Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chronically Shannon's Salon- cheap, non toxic hair lightening treatment!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not modest when it comes to my hair. Since the tender age of 13, I've had all different kinds of extreme cuts, styles, and colors. It's been short, long, curly, straight, shaved and asymetrical. It's been every color of the rainbow in both solids and combinations. Every time I change my hair I feel like a new person for a few days. It's one of the ways that I express my moods, tastes, and opinions.

I did always have what I call my "default color"- the color that I always seem to return to and that color is Blue Black. I always love the way I look with black hair no matter what, but the creative inside me gets bored with it and decides to go for something else every few months. I can still remember vividly the look of sheer terror on my hair stylist's face when I would walk into the salon with blue black hair and tell them that I want Gwen Stefani blonde, or hand them an assortment of colored tubes and say that I want highlights that cover every shade of pink in its color family. It got to the point that they would automatically block off about 4 hours for me when I would call for an appointment LOL.

Since I came down with Shannon's disease many many things have changed in my life, one being my hair. I've always had really healthy, thick hair but last year it began to thin and fall out. At one point it was falling out by the clumps, and I would have to do a full sweep of the bathroom floor after brushing it. When I saw my first bald spot, I cried for days. The illness had taken so much away from me, and now it was taking my hair. At this point it was long to the middle of my back, and I made the decision to get a version of the pixie cut. This way I could strategically style the hair to hide the bald spots.

But the good news is that after a couple of months on the WAP/GAPS/ATS (my own combination of the Weston A Price, Gut & Psychology, and Atkins diet) my hair grew back and is no longer falling out. In fact, it is healthier than its ever been.

I did grow to love the pixie cut. I love that I can throw some wax into it and spike it a bit, or I can blow it out and put a bit of shine into it for a softer look. Washing and styling it is a snap, and in this Florida heat its nice to not have a mess of hair to deal with. I wear all sorts of headbands, clips, and head scarves. I'm even wearing more hats now. This cut satisfies both the rebel and the conservative in me, plus it gives me the variety that I need. I just love it!

When I first cut it, it was blue black. One of the added bonuses to cutting it off was that it cut off all that black, and now I had a fresh clean palette! I could have any color I wanted and it would be an easy process for once! But there was just one problem with all of this....Shannon's disease comes chock full of weird sensitivities and allergies. Being allergic to almost every chemical on earth doesn't make hair coloring a simple process!

So I reluctantly accepted the fact that I was just going to have to live with the color that God gave me. I hadn't actually seen my true real color in over a decade, so I thought it might be fun to let it go and see what comes out. Turns out, I have a very drab and boring ash brown color. Much different from the sandy blonde I was as a kid.

Naturally I did not take this lying down. I was determined to find a way to have Shannon hair again. I found a few companies who make plant based hair dye, but they didn't offer too many options. I thought of going back to black, but really didn't want to considering I have a clean palette for once. What a waste! I discovered that Manic Panic is actually very low in toxins, is vegan, and does not have parabens. I could do that! But then I remembered the days of getting totally chewed out by my mom for turning the bathtub multiple colors. Manic Panic is not permanent, unfortunately. Back to the drawing board.

Just when I was about to give up I found that the company Herbatint makes a few shades of vivid red and purple. Yes PURPLE!! And it's permanent! So I ordered a box of Herbatint in Violet. Hooray for purple hair!

Now came the tricky part. I was going to have to figure out how to lighten up this drab brown hair to a blonde that's light enough to display the vivid violet color. I'm going for grape, not mud-berry. Bleaching is such a harsh treatment, even for those who don't have chemical sensitivities. After a few more days of research, I figured out a way to lighten it to the shade I need using only hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

I gave it a try and it worked! It lightened my hair substantially enough to make the purple pop, and it did so much less damage than the stuff they use in the salons. Best part of all it was cheap! a box of baking soda cost me $1 and a bottle of H2O2 was $2. I did have to get one of those hood attachments that fit on the end of the blow dryer so that I could apply heat. That was the most expensive thing, costing me $10. So in total I spent $13..a far cry from the normal minimum $100 I would drop in the salon! So here's the recipe:

Shannon's non-toxic hair bleach

Please note that I am not a professional hair stylist! Results can vary from person to person.

What you need:

  • A bowl with a hair coloring brush (you can get these at a beauty supply really cheap)
  • Gloves- plastic or latex (depending if you have an allergy)
  • Heat hood hair dryer attachment (This is the one I got from Sally beauty supply)
  • An old t-shirt to wear that you don't care about
  • 6 Tablespoons of baking soda (aluminum free of course!)
  • 4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 tablespoons or so of your own conditioner (this makes the mixture easier to spread. I used Aubrey organics honeysuckle conditioner)

Stir the ingredients up in a bowl. Note: do not try to make this mixture in a covered bottle or container. it will explode! Mixture should be creamy and spreadable, not watery. Then apply to your hair with the coloring brush, sectioning it so that you distribute the mixture evenly. Once the mixture is in your hair, sit down in a comfortable place and use the heat hood. You'll need to check it every 15 minutes or so depending on how light you want your hair. I wanted mine as light as possible so I checked it at 30 min and then left it on for an additional 30 min. I would not recommend leaving it on your hair longer than an hour without washing it out.

This is how it looked when I started:

Here I am having a little fun with the dryer. I feel like a space alien with this thing on LOL!

My hair is pretty strong so I decided to do two processes in one day. I applied, processed for an hour, rinsed and then did it again. This is how it came out:

To give my hair a break, I waited 3 days before processing again. Here it is after a total of 4 processes (note: the tips are still dark because I still had a bit of the old black left over):

This was light enough for me, as I was not going to be leaving it this color.
I did this with virgin, non-dyed hair so it was pretty easy to get the results I wanted. I imagine that with colored hair it would be a little more difficult, but will still lighten. Just not as drastically. I'm planning to give my mom some highlights on her colored hair so I will post those results. Also I did a coconut oil treatment to afterwards to add back moisture.

I would not recommend doing this without heat. If you are going for highlights, just section it off with foils like they would in the salon.

Have fun with this! It's a great and gentle way to lighten your hair without subjecting yourself to harmful chemicals. Who says that people with multiple chemical sensitivities can't have cool hair too?!!! Now I'm off to see how this purple Herbatint comes out! :) :)

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