askally

The “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” Edition

In Advice, Beauty on October 25, 2007 at 12:22 am

Please pardon the bad pun in the title; usually the titles are pretty cheesy but for some reason today’s is especially so.
I would also like to take a moment to celebrate the first update on the new blog page.
There. Now, continuing on…

Em, formerly of Antigonish, writes,

Dear Ally,
What is the best way to dye my hair dark brown? Out of a box in the bathroom? Get it professionally done? Get a hair savvy friend to do it?

I figure since you are the dark brown hair queen, you would know what to do!

Ta! Em

*   *   *   *   *

Hair dye. The word carries with it an undertone of fear, a hint of desperation, but always that sweet, seductive scent of vanity.

The “bottled” hair colour in particular embodies these three elements crucial to the dying process. The image on the box, combined with advertisements and cunning descriptions, provides the main allure – the possibility that within that small cardboard box lies stunning beauty and ageless grace, yours for sale in the reasonable price range of $7.99 to $12.99 a box! However, the act of purchasing that box – and the perceived fountain of youth that it contains – reeks of desperation: do you care about your appearance that much?

Proper dying technique

For most of us – myself entirely included – the answer is a resounding YES! However, don’t let my discouraging description of desperation (how’s that for alliteration?) deter you from your intended path. I am one of hair dying’s biggest fans. In an age where lopping off offensive hunks of flesh and reshaping those that remain has become completely accepted practice for just about everyone, changing your hair colour is a cheap and effective way to refresh your look.

But your question deals mostly with that undertone of fear we discussed. Once you’ve bought the box, and have that precious bottle in your hands, what to do? The possibility for disaster is overwhelming!
What if you miss your roots and end up the spitting image of any female star of Melrose Place back when the hideous “roots” trend was hitting the stage?
What if your hair is too thick and you end up with a significant hank of white-blond hair at the back of your head, and walk around for days looking like a skunk until finally that bitch from the office slyly lets you in on the joke the rest of the city has been laughing at all week?
What if you leave it in too long and your hair falls out?
Ahhh the potential for comedy is so severe that I am tempted to offer you tweaked advice, just so that I and others can later benefit from your pain… however, since I cannot see the end result of my prank, it is wasted on me. And I am naturally the most important person in the scenario, so you’re safe (for now).

A little bit gung-ho, but still acceptable.

I would strong suggest, for the reasons above, that you don’t go for the box your first time going a completely different shade, or for your first time dying your hair period. A hair-dye savvy friend, as you mentioned, is a good idea.
The best plan, especially when going from light to dark hair, or from slightly dark-ish to dark hair, or from dark to light hair, is to go pro. The benefits are obvious… but the drawbacks are also obvious, and financial. And usually, even in this fashion-conscious world, the financial wins out. Usually.

If, for some odd reason, you decide to ignore my advice (in which case I don’t see the point in asking for it), and go it alone, I can offer you some simple tips:

1 ) Read the instructions.

2 ) Follow the instructions.

3 ) When the instructions say “start with the roots” they mean it. This does not mean “your usual part,” this means the roots all over your head. Use the nozzle of the bottle (it’s phallic with a purpose) to squeeze dye along your head at the roots at about one inch intervals, all around your head. Back too. And then follow your hairline.

4 ) I probably should have started with this (oops) but when you’re using dark hair dye, it’s best to apply a fairly thick layer of Vaseline jelly at the hairline, especially at the neck and side-burn area. You will get dye here, and it will dye those tiny, invisible hairs on your face dark. And yes, you will end up looking like the wolfman, or at best sporting a prodigious pair of mutton chops.

5 ) Another tip I should have lead in with: do not dye your hair in a room you care about. The bathroom is best, but if you’re one of those insufferable “clean” people go outside with a mirror and some dropsheets. Dyeing your hair by yourself is messy anyway, and if you’re not used to it can end up looking like those early 90’s spinning paint sets.

6 ) You may recall me mentioning “dry spots”. These are bad. Dry means no hair dye means patchy hair colour means nobody likes you. Best to take a comb and poke around when your hair is fully coated – get someone else to check the back.

7 ) When using the conditioner provided after rinsing out the dye, I usually let it sit a LONG time. Twice. Your hair will feel funny afterwards even with this: that’s because you’ve killed it.

8 ) They say if your scalp burns, you’re having an allergic reaction. I have never dyed my hair without some tingling/burning sensation, and I’ve never had any sort of rash or baldness afterwards. Just saying.

9 ) This should go without saying but just in case… don’t wear nice clothes. Just don’t. Don’t do it. Don’t.

10) Remember – the colour on the box is never what you get.

A Hair-rowing Experience (sorry - it’s still not funny)

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