Being a bottle redhead, I love any product which promises to inject plenty of bright, bold red into the hair. Schwarzkopf's latest addition to the excellent Live range is this semi-permanent offering, called Ultra Brights. High claims indeed. The important thing to note is that it's designed to be used on pre-lightened hair for ultimate brightness, and will only add depth and warmth to darker hair.
In the box, you get a tube of colour creme, two sachets of aftercare conditioner, and an instruction leaflet with those terrible plastic gloves attached to it. Throw them away, seriously. Buy a box of Boots first aid gloves; they fit the hands much more snugly, and reduce the chances of colour getting inside them and staining your skin bright red.
Anyway, gloves aside, the kit contains everything you need to give your hair a good injection of colour. I decided to try it out after a trip to the local swimming pool, which always leaves my hair looking a bit faded and a little bit too orange (my hair always fades to orange, and I absolutely hate it). It took two tubes of colour to saturate my shoulder blade length, thick hair - the texture of the colour creme is quite thick and waxy, and it's not the easiest thing to distribute through the hair. Thirty minutes later, I spent the usual ages rinsing it through.
This before-and-after isn't the best illustration as the light was completely different (thanks, British winters), but you can see that the orangey tones have been eliminated and my hair is back to full redness, It also looks in pretty good nick, thanks to the excellent (but predictably silicone-ful) conditioner included.
A week later, and I've found that my hair is rinsing pink when I wash it, but is still richly coloured and very shiny. The pack says that the effect lasts 6 - 8 washes, but obviously if your hair is red or bleached to start with, it's going to last longer thanks to the staining effect. One thing I really like about the product is that it contains plenty of suggestions of interesting ways to use it, from ombre/dip-dye, to streaks and smudging. It also suggests you retain a bit of colour to add to a conditioner to make your own colour enhancing mask - a technique I'm a big fan of, as it really helps bright colours stay fresh.
Overall, I'm impressed with XXL Ultra Brights in Pillarbox Red - it was relatively easy to use, and gave me a great bright result which has lasted reasonably well so far. It is, effectively, a similar product to the La Riche Directions dyes I'm so fond of, but in a more high-street accessible form, and in a complete kit rather than as a single pot of colour. Find it now at Boots, where a pack will cost you £4.
Disclosure: One pack received as PR sample, two additional packs bought by myself thanks to my thick hair. That means I have one pack left to make colour conditioner with. Yay!