As a shy little girl, having bright-red coppery hair was a challenge. Other kids made fun of me for being different (and when I added braces, glasses, and head gear, all in third grade — a banner beauty year for me — oh, there was no coming back from that), and adults made much of my color — which, while positive attention, was still excruciating for someone who preferred to lie low.
As anyone who knows me now well knows, I grew to revel in the spotlight — probably because at home the spotlight was so firmly fixed on my star athlete brothers, while the brainy drama girl danced like a monkey on the periphery.
In college, I guess I thought my hair had gotten too dark. I longed for the coppery shades of my youth. (In retrospect, I was clearly insane. The rich auburn hues I sported back then are what I long for today.) In any event, one summer Lady Darcy and I decided to color our hair. She chose to accent her deep brown locks with henna, I thought that using "blonde" hair dye would make my hair lighter. We were enamored of the Clairol's Happiness hair-color "before and after" ads, so we posed for our own:
(Look at that color! What was I thinking??????)
However, we neglected to take an "after" picture of me. Let me simply assure you: my hair changed not one iota.
Flash forward, say, 20 years, when I found my first gray hairs and grew outraged. Truly, my response was ridiculous — but I'd had deep red hair for so long, all of my friends had long been coloring theirs, I truly believed this would never happen to me. I spent long stretches in front of the bathroom mirror, pulling out gray hairs. Good Neighbor Anne, who lost her hair during chemo, yelled at me: "DO NOT PLUCK a healthy hair!!" she ordered. Husband was on watch to retrieve me if I didn't emerge soon after brushing my teeth.
So I stopped plucking but I continued to fret. And complain.
In 2012, inspired by my friend Sapphire Pen, whose lustrous black hair is colored with henna, I did a henna experiment. Unfortunately, I left the henna in too long, and the color veered more toward Bozo than Maureen O'Hara:
I still might have gone forward with the henna, but the shipping costs were prohibitive ($15!!! for one small package!!!! Crazytown). I meant to call and negotiate lower shipping, but you know how I feel about phone calls to strangers. So it stayed in the back of my mind, but I did not move forward.
I was too scared to do it myself. I know what dyed red hair looks like; one of my Sleek Suburban Mom pals sports a jazzy artificial red, and she looks fabby and funky. But I didn't want that for me. And I was too scared to do it at a salon because of the cost: Once I got started, I knew I'd be obsessed with keeping my roots touched up . . . how could I stop? how could I afford it???? Whinge, whinge, moan, moan.
This week I got a pep talk from my beloved friend and bridesmaid Mrs. Fog Dog, who now sports short purple hair:
For me, hair is not sacred. Obviously, I abuse mine something terrible—I know that whatever I do to it, it will grow back. My advice for you to consider is this: If you want your brilliant reds back in your hair, then do it. As for the expense—you can get “semi-permanent” Revlon products for about $4, which washes out instead of having roots. So even if you use the washout color every couple of weeks, that’s less than $10 a month—not so bad for feeling like you love your hair again.
Have the color of hair you want—or grow older gracefully and accept that this is what comes with age. Either way, merits to both choices—just as long as you are happy with the choice you make.Inspired, I headed to Walgreens!
And here, my friends, is my story, photo-documented by Husband:
(Sorry about the shadow. I want my head to comprise most of the photo and to be centered, and Husband finds doing both challenging. So then I get impatient, because I want it the way I want it, and he gets testy because I am so picky, so then I say, "Ooh, this is awesome" and try taking a selfie later. Ah, marriage is enriching!!!)
(I adore my husband. And one of my selfies turned out really cute.)
Ta-da!!! My kids say they can't tell the difference, and I had to point it out to Brunie yesterday (to be fair, she's heavily medicated), but I totally love it. And Husband thinks it's cute as well. It's not the red I was born with, but it's a beautiful vibrant rich red, not the faded apricot I'd devolved to, and I am very very happy.
What will I do about the roots? No idea.
I will think about that tomorrow.
La la la!
love and kisses,
Lady C, a natural woman . . .
. . . mostly.