Dear L’Oreal, Your pants are on fire. (And so is my hair)

I have been trying to save a few bucks by coloring my hair at home. It started with the Root Rescue for between-coloring touch-ups, and that went pretty well. Now that spring is here¹, I thought it’d be nice to also add a few highlights.


¹Oh that’s right, I forgot. Supposedly spring is here. Yet we are in the middle of a blizzard in Minneapolis today. But let’s stay on topic, shall we?

The salon foils are nice, but depending on how elaborate you go, they usually end up costing $100 to $150.  As the kindergartner would say, “That’s too tall!”  (i.e. “too much ( money)!”)

The second-grader and I go to Walgreens to pick the color.  Also trying to save a few bucks by shopping at Walgreens instead of Target.  Less temptation everywhere you turn.  The endcaps at Target especially always do me in.  Little Orange Price Tag! Clearance!  Don’t need it! Such a good deal, though!  Must have it!  Put it in cart!  Every damn time.

Still, even at Walgreens, so many brands to choose from!  Good thing I brought the second-grader to help pick.

We pretty quickly narrow it down to L’Oreal, because they have the most attractive boxes.  Also, L’Oreal Couleur Experte® is the only at-home dual-system coloring kit that combines in just one box permanent base color with harmonizing highlights. Thanks to perfectly coordinated shades, you can achieve a rich, elegant, salon-like look in just two easy steps.

Or at least that’s what the box told me.

Ooooh!  Look at all the pretty colors.

HCo5_3_pack-shot HCo5_4_pack-shot HCo5_5_pack-shot

(My brain forgets to notice one important detail:  Look at all the pretty models!  You are still going to have your same face!  And same non-hairstyle!  Oh, well  . . . who knows? Anything is possible!)

I usually pick a fairly dark base color, in the level 5’s, if you speak that language.   I like to do dark brown base color and ashy blonde highlights.  The main thing is to pick a shade that says “cool” rather than “warm,” because it seems no matter what color I start out with, it always seems to lighten to a bad orangey brown (ala Sun In!) over time.  I want ashy tones, to complement my cooler skin color.

I was originally thinking of one of the above, the 5’s, but the second-grader (wisely, turns out) steered me towards this level 6:

French Eclair (Light Ash Brown)  6.1 Cooler. Pretty.

French Eclair (Light Ash Brown) 6.1 Cooler.

Oooh.  Pretty.  I hope my results turn out this good!

We get home.  That was a lot of decision-making.  Enough work for one day.  Too tired to color!  (Here is where I remember it is kind of nice to just sit in the chair at the salon, flip through a magazine, sip some tea, maybe receive a complimentary hand massage.  Hmm . . .)  I remind myself of all the money I’m saving, though, and feel better.

Days (maybe weeks) pass before I get around to actually opening the box.

I start with Step One: Brilliant All-Over Color, which turns out great!  The color is a nice deep brown and has covered most of the grey.  The second-grader made a good choice.  It is plenty dark.

The color looks good on its own.  And, that was a lot of work already!  So I will hold off on the highlights portion.  Let my arms rest up.  (Plus, it’s time for I Dream of Jeannie and I don’t want to miss. . .)

More days pass.  My motivation wanes.  I’ll get around to Step Two: Precise Highlights.   Eventually.  Sort of need a motivator. . .

The day finally arrives!  I am having lunch with the high school friends, so will use this special occasion as a motivator to apply the Precise Highlights.  I carefully read through the Custom Style options.

customstyle1 customstyle2 customstyle3 customstyle4

I decide to go with Custom Style 4, since I have bangs, and want the highlights to look natural.  Maybe I’ll combine that technique with the “highlights around the face” suggestion in Custom Style 1, to make me look younger, and also emphasize my smile.  Confidence growing!

Just to review, my hair already looks like this, with the Brilliant All-Over base color.


Step One: All-over color. So far so good!

Now, the final touch.  We’ll add the highlights.  The Contol-Touch FingerTIP is actually quite easy to use!  Just like they promised.  After careful application, my hair has nice, defined blue stripes, just like it shows on Step 2 on the box:

Precise, even highlighs, thanks to the Control-touch FingerTIP Handy!

Precise, even highlights, thanks to the Control-touch FingerTIP.  Handy!

It’s looking good!  I did select wispy strands, even using the pointy-end-of-the-comb-weave-technique I have picked up from watching at the salon.  I’m excited to see my results!  I’m thinking it’s probably going to come out something like this:

Here I drew in the ash brown with cooler highlights.  "Cooler Adds ash/beige toones to minimize red/orange tones, which is why I picked this one.

Wispy.  Natural.  All is good.

The instructions say to leave on for 10 – 15 minutes for subtle highlights; 15 – 25 minutes for more visible highlights.  I decide on 25 minutes.

As I’m heading downstairs to get into the shower for the final rinse, I start getting a little worried, though.  It’s been on my head for almost a whole hour now. It said to start timing after I’ve finished the last highlight, which I did, but I forgot that it actually took me 30 minutes to paint it all on, because I was trying to be so careful.  I hope I didn’t overprocess.  Maybe I was supposed to be quicker.   Why don’t they tell you how fast to go?  Anxiety increasing.  Still optimistic, though. . .

I shower, let it dry, and at last, am ready for my big reveal!

Oh, crap!


This does not look natural!  This looks like a circus clown color!  Somehow all of those nice precise even highlights blended into one giant bleach job on my dark brown hair, turning it light orange (ala Sun In!) on all the parts you can see!

Okay, relax.  It’s not that bad.  I will try parting it differently.  It is still dark brown underneath, at least, right?  But you can only see that if I lift up the top layer all at once!  Which, why would I ever do that?  There is no preciseness!  There is no subtle blending!  There is only orange hair on top, dark brown hair underneath.  No good!

This color does seem to draw attention to my eyes.  But these are not the beautifully and professionally mascaraed and shadowed eyes of the twenty-something models.   These are real-life, sleep-deprived, mother of two small children eyes, surrounded by considerably more wrinkles.  This color does not add dimension to my cut or accent my style or my best features.  My best features right now are the straightness of my teeth and my tallness and maybe a fashionable hat that I am going to need to go and buy!

L’Oreal, you promised I would have even, naturally radiant highlights with dimension and shine! You promised me a cooler tone that would minimize the red/orange tones! I followed all your instructions!  You leave me no choice.

You promised me precise, even highlights and a cooler tone that would minimize red/orange tones!

Not looking natural.  Or younger.

Back to the salon.



5 thoughts on “Dear L’Oreal, Your pants are on fire. (And so is my hair)

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventures in DIY coloring! Last time I tried it, I ended up penny red and my scalp felt like it was on fire…never a good sign.

    • Thanks for reading, Karla! Jeff said “Honestly, I didn’t even notice at first. Then I saw you outside and was like WOW! (Orange!)” The scalp on fire possibility makes me feel like I dodged a bullet, though. . .

  2. Hahahaha! I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard! You are hysterical, and the coloring you did…priceless! Based on your review, I think I will just color and forget the highlights. Thanks again for the good laugh. Great write-up!

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