So Here's What I Learned About Life From Dyeing My Hair Blue by Mistake

I hate blue.
Publish date:
September 27, 2016
control issues, the secret to life, Hair Color

I'm lucky to be in a place in my life at the moment where I can switch up my hair color whenever I want. Having color-treated (and damaged) hair opens up another category of products to road test and write about that I wouldn't be able to do as effectively if my hair were healthy. Whenever I consider going back to my natural color, I remember, this is my job!

I spent a lot of time telling myself that I could dye it back to my natural color, whatever that is, or cut it off, were I never to need to revert back to normal, whatever that is.

These days, I worry about all of that a lot less. While it's still true that I could change the hair up whenever I need to, I've settled on the fact that it's really just not that big of a deal. People have like, actual things to worry about, and if the hair is really going to be that big of an issue to anyone, it's probably a good sign that we shouldn’t be in each other's orbits anyway.

Add to that the fact that I’ve seen so many more people, with careers of all kinds, having brightly colored hair, hair color is no longer as taboo as it was even a few years ago. Plus, you can have bright hair at Starbucks now! “We can have hair like yours now!” all the baristas proudly told me for two weeks after they got the word.

Right now, I feel more like myself with pastel hair. I don't ever put that much thought into it, and it's always an adventure. My hair is usually lavender, but I'll switch it up every now and again. Even when my stylist and I do the same color twice, it's never the same color twice, because we experiment with different products, different formulas, different everything. What's the point of having wild hair if you're not going to change it up?

People ask me quite a bit, "What does the hair color mean to you?" "What are you trying to say with the nails?" Honestly? It’s not that deep. I’m not changing the way I look to say anything. I just like purple hair, I guess. I know a lot of people use their appearance to identify their otherness, and, yeah, my lavender hair is definitely a queer identifier, which is great! That's not the point; it's just an added bonus.

I guess there is some weird part of me that has always approached all of this a little more casually than I should, but there's no better way to remind yourself that beauty is anything but casual than when it goes wrong.

Last week, I rolled into the salon with a couple of hours set aside, ready to re-bleach my dark roots and lay down some fresh color on my hair, which had faded to silver. I whipped out a few bottles of color and a diluter to make them pastel. We'd never used this particular brand before, but they'd just sent me all of their purples, and I was excited to see how they turned out.

They also sent me a turquoise. I mentioned it might be a good idea for them to include some sort of blue-blue because we mix colors to achieve a custom hue for me, because I am very difficult.

We decided to do a little purple, a little blue, and a lot of pastel to send me off with a cool lavender.

He applied the color to my freshly bleached strands. It was a murky sapphire-meets-eggplant color, really pretty, prettier even, I thought, when it was rinsed and the lighter version was revealed.

He let the color sit as he cut the rest of my hair, as he usually does. The hot metal of the clippers buzzing against the side of my head, giving me a tight skin fade, keeping the top long. You know, that haircut that every-fucking-body has right now.

Finally, at the shampoo bowl, he rinsed my hair with cool water, trying not to burn my sensitive scalp that had just endured all that bleach. He shampooed me gently and rinsed. And then he shampooed me again.

Every time we color, he's (obviously) always the first to see the finished product, but he never reacts. Not that I'm ever expecting an "Oh, shit..." but he lets me squirm for a while before finally hitting me with "This looks really nice" and laughing at my visible anxiety.

But then he shampooed me again, a full three times, still not saying a word.

Finally, trying to sound casual, I asked, "How...does it look?"

"Well, it's brighter than usual. But it'll fade with a few washes." He replied.

"Oh, yeah, I'm not worried about that." I shrugged, my shoulders knocking into the bowl I was resting against. "Pretty typical."

"It's also," he took a breath, "well, the blue clung a little but more than the purple did."

"Oh, no worries." I chuckled. "I'm sure it looks great."

I hate blue.

Back in the chair, he towel dried me a bit, then slowly pulled the towel off of my hair. My blue hair. My bright blue hair.

"Oh!" I choked. "Well, this is certainly not what I was expecting!"

I don't hate the color. Actually, I do hate the color, full throttle, but what can I do? (Aside from washing my hair at every opportunity and trying to lighten it up.)

The color has elicited a few surprising responses from my friends (actually, the surprising part is that they noticed at all, but).

"You're BLUE! Don't you hate blue?"

"It's so bright!"

"Your hair is so much darker than usual!"

All of this is true. My hatred of the color blue aside, and though the hair is neither the color nor the shade that we were going for, it's nice? I don't know. Beauty has, in its own way, taught me a lot of things. How nothing ever really turns out the way you expect it to. How everything is always a work in progress and how if you didn't get it right this time, you can always go back and try it again.

I'm pretty good at this makeup shit. I know I can do my standard five-minute face and look like myself whenever. But I also love having five extra minutes with a new product, not knowing where it will take me and what they end result will be. If I look a little different than usual, that's fine. If it doesn't look right, that's fine too. There's always tomorrow.

I'm a perfectionist and a control freak in every single way, and I know that. In the last couple of years, I've learned that clenching your fists around every single thing in your life does more to just waste a bunch of energy than it does to actually keep things under your control.

I know it's ~just hair~ but the lavender is/was the most identifiable thing about me. I know that simply changing your hair color may not seem like the most dramatic thing, but take a look at your reflection for a second and then imagine if something about it was drastically changed, especially as a surprise. It's kind of fun, seeing a different version of myself in the mirror every day, even if it's not the version I set out for. It sort of of serves as a daily exercise in not taking myself, my stupid hair, or anything, too seriously. I know I need to be reminded of that every now and again.

I'm still not used to the blue and will probably switch it up before I am. It serves as just another example of how these are more than just products we put on every morning to cover up blemishes or ease frizz; they're they way we have gotten to know and recognize ourselves. Even when we use beauty to manipulate the way we look into the way we want to look, we're still changing something, which adds a margin of error into the process. AND SOMETIMES, you might just end up with bright blue hair. You can get mad about it, or learn to live with it and laugh it off, knowing that you can change it again in four weeks.