Color my World, the Price of Vanity

About two months ago I had, so I’d been told, beautiful dirty blonde hair. I am 40 years old, and through the years have dyed my hair just about every shade of blonde; White Blonde, Strawberry Blonde, Dark Blonde, and everything in between. Well, whether from an overdose of hormones, a mid-life crisis, or just plain boredom, I decided I wanted to be a Brunette. I pictured myself with this gorgeous chestnut-brown mane of shiny, radiant hair, blowing in the fall breeze, just like in the commercials. So, I headed off to the nearest drug store to choose my perfect shade, and begin my transformation into a dark-haired goddess.

My adrenaline pumping, I rushed into the store and headed straight for the hair color aisle. I was completely unprepared for the enormous array of choices! The only thing I knew for sure was the color I desired, and that it had to be a permanent color, my first mistake. After browsing up and down the aisle about a hundred times, I chose what I felt was the best quality available, in a shade called, “Light Brown”, feeling this would be the best shade for the results I desired. I mean, it looked perfect on the girl on the box! Oh dear, hindsight is indeed 20/20.

I headed home at breakneck speed to do my thing, ignoring the ridiculously late hour, anxious to begin my new life as a “sultry brunette”. Being the type of woman who lives “on the edge”, I ignored the instructions where it says to do a strand test to check the color results, and proceeded to soak my head with color. I paced for the recommended half an hour, washed it out, soaked it with the included conditioner, and set out for my blow dryer. I couldn’t wait to see my beautiful brown hair begin to appear as it dried! Well, as it turned out the color I had chosen was too light, and I ended up with a slightly darker shade of blonde than I had when I started. I can’t begin to describe my disappointment after all that hard work and anticipation, but being the stubborn person that I am, I was not going to be that easily discouraged.

The next day I headed back to the store in search of a different color, the perfect color. Being beyond any logic at this point, instead of going for the next darkest shade, “Medium Brown”, I chose “Dark Brown”. I was so sure that I knew what I was doing. I raced home so excited, one again paying no mind to the late hour, or the instructions. I knew in my heart that I had it right this time. Wrong! To my complete surprise and horror, as I finished blowing it dry, I saw in the bathroom mirror, not a brunette, but a woman with not quite black hair! The top had turned almost brown, but the ends being more absorbent, (read instructions), were completely black! I was devastated, not because it looked that bad, but because I was not a chestnut haired beauty.

Now a “normal” person would have left well enough alone, or turned to a professional, but not me! The obsession was full-blown, and obviously having lost all common sense, I got in the car. This time I figured if I used the “Medium Brown”, it would definitely turn my hair the exact shade I still had pictured in my head. My confidence in my ability to fix this problem shifted into first gear. I was going to win! I was also thinking that this transformation would work if I just tried a different brand of color. I don’t know where I got that idea. I may have to bring this up in my next therapy session. Hmm, could be a long session. Anyway, I don’t need to describe the routine. The adrenaline was pumping as the time came to rinse and dry. I was absolutely positive, had no doubt in my mind, that this would be the greatest feat ever accomplished in the hair color history of repairs!

Well…oh this is so traumatic in the telling. The color didn’t change at all It looked exactly the same! Oh, it did have some very strange-looking highlights. When my son came to visit he said it looked purple!  I was feeling so defeated, and I hated my hair. Everyone tried to say it looked good, and I guess in a way it was okay, but it wasn’t brown. Believe it or not, I tried once more before finally going to the “professionals” to get it fixed. I bought a color removal kit, stripped my hair until it was orange, and colored it again. Now I had about three different colors of hair, and I’m sure was lucky to have any hair at all!

Finally, I gave in and decided I needed to go to a beauty salon. Of course, I made sure to pick a reputable place. I sure didn’t want some amateurs working on my hair! (Okay, stop laughing). I showed up Saturday morning, unable to sleep the night before, ready to finally have my hair the color I desired. I spent the next five hours being subjected to an array of rituals I can only call a hair “boot camp”. First I was washed and blown dry, then the stripping formula was spread carefully through my hair. I was put under one of the big driers, not for any other reason than that my “stylist” had to attend to another client. I had been under there for two hours, and feeling that the front of my hair was going from dry to crisp, I finally got her attention, moved back to my chair, where “Steve” would then blow it dry for me. Once again, I got to see my hair bright orange, think Bozo the clown. It was completely straw like at this point having been so abused. Now things were about to get really messy. When I had arrived, we had looked at color palates, and they allowed me to choose the two shades to blend! What is wrong with this picture? Did they not see my hair when I came into the salon? Weren’t they the professionals? Once again, I was colored, washed, blown dry, and styled. I really thought it came out good. Not quite the color I had wanted, but it was all the same shade, and I was not bald!  I was satisfied if not totally happy, but enough to leave my poor hair alone. I gave up on the idea of ever being a true brunette.

The nest day… I washed my hair to remove all the mousse and hairspray they had used, and to my horror, as it dried, my hair became an indescribable shade of orange!! I got on the phone right away, and rushed back to the salon. Now, I had dealt with this hair escapade for weeks, and hundreds of dollars had been spent. I was hanging by a thread. (More therapy). As I settled into the chair, I was set upon by every stylist in the place, and each proceeded to put all the blame on me, and insisted that I pay for the repair! Can you imagine?  I left the salon with orange hair, and tears streaming down my face, and guess where I headed? Yup, the store, and the dreaded hair color aisle. I bought some medium brown, and headed home, ready to live with whatever the results. I was defeated, done, finished, and ready to move on with my life.

My hair is now a medium-dark brown, not bad highlights, and is not black. Hopefully it’s good enough to keep me away from the hair color, though I may need rehab. I had become so hooked on the rush from my experiments. Never again…maybe.

*Written back in 2001* I no longer color my hair!


10 comments on “Color my World, the Price of Vanity

  1. OH I’ve had a few experiences like that lol. Still… it does you good occasionally to have a change, regardless of how bad.. I have had some shocking colors yet I keep trying lol.


  2. Your hair-raising tale makes me glad to be somewhat balding and comfortable with the transiition of what remains. I like to think it’s an evolution to gracefully gray. Love your writing.


  3. LOL! Reminds me of my daughter wanting to make her hair Blonde when she was 13. Her hair is so dark brown it’s almost black. We read the instructions on the side and it warned that it wasn’t going to come out blonde. She insisted (lesson time). The next day, it was little orphan Annie orange. Still intent on having blonde hair, she dyed it again. It came out lemon yellow. She’s in her 30’s and hasn’t died it since.


    • LOL….I leave mine as is most of the time now. I like my silver…and if and when I DO decide to color it, I stick to temp colors similar to my own! Thanks for the comment!


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