I have been coloring my hair since high school. I've been blond, brunette and many, many shades of red. I've probably tried most of the drugstore dyes out there: Revlon, Clairol, Garnier and several different kinds of L'oreal, but for the last several years I've used L'oreal Paris Superior Preference. I was pretty happy with the color I was getting at first but over the last few months I found myself looking for a certain shade of red/auburn/copper that I just couldn't seem to find. I went from L'oreal Intense Dark Red to dark Auburn to Medium Auburn and then to Intense Red Copper (where I stayed until this past week) and while I would love my color the first couple of days, it still wasn't what I was looking for so I went looking for a new shade of red.
Frankly, I love researching. If I could be paid to Google I'd be so happy lol so I went over all the store brand reds I could find, reading reviews and looking at colors but there was still something missing. I had a certain color I wanted that I could see in my head but I just couldn't place it. And then while pinning one day (that's probably a whole post on its own) I came across a brand called Madison Reed which promised a lot of things the drugstore dyes couldn't offer. So, of course, it was time to research some more and I researched it like crazy, not only reading reviews on Pinterest and Facebook but also reading as many blog reviews about it as I could find, 95% of which were positive! And then came the most important part... I found the color I'd been searching for on their website! Yes, it was more expensive than the drugstore dyes but way, way less than a salon (although I've never had my hair dyed at a salon before) and after seeing some real-life examples of the color I wanted on their Facebook page I knew I had to try them!
One of the first things you do on their website to find your best color match is to fill out an eight question hair profile that chooses five color shades for you based on your answers. They offer a total of 32 colors.
The color I wanted, Vesuvius Red, was not the #1 choice on my profile but it was in the list of five and it was what I wanted so I went with it. You can order one box of color for $24.95 ($10.00 more for an extra tube if you have really long hair) with $5.00 for shipping or set up a "continuous color plan" when the color is delivered to your home from anywhere to every two weeks to every twelve weeks based on your choice, also with $5.00 for shipping.
If you've never done your hair at home they have step-by-step instructions and a step-by-step video.
The permanent hair dye states that it doesn't have a bad smell, uses micro pigments, argon oil, keratin and ginseng root extract and does not have ammonia, gluten, Resorcinol, no added parabens and is PPD-free (note - it DOES contain PTD so do a spot test to make sure you don't have a reaction to it!). They do not test on animals and they promise 100% gray coverage.
It only took a few days to get my box of color but upon opening it I came across my first (and pretty much only) problem. The company had sent me a box with instructions for touching up roots and not for doing your full head of hair. Everything in the box was what I needed except for the directions. I called their toll-free number (I also had the option to chat with them online) and spoke to someone very friendly who emailed me the correct instructions within minutes and took the shipping cost off of my next order!
Inside the box I found color cream, conditioning color activator, a packet of barrier cream, a packet of cleansing wipes, two pairs of gloves (which is awesome because you don't have to wash off your gloves and try to get them back on your hands after they've been wet), a cap (also a great idea) and a sample of their shampoo and conditioner. The only thing they didn't include which you could really use are hair clips but you can get those in an accessory kit.
The first thing I did after reading the instructions half a dozen times was to take a photo and then separate and put up my hair. Because I was doing my whole head of hair and not just the roots I didn't worry to much about doing the roots perfectly since it was all going to be covered by the end anyway.
My hair color (indoors) before using Madison Reed.
Your hair needs to be dry and unwashed for several days. You also want to make sure there's not a lot of product in it.
Next came the gloves and the barrier cream. The gloves fit wonderfully and the barrier cream is genius! You apply it around your hairline and it's supposed to keep color off of your skin. It also smelled nice! There's also the packet if cleansing wipes but for some reason I don't have a photo of it.
The color cream was wonderfully thick and went into the color activator easily and smoothly. I pretty much rolled it down the way you would a tube of toothpaste to make sure I got all of it.
After that I started to apply it to my hair, starting at the front of the forehead at the roots and moving out from there. The directions also say to lightly rub the cream into your roots and I think that helped cover them much better.
The best thing, in my opinion, besides a cream that didn't drip in any way was the good smell. I've never used a hair color that smelled and felt this good going on! It didn't too long for my whole head to be covered. I have just at/slightly past shoulder blade length hair and the amount of dye was more than enough for me. The hair cap was also a great addition, it kept all of the hair covered and kept the color off of whatever I was touching.
Right before the shower when the shower cap was taken off
Right out of the shower, the first thing I noticed that my hair was dark. Really, really dark but I figured, hey, let's see what happens when it dries. It felt great, it smelled great, now all I was waiting on was the color.
I also want to point out that for the first time in a very, very long time, I did not get hair color on the floor, bathmat or shower curtain because it was thick enough not to splatter!
The cleansing wipes also worked great for the parts of the skin I did get color on, wiped it off right away and smelled good!
I don't use heat on my wet hair, it air dries and then I run a flat iron through it after adding in some protective spray so it took a little while for me to be able to see my finished color and, yes, it was darker than before. It wasn't horribly dark but because of how light it was with the intense red copper shade I think I was thrown off a little. What I needed to remind myself is that my original, natural color is a medium-ish brown with a touch of blond and possible red highlights so, of course, my hair wasn't going to be super light. I did love the shade of red it was though and I found that all of my grays were completely and fully covered which didn't always happen with L'oreal!
Also, my hair has never felt this good, this silky and this amazing after any other dye I've ever used. I kept running my fingers through it because it felt so great! Lol!
I got some photos to compare in similar sun and shade areas of the yard but knew I'd have to wait for the following day to get true outdoor shots.
The top two photos are the old color in the sun and shade and the bottom two are the new color in the sun and shade.
This is taken the morning after it was colored and I loved it. Absolutely loved it! It still felt amazing and it was just about the color I had been picturing. It was a little darker and more "cool" red than I had planned but I knew the shade would change somewhat after the first shampoo plus it looked fantastic!
I try and let several days go by between shampooing because of how quickly red fades, and the water did have some red washing out in it during the first shampoo, but I assume that's normal because it's happened with any dye I've ever used. Or maybe I need to rinse my hair better during the first color rinse? I don't know but I'll take any advice you guys have on that!
These photos are after the first shampoo, in the sun and in the partial shade...
The color has settled in a little. It's less "cool" red and more auburn red which was my goal in the first place. It still feels amazing and I absolutely love it! THIS is the elusive color I've been trying to find for all this time! This is exactly what I wanted and hoped for! The next step is too see how it fades over the next three weeks so I'll update this post when that time comes!
So, basically, Madison Reed is the best hair dye (and shampoo/conditioner) I have ever used. They've won me over and unless they change the color/shade on me, I plan on using them for a long, long time!
I also have my eye on their Root Touch-Up but for now that goes on my wish list!
Funny addition: as I was writing this review my box of a full-size set of the shampoo and conditioner came in the mail. Also, if you plan on ordering, there are some great codes out there to save money and I saved half off the shampoo and conditioner from on of their emails! And if you know me and want to try this, give me your email and we'll both save $15.00 on our orders!