There are two schools of thought on hair color: either you dye or you don’t. I personally have chosen the dye route in recent years. When I was younger, I used to wonder why women dyed their hair. Now I know.
As a child I used bottled lemon juice on my hair during the summer. I would pour it on and sit outside in the sun waiting for auburn highlights to magically appear under the crust of dried lemon juice.
As a teen, playing with dye was fun, although back then I don’t really think it was very popular. I had a friend who wanted to be a beautician, and at her slumber parties we would frost each other’s hair by pulling the strands with a crochet hook through what looked like a plastic swimming cap. I went from brunette to blond, presto! Just like Duran Duran. Remember them? The essence of cool.
Then I remember pouring hydrogen peroxide on my hair. The bleached Madonna blond look was all the rage. Or maybe it was Annie Lennox. I can’t remember.
In my 20’s I had burgundy highlights for a while. It made me look like I got mugged by Cindy Lauper. Not a good look at all.
So now that I am “that age” (the age of grey), dying has a new purpose and has become a regular event. Well, okay, it’s probably bordering on an obsession, but only a tiny bit. Everyone does it, right?
Being a super thrifty home school mom means having my hair dyed in a salon is out of the question. Why would I spend $80.00 when I can buy a box of dye for only $8.00? That’s crazy!
The only thing is, I seem to have a little issue with remembering to dye every 6 weeks. I put it off more and more until my greys are frighteningly obvious, and my last color has faded everywhere but the ends of my hair. When I look like a sundae with white ice cream poking out from layers of chocolate sauce, I know it’s time to dye.
I also have a problem remembering which dye I bought the last time. All those little boxes of color look alike on the shelf. Did I get soft black, dark chestnut brown, or light chestnut brown? Was it Clairol or L’Oreal? At last I think I recognize the girl on the package of darkest chocolate brown, so I purchase that one. Then again, maybe she looked like someone I saw at the mall recently……..
My brainstorm has been to save the empty dye boxes so I can remember which one I bought last. But now, my shelf is full of empty boxes and I can’t remember which ones I liked and didn’t like, and I absolutely never remember to take any of them with me to the store. So much for the brainstorm.
I also tried the natural henna route. No go. I neglected to read the entire package before smearing the greenish, gritty, manure like substance on my hair until it was too late. Apparently you can’t use metal spoons when mixing your henna, who knew? I was only green for a couple of weeks……….
So today, I attempted once again to master the grey streaks. I purchased the chic foam style dye on the recommendation of a co-worker who said it worked great. What can I say, but the wench LIED. This stuff might work for someone with short non-grey hair, but let me tell you it was not pretty for me.
I was under the impression that the “foam” was like the foaming hand soap that you can pump out of a bottle with one hand. Not so, of course they don’t tell you that on the package. After mixing this stuff, the bottle has to be SQUEEZED out of the bottle at a precise angle. Then you are supposed to squirt it into the palms of both your hands and “shampoo” it into your hair. What they don’t tell you is that it takes 3 squeezes of the bottle to get a small handful of the stuff. I have long, shoulder length hair. When applying dye, I have to hold the hair on top of my head or it falls down splattering dye all over me and everything in the vicinity. How the heck am I supposed to squeeze the bottle, catch the foam, hold up the hair and smear it on the grey all at once? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I decided to pick the bottle up off the counter and deposit it on the top of my head for easier access. However, the bottle has to be squeezed at a PRECISE upright angle or it doesn’t work. I spent such a long time squeezing, foaming, and shampooing, my arms went numb from lack of blood flow. Several times I squeezed and moved by accident shooting dye down my face, back and chest. How am I going to explain these large black age spots to my family? To make matters worse, I dropped a lock of dyed hair into my eyes which made me look like I have gone completely Goth. When the deed was done, I sighed with relief.
I efficiently covered my hair with a plastic grocery sack and tie the ends together on my forehead to keep the hair from escaping again. Didn’t dye used to come with a little shower cap thingy for this very purpose? How cheap can you get? I put on my robe to wait. Our youngest son James knocked and came into the bedroom sniffing the air, wrinkling up his nose. “Your doing that thing again Mom, aren’t you? It stinks!” He looks at me in disgust and runs from the room. I slammed the door behind him and got back to business.
I realized it took me so long to put the dye on that I forgot to check the clock to see what time I started fermenting. Dang. I wasn’t sure what the directions said because I couldn’t quite read them with out my glasses on, but I think it was 15-20 minutes without grey, 30-35 minutes with. I wondered if I should count what was probably a good 20 minutes of squeezing, foaming and shampooing? Or not? I decided to go middle of the road and opt for 27 minutes.
I worked on today’s blog post for a bit, and then checked the clock. It sits across the room, and I can’t quite see it without my glasses. I got up and to my HORROR it has been a whopping 45 minutes! Way past time to rinse! Double Dang!
I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. I cringed at the blackish muck discoloring the tub and the piles of my fried locks that began to clog the drain. My hands turned brown from touching my hair which suddenly felt rather like straw. I tried to wash away as many of the grungy black stains from my skin as possible, but some still remained. I squeezed the condiment size package of conditioner onto a minuscule amount of hair and silently curse the CEO of Clairol for being so cheap. He must be bald.
After the water FINALLY runs clear, it’s time for the big reveal. The roots, what’s left of them, are somewhat orange, the ends are dark and frizzy, but to my relief the grey is gone. Whew! That was really worth it, wasn’t it?
The dye cost me $7.95, the extra large bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles to clean the muck out of the tub was $5.00, the large bottle of Draino $6.49, the new towels and bathmat I had to buy because I dripped dye on the old ones cost me $10.00. Then, the supplies to sand and refinish the dye stain out of the bathroom cabinets were $20.00. Replacing the tooth brushes wasn’t too bad, they were only $2.00, and the box of Oxy-clean I needed to bleach the brown halo out of my white pillowcases that I slept on after dying was only $10.00. But the good news is that the hat I bought to cover my orange roots was only $5.00 at the thrift store.
The next time I am in the store staring at a bottle of $7.95 dye, with a pretty model on it who has never experienced a grey hair in her entire life, I will remember that it actually cost me nearly $100 to dye my own hair, and I think I will book a salon appointment instead.