Diary of a Home Hair Color Newbie
My hair colorist and I have enjoyed a happy, long-term, committed relationship. For more than a decade, every five weeks like clockwork, we rendezvoused – sharing stories and laughs while he banished grays, bringing me “back to my natural color.” We’d post Instagram selfies before I left, exchange air kisses, and off I went until the following month.
There's a first time for everything
I never imagined anything would disrupt our pattern, but then Spring 2020 happened. Five weeks stretched to eight weeks aaaand you can guess the rest. I knew that my hair color had been stretched far beyond its limits when I seriously considered wearing a fedora during a Zoom meeting to hide my roots. Years of being a salon-hair-color-snob-meets-box-color-phobe went out the window. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
So I jumped online to a fancy home hair color brand that I had seen advertised, answered a slew of questions, and was presented with a shade recommendation that frankly looked too ‘harvest gold’ for me. But – I’d been advised not to go by the pictures on the box – so following this philosophy I popped it into my cart and went to check out.
Not So Fast, Lady
It was $30+ dollars with shipping – definitely a bargain compared to a Manhattan salon – and would arrive in three to four weeks. Wait: WHAT? Are you kidding me? Quarantine was hard enough. Another month of expanding roots was too much to contemplate.
I proceeded to Plan B, resolving to find my shade from one of the home hair color brands I grew up seeing advertised on TV. An online search yielded nothing but out of stock notices. Called the local drug stores. They laughed. The hair color shelves were as empty as the TP aisle! My outlook was turning as gray as my hair. Didn’t the universe realize how big I step I was taking already by accepting that I would need to be my own colorist? The least it could do was support my leap of faith by making the product available, right?
As it turns out, fate intervened on my behalf. While sharing my color calamity with a friend, she mentioned a new brand that she’d just discovered called Better Natured™. She had just tried their home hair color, and not only did it completely cover her stubborn grays, it left her hair feeling deeply moisturized and silky soft.
I requested visual confirmation. A few seconds later – ping! – and there was the photographic evidence. Her auburn hair was seamless and shiny, without a gray hair in sight. When she said I could get it delivered in just a few days I nearly fainted from relief. Hallelujah – this was feeling meant to be.
Best of Both Worlds
I quickly navigated to betternatured.com and realized she hadn’t told me the whole story. Turns out, it’s salon-quality permanent hair color, developed by professionals, and the formulas are naturally-derived*, to boot! Better Natured™ At Home Hair Color contains nourishing tropical ingredients like Coconut Oil, and three different plant milks: orchid, palm and coconut. I was liking the sound of this.
Echoing my friend, user reviews confirmed the product delivered salon-quality gray coverage, “dramatically conditioned hair” and dimensional color that lasts up to eight weeks. Rather than feeling apprehensive about applying chemicals to my hair and scalp it was a relief to learn that I could conceal my grays with color that was effective, lasting and gentle on both!
No further convincing needed. I found my shade, selected an adorable, flowered color-safe bowl and brush, and proceeded to check out. Total was under $30 and shipping was free – score! The best news was that it would ship soon and hopefully arrive within a week. I was very optimistic – and my grays were officially on notice. Finally, a step in the right direction.
While I waited impatiently for my box from Better Natured™ to arrive, I did some more studying about the product and the process. Once the box reached my doorstep ‘Operation Gray is Making Me Cray’ would kick into high gear. I’d proceed directly to the ‘home salon’ and get the color party started. Turns out, I didn’t have to wait long. Three days after ordering a brown box with fun, flowered tape arrived!
True to my vow, the Better Natured™ box and I headed upstairs. After changing into one of my husband’s old buttoned shirts, and placing some old towels on the bathroom counter and the floor, I opened up my delivery. Inside the box was covered with an exuberant floral pattern that made me smile. (add link to picture of box). Stodgy and old-fashioned this was not.
It contained everything I would need: a tube of hair color crème in shade 10N; a bottle of developer; the application bowl and brush; and an envelope with directions, rubber gloves, barrier cream for the forehead, a color removing wipe just in case, and a packette of Better Natured™ Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner to use after my treatment. I set up everything on the counter, plus a handheld mirror to help with the back of my head, and some hair clips to make it easier to cover one section at a time.
The directions were refreshingly straightforward and included illustrations to go with every step so a complete novice like me could feel relaxed and confident. I mixed the color crème and developer in the bowl using a 1:1 ratio and noted that the consistency looked exactly like what I’d seen my colorist apply a hundred times before. So far so good!
Barrier cream applied – check. Hair separated and clipped into four sections – check check. I laid out the directions for easy reference and cued my playlist. It was go time.
At Home Hair Color To Dye For
Turns out all those years of salon-going were excellent training because I’d absorbed some technique by observation and osmosis. Working methodically, section by section, I was careful to saturate the outgrowth and avoid the previously colored hair as the directions advised. Tapping the color into my roots felt satisfying, and I was thrilled to know that within the hour I would be much closer to looking and feeling like myself again.
Not gonna lie. Applying color to the back of your own head is a challenge. I would clip a section, dip the brush and use the hand mirror to help me tap it into the all the right places. Having an extra set of hands would have been nice, but honestly covering grays in the back was not my biggest concern! I was preoccupied with what I myself could see, and what was visible to colleagues and clients on Zoom. The rest was gravy.
I set a timer for 40 minutes and checked my side part at the 30 and 35-minute marks to make sure the grays were going and the blonde wasn’t turning brassy. In the end I left the product on for 42 minutes and then headed for the shower and the moment of truth.
After rinsing the color out for a minute, I applied Better Natured™ Color Care Shampoo. It had a luxurious lather and a tropical fragrance, and the naturally-derived*, vegan formula assured my self-administered color artistry would be protected. I followed that up with the Color Care Conditioner, working it through to the ends and leaving it on for a good 60 seconds to lock in all of the hydrating moisture and shine.
When I stepped out of the shower and looked in the mirror it was like seeing an old friend. It was me – and I was back! No grays, just a sparkly medium blonde, not too warm and not too cool. #nobrass #noash. Thank you Better Natured™ for bringing out my inner-colorist and making me a believer in the potential – and the payoff – of home hair color. I still love my colorist, but our status has been updated to ‘non-exclusive’.
*Better Natured™ Liqui-Creme Hair Color shades range between 87% - 92% naturally-derived depending on the shade. We use the Global ISO Standard 16128 which defines naturally-derived as a plant or mineral derived material and water which is found in nature and has undergone limited processing.