products for redheads

Review: Wella Lifetex Color Reflex Mask in Red

When I wrote about my search for a replacement for John Frieda’s discontinued ‘Radiant Red’ colour mask last month, a couple of you suggested Wella’s Lifetex range, and last week I finally got around to ordering myself a tube of the Color Reflex Mask in red.

This is basically an intensive conditioner which is also designed to have an “illuminating” effect on red hair, giving you an intenser, shinier colour. In other words, it’s a lot like the John Frieda product I loved so much, and as it comes in at roughly the same price point (I paid £7.65 at I was really keen to try it.

The first surprise with this was in the colour of the product itself:

Basically? It looks a lot like ketchup, doesn’t it? “Okaaay,” I though, “I’m putting something the colour of ketchup on my hair. Now, I don’t want my hair to end up that colour, so I better make sure I follow the instructions really carefully…”

The instructions told me to apply it to damp hair and leave it for 5 – 10 minutes “depending on the colour intensity required.” So, naturally I left it on for, oooh, at least three times that long. Well, it was Saturday morning, I didn’t need to be anywhere, and once I’d applied the stuff, I thought I’d just pour myself a coffee and have a quick look at some blogs. Next thing I know, quite some time has passed and I’m still sitting there with what looks like ketchup on my head. Oops.

Luckily for me, this story DOES have a happy ending, but before I get to that, let me quickly rewind and talk about the application part for a minute. For me, this was actually a little tricky: my hair is long, and I wanted to make sure I covered all of itm so I took my time and tried my best to massage it in as evenly as possible, before pinning it up on top of my head and leaving it. It took maybe ten minutes or so to apply it, and when I was done, I had a horrible moment when I glanced down at my hands and realised that they, too, were now roughly the colour of ketchup: luckily it washed right off!

When I was ready to remove it I jumped in the shower again, and rinsed my hair thoroughly. Then I did it all over again, because although I’d waited for the water to run clear the first time, when I got out of the shower I noticed that the droplets falling onto my (white) towel were suspiciously pink, so I was forced to get back in and spend another couple of minutes rinsing. (Then I was forced to wash the towels, obviously. They’re fine, just in case you were wondering.)

As soon as I started to rinse my hair, I could feel a difference in the condition: it felt much smoother and silkier than it usually does when I wash it, and when I finally emerged from the shower it was completely tangle free. I blotted it with a towel to get rid of the excess water, and then started to blow-dry, and right away I could see a difference in the colour, which was a deeper and more vibrant red, and very soft and shiny. It is, however, a fairly subtle difference: while it was very noticeable to me, the “before and after” photos which I tried to take for this post both looked exactly the same, so the difference in colour isn’t one that I was able to photograph (It’s really a “my hair, but better” effect more than anything else): instead, you get the photo at the top of the page, which was taken the day after I applied this, after one wash.

According to the tube, the colour effect should last “between 1 – 3 washes”. This was the only thing that bothered me a little when I was ordering this: my John Frieda glaze claimed to last for at least seven washes, but actually lasted for much longer than that, and the thought of this only making a difference for one wash was a little bit off-putting, as I wash my hair every day. This morning, however, I shampooed it for the third time since applying this, and the colour still seems to be going strong, having only faded very slightly since day one. I’m hoping I’ll get more than three washes out of it, and I guess you could always apply it in the shower for a quick top-up if you wanted to.

So far, then, I’m really happy with this, and will definitely be re-purchasing it when my current tube runs out, because I really like the way it’s enhanced my natural colour without too much hassle. If you want to try it out for yourself, you can click here to order it from it’s also available in blonde, silver and brown.

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  • I really like the sound of this, and I’m sure I can see a difference in your hair colour – quite an obvious one, actually. I’m going to give the brown a whirl, definitely.

    October 6, 2010
  • Have you considered trying the matching shampoo too? It’s meant to do the same thing but is much less time consuming to apply seeing as you just use it like normal shampoo. Obviously you could still use the masque but you might not need to use it as often.

    I used it when I had red (from a bottle) hair and it was a really nice product.

    P.S. Your hair is gorgeous!

    October 7, 2010
    • Thanks! I will probably get the shampoo at some point too – I wanted to try this one first because I figured it would make the most difference 🙂

      October 7, 2010
  • I can’t believe anyone hasn’t mentioned this yet: I absolutely love the coat you’re wearing on the photo.

    October 7, 2010
    • Oh, thanks! It’s one of my favourites 🙂

      October 7, 2010
  • wow your color is amazing!

    October 18, 2010
  • Pauline Gallagher


    Hi there, are you a natural redhead??? do you colour and if so what colour do you use? Im a redhead also and I use an Auburn, your is very vibrant.. Thanks Pauline xx

    October 19, 2010
    • Hi,
      Yes, I’m a natural redhead – I don’t use any colour, although, obviously in this photo I had used the product mentioned in the review.

      October 19, 2010
  • I guess I’m confused. This product temporarily dye your hair? After about 20 washes it goes back to ‘normal’? Are you using it regularly? May you remake a preview and display? I’m thinking of importing, because here in Brazil has not.

    November 4, 2010
  • Jennie


    Wow, two weeks after going from my natural, lifelong blonde to red and having desperately scoured the shops and internet for appropriate products and care advice, suddenly all my questions are answered on this website.

    Amazing advice and info, thank you.

    November 28, 2010