The gray wiry hairs crept into my dark mane slowly from the temples, combining to create a spray painted white look when my wore my hair in a ponytail. I would not be one to gray gracefully; I would cover up my mortality reminder. Following my immigrant, practical instincts, I tried the box dye which resulted in a brassy-diarrhea look. Instead of “washing that gray right out of my hair,” I decided if I’m going to color my hair, I might as well make it noticed. Now I can get J. Lo-style highlights.
I had only been cutting my hair about twice a year, going to an average salon in New York’s midtown. I asked them about the hair coloring prices. She estimated $280 for a J. Lo-ish look. She used terms like single process, double process, highlights, balayage, ombre. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I thought they would just Farrah Fawcett that shit. Wasn’t there a shower cap thingy they made me wear where they pulled the hairs out and applied bleach. No? Foils? What are they doing nowadays?
Aside from the money, she said it would take many steps to get to that honey-caramel, sun-kissed look. I felt defeated but luckily a friend recommended a woman who worked at a great salon and would come to my house to do my hair. She has single-handedly transformed the way I view my hair; not only do I now love it, I value it.
I’ve been playing with hair color for about two years; experimenting with ombre and different shades of honey and decided it was time to let my color freak flag fly and try light pink on my ends. Black had been my style color default until I turned 40 when black began to feel funeral-like and I started incorporating livelier colors. I started with colorful underwear, moved on to bold, glittery nails, and finally with a dip into the midlife crisis, I dipped my hair ends into pink. Go bold or go home, right? Or does that just apply to HGTV?
The hair stylist added the semi-permanent pink onto my lightened ends and I adored it. The pink hair did for me what my red cowboy boots had done in my 30s; it gave me a bounce in my step, a youthful harmless spark just because. When the stylist left, she left me the remainder of the color in the tube so I could “top it off” every time it faded in the shower. After I depleted my tube, I went a whole week with plain honey hair, I longed for the pink.
This was my third solo pink dye application. I put on my one dedicated hair coloring shirt and used my leftover plastic glove now stained pink. I sloppily applied the colorful goo to my hair ends, creating my own artistic ombre effect I called “sloppy chic.” I noted the color oozing out of the container seemed brighter and darker than I had recalled but figured it was because it was wet.
I rinsed my hair in the sink, which took far longer than I anticipated. Whoever thought washing your hair in the sink was easier than washing your hair in the shower was wrong. I had to keep lifting the sudsy hair and let the soapy water drain, and flop it back in, like a mermaid’s tail and keep going. It took well over 15 minutes to put an end to the bubble production; I was sure there would be no pink left.
I was wrong.
I looked up to notice it was quite bright. After the first application of pink, we dubbed the shade, “tequila sunrise.” Today’s color is closer to a “pomegranate cosmopolitan.” I looked down at the silver tube and a flash of memory struck me. The tube she left was called LIGHT PINK, whereas the one I bought was simply PINK. I have the extra strength version, like the pink equivalent of the orange I achieved when I used Sun-In for the entire summer after 10th grade.
Maybe it would get lighter after I blow dried it.
No. I’ve succeeded in a brunette, honey, fascia ombre effect. Luckily within days, it’ll wash away to reveal the color I actually intended it to be. Somehow my hair dying experience is the perfect metaphor for my life: I fall in love with an idea, I take it too far to the ultimate extreme, and then have to back-peddle a little bit.