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I have just used this product today, for the second time ever. I had never used a hair colour before that and so to me, the whole prospect was quite frightening! The first time I dyed was a few months ago. I had just come back from the hairdresser and I felt the cut she gave me was a bit boring. At the same time, and advert appeared on the tv for L'Oreal Couleur Experte and I thought I would give it a go.
I'll start by describing my experiences and i'll include all the technical information at the end for those of you who like that sort of thing (and the rest of you can skip it!).
CHOOSING THE PRODUCT
Well, for me, it all started in Sainsbury's. A whole entire wall of hair colour! I quickly spotted the L'Oreal, and i'll point out that this is the first and last time I will use the word quickly in this review! Then it was time to choose. I wavered a little, the L'Oreal Couleur Experte was much more expensive than the others, at £9.99. But no, this is the one I had chosen, this is the one i'm having! Now for the colour. I have naturally medium brown hair. I looked at reds. I looked at blondes. I looked at a nice cherry shade. Then I chickened out and went for the one that looked the same as my real hair; 5.3 Chocolate Macaroon with Natural Golden Brown highlights. I relax a little and make my way to the checkout. I have that feeling of anticipation now, I am going to go home and colour my hair. I have psyched myself up for it, and i'm ready!
MY PLANS ARE FOILED!
Right, so I'm home now, and ready to colour. I start to read the box. This is where it all goes wrong. Have you heard about the poor people whose faces have swelled up while they were colouring their hair? This happens due to an allergic reaction to the colourant. You are apparently at a higher risk if you have a sensitive scalp or a tattoo, which covers quite a lot of the population (but not me). Anyway, the instructions state that you should apply a small amount of the product behind your ear, which I dutifully did. Provided you don't have a reaction, you will be safe using the product. Then comes the weird bit. You are supposed to leave it for at least 48 hours, without washing it or covering it! Eugh. Well, I managed 24hrs, then I just couldn't wait any longer. I did the same the second time. It seems to be fine, but you have to test every time just in case you develop a reaction. This could happen even if you have been fine before. In my view, 24hrs is plenty long enough and I think the whole testing thing is just there to stop anyone suing if they should have a reaction. However, you should really do what the instructions say.
READY TO 'COULEUR'?
With the testing all done, I was ready to start. I will just mention at this point that it takes around 2 ½ hours, not including drying and styling. You should also not colour just after perming or straightening your hair.
The packaging looks great. It is all neatly put together with all the bits you need clearly numbered. There are two trays, which slot together, one for each part of the process. There is a pair of gloves in each tray which is a very nice touch as you don't have to put the yukky gloves back on again. In the first tray is a tube of crème gel colourant (which you will have already used a little of for your allergy test) and a bottle of developing crème. You grab those gloves from their cute little plastic container and put them on. You cover your shoulders with an old towel. You then read the instructions three times over to check you have done it right so far (or is that just me?). You squeeze the tube into the bottle. I then examined the tube to check I had squeezed it all out. I hadn't, so the rest ended up all over my tummy and then next five minutes were spent cleaning it off. I'm sure you won't have this problem. Anyway, you then shake the bottle, snap off the tip, read the instructions twice more and you are ready to start.
Now, unless your hair is really short, you will have noticed when you wash it that shampoo flicks everywhere. You will by now have guessed what I'm going to say! Get INTO the shower, with a mirror, and CLOSE the door. The first time I didn't, and the stuff gets everywhere! At first, it looks white and opaque so that you don't notice it. By the time you have applied the stuff to your roots and rubbed it all in, you will start to notice any flicked bits, as they will be going brown! Yes, all over the carpet, the wall, the toilet seat, everywhere. But it does come off. Nail polish remover works well. If the carpet is beige, you can finish off with a tiny bit of the highlighter mix later. This worked really well.
Now, by the time you have finished applying the stuff, cleaning it off your face, hairline, ears and shoulders (again, nail polish remover if it won't budge), then cleaning it off the shower, walls, and carpet, the 25 minutes will be up. Now you just wash it out.
Before you start, you need to towel dry your hair until it is damp. At this point, I had a cup of tea to calm my nerves, and let it dry a bit (the hair, not the tea!). In tray two, there is a bottle of developing lightening crème, a sachet of lightening powder, the other gloves, a spatula, a highlighting precision brush and a tube of crème conditioner. Put the conditioner in the shower, comb your hair and put the gloves on.
This bit is not so messy, so you can do this in front of the mirror. You have to mix the crème and powder in the tray using the spatula. Now comes the tricky bit. You take strands of hair, dip the brush in the mixture and brush it down the hair. You then rub it into the strand and lay the hair back with the rest. It sounds simple, and the first strand is. But trying to select a strand of hair while wearing a mucky, sticky pair of gloves, and without getting the mixture on the rest of your hair is quite tricky. Add to that the fact that you have to do this quite quickly, otherwise the first bits will be on the hair too long and the last bits will not have long enough. Actually it is not too bad. I managed it ok and there was a great sense of achievement when I was finished.
You leave the highlighter for 20 minutes (or up to 30 if you want a stronger effect) and then wash it out. It is finally time for the best bit…the conditioner. This smells absolutely gorgeous, of apricots, and smoothes onto your hair really well. It leaves your hair really soft and shiny! You are told to use half the tube and then use a little of the rest each time you wash your hair. I just wish you could buy the conditioner as a separate product (I have looked, and you can't)! Now it is all over.
THE END PRODUCT
The next step, of course, is to examine your hair repeatedly in the mirror while it dries (or is that just me again?). This can be a little scary as I've found that the colours look much stronger when your hair is wet. But the result, when dry, is excellent, and my hair feels really nice as well!
I would say that this is a great product but that you do need to take a lot of care with it and allow yourself plenty of time. I have also found that when you are doing the highlighter, you need to start with really thin strands at the front. Because this bit stays in the longest before rinsing, it will be the strongest colour. I ended up with a chunk of bright colour at the front the first time but it looked okay and the second time has worked really well.
You can get hold of L'Oreal Couleur Experte in supermarkets and chemists. I paid £9.99 in Sainsbury's but I would think you could get it cheaper if you shop around.
For questions or advice, contact L'Oreal consumer advisory service on 0845 399 1939 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)
Visit www.couleurexperte.com for more information. This website is great! I just found it for this review and I wish I'd found it before. You put in your actual hair colour and what sort of look and effect you are after, and it recommends your colour and gives application techniques. And guess what? It recommended exactly the colour I had used! The tips were also spot on! Take a look.
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
Do not use if you are sensitive to persulphates, if you have ever had a reaction to a lightening product or hair colourant, or if you have a sensitive, itchy or damaged scalp.
If you have a tattoo, you may be at greater risk of allergy.
An allergy test must be done 48 hours before each use.
Do not inhale the powder
Avoid contact of the product with skin and eyes. Do not use to colour eyelashes and eyebrows. To do so may cause blindness.
Rinse eyes immediately with water if product comes into contact with them.
Wear the gloves supplied.
Do not exceed the maximum recommended time for the highlighter, and rinse hair thoroughly after completing application of both the colourant and highlighter mixtures.
Do not use the highlighter on all the hair.
In case of a reaction during application such as intense stinging, rash, a burning sensation on the scalp, or breathing difficulties, rinse immediately with lukewarm water and discontinue use. Before colouring or highlighting again, consult your doctor.
Never store the mixture after application.
Extra protective crème-gel 48ml (contains phenylenediamines, ammonia and resorcinol)