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Yesterday, I spent several hours at a salon getting my hair cut, colored and highlighted (all by a stylist-in-training at a ridulously cheap price). The last time, they took me from a very dark brown to a lighter shade of brown, and included 10 foils to add some lightness. This time, they took my base to an even lighter brown, and covered my entire head with foil. The end result, depending on the light, is either kind of blonde (in very bright light or direct sunlight) or just light brown with a boatload of blonde highlights. Any way I choose to describe it, it’s a startling change, especially for me.

I have been almost every haircolor under the sun since I first started coloring my hair at around 16. Brown with orange stripes (an awful attempt at do-it-yourself highlights involving a plastic cap, a little hook and excruciating pain), strawberry blonde (which in spite of its name was just a light red, and involved no blonde at all), every shade of red imaginable, including a not-of-this-earth burgundy, and jet black. In spite of this variety, I have never been blonde. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because my sister is a natural platinum blonde (really) and I felt that was her realm, not mine. Maybe I was just worried it wouldn’t be flattering (I’m very fair skinned). Maybe I just couldn’t match my vision of myself with what I associate with being blonde, ridiculous as that might sound. Regardless, this is new territory. It’s also quite deliberate, not because I’ve suddenly decided it would be amazing to be blonde, but because the percentage of gray hair on my head (approximately 80%, I’m told) makes this a logical choice. As a brunette, my regrowth is brutal… within a month of dyeing my hair I bear an unwanted resemblance to a skunk. It finally hit me that lighter hair would actually help mask the regrowth. Blonder hair. So I started trolling the internet and found several pictures of the level of blonde I’d like to be. I’m not quite there… we’re taking it a step at a time so that I don’t end up with what my stylist described as a “chemical cut.” Yikes! Well, I don’t want that.

Still, once I commit to an idea – even one as unfamiliar as myself as a blonde – I’m all in. Now I’m impatient to get there, to see if my hair can reach the look of the model whose blondeness I most admired. She still has a light brown base… I’m trying to be logical. If I went very light or platinum blonde I would rapidly be facing the opposite of my previous problem: the remaining 20% of my dark brown roots would declare themselves with a vengeance in a matter of weeks. As such, a balance must be struck… light brown base, and as many blonde highlights as my head can hold. It seemed like so many foils last time; it’s hard to imagine more will fit. But I guess they will, because I’m not quite blonde yet.

Since yesterday, I keep getting startled by my own reflection. It’s not as drastic as it could be, to be sure, but it’s also not hair I recognize. Add to that the free blowout that came with the cut, and it’s an even less familiar image (I tend to avoid blow drying my hair at all, a habit my stylist assures me will help protect my hair as I go through this process). I don’t believe that blondes have more fun. In fact, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful women in the world are brunettes. Not brunettes with skunk-striped roots, however. I do believe it will be far less stressful to stretch my time between haircolor from four to six weeks, or hopefully even longer. I made it longer than normal this last time with only 10 foils’ worth of highlights… I’m assuming the 50-plus foils I got this time will take me further still.

Will I recognize myself as a blonde? Time will tell. It will definitely take some adjustment. Chris and Braeden seem to like this not-quite-blonde version so far, and Avery wasn’t freaked out, so I assume I look like me, somewhere under the highlights. After my own, their opinions are the only ones that hold any real weight, anyway. Their faces give me feedback far better than any mirror ever could.

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