Pravana Red Shadow Roots

by Sarah Birdsong

If you’ve tooled around on this blog for even a moment, you’ll notice my favorite color is red. In the beginning of 2018, Sean and I prepared footage of my then new hair color; red shadow roots. Unfortunately, my hair no longer looks like this, due to extreme Telogen Effluvium—hair loss. The culmination of two autoimmune disorders and a protracted state of malnutrition due to an ongoing Crohn’s flare has all but spelled the death of my hair.

Since then, I’ve both rocked a side shave and gone full mohawk. If I’m going to lose most of my hair, I’m going to grow it back out on my terms instead of trying to nurse these limp strands back to life.

I’m not the only person to suffer this kind of hair loss due to Crohn’s, either; Hayley over at Chronically Fulfilled began shedding just three months after her own severe flare. I can’t say for certain when mine began, because I was far too ill to notice. By the time I’d sussed it out, my hair was already thin and limp, clogging my shower drain.

That said, I wanted to share the content we filmed earlier this year anyway, and use it as a baseline for my hair’s recovery. Today’s post will not be about my hair loss, but rather, its color.

I’ve had red hair on and off for about fifteen years. It all started with Dana Scully on X-Files—I was completely enamored with her, to the point my hair had to be like hers. Of course, her hair color was fairly natural; my shade is a bit more arterial by comparison.

I’ve also used L’Oreal Highlites in Red, but that was far too bright for my complexion. I mixed L’Oriel Red Fire mixed with their HiColor Copper, and that produced beautiful results. I used Pillarbox Red from Manic Panic and Luscious Raspberry from Splat. Now, I use Pravana’s orange and red.

Over the years, I’ve perfected the technique for my favorite shade of red, and how to care for it. These days, while I love my red, I lack the time and patience to keep up with a perfect shade of red. Which is why I’m glad the concept of shadow roots has come into play.

The best thing about the concept of shadow roots is the lack of strict maintenance. When my roots come in, they’re virtually impossible to detect, allowing me to skirt the “every four weeks” regimen required for my hair to look kempt. For this particular color, myself and my stylist used red and orange from Pravana in a 1:1 ratio. The darker brown/red is a Redkin mixture she blended herself, so I can’t say I’m familiar with the details.

When it comes to preserving this red shadow roots, there are a few basics when it comes to hair care:

  • Don’t wash your hair every day.

Seriously. Don’t. Washing your hair too much removes healthy oils, to some degree, which your scalp and follicles need. Plus, it leeches your hair color. In the balmy state of Georgia, I can get away with washing my hair once or twice a week.

  • Wash your hair with something appropriate for its needs and color.

I use GK Global Keratin Balance. I also mix red dye into both the shampoo and conditioner to give my hair a bit of a boost each time I wash it. I only use a red dye because the red fades much faster than the orange. I used to have my stylist do keratin treatments on my hair in between coloring because my hair was ridiculously thick. You couldn’t pack more hair per follicle in there. As a result, my hair was prone to tangles and frizz with a glance alone. The keratin treatments kept it smooth and in control.

  • Use a dry shampoo in between washes.

I use Batiste. I remember a red dry shampoo from Batiste in the past, however, it seems like that color has been discontinued. But with red shadow roots, you could easily get away with using their brown color. Just spray the dry shampoo onto your roots and let it sit for a moment. Then run a round boar bristle brush through it to the ends to spread the product through your hair.

  • Baby the crap out of your hair.

Having brightly colored hair means constantly dying it. I keep my hair pampered and taken care of with Olaplex No. 3 to keep it smooth, manageable, and to prevent breakage. I apply it in the shower and let it sit while I do the rest of my business, and then I’ll wash my hair.

  • Use an oil on the ends to prevent breakage.

I use Organix Coconut Miracle Oil. Once I’m out of the shower, I apply this to my ends and lightly work it upwards. I also use a Tangle Teezer brush to be as gentle on my hair as I can while it’s wet.

That’s pretty much it! I definitely miss my hair length, and of course I miss my red shadow roots. But with any luck, the hair loss will calm down, and the hair vitamins I’ve picked up will see me on my way to long locks again someday soon.


I have compiled a list of additional resources regarding this entry and its contents for researching the topics therein: my favorite line of vivid hair color. the line used by my stylist for the “shadow” portion of my red hair.

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