Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Review: Colour B4 by Scott Cornwall

Advantages: It DID remove my colour build-up,
Disadvantages: you need to be sure about the ingredients used in your hair dye, instructions are contradictory.

I tried a violet dye on my hair a little while ago and whilst I did like the results, the colour wasn't the same as the box lead me to believe it was and the shade noticeably darkened towards the mid-lengths and ends of my hair. I managed to ignore the unevenness for a bit, but, like everyone who has had the same result, it was the first thing I'd notice. After three weeks or so I'd instantly zero in on my 'problem areas' whenever I passed a reflective surface.

I decided that the darkening colour had been caused by a build-up of the different dyes I've used over the years, so came to the conclusion that I needed to have the colour stripped out of my hair. My sister had also been looking into having her hair stripped and was given a three figure quote by hairdressers, so that put me off the idea straightaway and I instead looked into various dark brown and black hair dyes to solve the problem instead.

Then one day I bumped into a friend who had had black hair for as long as I'd known her, but now had light brown hair. Black dyes need stripping as you can't lighten them, so was paying £100+ really worth it? She explained that she didn't go to a hairdressers and had instead used a store brought colour stripper and had no problems with it.

I couldn't ague with the results; her hair looked healthy and shiny, whilst her original hair colour didn't look brassy or tired. I immediately went to boots to buy myself a box of Scott Cornwall COLOUR B4, to get back to touch with my own natural greying ash blonde/brown hair colour.

Would it work for me?

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The claim
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Colour B4 shrinks the artificial dye molecules in the hair, enabling you to simply wash them away. What's more Colour B4 does not touch your natural hair pigment so you are left with the colour which lay beneath your artificial shade. Colour B4 takes you back to your lightest shade. It will return your hair to its natural colour if the artificial hair colour applied is darker than your natural level.

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Out of the box
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The box contains a bottle (A) of activator fluid, a nozzle-applicator bottle of the 'remover (B)': the dye removal formula, a bottle of 'Buffer (C)' - a intensive shampoo, a pair of disposable gloves and a double sided instruction/FAQ sheet.

So I'd read all of the information on the box carefully in Boots, and the box states that Colour B4 is perfect for removing product build up, as well as being safe to use before colouring your hair. Nothing else on the box made me think that this product wouldn't work for me, so since everything sounded good I paid for it and headed home and opened up the box to get started...

... Things started to come undone at this point. The back of the mixing and application instruction sheet is a FAQ sheet; it is here that I learnt that you shouldn't use a permanent dye on your hair for at least four weeks after using Colour B4 - OK, fair enough, but you could have put that on the outer packaging.

After reading a bit further I learnt that "high fashion colours" such as blue-black, red and purple (also henna) can stain the hair cuticle, which Colour B4 is apparently powerless against as removal could "be much harder". The dye I want to remove was purple and before that I'd used a few different shades of red and my old shampoo and conditioner contained henna. Uh oh.

The FAQs don't tell you if Colour B4 can remove some of the build up or not, so hope was not yet lost.

Next up is silicone's: did you hair dye boast about being 'anti fade', 'fade resistant', 'water proofed', 'shine enhancing' or 'colour locking'? You've probably got silicone. We're reassured that they're harmless, but if you have used a heated styling tool on your hair, then the silicone may have hardened and formed a inpenitrable shell around your hair and guess what? Colour B4 is powerless against that too.

At this point I unsuccessfully looked for my receipt and was then left to re-read everything and focus on the fact that the FAQs uses phases such as "much harder" and "may not", rather then "removal is impossible" and "will not work".

Also; the friend of mine who had used Colour B4 to remove her old colour had used the same brand that I use and she uses hair straighteners every day. So I guess that the fact that she encountered no problems using Colour B4 means that our chosen brand of dye is silicone free [crossing fingers].

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Work it...
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Mixing for Colour B4 is the same as it is for home dyes; Pour the contents of the activator bottle into the remover bottle and do your best impersonation of Tom Cruise in Cocktail for thirty seconds. I'll warn you at this point that the formula has a unpleasant smell; I'd roped in the services of my sister as I have tons of hair to cover and her verdict on the aroma was 'farts'.

Ta-da; we're now ready to apply.

Once the mixed formula had been evenly applied to my dry hair [we did it from the ends up, following the colour build up], I let my hair marinade in the unpleasant-selling formula for one hour [I used the extra strength formula, regular only takes thirty minutes]. The instructions advice wrapping your hair in cling film to trap in heat, which helps the formula to develop. I did my usual MacGyverism and tied a plastic carrier bag over my head.

After the processing time is over it's time for rinsing. As my hair is long the instructions told me to spend ten minutes rinsing the Colour B4 mixture out of my hair. I'm advised to time myself, so it was clear that it is important not to skip this instruction.

So after my ten minute rinse I was bored and my skin was prune-like, but we're still not done; it's now time for 'buffering': Part I. The thing that they call the 'buffer' is actually some kind of shampoo. Having read the instructions three times by now I knew to only apply half half the bottle; then spend one minute working through my hair and rinse. Solidly for five minutes.

Remember how I saved half of the bottle? You know what's coming up now... Buffering: Part II. This is just repeating the previous step; work buffer through hair for one minute, then rinse for five.

After running up your water bill with twenty minutes worth of rinsing you're now done. You may use a wash-out or semi-permanent dye on your hair if you wish. Oh yeah; brace yourself for the eggy scent of the formula to cling to your hair for a few days, it's faint, but it's definitely there.

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The big reveal
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As I did my buffering in the shower I could see that the ends of my hair were a slightly brassy blonde. I used to colour my hair blonde [before my latest brown, red and purple], so yay! Colour B4 had successfully removed the brown, reds and purple dyes and revealed my old blonde colour, fantastic.

That joyful feeling lasted until I checked out my reflection; It wasn't just the ends of my hair which were a brassy blonde, for some reason it was my whole head. And my hair didn't dry as a somewhat brassy blonde - it dried ginger. And when I say ginger, I don't mean blonde with copper undertones, I really do mean flaming-orange ginger. As my sister would later delightedly say "I really f**ked it up"...

So I was now ginger and the instructions tell you to wait four weeks before applying a permanent dye to your hair - but wait! One of the FAQs says wait one week. I decided to split the difference and wait two weeks and spend until then washing my hair daily with Vosene [it is great at quickly fading hair dye].

After two days of ginger themed jokes I caved and reached for a new dye, after all my hair already wrecked so it couldn't be any worse...

Drum roll; The dye I've now used did apply much darker then it should, but after the first week it quickly lightened with each wash and is now it has reached and maintained as exactly the same as the colour on the box.

I would recommended waiting at least two weeks though, as although my new colour is fine it might not work out the same for someone else. Please don't risk ruining your hair just because I did.

My new hair colour [Schwarzkopf live colour XXL in Mystic Violet]. Photo taken after one week.

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Would I recommend it?
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Yes - if you know for certain what ingredients the hair dye you're trying to remove contains and that's not always easy to figure out.

If I were honest I'd admit that I'll consider using it again myself; a little voice in my head keeps telling me that if I used a red over the resulting ginger it'd be very vibrant... I'm trying to ignore the voice, but I did find myself browsing the haircare section in Boots over the weekend just "to look" at the red colours...

But, yeah, I wouldn't recommend it to people who aren't sure about the ingredients in their hair dye - any future disasters will be my own fault, but I would hate for someone else to have a mishap with it.

I can't complain about my results really as I did know that it may not work and, after all, it did remove the colour build up for me. I've thought long and hard and have decided that one of the colours I recently used must contain bleach and that - combined with cuticle staining - caused my hair to turn that lovely shade of orange.

My hair is a bit more frizzy then usual, but a couple of deep conditioning treatments sorted that out quickly enough. My hair hasn't snapped or anything, so a bit of frizz for a few days was no real trauma to endure. Now [a few weeks later] my hair and latest colour are both shiny and healthy looking.

I will complain about the outer packaging not stating the it is advisable to wait four weeks before colouring your hair again. If I'd known that I probably wouldn't have bought this. Then again it says to wait "at least one week" before using a permanent dye [you can use wash out or semi-permanent dyes right away] in the FAQ, which left me doubtful over the product.

Also; the wording on the instructions needs tweaking. The way things are phrased leaves wiggle room and doubt, which isn't good when it comes to impulsive customers like myself. Also it contradicts itself when it comes to time before recolouring itself.

Finally; I've since read on various sites that Schwarzkopf hair dyes DO contain silicone, and I do regularly use hair straighteners, that reach 230.c. So which once again, my experience using this product shows that the information that comes with Colour B4 really does need looking at by the manufacturers.

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Colour B4 - £10.20
[for removing light to medium tones of dye]

Colour B4 Extra - £12.25
[for removing darker tones of dye]

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