Friday, September 05, 2014

2014: A Hair Oddessey

For the past sixteen years of my life, I've been dying my hair. Sometimes natural colors, usually not. I've had pink, purple, blue, red, orange, black, brown and blonde hair over the years. I have only looked 'natural' a for a few months within the second half of my existence. (I'm thirty-two, it's literally been some unnatural color for basically half my life.)

For a few months lately, though, all I've really wanted to do is to stop dying my hair. I'm not entirely gray yet, and I know when I go gray I'll want to color over it more often, but until then, I kind of just want to stop messing with my hair. I'm also once again wanting to grow it out, and if I stick with it this time, I don't want most of it to be disgusting and fried. A few months ago I attempted to match up my hair to my roots, and I actually did a pretty good job of matching it. I now had about two inches of root that was nearly indistinguishable from the dyed hair.

My hair on Monday.

The only thing is, I had put that dye on over bleached hair. Knowing what I know now (I've learned a lot about hair in the past twenty-four hours), that is why it had a slight greenish/gray tinge to it in certain lights. Apparently bleached hair pulls in more of that cool ash color in the color I'd chosen, and thus gives off a greenish hue. That was my only complaint about my hair; in certain lights, it definitely looked a little seasick.

I wanted to brighten it up without changing it completely, so I began considering an ombré. For those who have been living under a rock for the past several years, ombré is the hair trend of having darker, more natural hues at the roots with gradually-dyed lightening at the ends (or with a reverse ombré, it goes from lighter to darker). I'd been resisting this trend for a long time, but it looks like it's here to stay, and it kind of did achieve the goal I was aiming for. I wanted to stop having to touch up my roots all the time, and this would allow me to have fun hair without having all the upkeep.

I was going for something like this:

Or maybe even this

Scott didn't want me to do this out of a box. He was afraid I'd mess it up. I on the other hand didn't want to spend a fortune (upwards and over $100). I settled on a compromise. I'd go to the local beauty college to get it done, so it wouldn't mess up my hair but I also wouldn't spend a fortune. Oh the irony. The painful, sad irony.

I printed off, not one, but four pictures of acceptable ombré styles. I didn't want to take any chances. I then of course left the pictures on my kitchen table and drove off to my appointment. Mistake I Should Never Make Again #1.

I had to take Jaguar with me too, by the way. It was unavoidable (well, except I could've booked it for another day, but I have him all day five days a week, and I work on Saturday, and I wanted my hair done by next Thursday, so there wasn't really any other day to book it for). He was actually pretty good considering he's a two-year-old boy stuck in a stroller for almost three hours. Mistake I Should Never Make Again (Or At Least Do My Best to Avoid) #2 - Take toddler to get hair done. But he wasn't really that much of a problem. It just meant I couldn't sit in that chair and make her fix it after it was all done. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I arrived right on time and was taken to my chair promptly, no waiting. I explained to the girl, who was a student graduating in a month, so assumably trustworthy, what I wanted. I explained I'd forgotten my photos but tried my best to explain. I used some words I realized immediately are bad buzz words in cosmetology, and tried to rectify them, but some part of my soul knew the damage had already been done by uttering them. Mistake I Should Never Make Again #3 - Never use the word 'bold' in the same conversation as 'ombré'. I tried to take back the word 'bold', but it was too late. I only meant I didn't want it to be so entirely bland and subtle that it was unnoticeable, but 'bold' is just a word you should never use. Especially with a student.

I explicitly stated I did not want to look like my roots had grown out. Explicitly. I said that very plainly. I used the word 'fade' with 'ombré' multiple times. Even as she was applying the lightener, I reiterated I wanted it to fade to blonde. She assured me it would fade beautifully and 'not to panic'. Her supervisor came by and complimented her on the color. I took this as a positive sign. In retrospect, her supervisor probably didn't know I'd wanted ombré. She probably thought I wanted the bleach blonde crack addict look.

She wrapped my hair up in a cap to process for a while before washing it out.  It looked awfully.... brassy.... to me while wet and not very.... blended... but I didn't get worried right away. Surely there was still toner to go over it to create that coveted faded, blended look I'd spent hours on Pinterest looking for.

But no.  She dried my hair (with no soft, silky product, which is the best part of getting your hair done), and left it feeling sticky, mushy and frizzy.  She didn't style it, which I didn't expect her too, but it looked, well, AWFUL.  It was such a mess. She proceeded to 'trim' it, and by 'trim' I mean she snipped a few ends off here and there.  I was waiting for her to fix the dark roots/ bleached blonde hair line, but the supervisor came, handed me my ticket without so much as looking at my hair, and that was that. She was done.

I squirmed. I HAVE to say something, I thought. I hate confrontation, and I hate hurting people's feelings, especially people who are just learning, but I had to say something.

"I have to say, it's not really what I expected...' I said slowly.  I told her, overly apologetically, that I expected the blonde to start much lower and for it to fade better.  She looked surprised (hurt?) and said she could fix it if I wanted, but by this time, we'd been there almost three hours and wee Jaguar, who'd been sitting in his stroller spitting at everyone and throwing his shoes, socks and Spiderman all over the place for three hours, had had enough. I needed to get him home.  She said she could fix it if I came in again, so I took her card, paid the $38 ($5 of which was for Jaguar's haircut, which she did fine on) and left. Fifighting back the tears, I got to the car and immediately called Scott.

I didn't want him to see this disaster before I'd warned him.

Also, he was right. He's always right, by the way, which is one of his more intolerable qualities. Mistake I Should Never Make Again #4 - Doubt Scott.  If I had just gone to a salon in the first place, my hair wouldn't have ended up looking like this:

Why - no seriously - WHY would anyone think this is what I wanted?! Is this considered ombré? Is this even considered a hair style?! I spent almost $40 making my hair look like I needed to get my hair done. My hair was in bad enough condition before this, but now it was absolutely, positively, utterly destroyed.  I'm talking Death Star destroyed.

I googled home hair repair remedies.  I needed something to make my hair feel more natural than phony plastic doll hair; my twenty-year old Barbie's hair looked more conditioned than this. I gave myself a hot oil treatment with real coconut oil and a steamy hot towel. I later washed it out and conditioned it as well as I could and went to bed with wet hair. Maybe I'd wake up to realize this was all just a cruel warning dream.

It was not.

Thanks to Facebook, I had lots of messages with recommendations for what to do about my hair - go back to the college to get it fixed, go visit so-and-so's salon, DON'T color over it, etc. I eventually went with my friend Angie's recommendation of a local friend who would be sure to know how to fix it. I called this girl at 8am this morning, crossing my fingers she'd be able to see me today. Luckily, she finishes early on Fridays and her last appointment was at 2pm.  I warned her that my hair would take a long time, as it is very thick, and if she was willing to see me after her last appointment, she may not get that early Friday.  I'm not sure if she really believed me when I told her my hair would take two to three hours. I wasn't exaggerating.

I printed off several more pictures.  I wanted to offer her several different options, since I didn't know how realistic it was going to be to fix my hair.

I figured she'd maybe just be able to go over most of the hair with a dark color and leave the bottom tips that bright yellow. I even brought a picture of pink hair - Scott's suggestion - since part of me was thinking that since my hair was already bleached and ruined, I might as well take advantage of it and go crazy. But really, all I wanted was to be normal for once in my life. Just once. 

At 2:30, having left Jaguar with Scott who was working from home today (bless him), I spread my photos out before Marissa and told her the story of my hair.  She gingerly touched my hair, hiding her cringe face, and admitted it was pretty, er, bad.  We talked about each picture and how possible it would be to do each.  She really liked the idea of the pink too, and I think she kind of wanted me to go with that one, but I just wasn't sure I wanted to commit to more upkeep; the idea was less upkeep. And normal.

We decided on a plan best for my hair, and Marissa got to work.  I felt nervous, understandably, but really, she couldn't have made it any worse than it already was.  Yet by the time she'd put in the toner, foils, and over all color, I felt very confident that this was going to turn out really good.

I had been at the salon already for two and a half hours. My hair is thick, ya'll.  Once all the color had been washed out, she got down to the problem of the damage.  I haven't had my hair cut in almost a year, so the ends were pretty messed up already, not withstanding the recent bleach fiasco.  She trimmed it up beautifully though, thinned it all out with thinning shears, taking out a lot of the damaged hair without sacrificing length, and put in some nice oils.  Then she hot ironed it and worked that hairdresser voodoo on it.

The girl performed a miracle.

Now that's what I consider ombré!  We had decided that with the shape of my hair (that year old grown out bob) I should only keep blonde in the front and do the back all the same color. It turned out really pretty, and my hair feels so good now! It's still damaged, but it doesn't look as damaged anymore.

I had been at the salon for over three hours at this point.  I wasn't going to be home in time to make dinner, so I ordered pizza while Marissa finished my hair. That meant that including the thirty minutes drive beforehand to get there*, and the pizza pickup afterwards, I'd left Scott for four hours, three of which were with five kids**.  (I'm pretty sure he wins Father and Husband of the Year.)

*That's considered 'local' here. America, sheesh.
**Fifive kids because we've been watching my neighbors' two kids this week while they've been house-hunting out of state.

My hair looks so much better. I'm so happy with it! And now, after all this faffing about, I have also made myself a pledge to never do my own hair (or go to a beauty school - sorry, trainees) ever again.  I'll even go in for fringe trims. By trying to save money, I ended up spending way, way more than I intended. Mistake I Should Never Make Again #5 - Trying to cut corners in all the wrong places.  Which, incidentally, messed up my September Shopping Challenge. After that $110 getting it fixed, and the wasted money at the college, plus the pizza, I spent well over my allotted budget for hair this month. Oh, and throw in a pity Sonic shake I bought for myself on the way home yesterday in which to drown my sorrows. Sweet, chocolatey sorrows. But all's well that end's well, and my blonde ends are looking well***!

***Actually they are looking 'good', not 'well', to be grammatically correct. But that ruins the parallel structure of my wee quip, dammit.


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