The first time I colored my hair, I was 19. A little background… I grew up the oldest daughter of a free spirited, fearless woman who believed that hair color was “optional”. I spent my childhood telling my mother that I would “NEVER” color my hair with the confidence inherent in all children who know nothing about who they will be in the future. I refused to speak to her for a whole day once when she went from a blonde to a redhead because “you are not my mother”. How dramatic and ridiculous I was. However, it didn’t phase her for one second, and what I didn’t realize at the time, is that she was actually teaching me that women can do what they want, even if they don’t have universal approval. My mother was a Revolutionary.
So, back to myself, age 19. I was recently married (I KNOW! But, FYI, I am STILL married, to the same guy, so this story did not crush a new love) and for some reason, I found myself… Bored. My virgin hair was a dirty blonde… long and permed as was the style in the early 90’s. At the time, the video vixens of MTV were just starting to receive household name status, and bleach blonde was the color du jour. So… in my youthful wisdom, I purchased a box of bleach and plunged headfirst into a disaster. The end result was…. pretty freaking bad. Pale blonde on the ends, ending up a putrid shade of brassy orange at the root. I was horrified. My new husband, although trying his best to be supportive and not laugh at what, in hindsight, was hilarious, just hugged me and told me he loved me as I sobbed. What had I done? In the 23 years since, I can say this unfortunate event still ranks in the top 3 haircolor disasters I have ever experienced… But it taught me some lessons. One: You are still lovable even when you look like a circus act, and Two: Anything can be fixed. At the time we lived in a tiny town in the California Desert… we put together as much money as we could, and hightailed it to the nearest mall- an hours drive away, and paid $100 for a nice young woman to bleach the rest of my head to a palatable shade of blonde.
For the next 15 years or so, I went from pale blonde, to golden blonde, to dark blonde, to blonde highlights… if you are noticing a pattern, it’s blonde. Occasionally I would take a walk on the dark side, and color my hair chocolate, but inevitably, it would fade, or I would miss being a blonde, and back to the bleach I ran. I learned some things during this time too… One: I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL…. Every time I got sick of paying for color, and decided I knew enough about my hair to do it myself on the cheap, I ended up paying MORE to fix the results of my own hubris. and TWO: Blondes DO NOT have “more fun”. I learned that really, the “fun” comes from within, no matter what my haircolor is doing.
Around this time, I met an incredible stylist… If you’re lucky, you’ve met one too. Katie was a breath of fresh air in a town full of amatuers. She knew what would look good on me, and she, instead of just listening to what I said I wanted, listened to who I WAS. Ours was the type of relationship that evolved into her saying “what do you want to do this time?” and me saying “whatever you want… it will be fine.” Such trust is rare, especially in the realm of changing haircolor. Katie took me from a pale blonde, to a dirty blonde, to a brunette, and back again. It was always perfection… and then she moved. And broke my heart. (Don’t worry, y’all, this has a happy ending.)
So, I found myself in an odd position of being stylistless, and bored with my haircolor. I moved too… And decided I had had enough of blonde. I dyed my hair a lovely mohogany… and for the first time in almost 20 years, I didn’t miss being blonde. Not even a bit. I loved the way the dark hair emphasized my light eyes… I loved that I didn’t have horrible dark roots after three weeks… I enjoyed the change. And then I got bored again. So… RED! I was cinnamon… Cherry… Auburn… Brick. Fiery reds, and subtle reds, and everything in between… and then I got bored… What to do now?
Re-enter Katie, my haircolor soulmate. In the interim years, we had become good friends. I visited her in her new hometown, we went on trips together, I watched her welcome first her son, and then her daughter into the world. She moved within four hours of me. I valued her as a woman, not just a stylist, but when she made the offer to do my hair when my own stylist was unavailable, I jumped at the chance. I am no fool. Once again, she asked me “What do you want to do this time?” And so, we went with Purple. I had never done that in my 42 years, and figured it was time for something new. Y’all, it was spectacular. Subtle in indoor lighting, barely noticeable… but in the sun? Gorgeous, purple, reddish, ombre, EVERYTHING. I got compliments everywhere I went. Men, women, children alike… “I love your hair!” I got carded…Legit. (at 42, that’s saying something). This hair gave me LIFE. And now it has faded…. So where do I go next?
My next haircolor appointment is tomorrow. Who do I want to be for the next 6 weeks? The best thing I have learned about coloring my hair is that *I* define who I am, at any given moment, and *I* get to choose what she looks like. I have been them ALL… Blonde, Brown, Red, Purple, Highlights, Ombre, Black… a new expression of how I feel is only one appointment away. And how much fun is it to look back on my pictures and see my face staring back at me from a rainbow of attitudes and styles. My mother was right… Haircolor IS optional.
So, if you have been contemplating a change, what are you waiting for? It’s exhilarating to look at the world with fresh eyes, and see the world look at you differently with each choice you make. The color of the hair doesn’t make you more fun… YOU make the hair color you choose more fun. And like my Mama would say, “Life is too short for one hair color.” Get out there and experiment… and love it. Good Luck!