black hair in the drugstore, so this is the best I could do. They've changed the packaging since I bought this one by the way, it's the one in the middle but it's now featuring a girl with ice blonde curly hair, with the whopping great big statement of 'Maximum Lift' - I'll return to this later.

I have a few quibbles about this product.
Quibble #1. The mixing process. The powder bleach is fine, but the liquid you pour out from a bottle is my problem. It takes the hand muscles of the Hulk and Thor combined to retrieve every last drop out of this bottle. The product does not pour like a dream. You will find yourself squeezing a rigid bottle for a very long time - consider yourselves warned.

Quibble #2. The gloves. I accidentally ripped mine while trying to retrieve them from their Teflon-esque packet and consequently could only touch my hair with one hand, as the other was totally exposed. I've seen better gloves at a petrol station. Also, I still found myself with quite small but briefly painful bleaching burns on my fingers, and that was underneath the intact glove. Figure that out, because I certainly can't.
Not exactly evident from a mile away, but you can see the two red marks on my finger joints.

Quibble #3. The cap. Sure, I resourcefully wrapped it round my ends as I only needed it for that area, which you can see below, but the cap wasn't greatly designed for other uses. Especially when the packaging states you can make your own highlights by poking the end of the tinting brush provided through the cap. Just where exactly? No holes provided, you're expected to hack through a plastic cap all by yourself. I know there are highlighting caps available in other products, which makes this one a little redundant if you're looking to highlight.

After 90 minutes, I was getting bored of sitting awkwardly forward on the sofa, holding up a plastic cap on my head and eating with one hand, so I rinsed it off. I'd kept a black dye to one side just in case I hated the finished article, but then conveniently realised I needed to touch up my roots! I tentatively coloured my roots with Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL in Deep Black and surprisingly, the colour didn't fade into my new ombre at all.

Bleaching attempt #1 - Brown ends. I guess I expected the bleach to do very little on the first go, especially as I've been religiously dying my hair black for the past 4 or so years - it's got an awful lot of goth to wade through. But I liked this step, it was a lot more natural and blended well. However, to get the ombre I wanted, I still needed more, so I went and bought a second bleach box.

Now here's where my quibble #4 with the lightener comes in. The new packaging states 'Maximum Lift'. Don't you dare, Jerome Russell, don't you friggin' dare. A box tells me it'll work on dark brown hair in 60-90 minutes and return it to light blonde. This was left on for nearly 2 hours on hair that certainly wasn't dark brown any more, and here's the finished product:

Bleaching attempt #2 - More auburn, with one bright orange section which was closest to my scalp. I think this is my favourite stage, it shows up my curls like some kind of ginger Rapunzel. If Rapunzel had curly hair, or even if I could think of a fairytale character known for their curly hair. Rumplestiltskin? Stop it Ali.

Nowhere near light blonde, right? Like I said before, I can't expect it to work miracles on years worth of black dye, but I at least expected it to keep to its word on the packaging when it specifically said it would turn dark brown to light blonde in 60-90 minutes.

Next is the stage I'm least happy with - the purple. Using Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL in Purple Punk, I dyed the blonde/orange/brown bits, and this is the final result:

Yeah. My thoughts exactly. You can see the colour I was expecting this to be, and it's come out... pomegranate? Of course my hair wasn't bleach white underneath, but should that really cause the dye to turn pink/red? I wouldn't have minded if I didn't actually despise the colour pink. I've learnt my lesson the hard way here - Schwarzkopf brights just don't work for me.
I guess my only saving grace is that this is a semi-permanent colour that should wash out in 6-8 washes. To be honest, I can't wait. I feel so self-conscious in this colour, not least because everyone and their mother dyed their hair this pink/red this summer, and you must all know me by now - anything that everyone else does, I steer very, very clear of.

So that's my obscure journey to ombre. I'm not entirely sure it's over yet, I may bleach it again just to bring back the orange I had at stage 2, somehow I much preferred that because it defined my curls really well!

Don't forget kids - bleaching's bad, so deep condition well! I use John Frieda's Full Repair deep conditioner, which I reviewed here.

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  1. As a fellow coloured hair enthusiast, a few tips. First of all, Schwarzkopf dyes are BAD. They contain metallic salts which stain your hair cuticle and make it ridiculously difficult to get rid of, especially if you've ever used a black dye with red undertones as red stains your hair cuticles the most.

    Secondly, Jerome Russell bleaches are BAD. I speak from experience. Chemical burns anyone? The reason they're bad is because they use high volume hydrogen peroxide, if you really need to use one, make sure it has 20 or 30% volume, because 40% is awful. Also when the box says it bleaches dark brown hair it really means non-dyed.

    The gloves you get in any dye suck and you can get a pack of 20 from the pound shop which are much better. Also instead of the cap you can use clingfilm and clips, as long as they're not metal.

    With the colour your hair turned out, the best way to imagine what colour it's going to be once it's dyed is, imagine a piece of paper your hair colour, now imagine a crayon the colour you're going to dye it, draw a line with the crayon over the paper and that's what colour it's going to be. Use Directions or Stargazer coloured dyes, they're vegetable based so you can keep them if you don't use them all, and also you can mix them to change colours, mix them with conditioner for more colour, and just use them like paint really!

    Do your research, I'm sorry but it's clear from the results you got that you didn't really try and find out what you were doing beforehand, and that's the best advice I can give you. Youtube tutorials and reviews are your best friend for things like this.

    I had black hair like you and have been dying it black since I was 18 but for the last 6 months has been hot pink and is now blue with green ends. It's a gradual process to get your hair to lighten from that much colour build up, but if you keep at it you'll get there eventually! But if it's any consolation, I think it looks amazing as it is ;)

  2. All of the above. I recommend a slow, careful bleaching process and a willingness to look a little daft in the interim between black and blonde. I have been permanently dying my hair black for ages - it's mixture of red and brown under it all now! - but for a while last year I have red streaks, green ends, blue ends - all using Stargazer over bleached hair that was very much blonde. The bleach was from a local shop that sold salon products, I reckon Sally's would probably have some as well - you can get a big bottle of bleach and enough developer to last you for ages, way more than in little kits like this, but you do need to read up on things to make absolutely sure you don't fry your hair. I rushed a little once, decided to bleach too soon and for a little too long after a previous pass and ended with somewhat frazzled ends so never make that mistake. I also recommend lifting as much dye as you can first using a non-bleach product like ColourB4.

  3. I actually really like this on you! I love the 'pomegrante' shade, even if it's not what you were expecting! I think you're so brave by the way, changing your hair. I get so scared! x

  4. For bright colours- I'd highly recommend Directions hair dye. I used them religiously for many years.
    For bleaching, rather than using Jerome Russell, I've always used a platinum blonde dye and i've found it works a lot better! Schwarzkopf XXL in Absolute Platinum is a pretty good one to go for. I had black hair for about 6 years and using that dye I was able to get an insanely bright pink colour! x

  5. I reallt like your hair with this in it! But if you really want a bright purple Id recommend Paint Box from Sallys. I had both red and pink in my head at different times and the colour is second to none. xox

    The Style Khaleesi


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