47andfearless











{May 30, 2012}   50 Shades of Gray

If one person’s trash is another’s treasure, is one person’s boring to-do list another person’s bucket list? Is a ho-hum part of one woman’s routine a huge leap outside another woman’s comfort zone? The short answer is yes. Everyone is different. What you find scary—say scaling heights or squishing a spider–I might do without batting an eye.

So I understand you might not relate when I tell you what I find downright frightening: coloring my own hair. First, if you’re shocked to learn my hair is not naturally this color, take a moment to process the fact, then read on. Second, if the headline led you to believe I was inspired by the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to share my first BDSM experience, let me assure you I’m not. Yet anyway…LOL.

I discovered my first gray hair when I was 26. When the grays became more noticeable, I went straight to the professionals. I wouldn’t trust anyone—especially myself—with covering the gray while keeping my color looking natural. In my opinion, salon hair color is worth the price. More than a few times, friends who took the matter into their own hands reinforced this belief.

Fast forward to this week. My professionally colored and highlighted hair has grown out, so my grays are showing and my dark roots need a touch-up. My regular appointment falls on a day next week when I’ll be in New York City.  (It’s my first visit to the Big Apple—yay for me!) My stylist, Kelly at Signature Salon & Spa, is in Hawaii this week getting married (yay for her!) So I’m in bit of a hairy situation. Do I trust my tresses to a different colorist before my big trip? Or do I color my curls with an over-the-counter product to hold me over until I can see Kelly in a few weeks?

I do a little online research about refreshing your roots at-home. Revlon has Root Erase. L’Oréal has Root Rescue. Clairol has Root Touch-Up by Nice ’N Easy. Obviously, women do this all the time. How hard can it be?

Clairol’s version promises easy application! Permanent color that blends seamlessly! Works in 10 minutes! I decide on this product but struggle to select a shade. There are 18 to choose from and they all look similar. My natural color—medium mousy brown—is mostly covered with a lighter brown, plus I have blonde highlights. (The camera’s flash makes my hair look red in the photos. It’s not.)

Will “light ash brown” be too dark? Will “dark blond” be too light? Ugh. I wing it and pick “light golden brown.”

I want to do this before I lose my nerve. I open the box and read the directions. Does anyone read much less heed the warnings that accompany these products? Let me paraphrase a few. (The SHOUTY CAPS are my emphasis.)

· DO NOT USE this product until you have completed an ALLERGY test. Apply the enclosed noxious CHEMICALS to the tender skin at the inside of your elbow and refrain from washing the area for 48 HOURS to determine any ADVERSE EFFECTS.

· Perform a “strand” test before coloring your hair. HACK OFF a chunk of hair from a place it won’t be missed (WHAT? WHERE?) then apply the CHEMICALS to these strands to determine the length of time your color needs to process. DO NOT SKIP this step.

· PERMANENT hair color can STAIN or DAMAGE skin, clothing, towels, bathroom surfaces and small children in the area. DO NOT WEAR clothes you care about and be sure to wear the HUGE plastic gloves (enclosed) that will hamper your ability to hold the PRECISION ANGLED BRUSH as you apply the CHEMICALS.

· NOTE: If your hair is highlighted, immediately STEP AWAY from the product and CALL our experts toll-free at 1-800-GUD-LUCK for advice before continuing.

OK, maybe I exaggerate a little. But do you see how this process is fraught with peril? (I love that phrase.) What if my hair turns orange? What if it’s irreparably damaged or simply falls out? What if it looks like (insert friend’s name here)’s hair when she did her own color? What ever happened to “nice ’n easy?”

I had set aside a half-hour to do this. I am not performing an allergy test and waiting 2 days. I am not lopping off my locks for a strand test. It’s now or never.

I add the activating lotion to the tray and squeeze in the tube of color. I stir them together. Oh, no. The mixture looks orange. I refuse to give into fear. I use the brush to awkwardly apply color to the roots along my part. I divide hair in sections, brushing the mixture on to the root areas without precision. I check the clock—the color should process for at least 10 minutes.

At 6 minutes, I start to panic. I envision stripes at the roots. I start combing the chemicals through my hair, hoping it will help blend the new color into my highlights.

At 8 minutes, I freak. What have I done? I run to the sink to rinse out the color. I rinse my hair again and a third time for good measure. I wrap my hair in an old towel.

It’s time for the moment of truth. Did I pick the wrong shade? Did I leave the color on too long?

I comb out my hair and breathe a sigh of relief—no stripes. In fact, once my hair is dried, the color blends nicely with my highlights, and most of the gray is covered. Had I waited a few more minutes, the gray would be completely gone. Whew.

Has my first experience with home hair color turned me into a DIY beauty maven? Not on your life. My next color appointment is scheduled. I relish the two hours of “me-time” at the salon, relaxing with a glass of wine and catching up with Kelly. But it’s nice to know I can do this in a pinch. (For the record, I use that word much differently than it’s used in that aforementioned best-seller.)

Want to learn more about my 47 and fearless project? Read my first post.

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tina says:

Yay! The color worked out great! And I’m glad I could be a foolish-but-not-fearless 47-year-old friend whose name you can insert when referring to past color gaffes. I haven’t touched my hair with highlights or lowlights since November and have a 1 1/2-inch-wide band of silver coming in up front at left temple. It’s shiny and my simple mind is fascinated by this imposter. I also realize it will immediately label me as a certain age group once grown enough to run length of hair. I’m okay with that but could change my mind at any hormonal moment. My parents were in town last weekend so I pointed the silver streak (aka chunk of gray) out to my mom who did a double-take and yelled: “WHOA. SKUNK STRIPE.” Then I showed Dad who was also stunned: “Huh, now where did that come from?” Apparently, people in our family have their gray come in salt-and-pepper style and not skunk mode. If “graying patterns” isn’t documented on ancestry.com, it should be. This is what’s important! LOL.



Skunk stripe? Like the Bride of Frankenstein but not wavy? Cool! Tina, you have always been able to pull off any hairstyle or color, so skunk stripes will probably become the new “in” thing! And I totally agree that graying patterns should be documented in family trees. Along with shoe size. 😉 For the record, you weren’t one of friends who reinforced my fear of home color. She knows who she is… (Just kidding!)



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