Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Hair Diary Part I: ColourB4 Review

This blog post was written in advance and is posted automatically while I'm on vacation. Please understand that I have no regular internet access and might not be able to answer questions or moderate comments right away.

It was time for a change.

Since about 4 years I've constantly dyed my hair black. And I was quite happy with it. Occasionally I thought, colorful hair would be pretty cool - I always wanted purple hair when I was around 16, but it never worked the way I wanted because the colors I got from the drug store were too dark, too reddish, not vibrant enough. Over the last years, I got to know more and more people with exciting and gorgeous hair colors. Red, purple, pink, blue and even green. I was enticed. I wanted it for myself more and more. My first time wearing a wig made me long for a different hair color even more. And this summer, I thought "Heck, why not just give it a try?"

I talked a bit about my current hair condition in this entry, but this time I wanna start from the beginning. I want to document the changes my hair goes through, and I want to review the products I used and how well they worked for me (or not). Since this process until I get my hair really bleached blond so that I can start to dye it in all colors of the rainbow will probably last quite a while, I'll just split this in several parts and post a new part whenever something has changed. For now, let's talk about the first steps.

Starting point: black.

I've been dyeing my hair black for several years now, before that I was bleached blond and before that my hair was black too (and later brown). Therefore I knew more or less what I was signing up to. Most important for me was that I didn't want to have to cut it - last time I bleached it, I cut it (though voluntarily) to chin-length and I didn't wanna do that this time under any circumstances. So I stared looking for a "less invasive" method of lightening your hair color than bleaching with hydrogen peroxide.

And I found ColourB4. This product is originally from the UK and by now also available in Germany and Austria, you can also order it via amazon.  The product itself comes in two varieties, I took the "extra strong" version, since I've been long-term dyeing my hair in the darkest shade and wanted to get rid of as much as possible in one go.

The Mechanism

ColourB4 basically works by reversing the oxidation reaction of dye pigments in your hair. This "shrinks" the pigments so that you can rinse them out. The key factor in the process are two long rinsing steps, which are really crucial to get the pigment out of your hair. If you miss out on one of the steps or don't rinse long enough, expect your hair to darken over time again, as the leftover pigment will re-oxidize and another application will become necessary. So seriously, if you try this product, stick exactly to the instructions!!
Also, it smells pretty ugly. It's not nearly as bad as I imagined it to be, but I also saw that it depends on how much product you use - two bottles of product in your hair will make you smell of sewage for a while, as long as you have it on your head (due to the sulfuric compound in the product), but after all the rinsing and two more washes the smell was prety much gone. So I suppose those people online who complain that their hair still stank after dozens of washes didn't rinse it very well in the first place during application? Also, using a nice smelling conditioner and applying it for a long time (I had my usual conditioner in for >1h after one application) seems to help.

Mind you, the way this products works also means that it technically does not give your your natural hair color back, only the hair color that lies beneath your dyed color. I if you bleached your hair to a lighter shade before going darker, don't expect to miraculously get your natural hair color again by applying ColourB4. You would - at best - get to your bleached color.

The Application

In my case I figured, any way that I can get my hair to be lighter without having to bleach it is worth a try. It's a simple principle: Pour content of one bottle into the other and mix. I poured the stuff into a plastic cup and applied it with a brush. Keep in mind that you should only use plastic products and no metal products with this substance, so stay away from metal hair clamps etc too. This is where you will start to notice the smell a bit, but it's nowhere near as bad as I expected. After waiting for an hour you can start the rinsing. First there's a 10min rinsing step, followed by application of a special shampoo that comes with the product. Then another 10min of rinsing. Another shampooing step, then you can wash it out and apply a conditioner as usual. The rinsing really is a pain in the ass, especially when you have long hair. I'd recommend you do it head-down in the bath tub and not while standing, I feel it is easier to rinse your hair like that throughly.

The nice thing is, if you only want to get rid of say, hair dye that was a shade too dark than your desired result, and end up with a lighter color then desired, you can basically dye your hair again immediately afterwards. Though I'd recommend you give your hair some rest and conditioning after all the rinsing before you treat it with heat or dye again.

The Results

I tested the product on the tips of my hair first, and got promising, though not exactly overwhelming results.

First application - tips only

My hair was now a reddish shade of brown. The pictures are taken in my bathroom, so the light is artificial, but it usually looks pretty much light indirect sunlight.

Next, I made a really huge mistake. I wanted to see how it would look like to apply Directions on that shade of brown. I had seen pictures of people who used shades of purple or violet on brown hair and it gave it a pretty cool purple hue, so I tried to achieve that. However, the hair just went back to pretty much black after that. I used directions in Violet, Midnight Blue and Turquoise (the latter two rather to try it out than really expecting anything). After that, I was pretty much where I had started.

After a few days, I decided to give it another try and use it on all of my hair this time. However, I had only one package of product left, so after thoroughly washing my hair in an attempt to get out most of the Directions, I re-applied it to the tips and slowly worked my way to the top (or rather, my boyfriend did), expecting some kind of "dip-dye" effect. This time, it did not work at all. It says on the product description that it usually doesn't work when certain "fashion colors" like blue or bright red are used, which dye the cuticula of the hair, so I wasn't very surprised. Also, we didn't have enough to apply it to all of my hair and my bangs were left completely untreated.

Second application - everywhere but the bangs

But I wanted to give the product another chance, because the first 15cm or so started to look pretty good, and so I went to buy more, this time I bought two packages which would be just enough for my about hip-long hair. My boyfriend helped me apply it again. The reaction is supposed to work faster/better when in an warm environment so we wrapped my head in kitchen foil and I put on a wool hat, haha.
After rinsing, the results were pretty interesting. See for yourself:

Third application - getting closer!

So, I ended up with a slightly orange color near my roots, which turned into a pretty nice and natural looking red and then near my chin started to become darker and darker. The tips were still pretty much black. The outcome is only logical - near the scalp the product gets more warmth and is supposed to work better, but it's also simply where I haven't applied dye as often yet. The closer you go to the tips, the more pigments have probably accumulated in the hair over time. 

At that point I thought this is probably pretty much all that ColorB4 can do for me. Overall, I am pretty happy with what the product achieved - it's what I'd expect from a weak bleaching, but with the benefit of not damaging your hair in the process of the chemical reaction. However, it has to be noted that all that rinsing does put a lot of stress on your hair, so you really have to care for it well after such a treatment! I think there was some kind of conditioner that came with the product, but I didn't use it because it contained silicones. Anyway, if you treat your hair nicely afterwards, he stress will quickly be forgotten unless you have very flimsy and thin hair - in that case though, you might not even have to rinse as long as me in the first place.

The Conclusion

The color that I ended up with after that is pretty interesting. It actually looks a lot like and intended "ombre hair" effect and if I wanted to go for red, I'd probably just have used some red hair dye to get it a bit more pinkish rather than orange-ish and stayed with that until the black tips had grown out.

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the product. For a first step in getting back to a lighter shade, even if you start from black this is a pretty good idea to try. It's easily reversible if you change your mind, it might possibly work very well if you haven't been dying for a very long time (or can arrange yourself with such an ombre effect, see below). If you used less darker colors like brown on naturally lighter hair, I suppose the results will be even better. In my case, there was just a lot of red pigment still in there from all the black I suppose, and with ColourB4 alone I wouldn't get my natural hair color back, but I didn't really suspect I would in the first place.

So it's really a pretty cool product. The only slight disadvantage is the smell, the tiresome rinsing process and the pretty hefty price compared to bleaching. But for your hair it's definitely a less "invasive" "first step" towards a lighter hair color.

That photo though.... I mentioned in my previous blog entry that my last visit to the hair dresser was a veritable disaster once again and I am very unhappy with the result. But the thing is, I just really wanted to cut a few centimeters before going to Australia, because my hair had grown so long it had become very inconvenient. Since my friend, who trains to become a hairdresser, couldn't cut my hair because they didn't have time for an appointment in their salon at all I just went to town, looking for a hairdresser who had spare time to work on my hair. First one - no luck. I didn't go into the old-fashioned looking one because I have had bad experiences with hairdresser who've been cutting the same old ladies' hair for decades and have absolutely no will (or capability) to adapt to something slightly different such as my personal taste and wishes, and went into a more modern looking one, and was fortunate there and they went to work right away.

I told the girl who cut my hair that I wanted to have it shorter, but still about waist length, and most importantly, it was supposed to have a V-shape in the back because that looks much nicer when you wear a pony tail imo. We discussed it quite in detail and I thought she'd cut like 10cm, maybe 15cm.... but not THIS. Mind you, at the beginning of that day my hair reached pretty much to the seam of that T-shirt.... :( When I realized that she didn't do a V-shape I asked her to make it more so, but she only ended up cutting it shorter... and in the end she even cut it asymmetrically. It's not as bad as it looks in the photo due to me walking and turning my head, instead it's in the front where one side is a few cm shorter than the other. I know I could get it fixed there, probably for free, but I don't wanna risk them cutting my hair even shorter again.

I think I'm just repeating myself with this rant, but I guess you can see how I'm pretty damn upset about this. I just want to ask all the hairdressers out there who might read this, please, PLEASE listen to what your customers say! If you don't know what they mean, ASK. If they ask you to cut quite a lot, like I did, don't just cut away randomly only to realize later you've cut too much, maybe just cut a bit less and then ask again if it's enough, and if it's not enough cut a bit more? There's a saying that goes "You cut off but never 'cut on' more". And if you feel like you can't do what your customer expects you to do, please just tell them and try to work with them. If it's due to the customer's hair, maybe they will agree to a different hair cut that you suggest. If you feel like you simply can't do it because you don't know how to, or feel like you'd have to "give it a try" to know if it will work out, please just ask the customer if that would still be okay for them or not.
I've had so many situations where a hairdresser didn't seem to have any idea what they were doing with my hair that for a while I lost all faith in hairdressers in general. Then I went to the salon where my friend works and I was really happy and satisfied - in retrospect, I wish I had just endured Australia with my previous hair length and tried to get an appointment with them after that, but oh well...

Anyway... it's no use crying over spilled milk. I'll treat my hair with extra caution from now on and probably won't cut it again anytime soon. I suppose it will take at least a year till it is back to the length I'd like to have, IF it continues to grow well. I also started to take silicic acid tablets again, hoping for an effect or at least a placebo effect on my hair growth rate.

So, that's it!
Thanks for reading, I'll answer your comments when I'm back, but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask! :)
Have you ever tried ColourB4? What were your experiences?


  1. Das ist wirklich ein tolles Ergebnis, hätte nicht gedacht, dass das beim ersten Rutsch so gut funktioniert! Echt cool.
    Das ist echt eine Frechheit, was die Friseurin da angerichtet hat. Das kann doch echt nicht sein. :/
    Ich hab ja auch lange Haare und lasse mir regelmäßig die Spitzen schneiden, weil meine Haare so extrem schnell wachsen (hab immer 2 Wochen nach dem Färben wieder einen mega Ansatz -.-'), aber unter allen Friseuren ist mir bisher nie jemand so Inkompetentes untergekommen! Zwar wurde ich mal aufgrund meines selbstgeschnittenen Ponys beleidigt, aber immerhin schneiden sie mir die Haare so, wie ich das will. Oft schneiden sie auch viel zu wenig als ich das möchte runter, aber das kann ich ja gut nachbessenr lassen. Dabei gehe ich wirklich immer zum billigsten aller Billigfriseure, weil ich mir nichts anderes leisten kann. Da könnte ich mich echt aufregen, wenn ich solche Storys wie deine lese, was soll denn das? Wieso wird alles im Vornerein besprochen, wenn es dann doch egal ist? Oh mann :(
    Aber auf jeden Fall wünsche ich dir noch ganz viel Spaß in Australien, das wird dich bestimmt gut ablenken! :)
    Liebe Grüße

  2. Die Lösung des Problems ist ganz einfach: selber schneiden! Ich lasse auch keinen Haarmetzler mehr an meinen Schopf aufgrund zu schlechter Erfahrungen. Nach dieser Anleitung hier klappt es sogar erstaunlich gut:
    Viel Spaß in Australien!

  3. Oh man, ich hab schon bei deinem letzten Post so mit dir gefühlt, aber jetzt wo man das Ergebnis sieht.. das ist echt traurig. Ich hätte an deiner Stelle sicher direkt angefangen zu heulen und nie wieder aufgehört. Genau deswegen gehe ich nie zum Friseur. Lieber habe ich meine Haare lang und kaputt, solange sie zumindest lang sind. Momentan sind sie etwa hüftlang und werden wohl leider auch nicht wirklich länger. Ich überlege auch zu blondieren, aber da würde ich sicher einiges der Länge einbüßen. Noch habe ich rote Farbe daheim, die ich erstmal aufbrauchen muss, bis dahin überleg ich mir das ganze. Bunte Haare sind halt schon sehr verlockend :D Du bist mir ja jetzt quasi einen Schritt voraus bei der Sache, mal schauen wie es bei dir läuft :)

  4. I used this produce too on my middle brown hair and it makes my hair to dark blonde. It was a few week before but i just want a little change to have lighter brown hair, so i dyed my hairwith a lighter color after using it. :3 so i love colourB4.
    I ove your review. It is really good.
    Bai, Shiki

  5. Die Farbe ist echt gut weggegangen, nur das mit dem Frisör ist doof. Ich habe die Erfahrung gemacht, dass man den Frisören wirklich exakt sagen muss, was man will. Am besten mit Bild von der Wunschfrisur und mit Zentimeterangabe. "Schneiden Sie ein bisschen ab!" oder "Schneiden Sie das kaputte ab!" war bisher immer eine Katastrophe, aber "Schneiden Sie 3 cm" funktioniert meistens recht gut. Ich drück die Daumen, dass deine Haare schnell wieder nachwachsen :)


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