I have what was once described as “dish water” blonde hair. In the summer, if I can get out of the office/house, it can turn a nice golden blonde. But for the most part, my hair is a little drab and dull. And I’m slowly going gray, especially in my bangs. “Well,” you say, “it sounds like you should color your hair, Idgie.” And yes, I agree with you. I should color my hair.

But, I have this neurosis. My mother had the perfect light brown hair when I was a child. It was soft and beautiful. And, when she was roughly my age, she started going gray and coloring it. She’s never been able to match her original hair color and I’m not sure she even wants to. And now that I have a little boy, I am concerned that he’ll never be able to say “My mom had the best hair color.” (I understand that it is very unlikely that my son will ever say those words. That’s why I called it a “neurosis” and not a “completely logical argument”.)

Despite my little issue, I am moving closer and closer to calling up my stylist and booking a color appointment as the gray becomes more and more noticeable. But now the options are overwhelming! Do I keep my natural hair color? Or do I brighten it? Or go for something completely different? And I find myself falling for hair color stereotypes as I weigh the options. Will I have more fun and be more relaxed as a blonde? Or should I darken my hair to be taken more seriously? Or go red for some fiery mystery? I hate the stereotypes, because they don’t even describe my closest friends. And yet stereotypes are what I’m emotionally basing my hair color decision on.

K–any suggestions?

Does anyone have a better framework to make this decision?

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4 Responses to Touch of Gray

  1. K is for Katherine says:

    This is a tough one. My mom started dyeing my hair when I was 5, when she wanted to test the effects of Sun-In…but not on herself. I have blonde hair on my second grade pictures. (On a side note, don’t think my mom is a bad mom. I’m sure I had something to do with it. I know this because now, Mini-K, at 2.5, regularly asks for make-up and nail polish just because she’s seen me put it on. She specifically picks out her colors of eye shadow.)

    Flipping back through years of iPhoto pictures, I came to the realization that I’ve never had the same hair color for longer than a quarter. I’ve had almost black, cherry red, purple, and most recently blonde (bad move). Only the blonde has truly fried my hair. So I say — start with a semipermanent dye, done by your hair stylist, and just experiment a little. The semipermanents fade quickly, so you can change it if you don’t like it. They cover gray, and they don’t wreck your hair. Whatever you do, DON’T use a home box color. The chemical preservatives in those boxes make it almost impossible for your stylist to lift the color if you decide you don’t like it. All over color at the hair salon is cheaper than trying to fix a home box mistake.

    Also, I am generally anti-highlights. They are too high-maintenance. Plus, if your hair has natural highlights from the sun, even if you do a semipermanent over them, they’ll take the dye a little differently and you’ll still have highlights, just in whatever shade of dye you’ve used.

    The one thing I notice about dyeing my hair is that it really impacts the colors I can wear, both in makeup and clothes. Be prepared to dislike your hair for the first few days until you’ve figured out how to adjust the rest of yourself accordingly.

    And don’t worry, even if you change your hair, Mini-Idgie will still know who you are. Since Mini-K was born I’ve gone from brown to red to blonde to dark brown, and she’s always known exactly who mommy is :)

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