The Beauty Backlash: Why I Dye My Own Hair

Since the dawn of time, women have been dyeing their hair. Probably. We’ve definitely been doing it a really long time, anyway. Through every stage of our lives, we use our hair as an extension of our identity and to reflect who we are at that time. When I was 15, I inexplicably got my mum to dye my hair purple and I distinctly remember thinking that I was going to go to school the next day a completely new person. Needless to say, it was the same old me that sat through double maths, but since then there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t had dyed hair and I love to experiment with colour.

So, as a self-confessed hair-colouring aficionado, you might expect me to have a regular salon/stylist whom I trust with all my hair related needs. You would be wrong, I’m very sorry to say. I don’t know if I’ve just been unlucky, but every time I brave the hairdressers for a colour, I come out looking like some kind of troll doll about to star in an 80’s music video with a completely bizarre colour I’d never before considered. Most recently, I went in for red with blonde dip-dye and left sporting a kind-of-mahogany-kind-of-pink look. It was really bizarre, but I couldn’t help but wonder why it made me so sad. Why do I feel more devastated when a professional messes up? Maybe I need to stop seeing hairdressers as magicians with scissors; they cannot make me look like Blake Lively, and sometimes they can’t tell the difference between brown and red, everyone makes mistakes, it’s okay. (It’s not okay, I’m still annoyed about that one.)

But it isn’t just the process itself that makes me not like salons; I find them quite high-pressure environments in general. On the rare occasions that I can afford to go (thank you Groupon!) I never fail to leave more stressed than when I arrive. The initial trying to explain what you want is a challenge in itself, and hats off to anyone that can interpret my ‘cherry red, but not too bright, kind of ruby, y’know? Cherry-ruby please’ into a real life colour, and not one I just made up in a panic. I understand that mild small talk will pass the time, and create a friendly atmosphere, but I really don’t want to discuss my non-existent weekend plans with you, much less have to pretend I’m doing something exciting, because I’m guessing that ‘working, mainly’ is not the answer you’re after. Besides, I’ve still got 40 minutes of waiting time til you wash this off, and not much more to say. Please just let me read this fascinating copy of Hello magazine from 2005, and wonder if Brad really will leave Jen. And even though more often than not, the finished product couldn’t be further from what I wanted, I usually feel bound to exclaim something like ‘oh its lovely, perfect, thanks! I like how you went for highlights even though I said brown, how did you know!?’ and run out of the place before I start crying. Obviously, I’m too politely British to actually do anything. It’s not so much that they do a bad job, it’s just never what I asked for, or as I hysterically wailed to a friend, ‘It’s like going to a café, ordering soup, and getting a sandwich. It’s perfectly good food, but you wanted soup!’ I ordered soup, for heaven’s sake, now give me my cherry-ruby hair!

Okay, maybe I wasn't this angry.

Okay, maybe I wasn’t this angry.

Not that home dyeing has always been perfect for me; there’s been a fair few disasters here too (maybe I’m cursed?). In Freshers’ week, my shiny new flatmates decided to henna my hair and, in the spirit of trying new things and embracing Uni life, it only took three White Russians to convince me this was a good idea, which, of course, it wasn’t. I was promised a subtle hue, and was already reinventing myself as the Joan Harris of Glasgow University, or at the very least, the English department.. Unfortunately, the finished product was more Chuckie Finster than Christina Hendricks. Just call me the Walking Satsuma. For some reason, though, it didn’t seem like a disaster. I can guarantee you, if I’d deliberately gone and requested henna, I probably would have cried at the resultant carrot tresses, but because my friends had done it and we were all giggling together, it didn’t seem so bad…until they cheerily informed me that you can’t dye over henna and just have to wait for it to grow out. Awesome.

My head is so orange it's luminous...

My head is so orange it’s luminous…

Even though I’ve had bad experiences at home and at the salon, I can safely say I much prefer to just dye my own hair. Having control over the exact shade and outcome with no-one else to blame is infinitely better than that spine-chilling moment when they wash off the dye and murmur ‘oh…it’s darker than I thought it would be!’ I know it probably doesn’t last as long, and you aren’t treated to a bizarre Indian head massage that you never asked for in the first place, but you also don’t have to sit, staring in to a mirror for hours in a room with terribly unflattering lighting. I love having newly-dyed hair, it makes me feel confident, fearless and way more positive, but I won’t be venturing further than my own bathroom any time soon.

Images here by ShutterStock,

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