Monday, August 9, 2010

tales of a boxed-hair-dye queen

Hello, my name is Erin. And I have a tumultuous, dirty affair with hair color.

I think it started when I was having a discussion with my Girl Scout friends about what color my hair was back in seventh grade. It was completely virgin hair, and it was smack dab in the middle of a dark blonde and a light brown. It's a stupid thing to have an identity crisis over, but it was something I had been "struggling" with for a while. I was just starting to look at makeup, and I was trying to find advice on colors to wear--everything was divided into skin color and hair color. My friends, loyal and goofy as they were (and are), debated whether my hair was light enough to be considered a dirty blonde, or if it was just dark enough to cross the line into brunette territory. One of the GS leaders overheard our light conversation and had this to say:

"Erin, I would say you have dishwater blonde hair."

Okay, dirty blonde is bad enough. She's the grungy older sister of the princess blonde. But dishwater blonde?? How can that describe someone's hair color! I was revolted by this notion--the idea of disgusting, used water that we used to clean our plates as a descriptor for my hair?

From that point forth, I begged my mom for highlights. It took me months, but I finally drove my mother crazy with my pleading. A couple of hours and $100+ later, I left a WAY-over-priced salon with bleach blonde bangs and Vegas-stripper-thick highlights. Maybe that would be becoming of someone... somewhere, but on my wavy-frizzy, thick hair, it was nothing short of a hot mess. Needless to say, I never set foot in a salon for color again, and the closest highlights have ever come to my head was when I was doing my sister's highlights years later (I have to say, I do a pretty banging job, too).

Fast forward to tenth grade. I wanted another hair transformation. My hair was shorter, I cut my bangs horribly crooked, and I was in a messy Hot Topic emo/goth phase that was completely unbecoming. Enter the box dye. My mom wouldn't let me do permanent, so during the summer I started dyeing my hair with demi-permanent auburn dyes.

Looking back, it was another hair nightmare.

The initial color on my hair was a vivid berry-red that accentuated every pimple on my face, but I thought I looked so stunning and unique. It faded to an orange-copper at my roots quite quickly, yet for some reason I thought I should hold onto that color for another year. Finally, I decided that *maybe* the color wasn't cutting it, so I dyed my hair a medium warm brown.

Looking back on my color, anything labeled "warm" or "golden" will turn orange at my roots way, way too soon.

I finally found my color at the beginning of college, when I went dark brown. I have blue eyes and a fairly light complexion, so the dark hair (in my opinion) made me look all the more unique, especially coming from a high school where almost every girl went blonde and went tanning. I had previously been told that I looked like Gilmore Girl's main actress, Alexis Bledel, but after I went darker and my hair was longer, it was a constant barrage--not that I'm complaining!

My next hair venture is not too far from home--where I've been for pretty much the past three years--soft black. I will never--NEVER--go blue-black, but a soft black has been my ideal for a long time, since almost every brown I've tried has gone warm at the roots and grow-out. My mom can't even remember what my real color looks like (I can't really remember, either), and now we both love what I do with my hair.

I've been a die-hard (dye-hard?) Clairol Natural Instincts (demi-permanent) user since the beginning with only a few misbegotten forays into Feria permanent color, only to return with my tail between my legs four weeks later. My vegetarian and animal-welfare side has won out, though, so now I'm trying Revlon ColorSilk, a brand that proudly advertises its no-animal-testing stance. I've heard amazing things about its brown-to-black hues, plus the price is half of what I've been paying for years. MUA reviews have been pretty positive about the color.

I can't wait to step into my shower.

My other little sister, who wouldn't touch highlights with a 78-foot pole, wants to go either darker or auburn. I want to tell her to keep her beautiful, virgin medium-brown curly hair alone, but I know how it feels to be told to keep your natural beauty. She's 15, the age where I decided that red hair would rock. I can completely and utterly empathize. Besides, sometimes it takes a bottle of color to love the way you look. I can't imagine not having dark hair. It is completely and utterly me.

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