Blonde Boosters to Avoid!

Summer’s coming, and, despite all the craziness that COVID-19 has caused, a few of us may be thinking that this is still the season to upgrade or maintain their blonde color. In your quest to achieving this, I wanted to namedrop a few dishonorable mentions to the purple-toning list.

Headwear Blondastic Leave-In: What is this leave-in conditioner even doing? Sure, you can’t expect miracles in brass-cancellation with just a leave-in, but this just… does… nothing. Find your brassiest section of hair, spray it on, and watch as the color stays exactly the same!

Not to mention this “conditioner” does anything but add moisture to hair. Of course, there will be some product limitations when the intent is to tone hair, which is naturally drying by itself. It’s not a guarantee that conditioner is going to cancel all of that damage out. But this just seems to add to the problem instead of keeping it, at minimum, the same.

There’s not a ton of product in here, although it is only $10, so I suppose that makes sense. Also, it smells nice. But that’s about the nicest thing I can say about it.

Redken Color Extend Blondage – Conditioner: Speaking of conditioners that don’t condition, here’s another one! Amazingly, this conditioner damages my hair more than a shampoo, or even toner itself. I don’t get it.

It is extremely concentrated with purple dye, which you would think helps lend to a more even spread. But the formulation is very slow-moving and seems to absorb very rapidly during application. This can cause some sections of hair to become bright-white, and other sections the same brass you had before. Not a great look. It’s an even worse look when you realize your hair is breaking at twice the rate it was than before you used it! (full disclosure: my hair is already fried. But still! This was bad.) For $20 — skip this one.

(Redken is notorious for having imitator products that sneak into the market — I picked this up at Ulta, so here’s to hoping this was the real deal).

That’s enough complaining from me — I’ll tell you what I think actually works! If your hair is strong and ready to withstand a little toughness of a super-concentrated formula, try One N Only’s conditioner. The formula is runny, which helps to give a more consistent color. And despite having a lukewarm start with Pravana’s purple conditioner, I’ve been loving it, these days. Subtle color boost without the extreme damage? I’ll take it! ~A

Sauce Beauty Intense Repair Conditioner

If you’ve been following my blog for the past few months, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a lot of really terrible things to my hair lately, like stripping the color, bleaching, and re-dyeing. And as much as I’ve been loving the Carol’s Daughter line of hair care lately, I just didn’t think the conditioner was heavy enough to repair all the damage I’d done. So I picked up this conditioner by Sauce Beauty at Sally’s for $10. It’s a small bottle at 10 fl. oz, but it’s well worth the cost, and you won’t find yourself running out of the product too quickly.

Right off the bat, I LOVE the smell. It smells like a banana-scented bubble bath (Describing smells is still not my strong point, apparently…), and the smell will linger in your hair for the better part of the day, which in this case I definitely appreciate.

The conditioner is REALLY thick, but somehow easily spreadable in your hair. I usually wet my hair first, apply this conditioner, and wash it out after it’s been sitting on my hair for a minute. It makes your hair feel incredibly smooth even while you’re still washing your hair, and long after you’ve hopped out of the shower. Combing through is a breeze. In fact, this is one of the only conditioners that I ever felt like my hair was still smooth and tangle-free a few hours after washing.

I think my biggest gripe with this product is the combination of the thickness of this conditioner, and the bottle that it’s in. The conditioner is incredibly thick, and having a smooth-plastic, triangle-shaped bottle makes it really difficult to squeeze out.

This conditioner has a lot of great features and ingredients, too. It’s color-safe: this conditioner sulfate, paraben, and drying-alcohol free. The banana, honey and coconut are relatively high up on the ingredient listing also. I personally have sensitivity to coconut on both my regular skin and my scalp, but I didn’t feel that this bothered me at all (still, with that being said, if you have a coconut oil sensitivity, just be mindful of this product).

All in all this is a fantastic conditioner at an amazing price point. Considering everything I’ve put my hair through, it’s a lot healthier than I would have expected — I think I owe most of that to this conditioner. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

One N’ Only Shiny Silver Ultra Conditioning Shampoo

One N’ Only is a brand I usually skip over at Sally’s due to the weird 80s/90s style branding of their product. C’mon, you can’t tell me this doesn’t look a little dated:

But I’ve been using quite a few of their products lately, and they’re pretty darn good. In another post, I am going to go into extreme detail about their ColorFix product. But for now, let’s focus on this purple shampoo.

While I had bayalage, I tried about six different blue/purple shampoos/conditioners, and Shiny Silver was the clear winner in the shampoo realm. For $10, you get 12.5 fl. oz of product, which is in the cheaper range for blue shampoos — and, considering that you won’t need to use it every day, it will certainly last awhile.

The consistency of this shampoo is just runny enough to easily get the product out of the bottle, but consistent enough to get a good lather out of it. It will make you feel as though you’ve sufficiently applied enough to your hair (which Joico and Pravana don’t do — those two always made me feel like I had to dump out half the bottle to get a good amount of product). After 2-3 minutes of letting this soak into your hair, you can wash your hair out and hop out of the shower without feeling much of a residue.

Now, unfortunately, that “no residue” feeling is likely due to the inclusion of sulfates, so if you’re looking for a sulfate-free shampoo, this ain’t it. Also, the dreaded isopropyl alcohol rears it’s ugly head in the 4th line down on the ingredient listing. For me, isopropyl alcohol usually ensures that dryness will eventually occur, so I try my best to avoid it in skincare and shampoos. But, hey — all in the name of experimentation, right?

Despite the aforementioned quasi-nefarious ingredients, I didn’t feel like my hair was SUPER dry, by any means. I mean, there was already bleach in it to begin with, so the damage had already been done. But this shampoo didn’t make it worse.

I loved this product because the color payout on the highlights was pretty significant. Even though the effects weren’t super long lasting (maybe two days, at most), they were pretty darn noticeable. All the red/copper/orange tones were temporarily cancelled out, and I was able to achieve a more white-silver blonde highlight look, as opposed to yellow-blonde. Which was exactly what I was going for.

Long-term, this shampoo isn’t going to either help or hinder your hair health. It does what it says it will, which is make your highlights brighter and cancel out the copper-tones. And while it’s not the most moisturizing of shampoos (particularly since it has sulfates, which strip out the natural oils), it’s also not going to damage it beyond repair even after a few weeks of sporadic use. All in all, not a bad buy! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

One n’ Only Color Fix

Double feature Saturday! I wanted to write about this before I forgot about my experience with Colorfix. I’ve been experimenting with this product for close to three weeks now, and I’m hoping that my journey is nearing the end.

My natural color is dark blonde (7 or 8 color). I’ve been dyeing my hair either black or darkest brown (1 or 2) since I was 13 years old. It started off as a mistake that I figured would fade over time, but I actually grew to love the color. I carried on that way for sixteen years, dyeing my hair every 3 or 4 weeks to maintain the roots.

When I got bayalage about a year ago, I decided I was really tired of the black entirely. I knew right out the gate that removing SIXTEEN YEARS (!!) of black dye was going to be a near impossible task. But I bit the bullet, and picked up a box of Color Fix from Sally’s. Could a $13 product get rid of a 16 year love affair with black hair dye?

In the days leading up to this, I scrubbed my hair with Head n Shoulders shampoo, because dandruff shampoo unintentionally reigns supreme in fading out hair dye. I got home from work, made sure my social calendar was clear (in anticipation of looking a bit crazy for the next few days), and ripped open the box. There are three bottles within the ColorFix box, steps 1, 2, and 3. At the advice of the knowledgeable Sally’s employee, I threw out step 3 because it contains peroxide, which revitalizes shrunk hair dye molecules and in turn makes your hair dark again. Makes you wonder why One n Only even included it.

I poured out steps 1 and 2 into a regular mixing bowl, and mixed the two together. This is where the terrible sulfur smell of Colorfix comes into play. Even if you turn your fan on and open your windows, there’s practically no escaping it. The first time I used it, I felt sick to my stomach. Now that I’ve used it a few times, it’s still pretty disgusting, but it doesn’t phase me as much.

You can apply it with a brush the same way you would with a normal dye. After the dye is applied, try to massage the product into your hair to ensure the Colorfix is inundated in as much of the strand as possible. Find a plastic cap or bag to put over your hair to trap the heat, and wait for 20 minutes. I’ve read some anecdotes about using a blowdryer on the highest setting over the cap. I’ve tried this in a few of my applications, but I don’t really see a difference when I don’t use it — it neither increases or decreases the amount of color that gets pulled from my hair. I think all it does is create more unnecessary damage.

I rinsed it out after 20 minutes. A few times I used dish soap, thinking it would clarify the hair more than a normal shampoo clarifier, thus knocking the dye molecules out of the strand — but, in the end, I found that Head n Shoulders was just as effective, and way less damaging than dish soap. You have to make sure you rinse the ColorFix for AT LEAST 20 minutes — not only to get rid of the sulfur smell, but to make sure the product is removed fully before dye is applied over it (otherwise the color will re-oxidize and you’ll be back where you started).

The result? Well, if you’ve been dyeing your hair black for sixteen straight years, do not expect this to work much after the first application. It’s HIGHLY likely you’re going to have to repeat this process at least three or four more times, if not more. For a one-time black dye application, this probably works great, and immediately turns the hair into a rust-red color.

But for me — the process has been slow, resulting in blotches of orange, yellow, light brown, red, and LOTS of remaining black, no matter how meticulously I apply. And though I just hopped out of the shower coming off of my seventh application of the product over three weeks, I’d say that it’s only minimally improved. There are still patches of black that are clinging on for dear life.

My goal: C2 to C7. My hair color after Colorfix: C2, C9, C10, C11, C4, C3, C6….

But the point is that it WORKS. The process is arduous, sure, but I never thought I would see a full head of non-black dyed hair, and the progress toward that is evident. What I also appreciate about ColorFix is that it doesn’t fry your hair the same way that bleach does. It’s a bit damaging, but nothing that can’t be fixed by a week of deep conditioning and possibly a trim.

I know that was a lot, so here are the quick steps to using ColorFix:

  1. Shampoo with a clarifying shampoo before using
  2. Mix up Colorfix in a bowl.
  3. Apply Colorfix to dry hair. Rub it into your hair as much as possible.
  4. Put a processing cap over hair. Wait 20 minutes
  5. Rinse out hair with a clarifier for at least 20 minutes.
  6. Let hair dry, and determine whether or not the steps need to be repeated.
  7. If the old hair color has been satisfactorily stripped, apply hair dye of your choice (or don’t!)

Here’s a few extra things I would like to add about my journey:

  1. I used bleach very shortly prior to using Color Fix. Do NOT do this!!! Colorfix, on it’s own, is not the most damaging product in the world, but in conjunction with recent bleaching, it might just turn your hair to straw. Also, using bleach first will cause the color stripper to turn parts of your hair a somewhat unsightly yellow.
  2. Since you’ve basically wiped out a ton of molecules from your hair, your hair is now very porous. Naturally, it might start to darken on it’s own, even if you don’t apply anything else after the Colorfix. For the same reason of hair porosity, when re-dyeing, ensure that you are using a dye that’s 1 or 2 steps above the desired color.
  3. Yes, that smell will go away. I promise. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 3.5/5 (due to eventual/inevitable oxidation)

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Tanwise Self-Tanning Face Gel

This stuff works, but at what cost? The cost of your beautiful, blemish-free skin! This self-tanner is king at clogging pores.

This is a cheap find at Sally’s for $7. I went in to Sally’s a few days ago and noticed that the packaging for all Tanwise products had changed since I bought my bottle, so I’m not sure if that infers an ingredient reformulation was done as well.

This comes out as a white gel-cream. The smell is a little tough to describe, and there’s nothing “flowery” or “fresh” covering it up: you know that smell you smell, when you walk into a hair salon…? That’s what this is. It’s easy to spread, you really only need two pea sized dollops to cover your whole face.

The gel will very quickly develop on your skin and turn your skin a reasonable shade of brown, I’d say about 2-3 levels darker than your base even after the first usage, which to me is a pretty good result. And, it’s not orange! I never had an issue with the color getting blotchy or streaky, even after layering other products over it. Which brings me to my next point, this lotion works very well with anything else you use before or after it, moisturizers or makeup. The staying power of this self-tanner is pretty good too, even if you wash your face frequently — two to three days will pass before you’ll need to go in with another application.

The bad news: this stuff makes me break out like crazy! I see benzyl alcohol has snuck in the second line of ingredients. So that might be the culprit (or it might not be, but I’m blaming it on that!). After a day of using this, I tend to wake up to find 4 or 5 brand new spots on my face. Not good.

It’s really too bad because this is a really nice facial tanner otherwise, and it lasts much longer than anything else I’ve tried before. Heck, it doesn’t even devolve into that infamous DHA stink after 12 hours! But it’s definitely not worth the breaking out for. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Tanwise Gradual Tan Moisturizer

I wouldn’t say this is the best self-tanner on the market. I can’t even find it now that I’m googling it, and it looks like Tanwise has rebranded anyway since I bought this a year ago. I grabbed this at Sally’s for $9, figuring it was cheap enough to give it a shot.

This is a brown gradual tanning lotion. Gradual tanners obviously aren’t the answer to getting dark within a day or two, but I tend to think their end result is a little more natural and less blotchy than instant formulations. This product unfortunately missed the mark in both categories.

It went on as a white lotion. No guide, since it’s a gradual tanner. If I recall it was pretty notorious for getting under my fingernails and between my fingers, which is unusual for a gradual tanner, so in hindsight I probably should have used a glove. It does smell really good on application — fruity, very sweet — but after a day, this changed into one of the worst DHA smells I’ve ever smelled in my life.

With most gradual tanners, you should be able to use the lotion every day, causing the color to be darker the longer duration you use it for. But this was BAD in terms of being blotchy, and producing sections of extreme dark tan where another patch of skin would have almost nothing, despite efforts to spread the color evenly. Showering would also cause streaks after day 2, which is also very unusual for a gradual tanner.

The one good thing about this tanner (besides the initial smell) is that I think it’s actually ok for sensitive skin. I wouldn’t recommend it for the face, but for the rest of the body it was fine. Sometimes DHA products can briefly produce a very faint, temporary rash, but I didn’t experience that with Tanwise.

Looking around Amazon, it doesn’t seem like Tanwise has great reviews for most of their products, except for their mousse. Maybe that will be my next purchase, but their gradual tanner was definitely a miss. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1.5/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe