The saying “bad hair day” can be understood to mean that things
just aren’t going your way, but when women say it, we mean it.
My hair is too frizzy, too curly, too brassy, unmanageable,
weighed down, dull, damaged, or in my face or in yours when
those words escape my lips. I spend more money on my hair then
I do on food. My conditioner costs as much as an entrée at a
restaurant, $12.75. I have “high maintenance” hair, meaning
I use different shampoos depending on what my hair needs: deep
cleansing, moisturizing, damage control. You’ve got a problem;
my bathroom’s got the product. As my roommate says when she
opens a drawer or peers into a cabinet, “You’ve got so many
cosmetics, it’s sick.”
However, like many college students, I can’t always afford
the entrée and instead should stick with the appetizer. In other
words, Suave Shampoo can replace Graham Webb. So, when my boyfriend
offered to help me spruce up my dull locks with an at-home highlighting
kit, I thought to myself, “Well it would save me an expensive
trip to the salon.” My hair disasters of the past, (bleaching
my hair blond at home, then dyeing it brown, which turned it
green) should have taught me a lesson. Not so.
After perusing the hair care aisle at the 24-hour Pali Longs,
I decided to try L’Oreal’s Feria hair chunking kit. The sleek-looking
model on the box stared at me from the shelf, her shiny, sunlit
locks assuring success. Had I’d read the fine print, for medium
blond to dark blond hair only, I might have grabbed a different
box, saving myself from the disaster that was to follow.
Blonde, as a kid, but brunette as a young adult, I’d clung
to the notion that I was still a blonde. Blonde progressed to
dirty blonde progressed to dark blonde, but now I was, without
a doubt, a brunette, or what is referred to in the hair color
world as a No. 6. On a scale of 1 to 10, one being the lightest,
I was definitely no longer a pale beauty. My refusal to relinquish
the idea that “blondes have more fun” had me consistently plotting
ways to transform myself from Audrey Hepburn to Marilyn Monroe,
a behavior that turned me many a shade of what I like to call
copper-coated candy, which really meant orange and frazzled.
(Think the Pantene girl before the Pantene).
It had been awhile since I’d ignore the saying “Don’t try this
at home,” and I allowed myself to get suckered into to the farce
of “Do it yourself, hair color.”
John, my boyfriend, took direction beautifully, though. I armed
him with tin foil, a comb, and a beer; he was ready for action.
I sat. Gloves and all, he gulped his Guinness. Spatula in hand,
he was prepared to make me a blond bombshell.
Four beers later, things were starting to lighten up. Wearing
a silver crown of foil, I now had John sitting down, ready to
have his own hair transformed by home color. Sporting orange
kitchen gloves (it’s impossible to reuse those that accompany
a L’Oreal package) I swirled the leftovers around on his head.
John gulped his dark beer, while I caressed his hair with potion.
Almost an hour later, we’d both changed. Showered too soon,
neither of us had left the color in long enough. My mid-back
locks were streaked with a color that resembled pumpkin pie.
He began calling himself Agent Orange, because if that poison
had a color, it was his hair.
We walked around like this for a week. John’s not the type
of guy to care, but he knew he looked bad. At nine the next
morning, I called Renell, my stylist from Macy’s on Fort Street.
She couldn’t see me for three days. John held out as long as
he could, and not inclined to visit a stylist, toughed it out
with a baseball cap. Few were ever shown what was under the
Oakland A’s hat.
Finally, color day came. After some conversation with the other
hairdressers, Renell was confident she could fix me. What I
thought would be a short two-hour hiatus from my normal morning,
turned into four hours of conditioning packs and lowlights (which
are the opposite of highlights: dark streaks on light hair).
John had picked up some men’s brown hair dye, and spent his
morning standing in front of the bathroom mirror applying it.
One-hundred forty dollars later, my hair was a light golden
brown, with shades of copper. I looked better, but was still
hues away from the platinum-streaked princess I had envisioned.
My advice: unless you’ve perfected the art of home color, avoid
the booze and the hair color aisle all together. In fact, leave
your hair alone! As I’ve come to realize, Audrey Hepburn was
a better actress than Marilyn Monroe anyway.