Dye Job


I decided I was going to dye my hair. I’d never dyed my hair before, not counting my undergrad phase of using lemon juice in the summer to try to give myself some highlights. Being a redhead, I’ve always had the advantage of having distinctive hair color. Aside from a very Anne-of-Green-Gables desire to have black hair instead of red, I never much felt the need to contradict nature on the subject of hair color.

But it’s October, which means Halloween. And frankly, thanks to the present political climate, I wasn’t much feeling predisposed towards maintaining the status quo. I decided that, yes, I was going to dye my hair, and not only that, I was going to dye it pink. Or magenta. Or maybe red. But fire engine red. Whatever I did, it was going to be the brightest and boldest color that I could achieve with temporary dye.

On Sunday we went to a Sally Beauty Supply. I stood awkwardly, surveying the boggling array of brands and shades looking for one that wouldn’t require me to bleach my hair first. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that step yet. A sales rep guided me to the Ion brand dyes because my hair “didn’t look very porous”. I perused the color options and decided this was something I could work with.

For several minutes I dithered between red, which seemed safer, and magenta, which is what I actually wanted. Since the sale was buy two get one free, I got both.

Having never dyed my hair before, I took out the instructions to read them. They recommended doing a ‘patch test’ on the skin of my elbow file 48 hours to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction, so I gave myself a day and a half to make absolutely sure that I was prepared to do this. After thirty six hours I was still committed and I hadn’t broken out in hives so the moment had come: it was time.

With a fair amount of sentiment and trepidation, I took a photo of myself so that I would have a reference for ‘before’. Then I downed some liquid courage and headed into the bathroom armed with tag towels and rubber gloves and began The Process.

I have to imagine that most people are not trying to dye three feet of hair at a time. By the time the first tube of dye (red) was empty I still hadn’t covered my head so I decided to break out the magenta as well- maybe a little two color action going on. I had a vision for how good it was going to look. The dye was going on strong- it was a more bold color than I’d ever considered before, but I was committed now. I prepared to rinse.

The bathtub looked like it had been used for ritual sacrifice by the time I was done and the water ran clear. Looking at the wet strands of my hair, I couldn’t see much of a difference between the new, dyed version, and the way that it normally looked when wet.

Maybe it has to dry before it shows up.

I thought to myself. I patted it dry with a rag towel and prepared to let it air dry. There was a hint of color near the front, that seemed promising, but it wasn’t very bright. I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it until the morning.

Morning came. The colors had not brightened. I knew that applying color over my natural hair color was likely to dampen some of the saturation of hue, but I wasn’t setting much hue at all. There was no sign of the bold, magnificent red is spent an hour combing into my hair, and the magenta was limited to a few patchy streaks near the bangs and down at the trailing ends. My visions of fire-engine-circus-performer was looking more like nineties-teen-fell-asleep-face-down-in burgundy-wine.

I was sorely disappointed.

“Maybe you just didn’t use enough?” The Curmudgeonly Lion tried to comfort me. “We can get some more dye and try again tonight.”

After work he stopped to pick up more.

“You want red or magenta?”
“Magenta”
“How many?”
“Three.”

I was prepared to use all three of necessary- and I was going to leave it on longer- an extra forty minutes if necessary.

That night we tried again- together this time to be sure to work the dye into the roots in the back and down the sides and down to the scalp. We used another tube and a half of color, coating every strand, and I set a timer to let it sit.

The I rinsed it out.
The bathtub looked like it had been used in ritual sacrifice again- this time of a unicorn.

My hair did not look markedly different from before, but the patchiness was slightly less pronounced, which was an improvement, but I still had not achieved the kind of bold color I was hoping for.

Here are the things I managed to dye pink:

-My scalp.
-My nails.
-My neck.
-The bathroom sink.
-The bathtub.
-Two rag towels.
-My favorite rag t-shirt.

But my hair? Hahaha. NOPE.

I can only assume this is because my hair has super powers, and should be handled by trained professionals.

So the grand experiment was a bust. I now have faintly pinkish hair. In some places. I don’t hate it, and I can console myself with the fact that it won’t last long, but I’m not happy with it either, and I’m frustrated that I finally got up the courage to do something bold and had my efforts fall so extraordinarily flat.
Le sigh.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 10, 2018.

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