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 Women, Booze and Home Hair Colour: A Dangerous Mix

1 vision of exciting new hair colour
1-3 friends
2-3 bottles of wine
1 box of supermarket hair colour
1 Friday or Saturday night

Combine vision of exciting and beautiful new hair colour with 2 glasses of wine. Add friends and whisk in 2 more bottles of wine. When ingredients become soft and malleable, squish in hair colour. Simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Dry hair. Stare into bathroom mirror in shock, fear and disbelief. Add remaining wine.

There's nothing wrong with colouring your hair at home. Let's get that straight so you don't think I'm just flat against it. There's also nothing wrong with hand feeding sharks; it's simply a question of risk and adventure. My other job is being an artist, working primarily in the abstract — so I'm all about risk and adventure! I love it when people are creative! But this is your hair we're talking about here. If I have a “happy accident” in the art studio, I will often use the so-called “mistake” to take me in a new direction that my thinking mind would not have come up with. “Mistakes” are simply a point of view. 
But this is your hair we're talking about here. 
Some kinds of mistakes don't always go away so quickly. So before you take such an adventurous leap, let's look at the potential risks. I'm not going to talk you out of it, I just want to you to be clear and informed so you can make a conscious decision. If you decide to go ahead, I may have to avert my eyes a moment, then I'll cheer you on and celebrate your adventurousness and creative fire! And if it all goes sideways, I'll try my best to pull you from the rubble.

Okay, what are the upsides to colouring it yourself?

·    Save money.

·    Save time.

·    Colour as often as you feel like it.

·    Have one more excuse to drink and have fun with your friends
     til all hours.

·    Hair colour just might look good and you did it yourself!

Okay, good. Now what are the risks?

·     Colour turns out much different than you thought it would.

·     Trying to fix it makes it even worse.

·     Hair gets damaged.

·     Friends are too drunk to give a damn.

·     Dog thinks you're a stranger and bites your leg.


Now, let's investigate a bit further.


  •  It's much more difficult and risky to try to go lighter than it is to go darker.


  • Generally speaking, artificial hair colour cannot lighten artificial hair colour. This means that unless the last colour you put on is quite faded, you can't expect to apply a lighter colour over it and have it come out well. It may lighten a little, but it may also be uneven and patchy. The only way you can significantly lighten the existing artificial colour is by using colour remover or bleach, and if you're going to get into that on your own, I truly do celebrate your adventurous spirit! But I may not stick around to see what happens.


  •  Home hair colour is stronger, harsher and more drying than good salon colour. One of the reasons for this is that the manufacturer needs to make it predictable, making sure it works in many different situations. It's sort of like the difference between using a nice, herbal blend to get rid of bugs in your garden; it might take some doing and it may only work on certain pests or even attract their friends. But get yourself some Bug Apocalypse and no problem! All bugs dead! (along with every living creature for twenty yards). Milder, professional hair colour requires more skill to use.


  • Fixing a colour that's gone wrong can be a difficult thing, even for a seasoned stylist (not always, but sometimes).


  • Home hair colour will not give you the shine or the variation of tones of good salon colour. It tends to be flat and monotone.


  •  The longer your hair is, the more risks involved. Three years of hair growing can be destroyed in half a glass of Chardonnay.


Okay, okay, I think you get it, enough home colour bashing already! If you do decide to dive in, here are some pointers that may help you and your hair.


  •  The safest way to colour your own hair is to go as close to your natural colour as you can. The further you stray, the more potential for danger and drama.


  • Unless the previous color is quite faded, don't pull the colour through the entire length of the hair every time you do the roots. It will damage the hair more than necessary and could cause them to get too dark. You may have to experiment with this as very situation is different.


  •  Get the best quality colour you can.


  • If, by a stroke of good luck and karma, it does turn out okay, don't call up all your friends and tell them how easy it is and how it's no big deal. Every head of hair is very different.


Colouring your own hair is not a life-threatening endeavor. If you want to have some fun, be creative and save some money, please enjoy, but it's always good to be clear and aware of the risks. And it might be a good idea to leave the second and third bottle of wine for after the colour. That way, you can celebrate if it does turn out well, and if it doesn't, you've got at least one way to make it all better.

In an upcoming newsletter, we'll investigate ways to keep your colour looking great between applications. In another in the series on colour, we'll look at a topic only the brave or the foolhardy would approach: How to Grow Out Your Grey. I wouldn't suggest reading that one before bed.

Jay Lamb is a hairstylist with over 30 years experience, a visual artist and a budding writer. For more information on Jay's hair salon, please visit:

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Jay Lamb

Flow Hair Salon


403 281 1704



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