So I dyed my hair blue last week and…I decided to write about it. I realize there’s no way to avoid making this whole thing sound like the whining of a stereotypical, angsty teen so I’ve decided to embrace it. It’s not a phase, mom!
“Why’d you dye your hair, Corine?” I’ve had my hair dyed for less than a week and pretty much everyone I know has asked. For good reason too. Up until now, the biggest change I made to my hair was growing out my bangs Freshmen year. Between then and now, I was always the girl who had dead straight asian hair, occasionally sleeping in a braid but never doing much else to it. My hair was always something I just let be.
So why change it?
The best answer I can give to that question is this: I’ve wanted to dye my hair since seventh grade. There was always something so mystical about it and as I got older, I started seeing it more and more. Beautiful pastel dyed hair seems to naturally flood my Pinterest feed, even if I’m not looking for hair styling tips. Every time I went to the salon there were those giant posters of flawless red hair or effortless ombres. The kids at school with the rainbow hair or aquamarine streaks were like walking pieces of art, standing out from the crowd in the best way possible. I’d watch them walk by in the halls and think to myself, wow wouldn’t it be nice?
There was only one problem standing in my way: I’m a chicken.
As I said above, I never bleached my hair before and the idea of getting split ends from all the chemicals is the last thing I wanted. Caring for sun damaged hair was already a pain in the ass and the extra care for colored hair never really appealed to me. I try to keep low maintenance: I don’t wear makeup or curl my hair (unless it’s a special occasion) because it’s already hard enough to get up for school in the morning. I have zero period too, because apparently sleep is against my religion or something. And then of course, is the biggest reason holding me back: what if it all goes horribly wrong? Every time I’d see pictures of beautiful colored hair, my mind would automatically flicker to frayed split ends, hair loss, and faded chlorine greenish hues. There were, obviously, a lot of reasons to not do it.
I can’t really say those reasons ever faded in my head. I was well aware of all of it, even as I sat in the salon chair watching Howie apply bleach solution to my hair. I just decided though that I wasn’t getting any younger and that if I never tried I’ll never know. (Not exactly the best logic, but what the hell.) My parents were super supportive and before I knew it, I was sitting in the salon chair with newly blonde hair, ready to go blue.
The process is definitely something and even though I searched all over, I couldn’t find an article that went into the most obvious details of the process. If you’re like me and you never dyed your hair before, this little section is for you. Here’s my very own First Time Dying Hair: For Dummies.
Figure out what you want. I used Pinterest for this part, pinning dozens of styles to a board. You’re going to need a reference, especially for color because it’s surprisingly difficult to describe a color to someone and get on the exact same page (the shade between cookie monster and indigo??). Then figure out the best salons in your area. Don’t do it yourself, especially if you’re a noob like me. Get an estimate. Then find out what the maintenance will be like, what products are best, and where you can pick up said products. And if you’re not horribly discouraged, then make an appointment and pat yourself on the back!
I had my appointment after school on a Wednesday, carefully planning it out so I didn’t have any homework or other obligations. (Helps to be a second semester senior heh). The timing actually worked out, since 1) they recommend you to dye your hair when it’s dirty 2) midweek appointments are usually less busy than weekends, and 3) dying your hair takes a LONG time…like 4.5 hours long.
I walked to the salon, sat down and couldn’t help but bounce in my seat. Howie gave me a little key chain of hair samples, though I’m still not sure if that hair was synthetic or real, and I got to choose a color. I ended up going with the darkest blue one on the right, showed him all the hair pics I collected on Pinterest, and explained how I wanted a ombre. He was super nice about it:)
Howie sat me down and got straight to work, grabbing a bowl of white paste from the back, a ton of tin foil sheets, and a brush. I got a black cape wrapped around me and he immediately started separating my hair with clips. Then he teased a chunk, put a sheet under it, and started painting it white like a fence. It wasn’t until he put the chemical on the first piece of hair that I realized I was actually doing this. Hah, whoops. The process to get all of painted took almost an hour and helped me realize that I have a lot more hair than I originally thought. I looked pretty sweet afterwards, like some sort of astronaut or crazy tin foil person.
Let it sit for another thirty minutes-ish. It didn’t really burn like I’ve heard it does, but I did start feeling a bit of heat on certain pieces of foil. Afterwards, we washed it out and well, that happened. I don’t think I’ll go blonde anytime soon.
Then, it came time to add the hair dye. More painting. No tin foil though. The blue was so dark it nearly looked black. Let sit for another thirty minutes and then wash. I got to try out one of those circular drying machines which I had way more fun in than I should’ve. In the meantime, I bombarded poor Howie with questions about hair care and how hair dye works. He was still nice about it though.
Blow dry, add leave in conditioner, and voila! I have blue hair. It was freaking awesome, a dark indigo with a dozen lighter shades ranging from turquoise to electric blue to midnight in some places. I go home and annoy my family by taking a ridiculous amount of selfies. The next day at school, I get questions, looks of awe, and get to walk around like the work of art I am.
It’s been five days and I’m relieved to say that I don’t regret a thing. I love my hair (maybe a little too much) and part of me wonders why I never did this earlier. It turned out better expected and has been everything I’ve ever wanted and more.
There are some learning curves, but I think I’m doing fine. There’s three things that are different though, that I figure I should point out for other noobs like me.
1. Bleaching will change your hair
Huh, yeah no shit. But this is a point worth repeating. The color treatment did make my hair drier and there are split ends. Though I’m thankful that the bleach didn’t leaving my hair feeling super straw-like. The bleach does different things depending on the hair you have, so I’d highly recommend you do some research before you bleach it for the first time.
On the other hand, I have noticed a bit more hair loss. Most of it happens when I try to wash or comb it. It’s concerning at first, I’m not going to lie. But detanglers have really helped to keep my hair together and allowed me to comb without ripping it out. It’s worth investing in.
2. Speaking of investing, this is an investment
If you thought the first salon appointment was all you had to invest in, think again. Dying your hair comes with buying the maintenance products, booking additional touch up appointments when your color fades, and the literally washing your money down the drain that comes with using the wrong shampoo (never again).
I may have slightly misjudged just how many different products I’d need to buy to keep my hair healthy. Of course, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll probably be better off. I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply and picked up a lot of stuffs.
In retrospect, the must-haves in that loot pile are:
- Color safe shampoo
- Color safe conditioner (not shown)
- A shower cap
- Dry shampoo
- Detangler/leave-in conditioner
Of course, if you’re a hair color veteran and say that you’re doing fine with your non-color safe regular shampoo then all power to you. All I know is that the first time I tried using my regular shampoo on my scalp, I looked like I strangled a smurf with my bare hands.
Beyond the money, there’s a lot of time that goes in. I’m still a noob and so my routine is a bit all over the place. Most of the time I spend is trying new things, like dry shampoo or leave in conditioner. (Dry shampoo is so weird by the way. So weird.) Establishing a routine is definitely important, and there’ll be a learning curve if you’re like me and don’t have a routine to start with.
3. You’re not supposed to wash your hair everyday
Another no shit moment for most people out there. For me though, I’m a bit of a hair washing fanatic. When I ran in the mornings before school, I was washing my hair up to twice a day. I just couldn’t stand feeling my scalp greasy, although what I probably didn’t know at the time was that washing it so frequently is the source of all that grease. It’s a vicious cycle: dry scalps produce grease and greasy scalps want to be dry.
Not washing my hair for 48 hours, which Howie insisted was the least amount of time I could go to allow my hair to set, was the hardest part of this whole process. I slapped on a shower cap and kept my hair the same level of greasy and dirty to bed, which felt disgusting at first, but sort of worked out in the end with dry shampoo. I don’t know, it sounds nasty. But it worked out and my hair is still healthy-ish and still blue.
And that’s pretty much it. If you have questions or advice, feel free to leave it in the comments section:)