On Being a (Sort of) Recovering Hair Dye Addict

My hair's only constant is that it always changes.

May 18, 2012 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment

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When I was 12, I started coloring my dishwater blonde hair with markers. Even then, I was desperate for a way to define myself. From there, I progressed to Manic Panic, sometimes more markers, and as I got older, varying shades of burgundy, brown, red, and black.

What I'm saying is that I have not seen my natural hair color in 21 years.

Beyond that, I haven't kept the same hair color for longer than six months. To do such a thing reeked, to me, of stagnation and the opposite of creativity. I've made huge mistakes, like going so drastically black that everyone asked if I was feeling OK for a few months.

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I've done some ethically questionable things, like being a hair model for students in "experimental hair design," which is never a good idea.

But my hair's only constant is that it always changes. In 2009, as a hair model, I was given a "Neapolitan" style, where my hair was chocolate brown until the last few inches, where a very straight line of strawberry blonde began.

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 Now, this looked great in the salon, where they spent two hours flat ironing my hair into submission so that the line was clear, but at home, in my normal, non-flatironing life, I looked like I just let my roots grow out crazy far. It was not pretty, but I just solved the problem by dyeing it again. This was basically how things operated for many years, until two things happened: 1) my career got busy, and 2) I found a hair color that seemed to suit me better than any other.

One day, I read in a magazine that Christina Hendricks hair color isn't naturally red, and when I told my good friend Mamrie, who is also a redhead, she was like "Do you think my hair is naturally red? Come on!" I thought "Shit, if they're faking it, why can't I?"

I normally go to salons, but instead I picked a store brand and dyed it at home, and I loved it. The sassy orange-red seemed to suit my personality. It looked funky without trying too hard, but it was also fairly grownup. I'd go to get my hair cut and the stylist would ask me what my hair goals (those are real things) were, and I was stunned to find that for the first time since my teen years, I didn't have any. I was satisfied with my hair.

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It's been almost 18 months since I dyed my hair red, and I remain so satisfied that I have a supply of five boxes of the color I use on hand at any point in time, in case I am homebound, or there is a weird Feria shortage. I have a video game podcast, and fans of the show have drawn me into various video games, each time focusing on my bright orange-red hair to show that it's me.

Recently I started feeling a little claustrophobic about being chained to my hair color and ran to a salon, determined to do something different. Like a too-sweet boyfriend, I felt suffocated by my hair color's "rightness" and wanted to make a bad decision because it's my hair and I can do whatever I want. I told this to the stylist and he said "I'll give you something different, I promise," before dyeing my hair the exact same shade of red it was before. "It's a good color for you," he said soothingly, "and I'm not going to let you ruin it."

So I guess I'm a redhead now.

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