I've had fire engine red hair for approximately five years now, which is precisely why I found myself ready for a hair color makeover. This was the longest period I'd ever kept my locks the same shade in my entire life (besides when I was a kid, obviously). My crimson coif had become my calling card — something with which people in my field could recognize me by. And if my friends ever needed to spot me, they could search the crowd for a vibrant dot of red.
In a way, my hair is my signature and my security blanket. It's the most high maintenance thing about me, forcing me to tote my own black satin pillowcases (yes, two pillowcases, because the dye is strong enough to bleed through one) when I travel, eschew light-colored tops, and invest in a stockade of industrial-strength bleach that's necessary after every hair wash. I love it, even if every shower feels like a reenactment of the pig's blood scene from Carrie.
For almost a year now, however, I've been working with my natural curly texture (instead of beating the hell out of it with heat tools), and I've been toying with the idea of changing it up from a flat one-toned red to a deeper ombré style. It's an anxiety-inducing, terrifying, exciting prospect that I finally got the nerve to do.
Here's me in all my flaming red curly-haired glory.
I finally worked up enough nerve to call my hairstylist, Jasmarie. Although I wasn't about to head back to my (literal) brunette roots, I felt like I was dipping a toe back into that ordinary hair pool by stripping the stop sign red shade from my visage for a softer twist on my typical style.
I realize that to some, this hair transformation may not seem that extreme. To me, though, it was as extreme as shaving off all my locks. I couldn't help but wonder how would I feel when stripping myself of something I had associated with my identity for so long. Would I still feel as fierce? Would I still feel as fashionable? Would I still feel like me? Here are the seven emotional stages of getting a hair transformation.
1. The Initial Excitement
Yay! Change is good! Change is healthy! Change is important for personal growth!
2. The Shock And Denial
Change is bad. Screw change. Why would I want to get rid of this amazingly perfect mermaid hair?
3. The Anger And Bargaining
Oh no. Is it too late to go back? It's not too late to change my mind, is it? What if we just throw some bleach on it all? Will that equal out to my old red hair?
4. The Reflection And Worry
It's too late. OK, no big deal... I've only been thinking about doing this for almost a year now. It's gonna be OK, I'm sure it will be OK.
It'll be OK, right?
5. The Upward Turn
Well, this isn't looking too bad. I mean, it looks totally nuts right now, but I can see where it's heading and I like what I see.
6. The Acceptance And Hope
OK, this is it: The last stage before the wash and blow out. It's too late to go back now, so this is it. You love what your hair stylist does, you trust her, and you know she's got this. If it's not right, she'll fix it. No matter what, it's going to be awesome.
7. Unequivocal Joy
I love it.
I love it.
I loooooove it. Like, if this hair was a person, I might consider leaving my husband for them. Alright, so maybe not that far (imagine all the paperwork?), but I am head over heels in love with this hair. Not only is the style kinder to my strands (no more bleaching the roots), but it also shows greater curl definition and dimension (two things I was truly hoping to capture with the ombré design).
I've had nothing but flattery regarding my updated 'do, but more importantly, I feel confident in my decision to do something different. Sometimes we grow pretty attached to things like styles and colors, but there's nothing quite as liberating as throwing the rule book out the window and throwing yourself into the unknown. Even if it is "just a little ombré."
Images: Liz Black