I Tried Opal Hair For Two Weeks IRL & Here's How People Reacted
When it comes to my hair, I'm usually pretty straightforward: Make it blonde and make it smooth is my philosophy. However, when the opal hair trend started sweeping Instagram, my resolve weakened, and I totally swooned over the look. Combining pastels, platinum, and silver, this dreamy hair style isn't easy to achieve or maintain, but isn't having mermaid hair worth the extra effort? I think yes.
I hit the salon with high hopes, prepared to sacrifice my afternoon to the beauty gods. I'm not a big fan of green tones so my stylist and I decide on a subtle blend of pale pink and lavender. While he mixes the Wella Professionals color, I waver. What if it looks awful? Or ruins my hair? What if people laugh or roll their eyes? Worse, what if someone says, "Aren't you a little bit old for that?"
Suddenly very aware of having just turned 30, I express my concerns to Johnny, my stylist, who rolls his eyes. "It won't ruin your hair! Purples are basically toners for blondes, so once the color fades the highlighted hair will be much blonder — practically silver. It fades really fast so if you don't like it, you'll only have it for a few weeks anyway," he says. We decide to do only two sections of hair, around my face and under the top layer, to keep it subtle.
My immediate reaction? I love it, but it's honestly a bit hard to see. When asked why he went so light, Johnny explains, "You have too much yellow in your hair. If we try to do more, the color won't pull." Still, it's a bold departure from plain blonde. The color ripples down like a surprise at the slightest flick of the head.
I breeze out of the salon feeling confident and cool. I keep tossing my hair around and wait for the compliments from passing strangers. Nothing. I'm pushed and shoved in the sea of tourists and college students, as usual.
Luckily, I run into a friend's husband and stop to chat for a few minutes. "Uh, you have... something in your hair?" He motions to my head awkwardly. Hmm. Not exactly the reaction I was after.
I tug on my hair, "I just had it dyed opal!"
As soon as I walk into my BFF's apartment she says, "I thought you were going to try dying your hair opal?" I've only washed it once since my appointment, but it's already fading into nothingness. I push the top layer of my hair away so she can see it. "Oh. It's more rose gold than opal. Is that what you wanted?" No. No, it's not what I wanted! I'm starting to think I have to take matters into my own hands.
The next day, I head home for a family dinner with my hair in a ponytail. I think it's easier to see the purple tones with my hair up and brace myself for the myriad of opinions. They don't come. Maybe my family is too used to having a fashion blogger around to react to every little change I make. I do get one seal of approval while holding my two-year-old niece. She grabs my ponytail, giggles, and says, "Ooo 'urple! Pretty!" Works for me!
A First Date
First dates are terrible enough without doing a beauty experiment, but I throw caution to the wind and carefully give an extra curl to the silvery lilac pieces before heading out the door. I don't think this preppy finance guy will appreciate this particular trend, but he surprises me (when he finally notices about two hours into our drinks) by saying, "It seems fun! And you have a fashion blog, right? But I wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out." Fair enough.
So far, no one has seemed to notice my opal hair and now that I've washed it twice it's only getting less noticeable. I'm pretty bummed out and really don't have the energy for another marathon session at the salon. My solution? It involves some platinum hair extensions from Irresistible Me, a bright purple deep conditioner, and two long nights.
I lay down some newspaper and messily saturate the bottom halves of the extensions with the conditioner. After two hours, I rinse them out. The purple has turned the ends basically white, so I hang them to dry. The next night, I attempt to paint them ombre again by saturating half of the strands with more conditioner and leave it on overnight. By the time I rinse them out ten hours later, they are a faded lavender mixed with silver. I blow them dry and flat iron them before putting them in my hair. It's time to see if these bad boys will give me the dramatic pearl action I'm after!
Meeting With Clients
Extensions installed, I head out to a meeting with a client. Luckily, working in fashion means I can get away with a lot. She barely bats an eyelid and even asks how I did it! "Sounds like a lot of work but it's pretty," she says.
I curl my extensions and head home for another family dinner. My mom immediately spots the extensions, "Your hair is long enough on it's own! You really should cut it."
"But, mom, what about the color?"
"Oh. Kelly Ripa went opal months ago." Apparently my mom is trendier than I am.
Date Number Two
The guy from the other week calls and asks me out again. He doesn't say where we're going but I move my extensions around so that the opal frames my face more. He seemed cool last time so I'm not too worried about his reaction. We arrive at a cocktail party with some of his older clients. Some of the wives exclaim over it, mentioning celebrities they've seen with opal hair and asking how long I spent on it and for the most part, I'm a bit uncomfortable. I spend the night trying to keep too much purple from showing.
Personally, I think that the opal hair trend is really pretty. Rainbow hues have become much more mainstream over the past few years and, in a city like Boston, people are much more accepting of a young professional with purple hair. Other than that cocktail party, I never felt looked down upon or judged by strangers. The downside is that it takes a ton of upkeep, and on lazy days when I didn't feel like pulling out the curling or flat iron, it emphasized my frizz. It's not a look that I'd want permanently, but for a few weeks mermaid hair is a lot of fun!
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Images: Kara Weymouth (6)