Do This Don't: Blue Hair at 35

I let my 7-year-old choose my hair color. He chose turquoise.
Publish date:
May 25, 2012
parenting, hair, aging, getting older, Hair Color

In my 20s, I managed a beauty supply store, and during this time I changed my hair color, like, monthly. My naturally medium-light brown hair has been every shade of brunette, red, blonde and then some: pink, purple, jet black, orange. My default color was always a deep-bright magenta that I achieved using Punky Colour (my favorite was Rubine) over bleached hair.

But after my son was born I went to work at a “real” job with boring rules like “no visible tattoos” and “no fun, ever,” so my hair color choices became a little less bold.

And a couple of years ago something happened: I found my first gray hair. Excited by this discovery, and hoping to someday have a rad witchy white stripe on the side of my head, I decided to stop coloring my hair for a while and see if my now-graying hair would look awesome or not.

My natural color. The three gray hairs are somewhere in my general bangs area.

Except this going-gray thing is taking way too long. I have exactly three gray hairs that I can see, and while my natural color is much prettier than I remember and I’ve enjoyed seeing it again after like 20 years, I’m bored to death.

And also I don’t work in an office anymore, so I can have any hair color I want. But I’m also indecisive and I didn’t want to just go back to magenta hair. I wanted something different.

So I decided to let my kid Oliver, who is seven, pick out a color for me. He chose turquoise, you guys! And I totally did it.

You may not know this about me, but I am An Old now. Like Emily, except probably even older. I’m 35 and pretty curmudgeonly. I sneer at teenagers. I tell kids to get off my lawn. I do not understand why youngsters love pop music with auto-tune vocals. The clothes I wore in high school are now in fashion again. Kids these days! With their blue hair and their...oh wait.

Is this blue or is it green? I say it's both.

Ah crap, you guys, I’m a 35-year-old with blue (green?) hair.

I think I am OK with this. But are other people OK with it? What I’ve found so far, is yes. I’ve gotten lots of really positive response from people younger than me, the kids in Oliver’s first grade class, and also the queer sales associates at the Gap.

I’ve gotten a few rude, confused stares, one frown, and one visible eye-roll, but these negative reactions were all from women who are older than me. Yes, specifically women. (No, I am not saying that these older women are obviously intimidated by my youthful beauty -- I’m no Samantha Brick. This is just an observation, and I have no idea what it means.)

The other thing I’ve noticed is a definite uptick in the male attention department -- something that hasn’t really happened since, well, since I had magenta hair 10 years ago. It's not like I'm getting asked out all the time, but I'm getting a lot more eye contact and smiles from strangers. So maybe I’m just one of those people who looks and feels better with brightly colored hair. WHO KNOWS.

But I will tell you this: I am confusing the hell out of the other parents at Oliver’s school. His school is in a fairly conservative upper-middle-class area, and every day when I go to pick him up, I get odd looks. I totally stick out. Which is funny, because I’ve spent most of my life trying to quietly blend into the background.

After all, when I was in my 20s, having pink hair was not all that unusual -- I was really young, and visibly so. The “crazy” hair was to be expected and didn't earn me any weird looks or anything. Now I’m a little more mature, but with this shock of turquoise atop my noggin. When clearly I should have a more “normal” color at my advanced age.

And that shock of color makes me ding dang happy. I can match my outfits and my eyeshadow to my hair! Red lipstick looks so killer with it! Now I have an excuse to always keep my nails painted (because blue fingernails: a side effect of shampooing)!

Is there a point when having crayon-colored hair becomes completely unacceptable? I’m going to say “no.” One of my favorite blogs is the Advanced Style Blog (I just ordered the book, I’m so excited to get it!), which documents the fashions of women 70 and older. It’s a good reminder that when you wear something -- an item of clothing, an accessory, a hair color -- that makes you feel great, you also look great. These women are so stylish and inspiring, and I want to be them when I grow up. Screw societal norms about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do at whatever-age. I love my blue-green hair, and I’m going to keep it until I get bored. Maybe I’ll do it again someday, even decades from now.

Want to make your hair this same color?* Here’s how I did it:

1. I bleached my hair. Bright colors work best on pre-lightened hair. You could use a boxed hair color kit in a light blonde color, or you could use a bleaching kit, or if you know what you are doing you can buy bleach and developer piecemeal from your local beauty supply store (this is what I did). After the bleach was done processing, I rinsed and shampooed like three times to be sure all the bleach was out of my hair.

2. I dried my hair completely with the hair dryer. Most vegetable-based dyes will say in the directions to apply the color to towel-dried hair. In my experience, though, these dyes work best on completely dry hair, because then your hair can soak up the color like a sponge.

3. The first color. I sectioned off a triangular section on the top of my head where I wanted a lighter shade of blue-green -- to give my hair a highlighted effect. I applied Manic Panic Atomic Turquoise with gloved fingers to this section and smooshed it around to make sure all the hair was covered completely. I twisted this section of hair together so that it would stay in place while I applied the second color.

4. The second color. I used Manic Panic Enchanted Forest on the remaining hair, coating each strand of hair completely.

5. Now we wait. I find that letting Manic Panic colors sit in your hair for hours is the best way to achieve vibrant, long lasting color. Seriously, I just leave it in until my hair turns hard and crunchy. This time, I only left it in for around two hours, but in the past I’ve left it in for four to six hours. You can even sleep in it if you cover it up in plastic wrap.

6. Now we rinse. I rinsed out the dye with lukewarm water until most of the very intense color was gone. I didn’t shampoo, but I used a deep conditioner after. Then I didn’t wash my hair for like three days to give the color an opportunity to settle in a little more.

Sp 1: Bleach, then make a face in the mirror. Step 2: Apply Atomic Turquoise to top section. Step 3: Apply Enchanted Forest to the rest.

* If you want blue hair, too, the best results can probably be achieved with a visit to your stylist. And of course bleaching your hair that is already chemically treated can cause breakage or other damage, so it's best to consult a professional

BUT, if you want to try this at home, be aware that vegetable dyes like Manic Panic will stain everything -- so wear an old shirt, put old towels on the floor of your bathroom, and for the love of all that is holy, wear gloves. I also recommend applying Vaseline or something similar around your hairline and on your ears before starting in with the color -- this will prevent the dye from staining your skin. AND be sure to follow the directions carefully if you are working with bleach or a box of hair color.