April 22, 2012

You asked: What shade I use to get my dark red hair colour

Cheerful Sunday morning greetings, sweet dears, I hope that you're each in the midst of a relaxing (hopefully not too rain drenched!) weekend.

Following on the heels of last week's post in I discussed my skin care routine, which came about based on on a comment left by a lovely fellow blogger, I thought it would be fun to do another post today in response to a question that recently arrived regarding my hair colour.

In the comments on my vintage outfit post the Monday before last, a fascinating, inspiring Australian woman who blogs at Living With Bob, said the following:


"Have to ask, what is your hair colour? It's a really great shade."

So sweet of you to ask, dear lady, thank you very much for your question. My hair colour (seen in the photo below, which was taken a couple of days after I coloured it last) comes from not just a bottle, but a drug store bottle to boot! But first, before I share the shade, a teeny bit of history about my long time partnership with hair dye.



My hair (which as avid readers of this blog may recall) is fraught with problems (it's bone straight, ultra fine, and has been falling out continually since I was 14.5 years old), it's also (in its natural state) a rather dreary, lackluster and uninspiring shade of mousy browny-blonde.

As a child my hair was so pale and perfectly golden blonde that one could easily have been forgiven for assuming I was the product of Swedish parents (which is not the case).

{Me and my pale blonde hair - of the sort of hue that only youth can ever truly impart, circa 1989.}


Growing up my paternal grandmother told me numerous times that I'd turn into a brunette (like some of her daughters did) when I hit puberty, but alas (though my eye colour changed from blue to green - which I adored, green having always been my favourite eye hue) her prediction did not pan out.

I waited and waited and waited, but by 16 (having long morphed in appearance from a little girl into a woman) the promised brunette locks had still not arrived. Instead of being a chestnut or espresso manned lass, my hair had lost its pale blonde lustre and turned into something dingy and muted in colour - a hue sometimes referred to, rather gloomily, as dishwater brown. So, like countless teenagers before and after who are not pleased with their natural hair colour, I began dying mine.

The first hair colour I ever selected was red, specifically a bright red shade from Herbal Essence. It wasn't clownish, but it was certainly redolent of a tomato. It was cute and fun, and so, so different from anything I'd ever seen my head look like before.

In the years following that I played around with a number of colours, trying various blondes, browns, and reds. Once, envisioning that I might end up being able to pull off a Snow White-esque vibe, I even went starkly raven black. It didn't work. At all. The colour took, of that there was no doubt, but for some reason having black hair made the pink undertones in my skin seem a hundred times more obvious then they usually are and instead of looking like a fairy tale princess, I might as well have auditioned for the role of a sunburned wicked witch!

A couple of days of being teased mercilessly and one hefty salon bill later, I returned to being a golden blonde for a while and quickly tried to bury the memory of my flirtation  coal hued tresses. Around the time I was 19, I stopped colouring my hair for about three years and my natural hue returned. It was no better than I'd remembered it to be, but I had more pressing things than hair colour on my mind at the time and didn't mind seeing that "dishwater" mop in the mirror most days.

When I was 22 I decided to start dying my hair again. I went to a salon and expressly asked for (with pictures in hand) a soft shade of strawberry blonde. It didn't happen. When the foil came off and the water ran clear, I was a plumy-auburn headed gal. And yet, I didn't really mind. It looked good and I started getting compliments right, left and center, so I left it that shade for a few months.

In the end, I'm glad that the colour came out much darker than anticipated/planned because it helped me realize that opting for a darker shade helped hid how thin my hair was becoming. As such, over the last five years since then I've stuck with various medium to dark shades of brown, auburn, and red. Though I do sometimes yearn to be a blonde again, most days the voices die down almost as quickly as they pipe up.

As my health often makes it impossible for me to visit the salon any more these days, for over four years now, I've been colouring my hair at home. I've always had great results and love the money I save by doing a little DIY hair dying every few weeks.

As anyone who has ever opted for ruby locks will tell you, red hair colouring is (rightfully) notorious for fading faster than a one hit wonder's singing career. However, if you limit the frequency of washes, use products (shampoo, conditioner, leave-in hair mask, etc) that are especially formulated for redheads, and don't go swimming (without a bathing cap) too often, it's not as hard as you may have been lead to believe to keep your red hair colour looking vibrant and fresh.

My hair grows at a fairly normal rate, so (tempting as it would be to pull a Gwen Stefani or Marilyn Monroe and have my colour touched up every few days) I'll usually go about four to five weeks between colourings. If I know there's an important even coming up and I don't want even very short roots to show, I'll recolour (or do my roots, as the case may be) sooner, but again, I to usually like to let at least a month go by between dye jobs.

Which brings us to the colour that I've been using for about a year now: Intense Medium Red Copper 564 from the Garnier Nutrisse Cream collection.

{Image via Garnier.ca}

I've tried at least one shade from just about all of the major home hair colour brands  (available here in Canada) over the years, and have to say that the the formula used in the Nutrisse Cream line makes it my very favourite home hair colour to date. Like many home hair colouring kits, this one includes a two part dye system and a small tube of conditioner. Once mixed, the dye has a creamy, pleasant consistently akin to a thin mayonnaise.

One kit more than covers my fine, shoulder length hair and has proven to deliver very consistent results each time I used it (whether to recolour completely or just to touch up my roots). The cream formula means that, if you're careful (and not overly rushed) as you apply the dye to your hair, it generally drips, runs, and splatters, much (much!) less than more liquid based formulas.

While most of the excess dye washes out in your initial shower, I do find however that it usually takes two to four hair washings before the water runs crystal clear every time (from there on out) that I shower. This may however stem in part from the fact that I have fine, thin hair and that I usually (if I'm recolouring) use a whole bottle of dye.

Even this point though, scarcely detracts from how much I like this variety of at home hair colouring. Aside from the aforementioned perks, I find that (so long as I don't wash my hair too often - which I generally do not do, as I love to pin set or rag curl my hair and often go three to six days between hair washes, slipping on a shower cap for showers and baths on the days when I don't clean my hair) the colour holds up really, really well for a DIY hair kit.

In fact, I'd say that this particular shade of red delivers the longest lasting colour I've ever had from a home dye job. Plus, it's not overly drying and I haven't found it made my hair even the tiniest bit more brittle or prone to split ends (yay!).

{Up close and personal with a forehead level shot of my hair colour, Intense Medium Red Copper 564 from Garnier Nutrisse, that I've been smitten with for months now.}

I love the intensity, the subtle highlights and lowlights that this shade delivers. While I doubt many people think this hair colour is my God-given one, I like the fact that it's not overly in-your-face. It doesn't look like I'm going for a far out colour, it's just a rich, alluring garnet inspired hue that works well with my skin and eye tones, and which I think really compliments the over all image that I try to project with my appearance.

As I'm pleased as punch with this colour, I have no immediate plans to change it any time soon. If and when I do one, assuming I'm colouring my hair at home, I'll likely stick with the Nutrisse Cream line - especially because I really love how little it splatters and drips - which means less potential bathroom staining to worry about - while I'm applying the dye. If you've been looking for a deep medium red hair colour, I highly recommend this shade.

Remember to keep your questions coming, ladies and gents, whether they're about some aspect of my own appearance/style or anything pertaining to vintage fashion, lifestyle of history in general, I adore answering them!

Wishing you all a sublimely beautiful Sunday - and the very best if you ever opt for to give my particular shade of red hair colour a spin yourself.


  1. Oh Jessica, we seem to really be on the same wave length at the moment!

    I've been thinking about a blog redesign to something cleaner for a while now and here you've gone & done it.

    As for the hair colouring - I've been a redhead for roughly 15+ years now but have grown tired of it fading back to a horrid blonde so this weekend I became a brunette. It's much closer to my natural colour but I feel dull & boring. I love your red, it has so much depth, I may just have to give it a go in the near future.

  2. Love your hair colour, I like how you've styled it in the picture above.


  3. omg your hair is beautiful! :) I'm a brunette naturally and i don't like using chemicals so i haven't died my hair sense i was in middle school haha I'm going to experiment to find out a way to achieve a similar color without using dye :) anyways i love your red hair with your lovely skin tone its stunning :)

  4. Thanks so much for doing this post and your lovely comments. Up close it really is a lovely colour and as you say at the same time not an 'in your face' hue. I am a home colourer too and love red, but finding a good shade can be difficult. We have Garnier here so I might look into that as I'm not completely happy with my current brand. As a natural mousy brown I feel your pain. And my mum's side of the family is actually Swedish, yet somehow I missed out on the Scandinavian colouring. So big thanks from Oz :)

  5. I've been thinking of colouring my heair recently, it was going to be a shade of plum, but now I am dithering, loving this shade of red.

  6. So glad I went back and found this post! I usually use Garnier's intense red, so I'm close to that shade. I'm going to have to try this one and see if it kicks up the intensity notch a bit. Last time I did use Feria's intense red and it came out red, just not red enough for my liking. I take after my grandma, she wasn't a natural red head either, but colored her hair red until her last day on this Earth. Kind of my tribute to a very special, stylish lady. :)

    1. Awww, what a beautiful tribute to your grandma. Both of my grandmas have way better hair than I do for sure (my paternal grandma had a lovely strawberry blonde shade in her younger days and my maternal grandma had soft brunette locks that were so awesomely curly).

      I never had much luck with Feria either. I found even the supposedly truer red shades came out a bit to purple for my liking. No matter the brand though, I really find that the less you wash your (dyed red) hair, the better luck you'll have at helping the colour to last for four weeks or longer.

      ♥ Jessica

  7. What color does your hair get after its begins to fade?

    1. Hi Angie, thank you for your question. I don't wash my hair daily (it's very dry naturally and I use very little product, so I don't usually have a lot of build up that I need to get rid of) and so find that so long as I'm colouring every 3 to 5 weeks, I have fairly minimal fading.

      Here's a link to a shoot where I had a wee bit of roots (about the max that I'll ever let show before I absolutely must colour again...as I loath roots): http://www.chronicallyvintage.com/2012/07/intrepid-urban-explorer.html (that would probably have been about a month to five weeks since I coloured it last). As you can see, there isn't a lot of fading going on, which is part of the reason I'm such a fan of this particular dye.

      Hope that helps answer your question and that things turn out wonderfully for you if you opt to try this shade.

      ♥ Jessica

  8. I absolutely love this deep, rich color. I've been trying to find a color like this for a while. Everyone I find is for dark hair though, and my hair is a pale blonde as of right now. So, I've been afraid to try any because I don't know if it will turn out as deep as I want it over my light hair.
    Did you use this color over your dishwasher brown hair or over a darker color?

    1. Hi dear, thank you very much for your question and comment. If memory serves me right, I started using this shade over a slightly lighter (but very similar) red. However, at various times over the years when I'd gone back to my natural mousy blond-brown hue or a similar shade (usually between darker shades), I'd coloured it with similar reds and never had them turn out darker than I wanted when I did the dye job at home myself. If you're concerned about that happening, don't use the full amount of dye mixture and only leave it on for about 15 or 20 minutes at most.

      Best of luck to you with your hair colour - this shade is fabulous!
      ♥ Jessica

  9. Hi this is on the canada site? is there any way i can get this exact color in the usa? because ive looked and cant seem to order it anywhere!

    1. Hi there, thank you for your question about Garnier's Intense Medium Red Copper 564, it really is a fantastic shade.

      I did a bit of research and it appearts that some of Garnier's shades are named differently in the States. R2 (http://www.garnierusa.com/_en/_us/our_products/shades-haircolor.aspx?tpcode=OUR_PRODUCTS^PRD_HAIRCOLOR^NUTRISSE_ULTRA_COLOR^NUTRISSE_ULTRA_COLOR_DISCOVER&prdcode=P53201&varcode=603084223565&back=1), seems to be the closest to 564, but I've not used it and can't say for sure if it's a dead ringer or if the colours vary a a bit.

      If you're looking to order 564 specifically, I know that you can buy it from the Canadian site Well.ca, who ships to the States (here's the link to it: http://well.ca/products/garnier-nutrisse-cream-hair-colour_4859.html).

      Hope this helps,
      ♥ Jessica

  10. Good morning I just picked this very dye up last night and I'm praying for the colour to be this vibrant. My question is I bleached my hair in the summer and have recently dyed it darker will this work?

    1. Hi there, thank you very much for your question. I'm not a professional hairdresser, so I can't say for certain if this dye will give you the colour you're aiming for at present, but it is a very saturated hue and should do the job quite well, especially if you stick with it for a few months or longer (I found that with red hair, the longer you keep colouring, the less the colour fades, especially if you use shampoos and conditioners designed for coloured hair).

      Wishing you all the best - it really is a gorgeous shade!
      ♥ Jessica