Growing up, my mom had every hair color/style imaginable: medium length + natural color; Billy Idol bleach-blond pixie cut; short, red hair. I wish I had pictures for you, but this was way before the digital age existed (and we still developed our photos at CVS.) At the time I thought it was weird, kinda funny actually. But as an adult, I realized her indecisiveness was just my misinterpretation of confidence. She’d come home from her stylist with a new look, but she’d rock it like she’d had it all her life. Her carousel of hairstyles taught me that the only thing limiting what looks good on you is…..well, you. Change is a mentality. Hair grows back, can be dyed, extended, and/or cut.
And this is the approach I’ve taken to my hair in recent years. In college, my hair was shoulder length, platinum blonde. I’ve even got the pictures to prove it. I refused to change it, but I was at a phase in my life where I was much more close-minded about sources of happiness. Toward the end of my college career, after some life changing events, I let my hair grow out. And return to it’s natural, dirty blonde color. Moving to Baltimore was a new start for my career, so I started to contemplate why it couldn’t it be a new start for my look, too. I walked into my appointment at Studio7 on N Charles St — a left brunette. I had considered it for awhile but never acted. I had people tell me that they thought it would look bad, I had people tell me that they thought it would look great. It’s hard to be truly happy when you let everyone else play a larger role in your decisions than you do, so I listened to myself and went for a change.
But I’m not enough of a badass to go straight to permanent color, so I tested out the transition with demi-permanent color. It’s cheaper, it requires less upkeep than permanent, and the formula is a sheer color that’s subject to even fading (harsh root lines aren’t my thing.) After my first experience with it, I fell in love. I love how it sits on top of my natural highlights to give dimension to my hair without having to paint in extra lighter pieces and/or lowlights. Okay, so I did a few rounds of that, moving from my initial violet-brown to a richer brown. Then a part of me wanted to go back to my natural hair color — so that’s what I did.
I let my hair continue to grow, I didn’t dye it. Most of my color faded, and it left me with this light brown/copper orange tint. But I needed to get it cut. The length was way too long; it felt unhealthy, and I was tired of using like 1/8 bottle of shampoo every time I showered. So, I made another appointment at Studio7 with my girl Molly. I polled a lot of people beforehand, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back blond (serious consideration), go darker brown (also loved that idea), or do some balayage action to get the best of both worlds.
Low-and-behold, I left Studio7 a red head. I saw the picture above on my shuttle-ride from work to the salon and decided that’s what I wanted; I made a game time decision to change it up yet again, making me 3/3 for conventional hair colors over the past 5 years. And Molly made it happen.
Again, to ease into the change, I went with a demi-permanent color. I also had the stipulation that the color needed to look natural — I wanted red hair, but I didn’t want unnaturally red hair. Leave the bright red locks to Wendy or raggedy ann. Molly worked her magic, and I couldn’t love it more. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. But, I kept telling myself that 1) if I really hated it, I could change it 2) I wasn’t going to hate it because I always find new things exciting (hence why I consider myself a neophile — peep my Instagram bio)
DESPITE my comfort with change, I still have both negative and positive opinions on going red:
PRO: It’s unique, everyone these days has blonde or brown hair. I feel like a ‘natural’ red head is still a foreign concept to most. People sooner dye their hair green/purple/pink than think of becoming a red head. I’m gonna get cliche here but dare to be different.
CON: It fades. FAST. Demi-permanent color fades quicker than permanent, but combine that with the color red – the hardest color to keep IN your hair no matter the format of the dye – your color will fade. Which brings me to my next point…
CON: The upkeep can get expensive. Retaining the color is hard, but more frequent salon visits, combined with specialty shampoos to aid in keeping the red vibrant can add up. Yet, in the long run, it’s definitely cheaper than committing to permanent, red dye because although the demi-permament red fades quickly, you hair still looks natural because it fades evenly to the brown undertones of the dye.
PRO: It provides opportunities to strengthen self-love. To me, it reiterates the concept that physical change doesn’t indicate who I am inside. I think it also helps reflect my personality to the world around me. I’m confident, I’m vibrant, and the moment I posted my first red-head photo on Instagram, I owned it because color red is now a part of me. And I like myself way too much to let a hair color own the way I feel about myself. I’m gonna own the hair, the hair will never own me.
Okay, I’ve said my piece. I think I want to go a little more red for my next round (shhhh, don’t tell Molly quite yet.) But then again, I might change my mind 5 minutes before walking into Studio7. Stay tuned, I like to keep y’all on your toes!
Have you gone red? Was your experience positive or negative? Any tips for helping with the upkeep?
Also, if you’re looking for an AMAZING stylist (and awesome human), call Studio7 and book an appointment with Molly! Or with any of the stylists, honestly — they’re all talented, fun, positive people!
Until next time, keep it colorful.