A few weeks ago I received an email from Schwarzkopf, a hair care brand, asking if I’d be interested in trying out their Color Ultimé line of hair dyes. I haven’t used a box dye in a decade so I had some trepidation, BUT I read some reviews online, checked their ingredients list, and decided to go for it.
I didn’t have very high expectations going in. As mentioned, the last time I used a box dye was ten years ago, when I attempted to put a black on top of my brown hair (I wouldnt be a proper goth wannabe if I hadn’t at least tried at some point). The result was…not good. I blame myself largely for this.
But, my aunt, a hair dresser and salon owner for nearly four decades blamed the box dye as well. She made me promise I would never use a box dye again and I kept that promise…until now.
A box of Schwarzkopf hair dye will run you between $10 – $12 USD, depending on where you purchase it. Compared to other box dyes, this is a little more expensive by an average of $4. Some reviewers said this bothered them, but in my personal opinion, you shouldn’t want to use the cheapest hair dye anyways.
Full disclosure: Schwarzkopf sent one bottle to me for free and a coupon for another free bottle. Because this isn’t my first hair rodeo, I knew I’d need a third one and paid for that one myself. So in total I used three boxes.
Each box comes with a bottle with a premeasured amount of developer, a tube of color which you will add to the developer, a tube of conditioner for after treatment, an instruction booklet, and a pair of gloves. Pretty standard stuff.
When I was contacted by the Schwarzkopf team, I was given a range of options for dyes. They did their homework. Each box of Color Ultimé comes with the expectation that you are putting this over your natural hair color. I chose the color Vintage Red because it looked super bright and very promising. On the back of my box it showed three different swatches of brunette hair and how the dye would ideally react. This tells me the Schwarzkopf team realized I’m a brunette and offered me a selection of dyes that would work best with my hair. Well played, Schwarzkopf. Extra points for paying attention.
Here’s a quick tip: if you can, purchase a box of latex-free gloves. They’re fairly inexpensive and they have a better fit. Including gloves with these boxes is standard, but I never use them. I just don’t like them as much. They fit too loosely, they slide around, and I can’t get a good feel for my hair through them. If you have to use them, they will still get the job done, but if you know you’ll be dying your hair on a regular basis, invest in better gloves.
MIXING & PREPPING
The instructions keep things pretty simple because, frankly, they are. Open bottle, add color tube, shake, shake, shake, and apply. Before applying however, I separated my hair into different portions, starting with braiding and setting aside the purple in my hair. I wanted to keep the purple so I pulled it out.
Then I put on my gloves and started mixing. Again, the instructions are pretty simple, so even if it’s your first time trying this, you should be fine.
Tip: Make sure you’re doing this on unwashed hair. It had been several days since I’d washed my hair last. Shampoos leave a residue on hair for a few days after washing and this can impede the dying process as it’s harder for the dye to get through the residue.
After pulling out the purple portion of my hair, I divided the rest up and piled it on top of my head with various plastic clips. (Always use plastic, never metal.) I picked the section I wanted to start with, and I was ready to go!
From the portion I start working with I pulled out an even smaller selection and using the bottle, pointed the tip down at my roots and saturated them. I worked the dye in with my fingers, then moved down, adding dye as I went, stopping at my ends. The box advises you to do your ends last and I recommend this as well. I did little portions at a time, stopping at my ends, until I was done with that entire section.
Once the entire section was completely covered with dye, I pulled it back, released another section, and did the same. This whole process took me quite a while. My hair is very long and VERY thick. This may not take as long for you, but it took me about 30 minutes to do my entire head.
After the bulk of my hair was done, I let it sit there for about 20 minutes before doing my ends. This also took A LOT of time and I ended up getting…well…a bit messy. Three bottles was the perfect amount because I had enough to do my ends then go back over my whole head again. And I got…carried away.
When it was all completely covered, I pulled my hair up, and washed the dye off of myself. Thankfully I had very minor staining. Yay!
I waited another 15 minutes then it was time to wash it all out. The instructions tell you to wet your hair with warm water, work the dye into a lather, then rinse it until it runs clear. (It never ended up going completely clear for me, but I went ahead and moved forward.) The instructions then advise you to wash your hair with shampoo to remove the last bit of dye.
Tip: Avoid using shampoos with sulfate. For one, they’re not good for your hair in general, but they’re especially bad for color treated hair because they will bleed the color right out. Avoid, avoid, avoid. There are a ton of great brands out there with sulfate free options.
After washing my hair with my sulfate free shampoo, I toweled off my hair and went over it with the included conditioner. I also always add an organic, sulfate free, hair oil I purchase from an amazing company to my conditioners for extra moisture and shine. When it was all said and done my hair felt, looked, and smelled amazing. I let it air dry then snapped a few pictures.
Tip: if you can stand it, use the coldest water you can handle for washing your dyed hair. Hot water will bleed color out. I’ve taught myself to take cold showers for this reason. And my hair color lasts so much longer this way.
The lighting in my bathroom isn’t great so the color didn’t look super bright. But, you can see the difference. The red turned out amazing, in my opinion, and my hair felt great. Because I didn’t do any bleaching and was simply putting color on top of my hair, the damage was significant reduced, compared to bleaching and then adding color. Using the sulfate free products, the oil, and the cold water helped a lot too.
The next morning I got some much better pictures in the daylight. I’m in love!
Sadly the purple was slightly affected by the dye as I was washing it out, but not terribly so. And I actually kind of like it. So, it’s a win for me.
It’s not been several days since I dyed my hair and the color still looks great, my hair still feels soft, and my scalp seems no worse for wear. I don’t know how long the color will stay vibrant, but I will update this post in a few weeks to let you guys know how it looks. So far I am very pleased.
If you’re looking for a decent box dye, then I can honestly say Schwarzkopf exceeded my expectations and delivered gorgeous color. I am so happy with the results and have received so many compliments on the color. This was easy, simple, and affordable. And if you follow the tips I gave you throughout this post, you’re increasing your chances of getting the best results possible.
If you decide to try Schwarzkopf Color Ultimé, let me know! I’d love to see your results too!
*Big thank you to the team over at Schwarzkopf for sending me this free product for testing and review. While the products may have been free, all opinions are my own and reflect my true feelings and experiences.*