It's gonna get sappy up in here.
In retrospect I should have checked the technical difference between "lilac" and "lavender" before I went to the hairdresser. That way I wouldn’t have ended up with blue hair at all.
For me there have always been two kinds of women: women who have long hair, and women who don’t really care. That doesn’t mean I have anything against long hair -- it’s just those who have it tend to be pretty protective of it. They’re the ones who go to the salon and want “an inch off and just some subtle layers please.” Each to their own and there are some ladies who look awesome with long hair, but I’ve always been all about the short.
The biggest reason is because I look better with short hair. It's quite fine and when it’s longer it just hangs and doesn’t really hold any shape. Short styles work best with it, plus I like switching things up. I go to the hairdresser a fair amount, every six weeks minimum. I also splurge on it, because I think you can tell whether a short cut has been done well or not more than you can with long ones. But every time I go, I get something a bit different. I’m not saying it’s a wild change each visit, but there’ll always be a section cut a little shorter, a slight change in shape.
The same goes with colour, I like a bit of variety. Or I always did, but after going red a couple of years ago I thought I was done. It suited me, I liked it and maybe I was getting a bit old to be constantly changing things. Flash forward to July this year.
"And what about the colour?”said my long-term stylist.
“Well I was thinking maybe it’s time for a change, what about a lilac, lavender shade?”
And that is how it happened. I thought it would be a fun thing to try out, if it’s good enough for Nicole Richie it’s fine with me you know? But now the trend is becoming more and more far reaching and I feel it’s time someone was honest. If Lena Dunham had read this, maybe she would have thought twice about her new green look because there is a lot people don’t tell you about having rainbow hair.
1. It takes ages.
Much as I love looking after my hair, going to the salon is a bore. The best thing about it for me is that I’ve known my hairdresser long enough to build up a mutual "It’s OK if we don’t chat because we find small talk excruciating" bond. Now I just treat it as some uninterrupted time to read a book, but it can still get boring. Especially if you go for a weird shade, because turns out they aren’t an apply-and-rinse sort of situation. First of all you have to have any old colour stripped, then you have everything bleached, then you have a toner and then your chosen shade.
And prepare yourself for the bleach too, because it burns. I pride myself on not being one of those girls who moans about everything but honestly, if this had been an episode of "America’s Next Top Model" I would have been crying and asking why Tyra hated me enough to put me through this.
2. Know your shade.
This seems obvious I know, but you need a clear idea of what colour you want. I was after a purple shade, something nice and pigmented. I thought lilac/lavender was this very shade, but it turns out my stylist’s idea of lilac is blue. So that is what I ended up with. And as much as I tried to suck it up, I never really liked it. Which wasn’t too much of a big deal because rainbow shades wash out quickly, leading to the next point…
If you’re the kind of girl who likes to wash and go, relying on your good haircut to just flick into place then don’t ever, ever, ever go for a bright colour. Most crazy shades are temporary, so they rinse out after a while. The bottle will always says that happens after between ten and 20 washes but you know what? It lies.
Yes, you’ll have remnants left after 10 washes but they’ll be completely different to the colour you started with, which you’ll actually wave goodbye to the first time you step in the shower. You’ll be left with a something which resembles what you wanted, but not as good and possibly with another color chucked in. My blue hair quickly went green, another shade I never really wanted.
On top of this, you’ll need a ton of new products. Your hair might look purple/pink/blue but under that it’s bleached white and THIRSTY. If you don’t use the right stuff your hair will start to look dry and coarse, so you need to rethink your regime.
Step one: Ditch the colour shampoo and conditioners for moisturizing ones. Your shade is temporary anyway so nothing is going to make it last that long, and using moisturizing versions will help your hair loads. Don’t wash it every day either -- bleach is so drying you need to give you hair a rest. Dry shampoo will become your friend. Every second wash, use a keratin treatment and always use leave-in conditioner too. Make sure you use a protector before you dry hair and, sad times, no straighteners. If you must use them (once in a while!) don’t go above 180°. Anything more and you burn hair, you don’t straighten it.
4. Make-up and clothes
It’s well known that blondes and brunettes rock different make-up, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that if you go a crazy colour you’ll need to re-think your routine too. Except it was to me. Weirdly, I’ve found that I need darker eye make-up these days. I used to like a light taupe eye shadow but that’s out the window now, unless I pair it with a jet black eyeliner and loads of dark mascara. On the plus side I’ve found bold lipstick works really well –- purple being my top shade.
You’ll also need to consider your wardrobe. As you’ll see from the pic further above I wore a red top on the day I decided to go blue and… well it wasn’t the best, was it?
You’ll hear more of these than you ever have in your life. And not just solicited ones. Once you go for a wild colour everyone sees it as an open invitation to give their opinion.
“I hate it. I hate it! It’s too much!” said my husband, the very second I got home with my new blue look.
“Ooh, hello smurf!” said my boss. Which was actually inaccurate because everyone knows smurfs are blue with white hair, but whatever.
“I actually prefer it blue to if it had been purple,” said quite a few of my friends once they’d regained their composure and wiped the look of horror from their faces.
“Yes, well, it’s very…” went my mum. We’ll leave it there.
That’s all annoying enough, but you also get randoms giving their thoughts. The odd, ‘Love your hair!” is fine, but I’ve also had, ‘Have you gone mad?’ shouted at me. And one man asking if I meant to match my hair to my sneakers, plus someone querying when I was going to wash it out. So yeah, be prepared for opinions wherever you go.
6. Random acts of judgment
This one is less prolific, but is still happens fairly regularly. If you’ve got anything other than a bog-standard hair colour people jump to conclusions about you. You must be freaky in some way. You don’t have a job. There’s no way you’re married, the list goes on. You get used to the side eyes and sometimes the out-and-out staring, but it’s still irritating. I wouldn’t go up to someone and tell them the 1980s called and they want their bubble perm back, so I don’t expect that behaviour either.
It’s not all bad news though. Having a weird hair colour is fun. It’s a talking point and for everyone one person who says something rude you’ll get another who stops you in the street to say they love it. (Or who calls you Kelly Osbourne, which happened to be when I had actually managed to go lavender and was in Miami. An argument ensued between my husband and me as he insists the guy just called me that because I’m English, but it was due to the hair. Definitely the hair.) Plus if you really hate it you can get rid of it a lot quicker than it took you to take the plunge in the first place.