The local Sally Beauty Supply seems to have some kind of a bias against funky hair colors - despite restocking everything else, their supply of Manic Panic is down to like three colors. Since I really wanted to do a bright vivid blue this time, I decided to try the only other brand they had (besides the infamous dishwater-green Beyond the Zone stuff) - something called N Rage
First impressions were mixed - it was far less liquid and more goop-y than the other brands, which made it easier to apply but a little harder to mix into the hair. Additionally, it was scented like blue bubble gum, which wasn't awful but got a bit cloying after working with it for a while. My friend Janae, who was over at the time for New Year's, helped me apply it, and I let it sit for about forty minutes before washing it out.
Second impressions were equally mixed. After rinsing, my hair was sort of light blue (the previously-dyed ends were far more green, which wasn't surprising since the bleach doesn't do more than turn them orange), but on the whole it didn't seem to take very well. It wasn't awful like the Beyond the Zone, but it wasn't great either. And it certainly wasn't anywhere near the vibrant dark cobalt blue the bottle promised.
Since I was headed to Sierra Vista on Monday for Zumba anyway, I hit Sally's up again for their last bottle just to make sure I'd given it a fair shake. I also got some cheap and awful and harsh shampoo from the dollar store and washed my hair with that, since I figured it'd strip out the oils and open the cuticles and whatever else the bleach usually does. Then I put the stuff on my hair (first time I'd done it myself - turns out it's a lot messier with just one person and a comb), tossed a shower cap on, and let it cook for a good hour-plus.
Fortunately, it took much better this time around, and the resulting color is quite nice. Unfortunately, my reaction is still mixed - despite rinsing my hair until the water was clear, it still bled all over my pillowcase overnight (fortunately some bleach and two launderings got the worst of it out) and is bleeding on the skin of my neck and ears. After a day at work unconsciously running my fingers through my hair, they were bright blue too. So all of that doesn't lead me to believe that this stuff is going to last for long at all.
So far, Manic Panic's definitely leading the pack for most-effective and longest-lasting, at least for my hair; though admittedly the comparison's far from comprehensive yet, as I've yet to try any of their blue shades. But the fun's far from over - I still haven't tried Special Effects, which is supposed to be the last word in funky hair color. My brother's promised to send me some, since I don't live near anywhere that sells it; I suppose we'll see how it turns out.
Also, thanks to the strong recommendation of one of the girls at the shop, I discovered that while Beyond the Zone's dye might be crap, their hair masque
is excellent stuff. It's a bit of a pain to use - you're supposed to rinse out your hair, towel-dry it, comb the masque in, leave it for five minutes, and then rinse it out again - but I found it worked even better than the leave-in treatment
I was using. Cheaper, too - a whole pot of it is like $10, as opposed to $8 for three vials.