It seems that this week I am destined to write a blog about hair dye.
I’ve been dying my hair varying shades of ginger and red for over a decade and I’m not about to stop now. Aside from the fact that I don’t feel suited to my natural hair colour, imagining the growing out period for about a foot of hair seems torturous.
Now, red hair dye is known for fading quickly. It just happens. Despite this, it is also incredibly stubborn and even after a hardcore bleaching this past summer, my blonde hair was still noticeably ginger. (Which worked well for me, as I was only moving to a lighter shade of ginge at the time.)
Why is this blogworthy? I’m naturally an ash-blonde. That’s the kind where it’s almost brown, but goes bright blonde in the summer. It’s apparently a Scandinavian gene that’s responsible, but that’s not really important. Just a nice little tit-bit of information for you there. What IS important, is that this kind of hair is incredibly different to afro hair or Asian hair. It’s not just the colour, it’s the texture, the thickness, the porosity. This all rolls together to give me soft, thin hair that stylists seem to love, but is proving to be a bit of a nightmare over in China.
First and foremost, the dry air of Ordos has pretty much abolished my natural curl. My hair is highly porous, meaning it dries out easily and loses its bounce. Humidity might make me a little frizzy, but is ideal for my hair, so a lack of it has left me feeling a bit limp. To compensate, I’m using three or four different hair products each day and it’s starting to look lively again.
Secondly, the thing about China is that it’s full of Asians. Huge shocker, I know. Because China is full of Asians who have Asian hair, all of the hair products available are formulated for Asian hair. This includes hair dye. My delicate hair is usually dyed with Western formulae without bleaching agents because I simply don’t need them. I’ve tried finding one out here, but to no avail. My last dye was bought in Hong Kong, which was multicultural enough to facilitate my hair type and I even found a colour similar to what I wanted. But, six weeks later and I’m looking like this:
So, I did what any self-respecting person would do and went to a salon with experience dying foreign hair scoured Taobao for a solution that didn’t look too damaging. I came across a seller specialising in African hair care, and although Africans also have thick black hair, the white lady on the box had me convincing myself that perhaps it caters for white South Africans. What I didn’t pay attention to at the time was that it’s a bloody Chinese brand, so it’s probably all fake. But, whatever. Time to dye my hair ‘wine ren’.
Now, I’m not entirely stupid. I at least went to the internet in order to see whether to treat my hair first, reduce the development time or something else that will help protect my hair. Unfortunately, my VPN decided to fail today and Baidu/Bing don’t understand ‘Using Asian hair dye on blonde hair’ and other variations of the same – all I got were results for how to dye Asian hair blonde.
So I went in blind.
Do I treat my roots first? Usually I do, but that’s because it needs to take more colour. If there’s a bleaching agent, surely a longer development time is to lighten the hair, which means it’s not the roots that need it at all.
The rest of the hair’s already red, even if different strands are different shades. I could just dye it all at the same time and hope for the best. The worst that could happen is exactly the same colour mismatch as I currently have, but in a different shade. That sounds acceptable. It also sounds like something I just made up as I don’t understand the chemistry, but you live and you learn, right?
The box says, “Follow the instruction leaflet.” – there isn’t one.
“Application on natural hair? See color chart below.” – there isn’t one.
“Beauty hair needs an experts.” – I’ve also counted 13 typos on the box of this ‘professiona care and colouing first choice product’
Oh boy. I washed out products the night before and when I woke up today, I applied the dye all over, and I’m writing whilst leaving it to develop for 20 minutes. I’m guessing the ammonia is going to leave me dry, so a deep condition is probably wise too. I don’t have any hats with me, but I’ve got a headscarf I can wear if it goes horribly wrong.
Oh my god why is it pink?
Why doesn’t it all fit in the bottle? Oh no, I have to ruin a bowl for it.
My god, why is it so pink?
Why isn’t it coming off my skin. Oh noooooo, it’s one of those. What is this, the 1990s?
So, 15 minutes development time might be too much, yeah?
Oh god, why is it so pink? Will I have candy floss showers forever?
Good thing I have a bandana. Time for work.
Okay, stay calm. First things first, strip as much as possible, then dye it darker. Vitamin C and washing up liquid has worked in the past, worth a shot this time. But what about brown dye? Even that will have ammonia in since Asians have to lighten their black hair to apply it. I mean, I’ve got nothing to lose, right?
The first ‘treatment’ blasted my shower with bright pink chemicals, so it definitely did something. Then I applied a brown dye and treated it again. My hair feels like straw and is definitely not what I wanted, but I guess I can live with it. Kind of prefer the pink though…