daughtersofnormabates











{January 21, 2013}   Hair! (Not the Musical)

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During the summer between tenth and eleventh grade, I decided didn’t like the color of my hair. Mother said it was “dishwater blonde” or “dirty blonde.”  Sometimes she would say it was “mousy brown.” I’d describe it as taupe. No teenage girl’s hair should be taupe! Taupe is the color of paint in a boring, unimaginative room. I wanted a change before school started. First, I tried to lighten my hair with lemon juice, but that didn’t change it very much. Then, I tried Sun-In. I sprayed it on my hair and sat out in the sun waiting for the golden highlights that advertisements promised. But after a few weeks, the Sun-In made it brassy and orange. So I decided to dye it a few shades blonder. I asked Mother’s stylist, Phoebe, what color would look best on me. She said my perfect shade was Golden Flax, a shade by Miss Clairol. She said she would pick it up at a supply house and apply it to my hair at her house for free. So I drove to her house and Phoebe dyed my hair while I sat in a chair in her kitchen. When my hair was done, it wasn’t golden. It was yellow. I didn’t tell Phoebe, but I wasn’t happy with the results.

When I got home, I looked in the yellow pages for another beauty shop. I couldn’t go to the usual shop because I didn’t want Phoebe to know that I didn’t like the color. Bella’s Hair Salon was close by. I told the stylist at Bella’s that I wanted my natural color back. I described the color and she said she knew the perfect color–Light Caramel Brown.  She mixed color with peroxide and I sat under the hair dryer to speed up the processing. After she washed out the dye and dried my hair, my hair looked green. Green! Hair shouldn’t be green! The stylist saw the mistake and said that I should come back in a week and she would apply another color. She said I had to wait because my hair had been through a lot of processing and if I put more color on it too soon, it would dry my hair out. My hair was already taking on the texture of dried wheat. So, for a week I had to go with green hair.

Once the week was over, I decided not to trust another beautician. I’d just color my own hair. I went to the drugstore and perused the hair colors on all the boxes. There were many types–permanent, demi-permanent, semi-permanent, temporary, weekly. Even the colors were confusing. If I used blonde, my hair may turn even lighter green. But brown was no better. Then, I saw a kit that said it stripped hair color. That’s what I needed! Something that would strip away the artificial colors layered on top of my natural hair color. So, I bought the kit. The mixture smelled awful when I stirred the powder into the developer. It turned pasty-white with an odd blue tinge. I applied the mixture to my long hair and waited 30 minutes like the directions said. I was anxious to see my own hair color again. I returned to the bathroom thirty minutes later and looked in the mirror. My hair was white! It wasn’t my natural hair color at all. The mixture had stripped all the pigment out of my hair. It was the same color as Marilyn Monroe’s hair.

I was not happy having hair the color of Marilyn’s. Plus, it was stiff like Shredded Wheat and the ends broke off when I brushed it. Now I would have to find another salon to have it cut. Summer break was ending and there was only a week before school. I couldn’t start eleventh grade with stiff, white Marilyn hair! I decided to go back to the drugstore and pick out another color. It couldn’t be blonde because it would turn my hair  yellow. It had to be a darker brown color to add pigment back. I stood in the aisle of the drugstore staring at the boxes of hair color. This time I needed a conditioner so the color wouldn’t damage my fragile hair further. I chose L’oreal Sable Brown and a deep conditioning oil treatment.

I applied the dye to my hair and waited twenty minutes. I couldn’t wait to see the results!  I just knew this time the color would be right. I washed out the dye and put the deep conditioning oil treatment on my hair and put on a shower cap. I had to wait another thirty minutes before I washed out the oil.  Finally, it was time. I washed the oil out and shampooed and conditioned my hair again. When I removed the towel, my hair looked really dark. I thought maybe it was dark because it was wet. But when I dried it, it looked even darker. In the bathroom light, it looked black. I felt like shaving my head and starting all over. This was the biggest hair disaster since the time I wanted bangs and cut them myself with pinking shears. That lead to Mother giving me a Toni Home Perm to correct it. Which lead to cutting my hair short when the whole thing turned into a giant frizz ball. I had to endure being called “fuzz head” my whole third grade year.

I called Phoebe at home and told her what I’d done to my hair. I asked her why my hair turned black when that wasn’t the color on the box. She said that I had bleached out the pigment so my hair was very porous. When I applied the dye, my hair absorbed too much of the color. She said that I could come by her house and she’d cut my hair to remove the dead ends. She gave me instructions to wash my hair every day with Johnson’s baby shampoo to strip the color off gradually.

When school started, my hair was black and just below my chin. At least it wasn’t orange or yellow or green or Marilyn hair; now, it was Natalie Wood hair.  No one at school recognized me at first glance. I decided to leave my hair alone. Sure, it’d be black for the rest of the year and look funny growing out.  But eventually it’d return to my natural color again. Taupe sounded pretty good.

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