Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Runway Red

The thing about home-coloring red hair (according to people who do that kind of thing) is that if the color is a little light, it is strawberry blonde at first, and after a few shampoos, just blonde with some orange highlights. If the color is too dark, it starts purple (not pretty, Day-Glo purple, either... just a blackish dark "auburn" that's really a flat, ugly purple) and fades to a brown with some red highlights, if you're lucky.

If a girl (or guy) wants red hair, she (he) wants it red, dagnab it! But novelty colorings like Manic Panic (or its inferior, cheaper cousin, Splat) are both extremely messy and will stain tile and other surfaces permanently. Plus, they look amazing at first, but after a week of washings, they start to fade and after three weeks, they just look sad and flat, and if you don't keep touching them up, it's like an old manicure that would have looked better if you'd just left your nails naked (which is what I do because ain't this girl got time for that).

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this at Walgreen's last night!

Dude, that is *red*.

When I first started coloring my hair, I always said that I wanted a color that exists in nature, but over time, I've grown fond of a little too red to be true. I know I can only get that for a couple of weeks, but since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, at least I'd have some construction-paper red hair for that day, right? Plus, with the gentle chocolate shampoo and conditioner, maybe I'll have some luck keeping the color strong for a while.

This dye is typical for drugstore dye, which is $10.99. Some colors were on sale for $8.99, but not this one.

There was nothing special in the box. Development creme, color mix, after-color weekly conditioner, and gloves. Oh, and the gloves are elastic, not the fast-food one-shape clear gloves, so they're easy to work with.

After I mixed the dye, which was a bright orange (always a good sign), I started applying it and was pleased by how "dry" it was. It didn't drip, it wasn't "goopy." It was easy to apply and I didn't get any drops or anything on the floor, or my hair-color sports bra, or anywhere else that I did not want dye.

Since my existing color was quite a bit darker than the hair color, I went ahead and colored everything at once instead of just doing the root touch-up and then the rest of the hair shortly.

See? Super dry. It didn't weigh my hair down, and my hair didn't want to fall off of my head. Also, the dye did not smell bad. It didn't smell good, either, but neutral is better than suffocating.

When it was time to rinse it, the dye liquefied quickly and rinsed out easily. The rinse water started out deep, bright orange, which was a good sign. When it's purple, it makes me a little nervous. The conditioner was silky.

The color looked very bright even when my hair was wet. Once it dried, it looked like this.

I love it! I can't wait to see how the color holds up over the next few weeks. I'm tempted to go back to that Walgreen's and clean them out of this color. I've never seen it before, and actually just looked online to see that it's not even available on It *is* available here, on They also have London Lilac, and I'm tempted to order one of those. For Easter, maybe? I'll let you know!

Review: Ikove Organics Acai Chocolate Shampoo and Conditioner

Last week, we were at Central Market for their annual chocolate festival, when I saw something on the counter behind the lady dispensing the salted caramel hot chocolate samples.

Yep. Chocolate shampoo and conditioner. I needed shampoo, and indeed this was fortuitous. I don't know if Central Market typically has them available, or whether they're only in the store for this special celebration, but my husband happily agreed to get me some as an early Valentine's Day gift. (Actually, the conversation went like this... Me: "James, can I get--" James: "Of course.")

If you look on the Ikove website, it lists the ingredients of the Acai Chocolate shampoo as including "cocoa extract." I like the label on my set a lot better. On my bottle, it says, "theobroma cacao extract." I adore the scientific name for the chocolate tree.

The shampoo is the color of a good, dark honey, but it's actually a lot thinner; more the consistency of agave nectar. Also, there are no sulfates, and the ingredients are "all natural," so the shampoo doesn't lather. ("You Americans love your lather," is something I read in an article recently, and it's so true.) You can smell the chocolate (and maybe even more the orange) in the bottle, but once you put it on your scalp, it doesn't scent your hair.

After a suds-free shampoo and rinse, my hair was squeaky clean and ready to be conditioned.

The conditioner is the color and consistency of coffee yogurt, and it smells more strongly of chocolate than the shampoo... But, again, that's mostly in the bottle. Once you put it on your hair, it doesn't have a strong odor.

The ingredients list is here, even though I think mine is a bit different, but I wanted to point out something that's in the conditioner that isn't in the shampoo: cocoa butter!

If you pay attention to this sort of thing, you might have noticed that a lot of bottom-tier American "chocolate" (i.e. pretty much anything made by Palmer) contains a different fat than cocoa butter. They do this because cocoa butter, having become extremely popular in beauty products, is very expensive, and can actually be profit-maximized by using in personal care items instead of candy. Actually, some bigger companies have done this, too, and no one is very impressed.

The point is, whether we're dealing with eating chocolate or conditioner, the presence of cocoa butter is to be much rejoiced. In the case of conditioner, it locks in moisture and makes hair more manageable. Similar to replacing cocoa butter in chocolate with other oils and fats, a lot of conditioners use waxy ingredients to get that soft, easy-comb-through feel. This is definitely superior. Of course, that means you're going to pay for it.

Regarding "expensive" hair care products: For a long time, I'd buy Suave or whatever was on sale, and I balked at paying more than a buck or two for a bottle of shampoo. Then several years ago, my sweet departed Mema spent something like $35 on a set of Joico shampoo and conditioner for my birthday (she got it from my cousin's place, D Salon, which you should definitely patronize if you're in the Grayson County, Texas, area), and those bottles lasted me more than six months. I was shocked at how little shampoo I had to use, and how far the conditioner went.

So, when you factor it out over time, the cost of the pricier hair care is lower, as you don't have to use as much... Plus, your hair is in better condition, because you're not stripping it and coating it with garbage.

Final analysis: I like how light and clean my hair was after I used the shampoo and conditioner. I did need to use a spray detangler, even with the conditioner, but that is probably more about my damaged hair than the product. It will be interesting over time to see if there is a cumulative effect from using the cocoa butter, and I will definitely update in a few weeks.