27 August 2007

Impulse Dye

I am not sure why I wanted to be a redhead... my sister is a redhead, so you would think that it wouldn't be such a mysterious color. But brown is just so... brown. So I finally did it. I dyed my hair red. And it is... interesting.

I went to a salon that a friend of mine recommended. Her hair is fabulously colored... she's Italian genetically, and now has very natural-looking blond highlights - so I trusted her recommendation completely. Now I know that you're supposed to have a consultation, and bring photos, and chat with your stylist about what you want. But all that seemed fairly boring to me. I basically thought, "I have hair. She dyes hair. I've never dyed my hair. Who am I to tell her what will work?"

I walked into the salon and the woman at front desk was very nice... "come this way, and I'll show you the elevator" and I was whisked into the conveyor-belt-atmosphere of the salon. I'm not kidding that there were at least 30 stylists/colorists at work on this bright, shiny Saturday morning. And there were at least that many clients getting their hair done.

So I asked the colorist - a lovely lady named Elena - what she thought about red. She said "I think it would be gorgeous! It would really compliment your eye color... oh by the way, do you have virgin hair?"

Virgin hair?

I'm going to *guess* that you mean that no colorants have ever touched my follicles. Sure enough, that's what it means. So I was about to pop my hair's cherry? How appropriate that I was asking for red.

Elena said she knew the perfect color. I said "no strawberry blond" and she said "I've got it, don't move" and ran off into the back room. The door was cracked, and I could see rows and rows of boxes, presumably filled with hair color. She was gone for - I kid you not - 20 minutes, and I thought perhaps they simply didn't have any other hair color other than blond. Maybe she had run down to the local CVS to pick up a bottle of $8.99 John Frieda Radiant Red. (Maybe she did.... who knows. I wish she'd have told me - it'd be cheaper that way.)

Finally, after I'd had plenty of time to mentally back out, opt in, chicken out again, and do a gut check, she returned with a small bowl of raspberry yogurt. True enough, my "perfect color" (according to the stylist) was "way in the back, under some boxes" (let me guess - boxes of blond?) She'd mixed it up and was ready to go. I just hope it hadn't expired... who wants moldy yogurt in their hair?

She first spread what felt like Vaseline around my hair line and over my ears (not a very pleasant feeling) then proceeded to unceremoniously paint raspberry yogurt on my scalp. It was a very odd feeling. It was like having cool mud slathered on your scalp. First reaction: "EWWWWW".

Yes, at first, it was gross feeling, but it's kind of like mixing ground beef with your hands - after you resign yourself to the feeling, it can be quite a fascinating sensation. And the sound... do me a favor, and stick your hands into some yogurt sometime and squish it through your fingers while you lean your head very close... every once in a while, spread some on the tips of your ears. Odd.

Once she did my scalp-parts, she told me to walk over to the rinsing sink because she wanted to "pour the rest on"... and sure enough, she poured the rest over my head. Imagine a cool bunch of... well... raspberry yogurt being literally dumped onto your head and massaged around. It's like the grown-up wet dream version of a 6 year old's mud-fight-in-the-back-yard.

Then, my head was wrapped in plastic, and I was stuck under a dryer with some magazines. I felt like I should have been in a hair salon in the 1950's. This is the first time I actually looked around at my fellow salon dye-victims... And I realized that I was the only one in the salon who WASN'T GOING BLOND. I felt like I was in a room of clones... and I was the only one not going blonder. 30 women in the room, and all of them were some shade of blond-ish-ness. Eerie. Stepford Wives. Big time.

After my timer buzzed (yes, I did have a timer, and yes, it buzzed), they took me back to the sink and "reclined" me into the rinsing sink. But something kicked me in the back. Oh wait! It's a massage chair! At this moment, I think I have finally realized why so many people on this planet get their hair colored... for the massage chair. And for the "conditioning treatment." The woman who rinsed my hair color out, and conditioned my hair gave me a head massage. If I wasn't straight, I may very well have run off with this woman... as long as she promised to bring the massage chair.

She rinsed out the yogurt, wrapped my head with a towel, and then brought me over to a mirror and plopped me down and said "okay, dry your hair out, honey" and gave me a hair dryer and three brushes. Dry my hair out? I gotta do it myself? Didn't these people know that the last time I blew dry my hair was about 1 year ago? Okay, here goes... unwrap the towel, and ...

I giggle. I'm not naturally a giggler, but I started giggling, and I couldn't stop. I looked like I'd spilled Pom juice on my head... my hair looked BLACK. I started blowing it dry, and besides the fact that I think half of my hair fell out in the process ("that's natural for some follicles to release the hair") my hair was slowly turning from Pom juice color to Crayola brick red color. I started laughing... and I couldn't stop. The rinse lady came over at one point and asked me to stop laughing. I didn't.
The colorist finally took pity on my pathetic, giggly attempt at blow drying my falling-out-hair, and took over. She blew it out a little more, and I couldn't stop staring at myself in the mirror. I loved it, but MAN it was STRANGE and completely unnatural looking.

I left feeling a little buzzy, and as I exited the salon, the woman at the desk who had escorted me to the elevator said, "Oh, My, GOD! You're RED!" and she poked the girl next to her and said "When she came in, she was blond. But now she's RED!" I imagine she's never seen anyone leave the salon red before. They've all been blond.

Later that day, I went back to my sister's house. She said she liked it (and I believe her, even though she may be lying), but the best comment came from my nephews:

Nephew #1: Hey Beth! Oh wow. Look at your hair!
Me: What do you think?
Nephew #1: Well, Mom said you were going to come back with red hair. But it doesn't look red. It looks... WEIRD.

Nephew #3: Beth, your hair is red. But a funny red. Not like mama's.
Me: What do you mean "funny"?
Nephew #3: Funny. Like a good funny.

My sister told me I had to wear more makeup now. After all, she said, "Your hair is like a new, bold accessory. You have to dress for it now."

It's true. So now I'll have to ask my fashion peeps what makeup and earrings go best with a Crayola "Brick." And according to my sister, I apparently I can't wear my favorite maroon skirt any more because it's too "matchy-matchy." Oops.

It's going to take me a while to get used to it, but believe it or not, since it's on my head, I don't really see the color that much (usually it's pulled back off my face.) I tend to forget about it, but whenever I walk by a mirror, I am rather startled and can't stop staring. I must look really odd on the subway staring at my reflection in the glass. But that's OK.... I like it. A lot.

(P.S. Don't forget to wash that yogurt off your ear.)

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