Red seems to be the colour du jour as of late. There's no shortage of celebrity inspiration. Everyone from Bella and Gigi Hadid to SZA and FKA Twigs have been wearing various shades of red, from blonde-adjacent strawberry to fiery copper braids.
Taking a little bit of inspiration from the different artists and pop-culture references, Savanna McCown, the client and star of this week's episode of Hair Me Out, schedules a salon appointment to take her own long, dark hair a unique shade of red she describes as "muted" and "medium spicy." One important note, though: she doesn't want to use bleach to get there.
It's a task for Dani Moon, a popular L.A. colourist and the owner of Hair Los Angeles. Moon specialises in multicolour transformations and has a bespoke creative-colouring technique that avoids bleach in an effort to maintain the health and integrity of the hair.
The process involves a quick strand test. Moon mixes three different variants of dye — a copper, a pure red, and a hi-lift red with extra brightness — and paints each onto McCown's natural brown hair, letting them process for just a minute or two. This allows him to determine how her hair lifts and figure out which specific shade of dye is going to develop into a natural-looking red, without the extra-lifting power of a bleach developer.
Following the strand test, Moon paints his custom-red dye all over the hair and adds, what seems like, pounds of foils. "When I'm not using bleach, I like to coat the hair colour in foils," Moon explains of his technique. "It adds heat and boosts up the colour. I'll then let the dye process for 30-40 minutes, until I'm happy with the development. With this approach, the hair stays in the best shape."
Once the colour has processed, it's time to shampoo and style. "For coloured hair, I love Sachajuan shampoo and conditioners; they have the right about of moisture, smell beautiful, and gives a little bit of weight to hair that's been processed," Moon recommends. "For styling, I love to use the 6-in-1 Styler by Virtue to give the hair a bit of shine as I start to blow dry. I also love the Healing Oil; whenever I put it on a client, they die over the smell."
Finally, it's time for McCown to see her fresh-red hair. "I feel like Jessica Rabbit," she exclaims. "It's like, medium spicy to death." And, it didn't take bleach to achieve this brightness. "I feel very relieved that I didn't have to bleach my hair," McCown adds. "I thought I'd have to because my hair is so dark, so to be able to keep my hair healthy is amazing. I'm so excited to go out with my friends and show off my new hair — and also be the fiercest person in every Zoom chat."