I’ve been dying my hair for as long as I could get away with it. When I was in high school, it was only in the summers, since I went to a catholic prep school and the dress code was so strict. In college, I messed around with my hair more and more, bleaching and coloring my hair in the sink of the frat house I lived in.
I remember one morning, running around in a towel while I was toning my hair again, trying to get it to the perfect platinum blonde that was still unattainable to a clumsy, buzzed young Tynan. One of the university's maintenance people who was fixing something in the dilapidated house told me, “Tyson, if you keep that up, you’re gonna lose all your hair when you’re older.”
I’m not going to get older, I thought to myself.
Well, now I’m grown and I’m coloring my hair more than ever, so the joke is on both of us. And I still have all my hair, thank you very much.
I’ve had a full head of bleached and pasteled hair for, wow, going on three years, now that I think about it. When I started coloring my hair as an adult, I worked in the promo department at a radio station and they didn’t care how I looked. Honestly, everyone in radio is fucking obnoxious anyway so no one cared if my hair was pink. Now that I write beauty for a living and having damaged and color-treated hair is almost a good thing, so I can tell you guys what products actually do what they say they’re going to.
So I’m still getting away with it, I guess.
I get my hair cut and colored every, I don’t know, four-ish weeks. I don’t bleach it every time because that’s not necessary, nor is it good for your hair. That much bleach that often and I would be losing my hair by now. Plus, I like a good, dark root, especially nestled up against the lavender or whatever color my hair happens to be at the moment. As much as I’d like you all to think that this color actually grows out of my head, I know I’m not fooling anyone, so a little root isn’t the end of the world.
Plus, it’s sometimes good to know that my real color is under there, somewhere.
The first time I got my hair bleached and colored as a real adult, my friends kept hitting me with all the predictable questions: What if something happens and you need to have your natural hair color back? What if you have an interview?
My answer was always the same, “I don’t know, dude, then I’ll dye it back. I’ll buzz it off. It’s not a tattoo, it’s hair. That’s how it works.”
That’s been my standard answer since then, but, thankfully, I get the question less and less. The people around me have just come to accept me with this hair. It’s the only me that they know. They’d start asking real questions if I ever showed up with brown hair.
I love this dumbass hair. I love that it’s become a part of me and a part of my life and a part of my #brand. I feel pretty lucky that my life and my work allow me to do this, and I think it’s just another example of how you can look however you want as long as you do good work.
That said, make no mistake. I know exactly how I look, and how it can lead me to be perceived by some people. You’d never know it, but I am pretty self aware, and no one is harder on me than I am. I don’t worry about what the hair says about me, because if I cared about what people thought, I wouldn’t color my hair or paint my nails or put my face on the internet three times a week or do whatever the hell else. I don’t do it for them, though, I do it for *me.* Blah blah blah.
To knock out my roots and keep my hair light enough to put pastel colors on top of, I bleach my hair about every three months, so, four times a year, five at most. Dying my hair a different color is as routine as getting a haircut or brushing my teeth at this point, but the re-bleach is always more of a process. Not just my stylist, who is actually the one doing it, but for me as well.
The week leading up to re-bleaching my hair can feel like a march to electric chair, or a funeral dirge. The more I let my roots grow, the more some little voice in my head whispers that, this could be it! I could end it all! I could just slice off all of this pastel nonsense and go back to being a dark haired guy and put all of this behind me. It has been a while, after all.
It’s rare that I put any thought into my hair and what it says about me, how it makes me appear to other people, other than when I’m in the middle of a crowded sports bar and can’t find my friends, or when I need help at the hardware store (approximately once every sixteen months but it happens) or when I get pulled over for speeding or when I think about meeting my boyfriend’s Dad. There are times, few and far between, but they exist, where I wouldn’t mind being dark again.
But then I remember, I’m not fooling anybody. The reason I’m constantly fucking with my hair isn’t because I’m trying to change anything, it’s because this is how I make sense to myself. It’s certainly not to get people to look at me, it’s so I can stop staring myself down. I spent a lot of years trying to make sense of myself in the skin that other people wanted me in, and I could never quite manage it.
Now, it makes a little more sense. And it’s not just because of the fucking hair color, it’s because I’ve finally surrounded myself with good people and I’m happy and I’m paid and I think I’m doing something worthwhile and I’d like to keep building on all of that. I keep my hair the way it is because I finally think I deserve it.
It’s not like having dark hair again would suddenly change anything about me. All of this is a package deal. If I had brown hair, I’d still be writing beauty and painting my nails and going to concerts and occasionally drinking too much and doing everything that I already do. In the words of Nicki Minaj, “bitch, I’m ME.” I have pink hair in my driver's license photo. This shit is legal.
I’m always going to be the guy with pastel hair, whether or not I have pastel hair, you know?
So the re-bleach doesn’t feel as bad as it used to. It feels kind of exciting. Em…powering? Let’s stick with exciting, just to be safe.
Plus, it’s a great excuse to take myself out to sushi a bunch of times the week leading up to it to make sure all of those good oils have soaked into my roots ahead of bleaching. I lost the gigantic bottle of fish oil I invested in for this precise reason. Someone saw it and said to me, “Who needs that much fish oil?” I scoffed, “I do, because if the bottle was any smaller, I’d lose it.” Turns out, that didn’t stop me.
It’s also a reminder to mask my hair, before, and after the bleaching, which is also a great excuse to mask my face at the same time. That, I would assume, is what people call “multitasking.” And to watch my caffeine intake, since you shouldn't drink coffee before the bleach hits your scalp. This re-bleach business is a way of life.
I’m probably making something out of nothing because I tend to do that all the time, but I just got my hair bleached again today and I spent the week wrestling with myself all week about bringing that brown haired guy back. I wonder if I’d even recognize him if I did or if he serves any purpose in my life right now.
Do you guys have a beauty ritual that makes you reconsider your WHOLE LIFE before you pull the trigger? Tell me everything in the comments and tell me my hair looks cute xoxoxo
Tynan is still pastel on Twitter @TynanBuck.