I colored my hair for the first time when I was a freshman in high school. I was playing a Cuban in a production of Guys and Dolls and at the time I was a little to blond to look Cuban (particularly given the pastiness of my skin). I discovered at that point that I loved my hair dark, so starting when I was sixteen (read: old enough to get to a store without my mom) I started dying it black every so often. I would always use the temporary stuff, so it just faded gradually and I never had to worry about roots.
In college I became obsessed with wanting redder hair. By that time I had brown hair and brown eyes, was average height, average weight… I wanted something about me that would stand out. I wasn’t able to get the results I wanted with temporary dye, so I started using more permanent dyes. But even then, I was staying close enough to my natural color it wasn’t a big deal. Just something I did from time to time.
Then senior year, I found my first gray hair. Cammy kept telling me to be proud—it was a battle scar from William and Mary. Note that at this point, Cammy had no gray hair. Easy for her to say. Still, it was probably another four years before it got so bad I had to cover it up. And since then I have. I haven’t had my natural color on my whole head since 2004.
I’ve been through a lot of colors since then. For a long time it was a sort of cherry cola color by Feria. But Feria dyes got a little harsh for my hair, so I switched to the higher grade stuff from Sally’s. That gave me a slightly more natural looking reddish brown.
The first really wild thing I did was right before I moved to the Midwest. It was the first time in a lot of years where I had a long stretch in which I did not have to look like I lived in an earlier time period. And I had decided to treat myself to getting my hair professionally colored. My wonderful hairstylist Rebecca suggested I go for violet pops. I did. It was awesome. I still miss that color job!
Sadly I can’t often afford to get my hair colored professionally. The upside though, is that after all these years of practice, I’m pretty darn good at it. Rebecca once asked me not to tell anyone I colored my own hair—said it wouldn’t be fair to the professionals. When home I color my mother’s hair and my sister’s. Sometimes I think I missed my calling—truth is that I’d make more money working as a colorist in an upscale salon than I will as a folklorist. But then I remember I’d have to talk to people and pretend I like them all day long. Then money doesn’t seem as important…
All this is to say, when it comes to color, I know what I’m doing.
I had put some blue streaks in my hair in August (they were done using violet color, but it came out blue). They were fine and all, but they started to fade. And by last week they were a grayish green. Well this week I’m going to the annual meeting of my professional organization, and I didn’t want to see all these people I admire while I had faded, yucky colored hair. So I decided to put some red dye I had over the blue streaks. I knew I wouldn’t get “normal” results, but I thought I was prepared for any outcome. It might be purplish, it might be red, it might be a muddy brown…
Not so much.
I’m washing the red out and I look down and my hair is neon, and I mean neon pink. Fortunately, that was just a trick of the lights. Unfortunately, it’s neon red instead. More unfortunately? I have two major presentations at this annual meeting. This week!
Ultimately, I decided it wasn’t that bad. Certainly not bad enough to fry my hair with another immediate dye job. So I’ve done the only thing you can do in this situation—I’m gonna own it. Like a cat who falls on its ass then says, “I meant to do that,” I am pretending like this is exactly how I want my hair. The scary thing? So far people seem to like it.