Since the true winter temperatures have finally hit Virginia, I’ve been feeling lazy. This is both healthy and unhealthy for me; I’m one of those people who derives purpose from the habit of “busy” to the point where it can easily tip into toxicity. My version of a lazy night just might be how normal people decompress from a work week and heaven knows, I will self-induce some guilt before you can say, “Leah, really, give yourself a break already.” On the other hand, while teetering on the precipice of lots of major life changes, I find myself sometimes becoming listless and removed from what’s currently happening; it’s easier than thinking about the very real implications of leaving my present people, places, and circumstances. It’s also not very healthy or attractive when I become lazy with my appearance, most noticeably when it’s my hair color.
I’ll spare you the epic saga of my hair color journey here, that’s a story for another time. Just know that while growing out my hair, I decided to also grow out the damage-ridden ombre ends leftover from my pastel days of yore. I managed to get my hair to a gorgeous black to silver ombre for all of two weeks but since I failed to undertake the major upkeep silver requires, it became the above greenish-greyish dishwater fade. In the right lighting, it looked purposeful and somewhat on-trend. However, in the dressing room fluorescence of a three way mirror last week, I saw how half-assed I’d let my hair color become. Nope. No thank you.
While most people at least have some notion that going from dark brunette to platinum blonde is an arduous task, I (as well as many others) initially had no idea how tricky it can be going back to a truly natural brunette shade. There’s the guesswork of adding red and gold base tones back in, as well as trying to match your complex natural shade (unless you want the dreaded Line of Dye.) My previous experiences with going from blonde to brunette have not been terrible but they were both just slightly off.
The left and middle 2014 pictures show the results of salon permanent dye and some highlights I positively despised. That lasted for a week or two before I returned to lavender. On the right, my at-home 2015 attempt with demi-permanent dye still yielded a color that was brown, yes, but obviously more golden than my natural tone. I’ll also say that I got my demi-permanent developer and color combo from Sally’s Beauty Supplies and not in a drugstore box, which should honestly just never happen.
Thank goodness I stumbled across Aveda’s line of Pure Plant Collection color conditioners while searching online. There are five conditioners, each with purposes and ingredients specific to certain hair colors:
- Black Malva: for cool-toned brown/black hair, tones down red hues
- Blue Malva: for silver/platinum hair, tones down yellow hues
- Camomile: for traditional/dirty blonde hair, adds golden tones
- Madder Root: for truer red hair, brightens red hues
- Clove: for brown/darker red hair, enriches warm tones
I’m more than familiar with color depositing conditioners from my pastel days. Normally this route takes longer to reach the right shade, as the color is deposited on top of the closed follicle, while the peroxide in permanent dye opens the follicle to add color with both more intensity and damage. And then there was the time Manic Panic’s Virgin Snow did absolutely nothing positive to my bleached hair the night before a job interview. I was also uncertain about how the color notes in Clove would mix with the leftover grey-green tones that I was too lazy/nervous to remove with bleach. But as is usual with any of coloring binges, I figured that my worst case outcome would be an excuse to return to a pixie cut. If you’re sensitive about your hair color, then I highly recommend being patient and doing a strand test.
Supplies I used: plastic dye bowl, rubber gloves*, newspaper or something else to cover your dying environment* (I used the packing paper from my Aveda delivery box), a hair towel or wrap of some kind, my comfiest button-up shirt (which I don’t mind staining*), Bar Keeper’s Friend Cleanser*, and (of course) Aveda’s Clove Color Conditioner.
*This stuff is dark. I mean, dark. And it will viciously stain. Not as bad as Pravana but I’ll admit that I panicked a bit in the shower when I saw my dye rinsing out and definitely hurried to scrub everything down right after. Some online reviews have complained about color transfer to bed linens and palms after a regular shower use (apply for 2-5 minutes after shampooing then rinse.) I highly recommend the old school, inexpensive cleaning product Bar Keeper’s Friend to anyone using a stubborn hair dye.
Despite the threat of staining, I was admittedly dubious of a one-time powerful color transformation. This conditioner uses cloves (surprise) and coffee to both naturally deposit and enhance color. It also had a pleasant herby smell that wasn’t too medicinal or overpowering- maybe eucalyptus or mint? I couldn’t quite place it but it made me feel like a bonafide earthly babe.
With my medium-length bob, I applied about a third of the bottle to dry hair that I had washed with 2-in-1 Head and Shoulders the night before. Dandruff shampoo can be a minimally damaging way to remove a little excess semi-permanent dye without resorting to peroxide. I’ve also found it to be a little beneficial if my hair is dry both in terms of moisture and texture, as the strands will drink in the moisture of the color conditioner without a barrier of any other hair products. Then I secured my hair in my trusty Target towel head wrap. About forty-five minutes later (maybe more), I rinsed my hair thoroughly- whenever dying hair, you want to rinse until the water runs completely clear. I also used my normal temperature of warm/hot water, even though this opens the follicle and can usually rob you of some freshly done color. I’ve given up enough vices to take cold showers, thank you very much.
I let my hair air-dry to be consistent with my before pictures, although I obviously applied my make-up for the day in the after photos. Also note that no filters were used when editing these pictures. My Diva Ring Light (pictured above) gives a cooler glow but it’s nothing earth-shattering. So these before and after pictures are the real deal, honey.
I can say that hands down, this is the best experience I’ve had with a singular application of a hair coloring product. My natural roots, now enhanced by the conditioner, fade naturally into slightly lighter ends but it’s no longer an ombre at all. It also doesn’t have that intense cast of color that most dye jobs carry for the first week. It looks natural. It looks natural while switching out peroxide for some more natural, nourishing ingredients. After only this use, Aveda’s Clove Color Conditioner is definitely a holy grail hair product for me. I’d suggest this conditioner for anyone looking to subtly grow out unnatural color without damage, corral unruly highlights back into submission, or enhance some lackluster brown hair.
As I usually skip two days between washes, I will probably use this product each time I wash my hair (2-3 times a week.) If my hair becomes too dark too quickly from that routine, I’ll try mixing a bit of this with my current Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner to diffuse the intensity. I’m going to wait two weeks to see how often I’ll need to do a 45-minute deep condition/dye job. And I’ll definitely keep buying this as long as I decide to keep my hair natural. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Aveda’s Clove Color Conditioner. I mean, I actually look like an adult for probably the first time in my life.
Do you have a war story or song of victory with your hair dying experience? Is MAC’s Velvet Teddy too light for my skin tone or am I just looking for an excuse to buy another shade of MAC matte nude lipstick? Any questions pertaining to your own hair journey? Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from y’all.
Be kind. Live authentically. Practice gratitude. Hustle daily. Work hard. Stay humble.
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