Thursday, June 15, 2017

Esalon Pearl Mahogany Review

If you dye your hair red, you know what a royal pain in the ass it is to maintain the color. I've been dying my hair red for about three years now, and when I first started the fade wasn't too bad. But lately the fading has gotten out of hand, with my hair turning into a light orange about 2 weeks after dying. Because I'm a natural cheapskate, I wasn't willing to start going to the salon MORE often, but I knew I needed to dye my hair every 4 weeks, so I figured I could try Esalon out and combine it with my salon visits to save some money.
If you are not familiar with Esalon, they are a mail order hair color company. You fill out a survey, upload some photos, tell them what you want, and after a colorist reviews your file, they choose a color for you. It's $20 if you set up autoshipping or $25 for on demand or one time shipments. Initially you get one bottle of color and developer for your roots, and a separate one for your lengths. After that, you will get just the bottle for the roots, though every few shipments you are supposed to order the lengths bottle as well, but that's only $10. So, depending on how often you do your entire lengths, you will be spending $20-$30.
When I first tried the service about two months ago I uploaded pics and called customer service because I was unsure on what level to get. They were very helpful over the phone and I ended up getting a level 6 golden copper. This is where it is a bit confusing. Their level six is called a light brown, which according to the international color chart is actually a level 5, so keep that in mind. Always go lighter when in doubt. The first time I used it, my hair was very faded and my ends where a very light orange. The color applied beautifully, but it didn't last very long. I don't fault Esalon for this because even my salon color was fading this fast. At this point I now my ends are very damaged with a lot of split ends, so they are not going to hold on to color very well.  I just figured that I needed to go darker to keep from fading so much.
Here is a pic of the before and after. The color I applied was 6.43 Light Brown Copper Golden.

Esalon 6.43 Light Brown Copper Golden (Right Pic)

The next time I die my hair I went to my salon and requested to go darker, a level 4 with violet undertones. It was quite dark at first, but had lovely red violet tones that glistened in the sun. It did fade quite a bit, but to a much more manageable and still pretty medium red, with not ugly orange tones.

Salon level 4 violet brown and two weeks later
I knew I needed a darker color from Esalon so I called and we settled on 5.25 Medium Brown Pearl Mahogany. My shipment came and once again they had included to bottles of color since I was changing color. It was quite dark, right on par with my level 4 from the salon. However, true to it's mahogany, it was mostly a dark brown with some very faint mahogany highlights. The pearl which was supposed to give it a violet sheen was not very prominent. This wasn't a red or violet hair color with a dark base, it was just a plain brown. The color wasn't ugly, per se, it was just way more muted than what I wanted. At this point, I really did not want to live with this hair color for another four weeks. So off I went to Sally Beauty Supply. I came out with a few bottle of developers, Ion Color Brilliance Permanent Hair Color in 5.RV and a tiny tube of their Red Hot Instensifier. Because I was dying my hair the day after using Esalon, I bought Ion's Absolute Perfection Booster, which is supposed to be a copy of Olaplex. I was really worried that I was going to destroy my hair, but it's in pretty much the same condition as before. Thankfully, the color came out more vibrant and red, just what I was looking for. Here is a pic of Esalon's 5.25 Medium Brown Pearl Mahogany. It is a very nice color, just not as vibrant a red as I wanted.



Esalon 5.25 Medium Brown Pearl Mahogany

Even though I wasn't crazy about the color, I really like Esalon as a whole. So I called them after uploading pics of my results and explained that I wanted a more vibrant red. They changed my color to a Medium Intense Red, and that's what I will use next month when it is time to dye my hair again. Hopefully the third time will be the charm. Color issues aside, I am pretty satisfied which my experience so far. The first time I used them my grays around the hairline were not covered to my liking, but they adjusted my color and I had excellent gray coverage the second time around. If you have read other reviews of Esalon you know that a common complaint is that it smells very strongly of ammonia. I have used plenty of haircolors from the drugstore, and I can confirm that the smell is indeed intense. The root color is not as strong, but the color for the lengths will make your eyes water. Definitely do it in a well ventilated are, not a closed bathroom like I did. It was worse when I was rinsing the hair color in the shower, so much so that I tried to hold my breath as long as possible. If you are very sensitive to ammonia smell this is definitely something to consider. It is by far the strongest smelling dye I have ever used. That being said, I did not find my hair was damaged by it in any way, so there's that. All in all, I would rated them 4 stars, with one star deducted for smell. It's definitely worth it if you can find a color you like (and they are very much willing to work with you until you find it) and you are ok with the fumes. I look forward to trying next months color and will update you all. Happy coloring!