A few years ago, while going through my separation and divorce, I went through a crazy hair phase. I just decided that I needed a change, like a good day to dye my hair and go a little nuts. I stepped out of the shower one evening and cut my long hair off, all the way up to my ears. I bleached it out to a funky golden orange glow and then over-dyed that with fire engine red.
My mom hated it. My ex hated it. I loved it. I was suffering with almost completely debilitating social anxiety and panic attacks at the time. I was virtually unable to walk into any store, even to do necessary grocery shopping. Somehow, my crazy hair helped with that. It worked almost like a Halloween costume or masquerade ball mask. If everyone was looking at my hair, they weren’t looking at “me”. If I was being judged for my flame red hair, I wasn’t being judged for my scars or tears or inability to look anyone in the eye.
I kept my hair dyed in various shades of unnatural red for a long time… 2 years. I went through every shade, from dark burgundy to neon red, and even went for short times with the bleach orange glow.
As time went on and I began to work through my many issues, I worked through the need to have my hair in a distractingly obnoxious red color as well. I realized that I was hiding behind my hair and that I needed to get over it if I wanted to continue to heal and move forward. Plus, let’s face it, super short glowing red hair is just not an attractive look for me.
The final deciding factor was that I had destroyed my hair with all of the bleaching and dyeing. My hair was brittle and felt like straw. I’d bleached my naturally dark brown hair out to gold/blonde about 22 times in as many months. I was not going to be able to continue with this mistreatment unless I wanted my hair to fall out. I stopped bleaching and went back to a more natural red-brown. I kept it this color, dyeing about every 3 months to avoid my roots showing, and have continued doing this since then.
Well, I have continued doing this until this week anyway. I’ve had a bug to dye my hair something wild again — not to hide behind or disguise myself, but more as an expression of the happiness I feel these days. I didn’t want to go with red. Too many old memories. David suggested teal blue and Lakin suggested hot pink. In the end, I settled on my usual dark red-brown base with a wide purple streak on each side.
In theory, this was going to look fabulous. In practice… well let’s just say it was easier to theorize than to create. I covered my head in a shower cap, with Xs cut out to pull my intended streaks through. I applied bleach to these strips of hair and waited. The box suggested that it should take between 60-90 minutes, but in about 45 minutes, the entire strip on both sides was that old familiar golden yellow-orange.
I rinsed, dried, and applied Manic Panic Ultra-Violet to my hair. Once it was saturated, I wrapped the streaks up in saran wrap and aluminum foil and sat down to wait some more. Every now and then I’d heat up the dyeing hair with the blow dryer. All told, I had purple dye on my bleached hair for almost 2 hours.
I finally decided that it had been long enough. I carefully unwound my hair from the saran wrap and aluminum foil. It looked awfully blue/purple, so I was excited to get my hair rinsed. I stepped into the shower and rinsed my hair, surprised by how little of the dye seemed to rinse out. Oh yay, my hair was going to be stunning!
I stepped out, dried off, teasing myself by waiting until I was completely dry before I would allow myself to look in the mirror. And… nothing. Well, very little.
I mean, really? I was so very disappointed. After I blow-dried my hair, it’s a little more blue on top, right at the crown, but it’s definitely not a streak. I don’t get it. The entire strip of hair on both sides was bleached to the same color, roots to tip, so it should be the same color of ultraviolet, roots to tip. Nope, didn’t happen that way.
It’s okay. I mean, I don’t hate it. I just don’t love it, and I really wanted to. I was hoping for a bright celebration of “look at me because I’m happy, not because I’m sad” or something. It was supposed to be symbolic. I suppose it is, in a way, because happiness isn’t always what we planned that it should be… but it’s still happiness.