Tested: I Went Red at Home Using John Frieda Foam Hair Color

Julia DiNardo

Going red on your own can be quite tricky; finding the ideal color match that isn’t too far of from your current shade in a warm or ash hue, as well as doesn’t tend to wash out your skin tone seems to prove the ultimate challenge for a box hair dye.

A chronic optimist when it comes to DIY beauty, I was determined to get a nice all-over red shade, and thanks to a complimentary box of the John Frieda Precision Foam Colour, I felt confident that the results could indeed be stellar.

Harry Josh, John Frieda International Creative Consultant declares that the “Precision Foam Colour makes even, flawless colour possible for the first time—making it easy for women to get precise coverage. And with stylist-selected shades, there’s no way to tell that the at-home colour isn’t straight out of the salon.”

Julia's hair, pre-dye job.

Out of the 20 available shades, I chose 5R Radiant Red, a Medium Red Brown, that would surely take my current dark blonde/ash blonde tresses (pictured above) closer to a Joan Hollaway hue. I will take you through the steps of my hair dying process, along with the most crucial tips I can share from my experience if you’d like to accomplish a red color from home.

Prepping in the bathroom with the contents of the John Frieda Precision Foam Colour.

Tip #1: Don’t make a drastic color change. The box is serious when it says “For best results, select a shade no more than two levels away from your current hair colour.” This is in place for several reasons, but with red in particular, the final result can end up looking really, really, off (unless that is what you are going for) and not at all near the suggested outcomes on the back. I have some red under tones in my hair, so I knew that I may get a different final look than pictured.

Tip #2: Do a test strip. Even though this means it will take you longer to finish the dye job, it will be well worth any future aggravation and money spent in order to repair a color you don’t want! Also, if you have sensitive skin or rash, or allegery issues, do the skin allergy test 48 hours beforehand to make sure you won’t have a reaction to the chemicals.

Tip #3: Protect your skin. With red, your skin WILL get dye on it. Around your hairline, the tips of your ears, on your forehead, you name it — so it really will save you later from having to vigorously rub those spots by putting some cream, or even the old stand by of Vaseline, around these areas.

Tip #4: We all have accidents and that’s okay–just have cleaning products on standby. Okay, so I spilled a little of the dye on the counter- oops! When dye stains or settles into surfaces, however, IT IS NO JOKE, especially in red. The packet says to wipe it immediately with a damp towel, but there was a spot on my sink that I hadn’t seen during the dye process (as you can see from the pic above my sink is white) and left a nasty stain. The remedy? The old school clean-all product, Ajax! I let it sit for about five minutes, then scrubbed the spot with a damp sponge, and lifted. My landlord isn’t going to want to kill me (for now).

Tip #5: Foam dye is awesome. The non-aerosol foam formula really proves to be easy when dying the entire head, as it doesn’t goop and drip and thoroughly saturates strands. Plus it adds some extra entertainment in squeezing the center of the liquid bottle and watching it pump out as a fluffy foam substance. Don’t be modest in the use; you can’t reuse it, so unless you have really short hair, use the entire bottle.

Julia's new red do!

Tip #6: Acquire products to best accommodate the maintenance and moisture of your newly dyed hair. Now that the permanent color is set in (after waiting 20-30 minutes, washed, conditioned, dried, and styled), embrace your fabulous new siren color, but protect it as well! Make sure you have shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair, deep condition weekly, and use a spray or mousse that protects your locks from styling tools. Also evaluate if you need to alter any of your current makeup products based on your new ‘do, from coloring in your brows with an auburn-tinged eyebrow pencil to bumping up your lip gloss to a darker hue.

My hair ended up looking just great in the end (see above); not the exact color-match as the box suggested (as suspected), but a pretty strawberry blonde that’s a nice change from my natural color.

See which colour is for you via the John Frieda Shade Selector. The John Frieda Precision Foam Colour retails for $12.99 at food, drug and mass retailers nationwid.