I want to preface this story as the first in a series called Quarantine Salon. There is no better time to alter one’s appearance than when you’re home all the time and no one is seeing you except your family, right? I took the plunge on some appearance alterations like hair dyeing and waxing so you don’t have to (unless you REALLY want to). Quarantine salon will also feature some fun photos because clearly, we all need proof of my decisions both good and bad.
So, here goes!
Quarantine Salon, Installment 1: Getting to the Root of the Problem
One thing that was absolutely (mostly) forbidden in my house growing up was hair-dyeing. For reasons I still don’t quite understand, messing with my hair was a particularly taboo subject, and when I stumbled into middle school, the sweeping emo fever had infected everyone. I was not immune, and by seventh or eighth grade, I was hellbent on being anything but my natural brunette self. My mother pushed back every time I asked without any real reason.
However, what she did not count on was that I would defy her orders while I was away from home visiting my dad. His girlfriend had a daughter my age, and it was common to see the two of them with fresh new hair colors every month or so. If her daughter could dye her hair, couldn’t I?
This reasoning led to us heading to a Rite Aid on a Friday or Saturday night and me choosing box dye in a copper shade. We have all seen a shiny new penny fresh from the mint, right? It looks lovely on a coin. On my head, it was an intense shade of orange. I forced myself to believe I liked it and that the initial shock was simply because it was new. We managed to pull the wool over my mother’s eyes for at least a month since she only ever saw me when the sun was down thanks to late autumn and its lack of daylight savings time. When she finally saw what I had done on Christmas in the brightly lit living room of my uncle’s house, she was FURIOUS. My roots were coming in and adding a distinct dark stripe in the middle of the orange sea, and as punishment, I was to grow it out with no hope of dyeing it back to its natural color. (The joke was on her; she bought a box of mousy brown dye roughly a year later to color her own eyebrows and then opted not to use it since you really, REALLY shouldn’t dye your own brows at home, and I stole it for myself.) I opted not to color my hair again until long after I was out on my own.
So, we will time warp to years down the road long after the horrors of middle school had died away. It was odd to be in the adult world and learn how many professions adamantly refused any unnatural hair color for employees. If the shade wasn’t auburn, blonde, brown or black, it was prohibited. So, until 2020, the only color I donned outside of my natural shade was auburn. (It’s how I hooked my husband; true story.) I had read articles about how fun hair colors were surging in popularity as lockdown orders went into effect across the world, so I decided to go for it myself. The hair salons were still closed in my state at this point, so I decided to take the plunge and do it myself! It’s just hair; it grows back, right?
Attempt number one was found in a bottle of purple Manic Panic. I was scared to bleach my hair because of the damage it would cause, but sadly, my natural shade was far too dark for the purple to show up. Because of this, I sadly lack any photos. Outside of direct sunlight, my violet-tinged locks were wholly invisible. I wanted to go for something bolder, and I accepted that I would have to use bleach if I wanted anything vibrant.
At this point, I should warn you that I was two things: impatient and impulsive. It is true that hair grows back. It is also true that growing your hair to certain lengths beyond a pixie cut can take months to YEARS, and that is something you have to accept in the event that things go very, very wrong.
While I was grocery shopping, I found a kit of Splat dye. It included both dye AND hair bleach and claimed that you could do both in one day. Fantastic! I wanted pink hair and I wanted it NOW, and no one was going to stop me. As I opened the box and read the directions, I saw that keeping the bleach a quarter of an inch away from the scalp was ideal. The act of eyeballing measurements has never been my strongest suit, and this experience illustrated that in a cruelly obvious way. In my zest for the bold unnatural hair color that no one had let me have in my tween and teen years, I added the package to my cart and rushed home. In the privacy of my bathroom, I mixed the bleach, globbed it all over my strands, and waited.
After a shampooing, a towel dry and a blow dry, I looked at myself in a mirror to evaluate my results. I was HORRIFIED. I sent my husband a frantic text along the lines of, “Can I just stay in my room forever?” followed by a crying emoji. He came in from the living room and IMMEDIATELY broke down into peals of hysterical laughter. He hugged me and assured me that it was not my hair that was so funny; it was the content and tone of my text that was so amusing. Because all horrible decisions should have photographic evidence to prove they happened, I offer you these gems:
Even though I was working remotely and had no plans to return to the outside world, I could not and would not keep this disaster bleach job longer than necessary. I frantically bought another box of bleach while donning a stylish beanie and sheepishly asked my love to help me bleach the spots I missed. Luckily, he obliged. (Again, photographic evidence. This was a rough weekend.)
Even though the bleach still was quite brassy after round two, I was able to cover it with the pink Splat and give myself the emo makeunder that I had always wanted. If you are reading this, you may recognize this post with a caption about returning to the RAWRing 20s:
Stay tuned next week for Quarantine Salon 2: Electric Blue Boogaloo in which I dye my hair (and my hands, fingernails, bathtub, and life) blue!