An open letter to L'Oreal Preference hair color

Dear box of L'Oreal Preference hair color in Intense Red Copper,

L'Oreal, you probably know that not every woman is ready to take hair coloring into her own hands. But like Spam and bicycling to work, home hair color appears to be that rare thing that's become more appealing due to the recession. Asked how the economy had changed their spending habits, 15 percent of 1,000 American women who have their hair colored professionally said they now color it at home, according to a recent survey by Mintel, a market research firm. Another company, Information Resources, said dollar sales of a popular Clairol product, Root Touch-up, have shot up 20 percent.

My hair and I, we've been through it. There was that summer when I was pregnant with my daughter and spontaneously decided to lop it off into a whimsical pixie cut. I looked like I had a pea-sized head on top of a watermelon-sized body. Then there were the years I bleached my hair into a color and texture that can only be referred to as "skanky." And let's not forget a childhood of waist-length locks, combed into submission each morning by my evil, horrible, utterly sadistic mother. I am fairly certain I've earned a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder due to that.

In high school I discovered henna hair dye. This was a big deal. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing cooler than coloring your hair. I thought that doing so would automatically transform me into an entirely different person, someone sophisticated and chic - someone exactly like the women I observed on the subway in the morning. They wore red lipstick and walked with a confident sway, probably off to their glamorous jobs as beauty editors of fashion magazines like Vogue or Sassy where they drank martinis and ate sushi for lunch and met their investment bankers at cool downtown clubs and ran half marathons just for fun. Essentially, a new hair color would make me happier than a Lisa Frank binder. I could. Not. Wait.

Sadly, henna hair color didn't turn me into a glamorous magazine editor. But it did make my hair resemble a pile of rusted nail abandoned on the side of the highway. I needed to step things up. So I waltzed into Duane Reade and plunked down $6 for a box of L'Oreal Preference hair color in a shade of red so shocking it was certain to both piss off my mother and stop traffic. A win-win. I've been loyal to L'Oreal ever since, and now you, dear readers, know my secret. I should have shared it with you a long time ago but I didn't because 1) it's my secret, and 2) sometimes I imagine I'm a Pretty Little Liars cast member with a mysterious past and give all the haters in my laptop evil side eye all day because they're trying to figure out what my secret is and I'm like, step off haters.

Anyways. L'Oreal box of hair color, we've had some interesting times. Yes, you once "accidentally" turned my fingernails a shade of red undeniably close to that of blood  (which horrified my manicurist, a perfectly lovely woman who unfortunately plucks out her eyebrows and draws them back in with pencil. And by the way, *nothing* scares me more than a woman who plucks her eyebrows out and pencils them back in. For reals.) Ahem. Hair color, you're leaked onto my towels and stained a perfectly good bathmat, thanxmuch. But you've transformed me into an exotic creature, fiery and spicy. You've given my hair a color so saturated, so vibrant, it can be recognized in the dark. With my red hair I am Christina Hendricks, also known as The Sexiest Woman Alive. I am sultry curves and smokey voiced and can really, really fill out a wiggle dress. Men are positively enraptured. They turn their heads when they see me saunter by. Okay, they gawk as I trip over a napkin at Starbucks. But whatever.

So thanks, L'Oreal Preference hair color. You complete me. You are the wind beneath my wings. You make me feel like a natural woman. You raise me up.


(P.S: This post is not endorsed or sponsored by L'Oreal. L'Oreal has no idea who I am. I could disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow and L'Oreal would have no clue.)

Have you ever colored your hair at home? Did you like the results, or were you horrified?  What shades have you tried? Will you swear your undying loyalty to a certain brand and share it with us? Pretty please???

In case you missed it:


  1. I am an at home colorist, myself. I use Clairol Natural Instincts Light Auburn (fka Spiced Tea), and some people are actually surprised that I dye my hair. I have been dying it this color for a good 10 years, and that first time was a bit harrowing. My hair was past my waist and I had never dyed my hair before. I used the wash out variety so it wouldn't be too harsh. I've been happy with it ever since!

  2. Most of my adult life, I have been L'Oreal Feria #91. I have flirted with Crushed Garnet (turned my blonde hair pink) and had a few years of demi-permenant reds to keep it from fading, but I am back with my beloved Feria. With impending greys and a desire for a little red, I have moved to Feria #93.

  3. The hair color aisle is the most depressing aisle in Walgreens. If I'm in that aisle, it means that I'm scraping rock bottom. If I can't afford to have my color done, things are bad indeed.

    (And yes, I have been there more than once in my life.)

  4. I only just started dying my hair about 6 months ago. I've never had it done in a salon (I can't see myself spending that much money on something I can do at home), but my husband is an absolute angel and helps me dye it.

    I originally went red, which I loved, but it bothered me how frequently I had to re-color it. I don't want to destroy my hair with the chemicals, ya know? So I hate the idea of having to dye it every month. I finally felt like ME with red hair though, which was awesome.

    (side note: I had red hair as a small child, then it turned dirty blonde, and then was gradually turning brownish. It is naturally that color that is neither quite brown enough to be brown, or blonde enough to be blonde. But I always still had reddish highlights in my hair, and so when I went red with the dye it looked pretty awesome and not too unnatural.)

    So this last time my husband encouraged me to try a dark brown instead of a red. I went with a L'Oreal Preference myself, but I cannot remember the name of the shade at the moment. It was a rich dark brown with a reddish hint to it, and was very nice. It has lasted quite a while without looking too bad, and it seems to fade at just the right speed so that my roots don't show too much. Still, I liked the fun of being a redhead. I do agree, though... Preference is a good line of hair colors. :)

  5. You had me cracking up with this post. NSFW!

    I, too, am an at-home self-colorist and have been for almost ten years. I do cheat on myself once a year and have my hair stylist do it, usually before a big event (like my brother's wedding last month). Otherwise, it's me, my old bathrobe, and a box of Clairol on a Sunday afternoon every eight weeks.

    I usually use Clairol Nice 'n Easy #102, Natural Light Ash Blonde. Sort of like Jenniferocious, I had platinum hair as a child that faded to "dishwater" blonde - not brown, not blonde; but mine has an ashy, grey cast to it. However, I go two shades lighter. It's fun to match my husband and pretend we are Barbie and Ken.

    My secret to great results: I went to Ulta and got one of those professional hair color brushes. It has a pointy end to part hair and a brush to really get at the roots. I absolutely recommend that everyone gets one!

  6. Throughout my 20s and into my 30s I enjoyed being a fiery redhead. Most of the time I had it professionally colored, made affordable by having it done at local cosmetology schools (some of them far better than others). Occasionally I did it myself. Once I had watched the professionals (or pros in training, as the case may be) enough, I knew the technique, so I went to Sally and got professional supplies: mixing bowl, Level 20 bleach, bottle of color to mix it with, brush for application. I can't say this produced any better results than a drugstore box but it was fun!

    Once I got pregnant, I stopped coloring my hair, but every once in a while I'll do a semi-perm deep red just for fun and L'Oreal is definitely one of my go-to's.

  7. I go to the salon and have my hair colored and trimmed every three months. It costs me about $100 but I feel like it's worth it and I love the color. I go to an Aveda salon and my stylist uses Aveda permanent color on my hair. It has always felt healthy and looks very shiny. I have considered at home color but it's so messy and time consuming. I'm not saying I would never do it but for now what I am doing is working for me.

  8. I started home colouring my hair just under a year ago, using Schwarzkopf Live colour XXL. I always picked the red, and after a couple of shade-tryin g have now settled into their Red Passion. I'd never go to any other dye colour, and probably will never go back to my natural colour. I love it!!

  9. Love this! I totally remember the first time I dyed my was two days after high school graduation, I'd just chopped off my long locks into a Josie and the Pussycats-inspired shag (to be curled outward like Josie's of course) and I decided I wanted my hair to be black black, not the sun-highlighted dark dark brown I was born with. But I was scared, so I bought temporary hair dye. Um...did not work.

    In college I went bolder, for a red. I think (although I can't remember) I dyed my whole head. Herbal Essences vibrant red that actually showed up on my dark Asian hair. I stuck to that color religiously, but have tried it in various configurations...dying my whole head, dying just the underlayer (so roots weren't as obvious), dying the underlayer and my bangs (weird look). Right before my college senior pictures, I dyed it all back to black because I didn't want my photos to be too dated, but now that I think about it, I sort of want that red underlayer again...hmmmm...

  10. I started coloring my hair in college. Since I'm so pale it's easy for me to go unintentionally goth or completely wash myself out with the wrong color. So when I can afford it I splurge and get it professionally colored. I do find L'Oreal dyes look great initially but fade pretty quickly. Whatever you do stay away from Feria! I accidentally dyed my hair green with that one.


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