Hair Inspiration

How I went from blonde to copper

by Carissa Walford

Image credit: @carissawalford

I’ve experimented with colour before, but this time was different.

I used to be so precious about my hair – I’d tell the hairdresser exactly which tone I wanted every single time – but in the past three years I’ve become a complete chameleon. Depending on my mood, depending on the weather even, I always have an itch to do something different.

So when marie claire and Schwarzkopf approach me to try the new Schwarzkopf Brilliance Gems range, I jump at the chance.

My first step? A meeting with the Schwarzkopf team at their head office to try on different wigs to see which of the gem-inspired colours will suit. I love it – it’s like playing dress-ups and as if I’m channeling different characters with each hair colour.

The Schwarzkopf head colourist, Grant Withnell, is adamant I find a colour that suits my skin, not just something that’s a major change for the sake of it. I immediately fall in love with Grant – he’s a hair guru who has been in the game for years, and he’s got a really creative eye.

We soon discover that warmer tones suit my complexion and eye colour (which is green). I also need a colour that works with at least some of my current wardrobe. I try a grey/purple pastel colour and a really dark plum – it’s almost black – but when I try a copper shade called Fiery Topaz, I know straightaway: this is it.

The Process

The morning I colour my hair I’m super excited, because I’ve been waiting to dye my hair this colour forever. Also: I have really bad regrowth, and I’m ready to feel fresh again.

The colouring process is surprisingly simple. Seriously – you simply follow the instructions on the pack and you can’t go wrong (although if you do feel the need for professional help, Grant outlines the full process in this easy-to-follow four-step guide).

The hardest part is blending the colour in nicely from roots to ends. To keep it looking natural, I work with my existing colour: I apply the same amount of colour all over, but because my roots were originally darker than my ends from my last dye job, I end up with more of an ombre effect. It’s the look I was aiming for – darker at the roots and lighter on the ends makes for a more natural look.

The colour is washed out and I look in the mirror. This part of the process is always a little scary because until it’s completely dry, wet hair doesn’t give an accurate indication of the end result. I’ll admit it: I’m a little nervous at this point.

I take a deep breath, blow-dry my hair, then take my first proper look in the mirror.

At first, I’m shocked by how in-your-face it is – it’s so dramatic! But I feel ready to take on the world – as though I have that extra bit of energy and a pep in my step.

Before... and after!

My first outing as a redhead

Everyone says the same thing: “Your eyes! They pop!” Right after I dye it, I go to a Lorde concert on Cockatoo Island, and people who know me and who I’ve met many times before start to introduce themselves! They’re shocked when they realise it’s me, and I start to realise how different my new hair makes me look.

I get double-takes on the street and strangers are looking at me more, and I know it’s because my hair makes such a statement. I waltz into my local café to get my morning flat white and get an immediate reaction. 

My friends and family love it – they’re used to me changing my hair a lot, but this is by far everyone’s favourite. My boyfriend especially loves it – he’s probably more excited about it than I am!

I have a lot of hair, but now it feels even fuller. I’m relying less and less on dry shampoo and texture spray, and more on nourishing hair oils and leave-in conditioners to get it shiny and sleek.
I change my shampoo and conditioner and start doing regular treatments to keep the colour for as long as I can. At the photo shoot, Schwarzkopf loads me up with new hair products, including the Schwarzkopf Fibre Therapy Treatment, an anti-breakage product that I’m loving and is keeping my hair in great condition.

After: Carissa Walford

How it affects my wardrobe

I’m about to head to Europe for a holiday and what I’m packing now is completely different to what I would have packed a week ago, thanks to my hair.

Because my hair’s the statement piece, I’m making sure I’ve got clothes that aren’t too patterned or too busy. I’m all about a crisp white shirt and denim with this colour I think, and some cool jewellery or a really slick pair of sunnies. I’ll be wearing more classic, tailored pieces with this hair because it is so out there.

It’s also changed my entire make-up palette. I’m wearing more bronzy tones, especially when it comes to eyeshadow, I’ve bought new foundation and different highlighters for contouring and even the way I treat my skin has changed. Call me crazy, but it’s got a creamier look to it now and it also looks clearer for some reason – when I was blonde I think you could see more pigment on my face. It’s something I noticed straightaway.

I feel 100 per cent different with my new hair – like a totally different human in a way. Because it does feel like a transformation, it gives you an excuse to start again in all aspects of your life – for instance, because I’m a new me, I’m going to make sure I go to the gym today!

Love Carissa’s look? You can find Schwarzkopf Brilliance Gems in Fiery Topaz at Priceline now. Follow Grant Withnell’s simple how-to statement hair dye guide here.

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