A history in hair (and a new beginning)

Let’s talk hair, shall we? Throughout my life, my hair has been my ‘thing’. When I was a kid, I was about 90% hair. My thick, frizz-prone blonde locks (ok, not that blonde any more) have been my security blanket for a very long time. After that ill-advised bob at 15, I’ve never really gone short again. 2000 was the last time I truly saw my natural hair colour (dishwater blonde). But though things never change too dramatically, even I have had my moments. 2008, as you’ll see, was the time when my personal instability was reflected in my hair. Um, that and I couldn’t afford to get my blonde highlights done on my blogger’s salary. After a night in with a box of Casting Creme Gloss, I got to experience chocolate, caramel and even a bit of ginger in the following months.

This is much better illustrated than explained in text. So here you go – my life in hair up until the end of last year. You’ll notice 2009 was a photo-lite year!

Why am I talking about this now? Well, last month, this happened.

I was invited by Dove to take part in their Colour Radiance Challenge, which involved a bit of a hair makeover courtesy of Sophia Heffer from the incredible Kennaland salon, and a 4 week trial of the new range of Dove Colour Radiance products. I got the first full head of highlights I’d had in about 5 years, though the colour I ended up with was probably slightly subtler than my usual blonde as there were more natural shades woven in to stop the blockiness. I think the Dove ‘before and after’ photo is slightly misleading due to the lighting – it wasn’t quite so blonde before and the change was actually more subtle.

I stupidly agreed to this in the middle of the big house move and the hottest days of the year so there were days I looked pretty awful (the heat brings out the natural curl) but I did still manage to submit daily cameraphone photos showing how the products worked on my hair. Here are some of the snaps from the four weeks following the colour.

Overall I found the Dove products worked well on my hair. I’m not loyal to any haircare other than my beloved Moroccanoil, and I chop and change shampoo and conditioner every time I finish a bottle, as I do believe your hair gets accustomed if you use the same stuff for too long. Switching to this seemed to revive the curl in my hair. Whether that’s a good or bad thing I’m not quite sure – I like the messed-up, beachy look but even I have to admit my hair looks a lot more groomed when it’s straight!

I try not to mess with my hair and put it through too much stress when it’s newly coloured. I always struggle with my hair post-colour; no matter how brilliant the stylist is, highlights always strip moisture from the hair and the newly-bleached strands create a horrible, tangled halo that needs some serious moisture before combing. The key product for me was the treatment conditioner, which I used almost every wash in place of the regular conditioner to add a serious moisture boost. I’d definitely recommend this after colouring to help lock in the shine and the colour together.

I also liked that the Colour Radiance shampoo is much lower in sulphates than most brands. We’re all addicted to lather which is why so many chemicals are crammed into drugstore shampoos, but the truth is lather is a useless by-product (it’s the reaction of the cleansing ingredients with air, rather than dirt / oil) so we should learn to live without it. The Dove shampoo is a good compromise. You get lather, but only just enough, not the handfulls you often find with stronger brands.

You can buy the Colour Radiance range at Boots from £2.49

Once the challenge ended, I went a big mad. It’s already washed out, sadly.

Disclosure: As part of the Colour Radiance Challenge I didn’t pay for the hair makeover and the products were provided free of charge for testing purposes. I received no other payment and I wasn’t required or obliged to write a post about my experience.

  • poppy

    I so loved your hair in 2000, the length, fringe and colour so suited you. You look really paled out with your hair blonder and it being longer, sorry don’t like it. Also why are you writing for big girls, you are not a big girl….god you are a size 14….. If you are giving everyone the impression that you are big at a size 14 you are not going down the right road…you need help! From a big girl size 26 and growing x

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    HI Poppy,

    The ‘about’ page explains a bit more about this, but the story in a nutshell is that I started this site when I was heavier (about a size 16 – 18) and while I know I’m not particularly ‘big’ in the grand scheme of things, and not plus size any more, I love writing this site and I don’t want to start again. The site has evolved and changed as I have. The name is of little consequence once you get into the content.

    A 14 is still the biggest size a lot of brands make – ridiculous, but true. The number of items in my wardrobe with a ‘large’ label is staggering. I work in an industry where I’ve always been made to feel bad that I’m not a sample size and specific type of slim ‘fashion girl’. I encounter these women every day of my life and to them, in my world, I will always be ‘the big girl’. That is where the name comes from.

    I still struggle to find modern clothes that work on my in-and-out curvy body, and that’s what this site is really about now. Dressing curves – be they size 10 curves or size 32 curves. I try to be all-encompassing. It may not be relevant to you and that’s fine, but I assure you I don’t need help. My body image still needs work, but it’s better now than it was a few years ago and that’s largely down to this site and the people I have met through writing it. This *is* my therapy!

    As for my hair, my mother has her hair cut almost exactly how I had in 2000 and I look too much like her already without copying her haircut! I guess I’ll live with a stranger not liking what I’ve chosen to do now…though you will be happy to know I’ve recently gone back much closer to my natural colour.