Adventures with Hair Dye

My kids ask a lot of hard questions. Why do people have to die? How does electricity work? Why can’t I have a cell phone? But last week, they came to me en masse with a really easy question: can we dye our hair for the summer?

I think they were geared up to argue. They had a plan to wear me down and they were ready to set it in motion. So they were a bit startled when I immediately agreed and suggested we head to the beauty store to pick out supplies.

There are many battles to be fought throughout childhood and I decided long ago that hair was not going to be one of mine.

Kids – and adults – put a lot of themselves into their hair. Whether it’s a funky cut or an interesting color, your hair can say a lot about you. For example, my hair usually says, “I have three children and never learned how to work a blow dryer.” Sometimes it also mutters things about the inexorable march of time, but I can’t be bothered to listen to that.

My kids’ approach to their hair varies. My oldest has long locks that drape to the middle of her back and she is fiercely proud of them. She brushes her hair carefully and allows only an annual trim, and that grudgingly. My son rocks a mohawk much of the time. My youngest child’s hair matches her wild personality nine days out of ten, except on the tenth day when she suddenly decides to sit still while I put in braids or buns and then run for the camera to document the miracle.

Despite their varied approaches to haircare, my kids were united in their desire to add a splash of color this summer. We had done washable hair sprays and gels in the past, but they were ready to try something a bit more permanent. And why not? Even “permanent” hair alterations don’t last forever.

So we made a morning of it, first bleaching and then dying sections of their hair. For my son, we did his entire mohawk electric red. For the girls, we decided on just the tips (pink for one, blue for the other), after a discussion of how long they’d be stuck with the look if they went for a full-length stripe rather than just the ends.

I’m not a hairdresser so the results were a bit mixed. Let’s just say that my ability to bleach and then dye a straight line is decidedly amateur. Fortunately, they can’t see the backs of their own heads very well.

This sudden desire for artistic hair made me nostalgic. I had electric purple hair for one semester in college and I loved it rather desperately. The decision was based half in style and half in practical considerations. I was running the new student orientation program for my school and wanted to be easily identifiable to my team and to the incoming students. The purple hair did the trick and it turned out that the look suited me. This may come as a surprise to you, but I have – *ahem* – a rather outgoing personality…

Sadly the purple eventually faded, first to turquoise and then to a rather unappealing snot green, and that was that. But I enjoyed reliving the memories as I worked the color into my kids’ hair and dutifully oohed and ahhed over the results.

Life is short and hair will grow, so why not have some fun with it?

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