I’ve never had much luck with my hair. It’s fine and frizzy and mysteriously manages to knot just five minutes after I’ve brushed it. But we’ve been on some adventures together, facing everything from fluorescent roots to stringy fringes. Here’s what I’ve learnt throughout each and every snip, cut, style and dye disaster.
Try not to dye your hair in anger
It was one of those nights, when I was sixteen and particularly annoyed at the world. School had been sucky and friendships were tangling up my thoughts and somehow, dying my hair felt like it would solve it all. I hunted through my mum’s cupboards, managing to find an old, slightly crumpled box of blonde dye right at the back. I didn’t bother checking the dates and decided it would be fine.
My friend was over at the time and helped make sure every strand was covered. We were pros at this by now (or at least, so we thought). After the 25 minutes were up, I washed it out in excited anticipation. Hairdryer in hand, my friend started to dry it. I asked her what it was looking like and she let out an unsettling, “errrmmm”. I knew it was bad. Upon closer inspection, my hair now had thick grey streaks running through it, making me look like a sort of hybrid zebra. It turns out that silver linings to hair disasters aren’t always a good thing.
Don’t cut your own bangs unless you really know what you’re doing
From the ages of 3 until 17 I had bands. It ranged from a boyish bowl-cut to playfully puffy. Although my hairdresser would always offer to trim them for free, that’s not an option when you’re sat on your bedroom floor at midnight, listening to The Shins and wanting to impersonate Leslie Ash from Quadrophenia. I figured I’d just trim them a little in the middle, so that it had a slight curve to it.
I grabbed the scissors and, leaning veeeerry close to the mirror, snipped. As soon as I’d done it and felt the tiny hairs fall like dusty webs past my cheeks, I knew it was a mistake. Instead of looking like a mod-style babe, I looked more like someone who’d had chewing gum cut out of the middle section of their fringe. The worst part? There’s no hiding that until it grows out.
It’s just hair, and it’ll grow back…but it will take a while
One chilly November evening after school, I decided it was time. I’d had long hair all my life up until that point, finding even a shoulder-blade length cut daring. It was therefore, admittedly, a pretty weird decision for me to suddenly slump down in the hairdresser’s seat and ask to have it all cut off into a bob. I guess, when you want a dramatic change in your life, hair feels like the easiest thing to turn to.
The hairdresser tied my hair into a ponytail and grabbed the scissors. Staring at me intensely through the mirror, she asked if I was sure I wanted to go through with this, as if it were a choice of the same magnitude as sky-diving or marriage. I nodded assuredly and felt the hair at the back of my neck slip away. She asked me what I thought and through a quivering voice, I said, “I like it.”
I went home that night and sobbed as if short hair was true heartbreak. I clipped it up at the back to look as if I had some length and wore that same style every single day until it started to grow back.
With great hair accessories comes great responsibility
I will forever cherish the memories of my big, pink box of hair accessories: glittery scrunchies, bright butterfly clips, velvet headbands and a healthy dose of bobby pins scattered in amongst everything. With so many exciting options (and Disney Channel stars for inspiration), who can blame a girl for going a little crazy?
I got set on one style in particular, which I now refer to as “the pineapple”. This involved flipping your hair over, tying it with the largest, most obnoxious scrunchie you could find then tightening with both hands. This resulted in a stem-like stub of hair at the very top of my head, secured with plenty of floral clips to become a tropical triumph. It’s worth noting, this was one of those hair disasters you only realise was a disaster when looking back at photos of yourself (at the time I thought it was pretty revolutionary).
In their own way, hair disasters are a journey to self-discovery. While I’ve done some really stupid stuff to my hair (and am insanely grateful that it has never fallen out because of this), I’m also thankful I went through it all. Each and every mistake helped me to understand myself a little better and to express my emotions at various points in my life. Sure, there were tears, but there was also laughter, because staying up late with your best friend, stinking of peroxide and excitedly awaiting your impending transformations is fun! Just remember to stay away from the out of date bleach.
[Image via NBC]