To Dye Or Not To Dye – No Seriously, I Need Your Advice

My first adventure with hair dye happened as a sophomore in high school – despite having been told that it’d “mute my natural highlights”, a friend and I bought two bottles and snuck upstairs to my bathroom,  giggling about how “dangerous” we were for buying dye that lasted 24 washes that was pretty much identical to the hair color we were already sporting. My parents couldn’t tell – nor could any of my classmates the day after, until I pulled my hair up and showed them the one partially discolored section by my neck – but the feeling of change (as minor as it was) felt really good. After that, the sky was the limit. I learned how to do it correctly from my sister (I thought we read the directions, but aforementioned friend and I were both positive that you were supposed to water down the dye. Not true!) and thought of all the colors I could experiment with.

Here’s the thing: I’m getting married at the end of September, and have been “off the bottle” for a solid 7 or 8 months – long enough so that my natural color of mid-brown that’s faded easily by the sun actually took over a majority of my scalp, and the past dye (dark brown – a strong go-to) faded enough to seem agreeable.  While making a promise to my Dad that I’d stay natural for the big day, I’ve been aching to get something done professionally. I’m not necessarily unhappy with the hair I was born with, but after a solid decade of experimentation – well, I’m a bit restless. It’s nice, but I feel like it could be more. I’m guessing that watching a marathon of Bridezillas recently didn’t help – now I feel like anything I’m partially worried about should be a big, bold issue.

I like to think that we all have a “hair idol” – the person who has the cut, color, or hair texture that makes you rush to the salon. Admittedly, I did ask for “The Rachel” back in high school, failing to realize that styling it yourself was a pain in the butt. My bathroom looked like a crime scene after I dabbled with red, immediately after seeing Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2.

Our girl Zooey helped me realize how much a darker shade can really make your blue eyes look stunning. Gwen Stefani’s No Doubt days made me crave going pink in middle school, despite never having the courage (or the permission). And, I admit – after realizing I had naturally curly hair in high school, and not just “bad, dented hair after it rained,” I became a little bit obsessed with my hair in general – from straighteners, to products, to color. To this day, I still pause over those fake elastic ponytails they sell in the hair section of CVS, thinking “maybe this will actually work tonight, and nobody will question it.” Typically on days when I’m going out with friends, my room reeks of burned hair and time loss. While I’d never say that my hair identifies me, it’s kind of a hobby that I think helps represent me.

While I am a huge advocate in feeling like you should be happy with what you’re born with, I feel like with things easily changeable – and reversible – I’m  game. For example, there’s a picture or two floating around where I’m rocking an orange look (which I said was intentional, but trust me – it wasn’t) and I know for a fact they were from my freshman year of college. Despite that mistake lasting for just a few days, it represented a notch in my personal timeline. Similar to a “Break Up Haircut“, changing up your hair is symbolic that you’re in a different place – it can be extremely therapeutic, and give you a boost of confidence. It can also be a big disaster – but again, it’ll never be permanent.

As I’m on the fence about my wedding color, I’d love some advice from you – should I stick with what my DNA gave me, or should I represent the love of a minor upgrade or change? Do you express change in a way outside of your follicles? Who are your hair idols, and have you had any misadventures with hair dye? (Come on, you can admit it here. We’ve all made mistakes.)

Image Credit: Shutterstock

  • Michelle Grove Shaffer

    Highlights – something soft and pretty for the wedding day, but will still punch up your hairs a bit! :)

  • Heather Hearne-Walker

    Well, I have to say that promise to your dad may need to trump your hair desires just for the wedding. If your hair has a good solid color, you will look awesome no matter what. I do understand though that if it’s splotchy at all, that you could go a tad darker all over. That way you’re still almost at your natural color, and can keep your promise to your dad. Then, on your honeymoon go CRAZY! You’re starting a whole new chapter of your life, so why not make your hair reflect that and do something fun. :) I hope your wedding day is all you want it to be!

    • Heather Hearne-Walker

      Oh, and my hair idol at the moment is Emma Stone. I have always wanted to try to be a redhead for a while. 😉 I have not been adventurous at all with my hair color. If I’ve ever dyed my hair, it has been the semi-permanent, darker than my natural color. It’s fun to do it!

    • Karen Belz

      I love Emma! Seriously. She (and her hair) can never do wrong, in my book.

  • Hayley Clare Lightfoot

    I think you should do what makes you happy, you should look how you want to on your wedding day, I’m sure your Dad will forgive you. Maybe settle for something very subtle – he might not even notice! I’ve been gradually dying my hair lighter since January, its gone from very dark purpleish brown to a light brown/ginger with blondeish roots (its a bit odd) but nobody seems to have paid much attention to it – not like when I tried going from dark brown to platinum blonde last summer, that didn’t work and certainly drew a lot of attention! Oops. Good luck with your decision!

  • Melissa Rae Brown

    if you like to stick to shades close to your natural color anyway, maybe some highlights and lowlights to blend your roots with your ends?

  • Amelia Engel

    Rachel Bilson most definitely a hair idol. She has beautiful ombre hair! As for big mistakes I once tried to dye my hair light brown and for some reason it went Black! I also tried the “Christina Perri’ look, My hair is still dead down one side from a year ago! Plus it stayed an yellowy orange colour no matter how much toner I put on!

    • Karen Belz

      Rachel has amazing hair!

  • Amelia Engel

    Also I agree with highlights they add a little extra dimension to you hair.

  • Lindsay Jared

    I think you should do what you want for YOUR wedding, and that your dad honestly shouldn’t have a say in your hair. I get my hair dyed regularly about 3-4 shades darker than my natural color because honestly the darker color suits me better, and I feel like myself when my hair is a dark brown- even though it’s not my natural color. I do like to have semi-permanent color applied so it fades evenly, but I see nothing wrong with changing hair color if it makes you happy. It’s funny- I have been sporting a dark chesnut brown color with heavy bangs and long layers for about 10 years now, and I’m seeing” my” hair all over the place now. I aspire to have Zooey’s, though- hers is a bit fuller and fluffier than mine is, but the style is very similar.

  • Kym Moore

    i am assuming your dad has enjoyed his own wedding day, this one is yours. do what makes you feel beautiful. cameras will be pointed at you, you better love your hair!

  • Jennica Dahlqvist

    I agree with the highlights-sympathizers! Maybe in a dark honey kind of shade?

    Every once in a while I get, to say the least, obsessed with Georgia May Jagger. Her blonde, wavy hair is my curly, not-so-blonde-hair’s dream. (Off the subject: I find it funny that in Sweden, where I’m from, I’m a brunette. Although in other parts of the world, people say my hair is Scandinavian blonde. Anyway, it’s not Georgia-May-blonde…) These times (i.e this very moment) a battle starts in my head. One voice is screaming “NOO, the risk of getting yellow/orange/very very dry hair is too big”, and the other one is whispering in a very, very seductive manner that “Yes, dear, blonde is FIERCE! You should definitely do it. If you look at Georgia May’s roots, darling, the color is similar to your natural hair color. If she can do it, so can you!” I don’t know what voice will be the winner this time, but I do know that playing with your hair certainly spice things up… :)

  • Alice Vaught

    I’ve never dyed my hair, it’s so dark, but I’ve been dying husbands hair since he was my boyfriend. His hair is naturally a dark blond, but he’s had everything from white blond to red to dark brown. He’s tried every color, but he’s happiest with a golden blond color, so when we got engaged, we immediately started aiming him back toward that shade.

    On our wedding day his hair was golden and he loved it. His hair is different now, but whenever he sees wedding pictures, he says “I love my hair. ”

    I think if dying your hair will make you say “i love my hair” every time you look at your wedding photos, you definitely should go for it.

  • Jen Georgeff

    I think dyeing your hair is completely acceptable. I dye my hair nearly the same color as my natural hair color because it gives it a bit of a boost. My hairdresser says it looks warmer and matches my skin tone better. I, like you, have hair that tends to change color in the sun, and I think it makes it look dull. I think as long as you don’t do anything drastic, your dad won’t be mad at you, and it’s your day, shouldn’t you be comfortable with how you look?

    Also-I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that didn’t realize my naturally curly hair until later in life-though I was in my mid-twenties before I finally came to terms with it. I wish that I would have known sooner, I love my curly hair!

  • Janna Hansen

    Maybe your Dad doesn’t want anything extreme? Do what you want on your wedding day, but make sure you’re talking with a hair stylist for your wedding day. There is nothing like something going wrong with boxed color. Plus boxed color is horrible for your hair! Going into a salon can make your hair even all over without the damage. If you say you have a two tone color right now…unless you’re going darker something could go very wrong.

  • Ashley Lynn Cook

    Your Dad is your Dad, no matter what, but I honestly don’t think he should make you promise not to change it…it’s YOUR WEDDING DAY! I had a Dad who was ridiculously strict about everything….no nail polish, no makeup, no dying hair, etc. Day of my wedding, I left it natural but I had been dying (get it? dying? lol! lame joke, i digress) to change my hair color from it’s mousy dirty dirty brown to something brighter and with a little punch! I had previously tried dying my hair from a loreal box (Ginger Twist) based on how amazing it looked on a family member with similar hair and I LOVED IT (Auburn with blonde highlights), but he made me dye it back (I was 18). After I got married, I went to see a professional colorist at my stylist’s salon and told him EXACTLY what I wanted, and he showed me picture after picture and swatches and now I LOVE my hair, it’s not a huge color change, but people notice that it has a little OOMF to it, and a lot brighter. :-) When in doubt, see a professional and don’t be afraid to ask questions and be a tad picky (but polite of course) and remember, it’s YOUR WEDDING DAY! Enjoy it! Congrats! <3

  • Maggie Prust

    Whatever you do, have it done professionally. ESPECIALLY right before a wedding. Because if you go ahead and buy a few boxes and do it at home, screw it up, its harder for us(stylists) to fix it. and you may not get what you want. During the consultation you and your stylist can figure out and customize exactly what you want. good luck!

  • Andra Shannon

    Highlights, if you do anything. Professionally, please. Talk to the stylist who is styling your wedding ‘do and see if she has any thoughts/ideas on what would enhance the style for your big day. Good luck, and remember to just be happy, and you will be beautiful!

  • Karen Belz

    Awesome suggestions, you guys! For the record, my Dad kind of made the comment in passing – I think he meant “no extremes” (so, no Gwen Stefani pink. Probably a smart move.) He won’t disown me or anything if I decide to see a stylist. :)

  • Jennifer Winters

    Leave it natural for now, then dye it on the honeymoon (and maybe dye your honey’s too). Symbolic & so very fun!

  • Matt Henderson

    You’re a very attractive woman and certainly the answer is whatever you feel comfortable with. For what it’s worth from a college acquaintance creeping on your page (I swear I’m only here because a friend, Brittany, posted this), I recall that you had it on the darker side at Millersville and that seemed to work well. It’s your confidence, on the day itself and confidence in having that moment preserved, that matter. Experiment if that’s feasible and figure out what you like. Congratulations.

    • Karen Belz

      Hey, man. Facebook is for creeping. (And thank you for the compliments!)

  • Ashley Long

    I would say maybe leave it go for the big day and then dye it after that. I have medium brown hair and I’ve gone dark brown and also reddish brown and they both look good. In fact I’m reddish brown right now. …I hope some other people gave you good advice, I’m just sort of making an observation!

  • Amanda Hope

    My vote, stick to something natural and timeless. There is nothing worse than looking back at old photos thinking “What the heck was wrong with me?!”. Then again I’m the “natural looking” type!Good Luck and Congrats!

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