Confessions of a Hair Dye Virgin: Here's Why I Never Did It
It’s rare to find a twenty-something who has never experimented with their hair colour. It’s virtually unknown to find someone who's never dyed their hair and works in the beauty industry. But up until a few months ago, that was me.
Growing up in a small town, I never gave myself permission to dye my hair. Everyone close to me would know it wasn’t natural, so what was the point? And wasn’t dyeing your hair just covering up your natural beauty? Truth be told, I equated hair dye to a low-level cosmetic procedure. This might sound dramatic, but it was what I thought for much of my teenage years. To take it one step further, I even felt noble in refusing to dye my hair, as through accepting my natural hair colour meant I was somehow accepting myself, along with all of my flaws and imperfections. I pledged to stick with my natural hair colour well into my elderly age, as I so admired those women who fearlessly go grey.
It wasn’t until a close friend dyed her hair her first year of university that my opinion flipped. She went four shades darker, an abrupt transformation I didn’t think I’d like. But much to my surprise, I loved it. It was so much more, well, her. This exceedingly ordinary experience showed me how hair colour can suit one’s personality just as much as one’s appearance. Realising how easy hair colour is to switch-up, and how much fun the process can be, was mind-blowing.
All of a sudden I didn't view hair dye as a guise or a façade; I viewed it as just another form of expression, like makeup. After all, everyone knows I don’t have naturally bronzed eyelids or cherry red lips, but what does that matter? Hair colour accentuates; it doesn’t hide. It’s fun, experimental, and never binding.
I even felt noble in refusing to dye my hair, as through accepting my natural hair colour meant I was somehow accepting myself.
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After months of debating, I finally decided to go for it. I booked a hair colour appointment with an eSalon stylist and had some blonde highlights added to my naturally chestnut brown hair. I was new to California, and I thought I would embrace the beachy, sun-kissed look of the golden coast.
Since taking that leap, I haven't looked back. The lighter strands do wonders to brighten up my dull winter-ravaged skin, and the new colour dimension gives the appearance of extra volume. But the most important change was internal. My new hair makes feel much more confident, much more like me. It matches how I feel inside.
So consider this my PSA: If you've been debating whether or not to dye your hair for as long as I have, go for it. You may be in for some self-discovery somewhere along the way.
To make your experience seamless, we solicited the advice from two master colourists. Keep reading to learn how to have the perfect first hair dye experience!
1. Put your trust in experts.
This may seem like a given, but the importance can't be overstated, especially if it's your first foray into the world of hair colour. Take it from Estelle Baumhauer, Colour Director at eSalon, "Before making any hair color leap, make an appointment with a colourist for a consultation. This way, you can speak about your hair colour goals, what type of application is needed to achieve them, and what maintenance or upkeep will be required. Your colourist can also recommend hair care and styling products to maintain your new vivid hue."
Placing your hair into the hands of a capable stylist will not only will this ensure great results, it will also soothe your nerves. "Just like with anything new, the first appointment is a combination of excitement and pure terror," says Baumhauer. "The fright for clients comes in when they are waiting for their hair colour to process. Hair colour always looks different while processing than when it has been rinsed and dried. The wet colour has the possibility of looking much darker, cooler or off-toned while processing. ... Trust in the process and in your colourist."
2. Bring photos to your appointment.
No, colourist will mind if you bring in examples of your desired hair colour. In fact, they prefer it. L.A. colourist Matt Rez recommends always bringing in an example. "Always take in photos and ask to have a consult with your colourist pre-colour service," he says. "That way, both you and your colourist have a goal to work towards."
Baumhauer agrees. "I recommend clients bring in a photo of a celebrity whose colour they like," she says. "This way the consultation can become a discussion about how your perfect hair colour will be achieved."
3. Start with a small change.
Before you bring in a photo of a platinum blonde or raven-haired celebrity, remember that achieving bold colour takes time. If you try to overhaul your colour in one appointment, you won't be happy with the results.
Rez has mastered the fine art of tailoring his clients' desires to their own image. "People come in with gorgeous photos and expectations," he says. "But I know from having done this a long time that even though clients want these incredible transformations and big changes, it's crucial t take it slow and build up to the desired colour!" Rez says his clients "always end up thanking me for talking them into starting slow, because it's still shocking going from solid natural hair to any other colour."
Remember: A jarring transition isn't a good transition. Especially while lightening up strands, Baumhauer lauds the power of subtlety. "Sometimes a few well-placed highlights or a brightening gloss can change the hair’s entire look," she says.
4. Prepare for at-home upkeep.
Unfortunately, falling in love with your new colour isn't enough. You need to make sure you have the correct products to keep the colour bright and beautiful. Speaking from experience, going lighter can incur some serious damage to the hair cuticle. Rez suggests stocking up on nourishing treatments to maintain health post-appointment. Try Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector ($46), which heals broken bonds in individual strands. "If you are wanting to go darker, make sure you have colour safe shampoos that won't strip your colour and/or shampoos that enhance the tone of your new colour," says Rez.
5. Be patient ... and enjoy!
A colour appointment isn't an in-and-out deal. It takes time and discussion to achieve a look that will best reflect who you are. "Having your hair coloured takes time, but it’s well worth it," says Baumhauer. "Set aside dedicated time for your appointment so you will not feel rushed. On average, permanent hair colour takes 30 minutes to process and that’s without the application or shampooing."
Believe it or not, this is the best part of the process—slowing down and relishing in the experience. Instead of going into it stressed and hesitant, embrace the wait! As Baumhauer puts it, "Make your appointment a time just for you. Relax and get ready for colour happiness."
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Tell us which colour you've been dying to try out yourself, in the comments below! Meanwhile, read all about the newest version of balayage that's all over Pinterest!