[beauty tips] Project Redhead: DIY Color-Depositing Conditioner, or, Battling Fade (on a budget)

One thing everyone tells you about dyeing your hair red but that you probably don’t really pay attention to until you finally dye your hair and find out the hard way: RED HAIR FADES.


Because the particles of red colour are the largest amongst the artificial dyes, they slip out of your hair the fastest, resulting in the most obvious fades in the shortest amount of time.  Also, the messiest fades–true red dyes bleed whenever you shower, no matter how good your salon job is, resulting in the need for frequent touch-ups and, ultimately, burnt-out wallets…which is something I didn’t want, so I did what any desperate, slightly-broke millenial would do: I Googled for a solution.

One hour later, and I stumbled upon this article by London Beauty Review explaining how to make your own color depositing conditioner.  You could, in theory, buy it ready made–Davines Alchemic Copper being a favorite–but it’s usually expensive and generally unavailable to people who live halfway across the world from a Sally’s Beauty Supply.  The ingredients for the homemade variant, on the other hand, are readily available thanks to Watsons’ and a Facebook retailer known as Pizzazz Republic.


My hair, freshly dyed at FiX by Alex Carbonell in Greenbelt 5.  Stylist: Sir Billy.



My hair, three weeks after dyeing and one week after applying Tints of Nature semi-permanent hair dye (from Healthy Options) in Copper Red.  As you can see, significantly faded.

Having used a homemade colour-depositing conditioner before (when I had more copper/ginger versus pure-red hair), I can attest that this process is effective and more-or-less safe.  Before, I would mix Herbatint Permanent Hair Color in Copper Blonde (just didn’t mix in the developer, or mixed in very little) and any deep conditioner/thick conditioner, eyeballing the proportion (more or less 1 dye : 2 conditioner) and leaving it in for about 25-30 minutes before rinsing.  But since Manic Panic (the hair color I used this time around) is know for its intense, unnatural shades, I’ve used exact measures to obtain a less radioactive head of hair.

Should you choose to repeat my hair experiment, you will need:

  • Cling film/Cling wrap.  You can get jumbo boxes of this at SnR.
  • A shower cap (I didn’t have one but it makes things so much easier.)
  • Plastic or rubber gloves (because Manic Panic does stain)
  • A plastic spoon
  • Manic Panic Classic or Amplified semi-permanent dye (I used Vampire Red for my hair, but you can go to and look through the various hues and how they affect bleached/unbleached hair to see which one matches your red better.).  This retails for PhP. 800 at Pizzazz Republic, and a tub should last you about 4-6 weeks if you use the proportions I’m using.
  • Dove Intense Hair Repair Anti-Hairfall Deep Conditioning Treatment (You can also used Sunsilk Damage Repair Deep Conditioning Treatment.  Or any deep conditioner that comes in a tub rather than a tube.)
  • Plastic hair-dye bowl (In my case, I used my empty tub of the aforementioned Sunsilk Damage Repair.)
  • Newspaper/Paper Towels
  • A butterfly clip/giant clip to clip up your hair
  • Two black or dark-colored towels.

Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, here’s what you need to do.  I suggest you do this at night, before going to bed, because it’s going to take up a bit of time:

  1. Put the newspaper/paper towels down all over where you’ll be mixing/working, because I guarantee you, Manic Panic gets EVERYWHERE and is pretty much like poster paint raw.  It STAINS things.  So, well, best make sure you’re wearing ratty ugly house clothes that you don’t mind getting stained while you do this (or, as some people suggest, doing it in the shower/tub already.)
  2. Take 2.5 tablespoons (hence the plastic spoon) of deep conditioner and put it into the plastic bowl.  Wash the spoon after doing this because you obviously don’t want to get conditioner chunks in your Manic Panic bottle.
  3. Take 1 tablespoon of Manic Panic and put it into the plastic bowl with your conditioner.  Mix.  If you’re using Vampire Red you should get a mixture that looks scarily like bright-red acrylic paint.
  4. Let that develop on the counter and hop into the shower to shampoo and rinse your hair.  I suggest a clarifying/deep cleansing shampoo.  Once you’re done, towel dry.
  5. Put on your plastic gloves, hop into the shower, and schlepp the Manic Panic + Conditioner mix all over your head.  Massage into your scalp (I will warn you that bits of your scalp will be stained red/pink for a bit, but it won’t last long so relax.), then clip up with the butterfly clip.
  6. Shove a shower cap on, the cling-wrap your head until the shower cap–and by extension, your hair–is tight to your head.  Then wrap that in one of your black towels.  Leave this weird head-gear on for 30 minutes (Or more; Manic Panic is vegan and pretty safe to leave on, so some suggest leaving it overnight for a more intense colour.).
  7. After thirty minutes, rinse your hair until the water runs really pale pink (it’ll NEVER run clear, swear) and you’re sure that all the conditioner is gone from your hair.  You can opt to blowdry your hair before bed after this, but if you’re like me and a bit wary of heat tools, simply wrap your hair in the black towel you used earlier, then put the other black towel on top of the (DARK COLORED!) pillow you’ll be sleeping on.  If you do this, no staining should occur.

It looks really complicated, but take it from someone who is really bad at mixing things–this is pretty simple.  You can do this process every one to two weeks to keep colour fresh, and if so, the Manic Panic should last you about a month or two.

Photo on 6-6-14 at 11.15 AM


My hair (and my Pocky, LOL) after Manic Panic.  Note the intense color and closer resemblance to my fresh salon hair versus my three-week fade.

Final Care Instructions/Tips:

  • Wash your hair with cold water.  This is the golden rule of dyeing your hair red in general, but it is especially critical if you opt for this treatment.
  • Wash your hair only every other day.  I follow this regimen strictly, unless I want to intentionally fade my hair a bit before treating it.  This is also why my hair, despite being dyed in the salon three times in the last four months, isn’t super-damaged.  The general rule goes that if you wash your hair on the evening of Day 1, you should only wash it on the evening of Day 3, giving you more or less two full days between washes.
  • Don’t wear white if your hair is wet.  In fact, I wouldn’t wear a lot of white in general for the first three days or so after dyeing.
  • Don’t dye your eyebrows with Manic Panic.  Just don’t.
  • If you want a colour with less pink (which means more a orange-red than pure red), you can opt for Manic Panic Infra-Red instead of Vampire Red.  (I’ve gotten a bottle as well and will be trying it out.)  You can also try mixing Vampire and Infra-Red, but do so only if you’re really adventurous.  No worries though; Manic Panic does eventually wash out.

Pizzazz Republic also offers Adore, Punky, and Special Effects brands so you can check those out as well, and they all should work in this treatment.  Special Effects in particular is a brand many home dye-ers swear by, both for colour-depositing conditioner and just applying to the hair by itself, so I’d say that’s worth taking a look at.  Vampire Red‘s equivalent there is Blood Red, though some say Devilish or Nuclear Red are worth a shot.  Punky has Vermillion and Poppy Red though, which some say is just as good and is actually cheaper than Manic Panic.

Well, that’s all for now.  Have fun, folks!


[beauty blog] Project Redhead: Stealth Ginger No More!

A picture is supposedly worth a thousand words.  Here’s two.


 Before: My “Cheer Up Emo Kid” look post-Christmas, with my original, born-this-way, hair color.


After: Post-Valentines, Post-Project Redhead Implementation, complete with three-week fade.  Taken a few hours ago.

As you can see, I am now…kind of a ginger.  In some lights, it’s glaringly (and I mean glaringly obvious), and by obvious, I mean orange.


Image…sort of.

In the words of my good friend Yua Valenton, my hair color is techically closer to “some kind of nut,” with a strong orange-y cast, or so (HRH) Rashmi tells me.  Technicalities aside though, my hair is definitely a different color than it used to be, and that color is most assuredly closer to red compared to what it used to be.  It’s not Sea of Shoes-ginger, true, nor is it Amy Pond, but it’s close enough that I feel justified in captioning some of my photos with the hashtag #PondLife.

In short: I quite like my new hair.

Okay, some nitty-gritty details.  Unlike my original plans–truth be told, very few of my original plans actually got implemented–I did not wait until graduation to get my hair done.  My mum caved on Valentines Day, during our mother-daughter bonding/psychological therapy session (bonding for her, therapy for me).  I ended up choosing Hairshaft Salon in Podium, on the recommendation of my friend Annika, and my color-change was supervised by their senior stylist, Mr. Miguel, and assisted by Mr. Ralph.


Photographed: The process of lifting the color for my highlights

Unlike the Guy Tang balayage that I’d researched, Mr. Miguel had his own process, which consisted of lightening certain strands of my hair  while coloring the base a slightly more warm, coffee-to-cinnamon hue, before putting the red shade all over everything, resulting in coppery highlights over a vaguely auburn, vaguely cinnamon–I will persist in Yua’s description of “some kind of nut”–base.  The whole process took about four hours.

Salon Survival Tip: BRING A BOOK.

The process would have taken longer if I had sprung for the digital perm before the dyeing process, but I decided that my perm-trauma was still too strong, and decided not to subject my hair to any more punishment.  For now, I am content with putting my hair up in a bun or else using my curling iron to achieve those loose, Amy Pond-esque waves.

The color itself, just to give a quick background, came from two sources:


Base color.



So there you have it.  My magical redhead transformation.  Of course, this isn’t the end of Project Redhead as we know it.  Since I’m still not a full redhead yet, there’s still a ways to go.  Next move: henna.

When?  You’ll see.


[beauty blog] Project Redhead: Outing My Stealth Ginger

When I was sixteen, I had a very bad perm.

I know that statement sounds like it was made in the 70s and 80s, back when nearly every girl (and a few guys) had a bad perm, but my story happened in 2009.  That was the year I graduated from high school, and also the year quite a few of the girls in my high school got their hair permed.  It looked really nice on them, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon myself, resulting, after two tries (my hair wisely rebelled on the first go), in the 80s happening all over again, on my head.


Never again!

Obviously from the photo above, that choice was a complete disaster, and eventually the truth became clear even to my dense sixteen-year-old self, so I started cutting my hair progressively shorter in order to speed up the process.  Along the way there was a disastrous *third* perm (note to all my readers: DO NOT GET THREE PERMS IN FOUR MONTHS.  DO NOT.  BAD IDEA.), which set me back all over again, but finally I got it to a length where the curls could safely grow out, and where it looked slightly more modern, though honestly still nowhere near a “good perm.”

The only *good* thing that came about from my year of hair experimentation, frankly, was an odd discovery by my friend JV, “The Doctor.”  Being freshmen with pre-enlisted schedules and really strange, four-hour breaks in between chunks of classes, the lot of us had a ton of spare time on our hands, which we spent taking photos of each other.  Or, rather, me taking photos of them and them playing along with it.  After one of these “photoshoots,” JV, being British, started referring to me as the “Asian ginger.”  I didn’t understand why, until I took a look at my photos from the album.


 Ladies and gentlemen, the Asian ginger.

Just to be clear, I have never actually colored my hair.  Ever.  So what you’re seeing above–as much as you don’t believe it–is my actual color.  There aren’t any filters applied to any of the photos either.  Granted, it’s the photo where the “red” is more obvious–other pictures look like I’ve had a balayage ombré (more on that later) technique done with dark brown roots gradually brightening to the auburn-red you see in the above photo–but otherwise this is really what my head looks like.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, really, because I’ve known my hair to have copper-y highlights when the sun hits a bit of it–usually the standing or baby hair near the edge of my more conventionally Asian dark-brown mass–but to get this intensely pigmented hair was a bit of a shock.  My theory–which my mum, who gave me this hair in the first place, agrees with–is that it was a result of the perm making my strands stand apart more, allowing the sun to filter through my hair and reveal the red.

Eventually, though, the perm grew out, and my hair returned to looking largely black in photos and dark-brown in person.  I never did forget my stealth ginger, though–The Doctor (JV) eventually declared me his Amy Pond, which made it easier to remember–so when 2014, my graduating year, finally rolled around, I decided to take the plunge and be a “secret” redhead no more.

My mum didn’t take too kindly to this, but after much convincing and a promise not to dye my hair any color that did not naturally appear on a human head (pink, purple, green, etc.) at my age (white/silver blonde), she agreed to let me unleash my inner ginger goddess after my graduation in June.  June 7th, to be exact.

If I needed any more motivation to work on my thesis, that would be it.

Image Karen Gillan: doing for redheads what Matt Smith did for bowties.

Since I definitely want to go the Amy Pond route in terms of general effect (if not the color match–more on that later), I’ll need to give my arrow-straight hair some curly volume.  The exact look I want is usually achieved with a curling-iron, but after battling with one for a couple of weeks I decided that the smell of burning hair is not how I want to begin most mornings.  Thankfully, there is a more…permanent beauty solution.

A perm.

The word alone was enough to give my flashbacks of my version of the 80s (a.k.a. 2009), but after doing a bit of research, I discovered the power of the digital perm, which sort of combines the power of a standard perm with the look of a hot iron to produce something like this:


Photo taken from Skin So Deep.


How a digital perm looks like without styling product.  Photo again from Skin So Deep.

I definitely have to do this before I get the color, because the perm chemicals can strip artificial color from hair, so I figure this is “Phase 1,” and I’ll be doing it sometime after I finish my thesis defense in April.

After doing a bit more research–I am really invested in this transformation; my band Stories Told has already taken to calling me “Hayley Williams” on occasion–I also managed to find a technique that would suit my low-maintenance laziness best: balayage, a hair-painting technique which blends the eventual grow-out with the hair, meaning longer times in between touch-ups.  There aren’t many salons in the Philippines that do it, but thankfully the salon my friend Annika recommended to me, Hairshaft, apparently does it, as does Hairworks, the L’Oreal-run salon in Makati.  After that, my only concerns will be having to wash my hair with cold water to delay the eventual fading–something I’m not too concerned about, to be honest; I’ve already started practicing washing with cold water and it’s not so bad.

Which leads me to the final consideration in this whole Project Redhead process: my shade of red.

According to, the rule goes “The darker your skin tone, the darker the red hair color should be.”  For people with more yellow/olive undertones like my Asian-pale self, colors should be toward the more copper and ginger shades, with auburns and chestnuts being the *safest* option (but since when have I played it all that safe?).  Since copper/ginger is definitely the end of the red spectrum I’m aiming for (or, rather, Amy-ing for), this is fine by me, although if possible I’d prefer to bring out the color of my redhead photo above, since it’ll obviously be the most natural on my skin (since, well, it’s already there).

Other than that, here are two of my other redhead pegs:


Ashley Clements, star of the hugely popular, Emmy-winning webseries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.


Some random redhead from a wallpapers website.  This one kind of looks more like my “red,” I think.

According to a study by Pureology, a hair-color line, redheads are much more likely to consider themselves as“fearless,” “self-confident,” and “sensual.” (, 2013; that has got to be the first time an APA citation turned up on my blog)  I am none of those things, but I’d definitely like to be, and while I’m not silly enough to think that red hair will magically solve all my insecurity issues, maybe taking the plunge might help.

Well, that’s that!  I’m definitely going red in 2014!  For all you artificial redheads out there, how should I prepare?