December 30, 2020
I first dyed my hair in college, pulling strands through a highlighting cap to get a “frosted” look. I don’t remember doing the cap much beyond graduation and am not sure if I took a break from coloring entirely for a while after that. I do know (because I wrote it down) that by 1988, I was doing full head color interspersed with root touchups, always in shades not too far from my natural medium brown, something I continued throughout the rest of my working life. Sometimes I’d go more toward dark blonde, sometimes just a tiny bit red, sometimes more of a rich brown. I started out using box color from the grocery or drug store; later I bought developer and color separately at a beauty supply place. I kept up the same coloring routine after I retired, mostly out of habit, I suppose, and also to keep looking like the me I’d become accustomed to seeing in the mirror. A couple years back, I joined a Facebook group about going grey, not sure if it was time for me yet, but thinking about it.
And then the pandemic happened. I saw posts on social media from people bemoaning their roots since they couldn’t go to their salon appointments. Not an issue for me since I’ve always done my own. I saw other posts from people taking this opportunity to transition back to their natural color, which was now grey in some cases. That made sense; one of the reasons I hadn’t taken the plunge was thinking about how I’d feel showing up for gatherings with friends with two-tone grey and brown hair (the “skunk line” look as the going grey group puts it). No gatherings happening took away that issue, but I still wasn’t quite ready.
Instead, I decided to use the opportunity of isolation to try some of the “unnatural” colors I’ve admired on others but never had the gumption to try out when anyone would be seeing me. I started in May with the baby step of using a semi-permanent purple color after I’d let my roots grow out about an inch. The change was pretty subtle; in most lights, the purple did show at my roots but the rest of my hair still looked brown. In sun, it was more noticeable, but the ends were still brown, a cherry cola sort of brown, but brown nonetheless.
When that first purple had started to fade, I refreshed it with another purple shade, this one lighter and cooler toned. Then after that, I used a color remover (not a bleach), which turned the purple parts blue and the brown areas a lighter dustier brown. So that seemed like a fine time to try blue dye, which gave me with blue roots and charcoal brown ends.
When I was ready for my next change, I first tried a baking soda and clarifying shampoo concoction to remove some of the color. That only sort of worked, so I decided to try a bleach bath, which is basically bleach but diluted more than the package calls for. That did a great job on the top of my head, but left the ends an unattractive greenish blonde, which I will not be sharing because it wasn’t on my head very long before I went back to purple, which I kept up through the rest of the summer and into fall. The ends were always darker than the top of my head, but in the sun at least it all looked purple.
A couple months ago, I did another bleach bath to strip the purple, which was mostly successful. I ended up with white/grey on top and an ashy blond on the ends, with a few streaks of purple and blue here and there where I didn’t get the bleach solution evenly distributed. I followed that with a grey toner which didn’t seem to make much difference. I’ve left my hair alone since then, watching the grey grow out more and more. I’ve been surprised by how much dark hair is mixed in with the white; when I was seeing my roots all those years of coloring, they never got long enough for me to notice the streaks of dark in there. I’ve got darker hair among my whites than I ever had in my life.
I’m now pondering whether I just want to let my grey just grow out or if I want to do more experiments, like teal (which I have in the cupboard, so I could do that tomorrow). I did like the purple, too, so maybe I’ll go back to that, or try blue again now that my ends are lighter. So many choices. My hair seems to hold onto the semi-permanent color longer than I expected, so I can’t count on it fading out and going back to grey without some help. My hair’s in pretty good condition, so it could take more bleach if it comes to that.
On this date in 2019: Spoiler-Free Star Wars Thoughts
2018: When All Else Fails, Scenery
2017: December Progress Report
2016: Facing the Forecast
2014: Temptation at the Thrift Shop
2013: Little Karen
2012: Sock Monkey Tries Five Guys
in 2011: Sock Monkeys Redecorate
2010: Sock Monkey Goes Grocery Shopping
2008: Twilight, The Movie
2006: Chilly Afternoon Out
2004: Vacation Paddling
2003: Pikachu Loves Me, At Least for Now
2002: Lost Weekend