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Review: Madison Reed hair color

I have tough hair. Even my hair stylists have said so. It’s thick (both in amount and in actual diameter), it’s curly, it’s dry (to the nth degree). Controlling it is impossible. Keeping it healthy, also pretty much impossible. And now that I’m going gray, it’s become even more of a problem. Why? Because the gray hair is thicker, less curly/more frizzy, and hair color out of the box ruins it even more. I’m not ready to look like an old lady, so the past year or so, I’ve been getting my hair colored at the salon because it doesn’t strip and destroy the feel and quality of my hair.
But that is hard on the pocketbook.
The past few months I’ve been seeing ads for Madison Reed hair color. They swear it covers gray, doesn’t stink and leaves your hair silky soft. I’ve been researching it. Reading reviews. Then I mentioned it to my friend, Judy, who decided to buy a box. And they sent her this “share with a friend” promo code which she shared with me. I could get a box for only the cost of shipping (which made it less than buying Garnier or L’Oreal at the store). I was due for a color, so … I took the plunge. And here’s what I found:
This is me before the color. I had nearly an inch of gray at my roots.

Here’s the box of goodies!

They include two pairs of very nice, thick gloves. A word of warning, though. I have fairly small hands… not tiny, but they’re pretty slim. And these gloves fit like … well, like a glove. If you have larger hands, these may not work for you. I’m sure regular latex or nitrile gloves would be fine, though.
I followed the directions carefully, even though I’ve been coloring my hair since forever. I even used the barrier cream which I will likely not do next time, should I use them again.  I’ll explain why in a minute.
Here is my experience.
First off, mixing the color with the activator was as hard a time as I’ve ever had with hair color. It was globby and didn’t want to mix in.  I shook and shook and shook (and shook and shook and shook).  I finally opened it up, stirred around with a skewer then put the cap back and shook and shook some more.  After a pretty amazing upper body workout, I was ready to apply.
I admit, I did NOT do what they suggested in the directions (to split your hair into four parts).  Instead, I made parts with the tip of the applicators and applied every half inch or so to make sure the roots were well covered.  After that, I did the rest of my hair. I was impressed that there was still more to use–I would say that Madison Reed doesn’t skimp on the amount they send. It felt like more than I’d get from a regular box color. Still not enough to saturate long, thick hair, but more than enough for me. I have shoulder length, thick hair.
Once I’d made sure my hair was thoroughly saturated, I put it up in their handy cap (a touch I appreciated, and one that box color typically doesn’t include).

I let it cook for 45 minutes (they suggest an extra ten for gray hair) and then washed it out, using the second pair of gloves (another nice extra touch). The color I used was Trieste Red (dark auburn red) and the reviews were mixed on how true the color was. Some said WAY too red, some said not red enough. I honestly didn’t care either way, though I do like having some red in my hair, so I took the leap. Here is my hair, wet and immediately out of the shower:

My two big concerns were that it covered the gray and that it didn’t strip my hair. At first, I didn’t like the “feel” of my hair, so I decided to reserve judgment until the next day, after it was thoroughly dry (I don’t use a hair dryer and because my hair is SO thick, it takes hours and hours to dry).
So, did it cover the gray? Mostly. I have one little patch right at the front of my head that still has some gray in it (literally the worst part to show gray, but whatever). Because the rest of my hair is thoroughly covered, I am going to blame that patch on the barrier cream. I didn’t SEE that it got into my hair, but the location of the gray is suspect. So, next time, I would forgo using the barrier cream, just in case.

So, do I like the texture? This morning it does feel much softer than yesterday. Is it AS soft as when I get it done at the salon? Absolutely not. Also, it did do something box color does: kills the curls, and makes it frizz instead. But is it soft enough I can deal with it? Maybe. We’ll see how it handles over the next week or two.
Would I recommend Madison Reed over regular box color? Yes, absolutely.
Would I recommend Madison Reed over salon coloring? Maybe. If your hair isn’t as troublesome as mine (if it’s oilier, less thick, less curly… if texture is less of an issue),you might have much better results. However, if cost were not an option for me, I would continue getting it done at he salon. The results were better. But Madison Reed is significantly better smelling and feeling than box color, and it did cover all the gray. Next thing I’ll need to figure out is how long it lasts … but that, obviously, will take some time!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. It sounds like we have pretty similar hair textures and dryness issues. I’m going to keep this brand in mind if I ever decide to dye my hair.

    1. It’s roughly twice the cost of box color if you go on the regular delivery program, so not a bad deal. Salon color for me runs $75, so $20 is a bargain. I may actually swap … do one time salon, one time Madison Reed, lather, rinse, repeat (see what I did there, lol?) and see what I think. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll just be gray, but not yet 🙂

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