I put a rinse over my hair again and this time the entire experience was MUCH better. I never knew there could be such a huge difference between brands! The clear winner is:
Natural Instincts by Clairol
22 Medium Auburn Brown
Last time I did the exact same color, medium auburn brown but by Garnier Fructise and it was a total fail! It was absolutely to blame on the brand of the rinse. Even the smell was different.
This time the color, even on the first day, was much more natural and orange/brown red as opposed to bright cherry koolaid red. I really do like the red tone in my hair and think it works much better with my skin than the light highlights I got. Well, everything is worth trying once. I look better with darker hair :-)
The advice I read about hair color that really sunk in was that when you have the right color you should find yourself wearing less makeup, and not more. The light brown highlights had me pulling out a bag of tricks everyday and that was just not my style nor the point of getting the highlights. I thought the lighter color would bring my eyes out more. But instead they washed me out and make my eye color take a backseat to what was going on up top. I think I will stick with the pale skin/dark hair contrast. Now I have to decide how to make this darker/redder color permanent. The rinses begin to fade after about 2 months. I could switch to henna, but I kinda want to just undo the whole situation with the color entirely. I am still deciding on what to do.
Here is the updated color a week after application: