The Saga of the Hair

Quite some time ago, I decided to dye my hair black. “Don’t dye your hair black,” people said to me. Or, “Black? What? Are you SURE you want to do that?” Sometimes, they would stare at me in horror — you know, with that expression folks reserve for extremely nutty people they think might be teetering on the very edge of sanity. But, I paid them no mind. I was sure. I’m a natural blonde — platinum in my little kid years, and then getting increasingly darker until I entered my second twenties as a sort of dark, ashy blonde liberally mixed with gray. I always wanted black hair. Always. I never would have admitted this to my mom when I was a child. I never would have dared to speak my secret desire out loud as a teenager. It’s a long story, but such things just weren’t done. Besides, no one would have taken me seriously. They would have told me I was wrong, and that I didn’t really want to do that. I’m not sure why, but people are always telling me stuff like this. So I have learned over the years to guard my dreams closely. Even the small ones.

Anyhow, when I hit my second twenties and felt increasingly unhappy with my drab hair color (not to mention those grays!), I decided I would just take the plunge. I would go black with my hair. I was nervous, so I started going with darker and darker browns. I did this over the course of a year or so. It was never good enough, so I finally worked up my courage and told my stylist that I wanted to dye my hair black. Like, black with blue undertones … the blackest black. Luckily, my stylist was totally on board with this. She said, “Sure. You still have great skin. You can totally pull it off.” I love her. She never fails to make me feel better about myself.

And so, I ended up with super-duper-blackest-of-the-black hair. And I LOVED it. I had no regrets whatsoever. I still have no regrets over it. I loved having black hair. I have incredibly pale skin — like, so pale that I’m almost invisible. I loved the contrast of my dark hair against my pale skin. It made me feel so good about myself, and it truly was a dream come true.

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Like most dreams, it faded a little once it became reality. I can’t say I will never go back to black hair, because I really did adore it. After almost a year, I decided I wanted to try another of my “hair dreams”: blue hair. I started out small, with some bright blue streaks underneath my hair, so that it only showed when I pulled my hair back. I loved it and found myself constantly pulling my hair back so the world could see my blues. Emboldened, I moved forward to doing streaks of blue highlights in my black. I loved this as well, and, eventually, I told my stylist I was ready to go full-on blue with my hair.

It was a long process. Black dye doesn’t really fade or wash out, so we had to bleach my hair down as light as we could without damaging it. I didn’t much care what color of blue, although I wanted to stay a bit dark. My stylist picked out a gorgeous, bright, bold, electric blue. It. Was. Glorious. I’ve worn this color for a while. I am pretty good about taking care of my hair color, so it doesn’t fade out very quickly. My stylist redid this electric blue a couple of times. The last time, I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled with the result. For some reason, my beautiful electric blue came out so dark that it looked purple. It eventually faded out to a more blue color, but it was darker than I liked. And it had lost that “electric” brightness, which was my favorite thing about this color.

This got me to thinking. I started looking around at different shades of blue. I looked at images online. I looked at the beauty supply store each time I went to browse nail polish. Not that I would ever try dying my hair at home. I am sure that would be a disaster. So many women are able to do a beautiful job dying their hair at home, but I am not one of them. I would probably end up making all my hair fall out or something.  But I wanted to see the different colors and tones of blues. I knew I wasn’t in love with my super dark blue any longer, but I wasn’t ready to give up on my blue-haired dream.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to go with a  lighter blue — something between a gray-blue and a light, almost baby blue. There was a cyan blue that I loved, but my stylist told me it would look super neon. So that color was out. I don’t want neon hair. I’m not sure of many things, but I am certain of this. I have to admit I’m a little bit nervous about going lighter. My hair is fine, which means it never looks thick. I worry that the lighter color will make it look like I’m going bald or something. Going bald, like, for real, is a fear of mine — thanks so much for that, PCOS. In reality, my hair is in good shape. I have decent growth, and it looks decently full on my head. Still, the fear is there. My stylist feels like the lighter color will be a great idea, though. And I trust her.

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Here’s the problem: My dark blue hasn’t faded. At all. I have plenty of growth at my roots, so that color is light enough to take the lighter blue. But the bulk of my hair is still a deep, dark, electric blue that looks purple in some lights and black in others. This is the curse of taking really good care of my dye job. Yes, it lasts for a long time. But, if you get tired of it and want something new … Well, it lasts for a long time.

I don’t feel good about bleaching out my already dyed hair. Luckily, my stylist said the same thing, even before I could voice my concerns. I love that about her. She never hesitates to tell me she won’t do something that will damage my hair. So … She sent me home from my appointment yesterday with instructions to try and fade my super dark blue.

I went to Safeway and purchased Suave shampoo. Basically, any shampoo loaded with sulfates is a no-no on colored hair. And I washed my hair with Suave and hot water. Over and over and over and over and over. And then, I washed it some more. I’m not kidding when I say I washed my hair all afternoon yesterday. I probably washed it 35 or 40 times. I washed it until I was completely sick of washing it, and the water coming off of it was running, more or less, clear. I figured that was enough for one day, particularly since my scalp felt all itchy and dry. Plus, I had to go to my daughter’s band concert.

Today, I got up and took a good look at my hair in the daylight. It’s faded out quite a bit, but it still is darker than I would like. So I mixed up some Head & Shoulders, Dawn dish soap, and lemon juice (for the vitamin C). I put this on my hair and let it sit for 45 minutes. I rinsed it out in hot water, watching yet more blue dye spin down the shower drain. And I mean SCADS of blue dye. I can’t believe there was this much dye in my hair. It was a river of blue. I had enough of my concoction left over to do one more application. And, again, I ended up with a river of blue dye down the drain.

My new appointment is tomorrow. I’m still not sure if my hair is light enough for the new dye. But … I’m done. I just don’t want to wash my hair any more. I slathered it and my scalp in coconut oil — both for the conditioning my poor scalp needs and because coconut oil apparently also fades hair color. And I’m letting it sit for a while. Oh … how I have suffered for beauty. And now, when someone says to me that they have to stay in and wash their hair, I know exactly what they mean!

Putting on the Blues, Round 2!

I have a very short “bucket list”. Mostly, I don’t bother dreaming about things I want to do one day. I suspect there is some boringly complex reason for this that is rooted in my childhood. It’s hard to remember to dream when the people around you don’t take it seriously or treat it like a joke. Even if they don’t mean it in a cruel or mean way, that kind of thing sticks with you. Or maybe it’s just me. Not sure.

Anyhow, I have less than ten things on my bucket list. I want to visit Iceland. I want to see the Northern Lights in person. I want to visit Ireland. I want to visit the English countryside. I want to dye my hair blue. And I want to get a tattoo. In retrospect, it’s kind of a lame list, isn’t it? Can a bucket list be lame? I don’t know. I mean, maybe not. Everyone’s dreams are different, and that’s okay. Who is to judge which dreams are good and which ones are not? Not me. In looking at my list all written out like this, I’m sitting here thinking I probably should have included “finish my stupid novel”. I think I’ve mentally written that project off as a lost cause.

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Anyhow, this post is about my bucket list, not about whining over how much writing I am not getting done.  For the most part, I think there is very little chance I will accomplish most of the things on my bucket list. My husband, who (of course) is my travel partner, has absolutely no interest in visiting any of my bucket list places. I’m not sure the tattoo will ever happen because of my needle phobia. But, the hair thing is something that’s always felt attainable, provided I ever hit that right time in my life when having blue hair wouldn’t be a drawback professionally.

I’ve slowly been working up to my hair goals over the past several months. I started out with dying my hair a mid-tone brown/black. Then I moved to a darker, blue-toned black, which is a huge contrast with my extremely fair skin. I loved the black, and I loved the contrast. But my desire for blue was still alive in my heart. After wearing just black for a few months, I decided to add a little bit of blue into the mix. I thought this would be enough to satisfy my closet desire. For my first attempt with blue, I asked my stylist to add in little peek-a-boo highlights around my face. On the top, my hair looked like a normal black. Underneath, there was the prettiest sort of mermaid-y blue color that would show when I pulled my hair back. I wanted to make sure I was really okay with blue before stepping up my color game. Turns out, I LOVED it! For my last color outing two or three months ago, I asked her to put in blue highlights all over. It was magnificent. The only thing I hated about it was that it didn’t show up at all indoors. Outside in the sun, though, it was just … wow! So, so, so pretty, and I could not get enough of it. I was head over heels for it.

So, you already know where I’m going with this, right? Right! Yesterday, I dyed my hair blue, blue, blue. It’s oh-so-very blue. Scratch one thing off my bucket list! Woo Hoo! I’m pretty excited about it, as I’m sure you can tell.

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When I got to my appointment, my stylist asked me if I wanted to do the same thing we’ve done for the past few visits. I immediately gave her “the look” — you know, that expression that says “I want to do something totally new and maybe kind of crazy and a little bit scary and perhaps I’m insane for even wanting this at all.” Yeah. That look. My stylist is amazing. She got it immediately. She took one look at my very strange expression and said, “Oh boy. You’re ready to go all blue, aren’t you?” To which I nodded. I was wearing the most amazing, gorgeous sort of bright, electric blue nail polish yesterday, and I showed it to her and asked her if she could make my hair that color. And … we were off!!

It took about three and a half hours. She bleached out most of the black. Black never leaves your hair. Ever. And she couldn’t get it all out without ruining my hair, so she left some of the ends a sort of caramel brown color. On the spots where I already had blue highlights, the color bleached out to a sort of faded, greenish turquoise. Over that, she put the most amazingly gorgeous, bright electric blue. Because I had different tones and colors going on after she bleached my hair, I ended up with a few different tones and shades of blue because the bright blue mixed in with the underlying shades. It creates a lot of depth and interest, and I think it looks amazing. I feel like my stylist is a magician. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: It’s sorcery, that’s all there is to it.

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I have to admit I was super nervous about doing this. Deciding to do the black didn’t frighten me nearly as much. Maybe because black, although a pretty radical color for me with my pale skin tone, is a normal hair color. People are born with black hair. But blue is … different … weird … unusual … wacky … crazy … Blue is a color that people are probably going to notice. For an introvert like me, the thought of that is a bit frightening. And all the normal doubts kept running through my head: you’re too old to do this … you’re not pretty enough to have wild hair … you’ll look ridiculous … and on and on and on. I have a lot of doubts. Always. And the little Negative Nellie who lives in the back of my brain kept reminding me that I would regret doing this; that I would hate it the next day and every day thereafter, but I would be stuck with it.

It’s hard to push ahead amid doubts and insecurities. I’ve been thinking about doing this for years and actively talking myself into it for months. Even so, when it came time to do it, I was so close to backing out. The whole idea seemed too crazy and ridiculous to me. In the end, I told my Negative Nellie to shut up, and I went for it. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. When it was all done and I saw it finished for the first time, I was amazed. And so much in love. It’s so, so, so pretty. And, more than that, it made me feel pretty. And strong. And courageous.

And how did I feel today? I got up and looked in the mirror first thing this morning. I had almost forgotten about it, like maybe the whole thing happened in a dream or something. There was a momentary shock of surprise at seeing all the blue. But it was a good shock. And I told myself, “Self, why didn’t we do this sooner? Why didn’t we do this years ago?” I think my Self agrees. Blue is good.