A Cruelty Free Cut and Color

You ready for a long and picture heavy post? Buckle up and grab a snack!

One of the biggest things i have had to struggle with in the change to a cruelty free lifestyle has been a hair cut!

Who woulda thunk?

While I know you should be able to ask and request things of your stylist, such as to use only certain brands, that is something I’ve never really felt comfortable doing.

I’ve told myself that as long as the salon uses some CF brands (especially as the ‘default’ shampoo) that it was ok for my infrequent haircuts. That I can’t control the other products that a stylist decides she likes to use on clients, that the money that I am paying for is mainly for the ‘default’ shampoo and the service of the cut itself, but as I got rid of more and more non CF products in my house, the salon aspect of my life bothered me. I wanted a salon where I not only liked and trusted my stylist, but trusted the products as well.

Also until recently, I’d never really considered the impact of the color available at salons and if they’ve been tested on animals.

When I realized I wasn’t quite the ‘ginger’ I had been.

My naturally red hair had faded to a strawberry blonde and I honestly didn’t really like it much anymore. I started thinking about coloring it ‘back’ and then I started thinking more about the cruelty free aspect of hair dyes.

A friend of mine saved me from spending hours on the internet when she came over in the late summer and talked about the beauty school she was attending – a Paul Mitchell beauty school.

Paul. Mitchell.

Two musical words to my ears. Paul Mitchell is a cruelty free brand, one of the ‘biggest’ names out there in haircare, and makes literally everything you need or could want in a salon.

I looked up good dyes for redheads and surprisingly, Paul Mitchell kept popping up. The PM color line has a lot of different reds already formulated, and the color is easily manipulated (lightened, etc) by things I don’t quite understand like mixing different blondes, etc, and things like the unique PM “color shots”.

When my friend Jess said she was able to start cutting and coloring clients at her school, I talked to her about my worries and interest in the process. She eased my fears (scared into me as a child) that I would grow back hair that was ruined by dying it. I was impressed by how much she knew and that she went out of her way to ask her teachers more specific information. She was also excited to do my hair and thank to her not giving up, I didn’t chicken out and ended up going in!

I traveled to her school for an 11 o clock appointment and she was there at the door waiting for me with a big smile and a hug! Right away I noted her professional demeanor and energy which made me even more confident in what I was about to do.

I also noticed right away the hum and busyness of the school and the large amount of chairs which were filled!!!! Almost every station had a student working at it. Also, it smelled like color. A ton of color. (I was told it was one of the special days that the students can do color on each other)

Jess immediately started combing through my hair, inspecting it and asking me more questions about what I wanted to have done. She and I had talked and texted a bit about what I was thinking, but I appreciated that she asked questions and that she physically looked at my hair to see how she would go about the process. Some of her questions were prompted by a checklist that her school has them fill out and that then the client has to sign acknowledging that they understand their service will be provided by a student who is practicing under the guidance and license of their teacher.

Does anyone else ever feel like the first few minutes of your haircut when they look at your hair and talk to you about the cut is like an exam!? Happily Jess held up my hair and said, “you have really healthy hair! like really healthy”! (I think I passed!)

She let me browse their color book while we talked and I was really surprised at the amount of red (and other colors) available:

Paul Mitchell Colorbook

That’s not even all of them! Just the reds and colors after the red section!

I considered myself a strawberry blonde and at first didn’t really want to go too much ‘darker’, but slowly ease into color by adding a little bit now and then going back and having her add more color another time.

That was the plan until Jess compared pieces of hair to the swatches in the color book and we found out that the majority of my hair was 8N.


Whhaaat!? I was even more blonde than I realized!!!

After I said I liked the 8RO swatch, she showed me a style inspiration from a PM book that had that same color in it and was what she thought I might like and the block color dying pattern was something she felt would look good on me.

Here is the picture of the front page:


I didn’t want it that intense, which Jess quickly assured me that she would only use the two base colors and not include some of the orange pieces and color shots included in the guide on the back. She showed me where the two colors would be on me, and asked her teacher to come over and explained what she was thinking, that I liked the one color already and asked for feedback.

With the ‘blessing’ of the teacher and the go ahead from me, Jess went to the stock room!

While I waited I took a before picture and said goodbye to my strawberry blonde.


I enjoyed watching Jess mix up my color, something that I’ve never seen before. Her teacher talked to her after she had her color tubes and bowls, but before she started mixing. I’m assuming it was to walk through what she would do and to answer any questions Jess had….but who do I know, they coulda been talking about lunch…lol, just kidding, I bet it was a highly professional conversation.


look at that technique.

She mixed 8RO and 6RO to create 7RO for my darker color and then used 8RO for the lighter pieces. Jess had explained to me that since I had natural highlights that the dye would absorb and be slightly different based on that alone, but that having two ‘shades’ of the red orange color would look best in her opinion.

She brought a tray with two neon orange colored goops in them


(I really hoped my hair wouldn’t look like that)

After thoroughly soaking my hair with about a quarter to half the darker dye, I felt it: the stingy burn of hair dye chemicals.

I knew that it would sting, especially since I washed my hair that morning and everywhere on the internet suggests the  night before. (whoops)

But ooh it stung. It tingled and stung my scalp, made me warm, and made my nose sting too. It didn’t really hurt, just annoying and bothersome. I’d seen some internet posts where the person described the pain they went through and burns they got from the dyes used on them and thankfully that didn’t happen to me. Paul Mitchell dyes may be lighter on the dangerous chemicals, or may have a different ph level or something…idk.

Jess hit her groove and looked like she was painting my hair (which I guess she pretty much was), making sure each section and strand was covered with dye and then twisted that section together. At one point she whipped out some foil which she explained was to separate the pieces with the lighter dye from the darker ones.

Something I thought interesting: the dye in the bowls went from an acid orange to a brownish red after the application process.


After she was satisfied with the dye on my head she had me sit and let the dye absorb for about 20 minutes. At this point her classmates and most of the teachers were at lunch and we had time to chit chat. We talked about life and things going on, got a chance to catch up! It was nice to have a hairdresser I actually enjoyed talking to, one I could have a conversation with, and not just have her mutter and go ‘uh huh’ whenever appropriate.

Here’s a super attractive picture of my hair all done and in the ‘foil’


yes, I look ridiculous.

Then came my favorite part: the wash.

OH YES. Who doesn’t enjoy that scalp massage!? And it’s sorta a guilty pleasure because I love that they put the conditioner at the scalp/root of the hair, it’s magic. But I’m scared to do it regularly at home.

Jess, being the super informative and awesome hairdresser I was beginning to expect, told me what she was using on my hair (an after color shampoo to remove excess dye and seal the cuticle of the hair – I had no idea that hair had a cuticle… and then the new luxe line or something that had awapuhi in it and smelled amazing) and answered my questions like “have you ever soaked anyone doing this…what about getting it in their nose?”… Because I’m nebby and have seriously wanted to ask that for.freaking.ever.

Jess put a combination of products in my hair to make it magically soft and fluffy, cut about a half inch of hair off and then styled my hair and learned about the woes of having hair that just won’t dry. When I saw her having to go over the same section of hair multiple times, I apologized for my stupid hair and she then informed me that contrary to what I thought, I actually did not have fine or thin hair. I had gone my ENTIRE life thinking I had thin hair…I knew I had a lot of it, as in follicles/strands of hair, but that it was thin….now I know better – thanks!!

While she cut, dried and curled my hair I watched my hair intently to see it lighten up as it was drying. I got sorta concerned when it wasn’t really doing anything. I think I was expecting the heavens to open up or something… So I probably looked less enthusiastic than she expected, and I hope it didn’t bother her!

When my hair was done being curled, however, and especially when she showed me the back of my hair I noticed the difference. It was deeper in color, but the vibrant red was shiny and RED!!!

(My favorite part of having my hair done (minus the not having to do it myself and get burned) was when the classmates around her kept looking at my hair and the one girl said she was ‘obsessed’- heck yes confidence booster)

Are you ready? Here’s the magic that Jess performed on my hair!


I can NEVER curl my hair like that!

Need help remembering the before?


(I’m smiling like a weirdo in the after so I didn’t giggle like a two year old)

So there you have it.

The ginger is restored and a week later, it’s still freaking fabulous.

I’m so happy to have found a CF hair cut and color option for me AND have found a hairdresser I not only think is super skilled, will get to watch grow and get even better as the years go on, but one I truly feel comfortable with.

Jess can be found at the Bella Capelli Paul Mitchell Partner School in Monroeville, PA. If you’re thinking of switching it up, or even just for a trim, call them up and get yourself an appointment!

I paid for my hair color, cut, and style with my own money. This post was not sponsored by any entities mentioned in the post.


9 thoughts on “A Cruelty Free Cut and Color

  1. Susannah!!! I’ve been checking your blog everyday, practically on the edge of my seat, waiting for this post. It was very worth the wait! Thank you for all the kind words and I am so impressed with the amount of information you absorbed from our time together! You make me smile so much. Enjoy your color and cut! Can’t wait to have you back in my chair.

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