I Reinvented My 2004 Hair Color, and It’s Never Looked Better

Among the plethora of hair, beauty and fashion crimes I committed in college, there’s actually one style that didn’t leave me traumatized. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t sustainable.

chairs and mirror at hair salon

(via Unsplash)

I attended college at the University of Oregon, and I don’t know what it’s like now, but approximately 15 years ago (when I last lived in the area), cutting-edge hairstyles, reputable hairstylists, glosses, keratins (and the list goes on) were unheard of. I spent the summer of 2004 visiting my parents in Orange County, California, where I figured I’d have a better shot at locking down a “cool” look to send me back to school in the fall.

Sure enough, I made my way into our local Carlton salon (it was considered cool-ish back then), and this edgy, rocker-looking stylist had a vision for my mane. This was back when that very awful bleach blonde on top, black underneath style was in, and the stylist and I chuckled in agreement that that is not what we’d ever consider for me. Instead, she suggested these burgundy highlights in one all-around panel underneath a big chunk of my hair. Once she added the color, snipped a few strands from the bottom, and flat-ironed my hair stick-straight (long before it was an easy, at-home task), it looked amazing.

girl with straight, dark hair hugs brother

I absolutely loved it and went back to college with a “fresh” new ‘do. Well, turns out the longevity of the color was equivalent to that of my back-to-school excitement. Before I knew it, my deep, mahogany locks fizzled into a very washed-out red. I was disappointed, but I didn’t know any better because I didn’t have any options back then. No gloss to revive the shade, no fancy colorist to perfect the look. My beautiful new color was short-lived.

About five years later, I tried again, at what I thought was a top-tier salon in Los Angeles. They not only didn’t understand the way I wanted it colored, but they also made the highlights fire engine red! It was a disaster to say the least—and since then, I’ve never tried to copy my once-coveted look… that is, until earlier this year.

I’ve been going to my current colorist Cassondra Kaeding for approximately five years, and it was only a year and a half ago that I told her I wanted to go for that burgundy color I once knew and loved. She highly advised against me messing with red, but I insisted. Well, we went for regular burgundy highlights and they turned out phenomenal. After falling in love with the color all over again, I recently took things a step further and asked her to recreate that look from 2004. She grinned and said yes without hesitation, but was chuckling over how panel highlights aren’t anything you see anymore. All the more reason to do it, right?

Sure enough, we recreated the look, and I’ve truly never been happier. I get so many compliments, and the color has lasted so long. I got it done in early March, so needless to say, I’m long overdue for a fresh batch of shade. But all things considered, it still looks great! I’ve been through so much with my hair, and to finally be at my most confident place with it is a total game changer. I highly recommend trying to give a former hairstyle or color a contemporary revival. You’d be surprised how easy is to make a throwback look still appear “hip.”

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