Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hair of the Dog

The first time I coloured my hair was the August before eighth grade.  My older sister had given me the remnants of a bottle of Sun In that I had been coveting all summer long.  I applied it to my hair, went out into the backyard and later that night marvelled at my new Malibu Barbie streaked hair.   Even though my natural hair colour was the type of chestnut brown that Anne of Green Gables prayed for nightly, I was hooked on the blond.  Sun In was my gateway drug into the world of hair altering substances.  When I ran out of Sun In, I bought some more.  When I ran out of that and I didn't have any more I used some peroxide cut with water for an Anarchist's Cook Book: Beauty for Beginners Edition solution.

Why did I have such ample supplies of hydrogen peroxide?  When I was in grade seven I desperately wanted to shave my armpits and legs...My mom told me I was too young and suggested that I use peroxide instead to bleach the hair...I tried it, the result: it looked like I had Billy Idol in a headlock 24-7.  I found other usage for the peroxide supplied by my mother.

By high school I graduated to Henna hair dye and then Manic Panic.  Manic Panic was the worst: It got all over everything; marking its territory on pillow cases, towels and phone receivers, like it was some sort of alternative/goth gang member tagging anything in its path with a smear of colour remnant.* My Manic Panicked hair also turned green when it was combined with pool water because of my extracurricular activity of swim team, fortunately most people thought I had done this on purpose. I finally moved onto the hard stuff - Permanent hair dye.

manic panic after midnight blue
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Over the years I have gone from blond to black and bright red to dark blue.  In my mid-twenties there was an incident at a trendy salon**, where the hairdresser in question left the colour on too long and fried all of my hair.  It wasn't just bad, it was awful.  The damage was irreparable and I had to cut all of my shoulder lengthed hair off at my ears.   After the disaster I silently and dumbly paid the full price, bought a hat and went home and cried.  I knew the proportion of the disaster when the hair dresser called my apartment to "see if I was okay".  I WAS NOT OKAY, and even if that salon had offered me a life time of free services there was no way I was ever going back to give Sweeney Todd another chance.

When my hair grew back, I had to cut it one more time to get rid of the rest of the wreckage, nearly two years later I finally had my hair back.  Today I'm more of a safety girl and I relish my chestnut brown locks.  I colour my hair three to four times a year generally within three shades of my natural colour (with a pinch more red) under the watchful eye of a hair dresser I trust.

Looking back, from the perspective of a mother of a daughter who also dons cinnamon shaded hair, I think her hair is lovely, but know that she may decide that she doesn't feel the same way. I don't know quite what I was looking for in my quest to colour my hair every shade of the rainbow, or if my journey would have been different had I been a little more Betty and a little less Veronica.  Lesson learned, if your 13 year old daughter says she wants a razor to shave her armpits, just let her.

To read about my love/hate relationship with bangs click here

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*After I ruined a cream telephone receiver with wet Manic Panic doused hair I had to physically prove to my mother that my hair was dry before I was allowed to speak on any other phone in the house beyond the one that I had already destroyed.
**I just Googled the salon and I can't beleive that it still exists.

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