Ever since I quit my conservative office job in June, I've been toying with the idea of jumping on the colombre hair trend or dyeing my hair an unconventional color, especially because I had never actually done anything to it before. Maybe a wonderful shade of pastel pink? I decided moving to Korea was as good a reason as any to take the plunge — to finally go for rose gold. But instead of getting the My Little Pony-inspired hairdo of my dreams, I ended up with a bad dye job.
My first mistake was to dye my hair at home with a box of Korean hair dye... without getting my hair bleached first or being able to read the instructions. That dye turned my hair a stained, rusty red. I then went to a salon to get it fixed, but again, the language barrier wasn't really in my favor. Though I tried to explain that I wanted perfectly platinum, almost pastel hair, I ended up with some aggressively terrible chunky highlights, painfully reminiscent of the "The Rachel."
I am now left with a mess of bleached and damaged strands that don't really look anything like what I imagined, and it's taken me a couple of weeks to finally feel confident in my look again. I've been coping with my multitude of hair dye-related mistakes, so I am intimately familiar with the seven emotional stages of getting a bad dye job. Or at least, not the dye job that you asked for.
After hours of scrolling through Instagram, you manage to convince yourself that dyeing your hair a delicate rose gold is a great idea. Nicole Richie changes her hair color every week, so why can't you? Who cares if you have dark brown hair? That doesn't mean you can't do it yourself... even if every YouTube tutorial you watch on dyeing your hair at home strongly advises against bleaching your hair at home, and even if your mom explicitly tells you that this is a bad idea.
You're feeling inspired and creative and ready to take on a little risk. You're an adult who wants hair as bright as a Treasure Troll Doll, and nothing is going to stop you.
You've sat down in the stylist's chair and confidently stated what you want. Or, you have the box of dye from the store and (after a couple of shots of vodka) feel ready to take on the challenge of dyeing your hair over your friend's bathroom sink. It's probably a bad idea, as your boyfriend and mom and the aforementioned friend all remind you, but you don't care. You're feeling brave, but you also feel the pit in your stomach from the second the first layer of dye is applied.
You sit there silently freaking out as your friends' and family members' warnings race through your mind. Maybe your hair will turn an irreparable color of a rusty faucet or you'll accidentally burn your scalp with bleach or your hair will actually fall out.
There are so many ways for this to go so, so wrong, and though your try to reassure yourself that this is all going to be fine, you can't help but feel anxious. There is a very real chance that your hair is not going to look like what you imagined, but this is a commitment you've made and there's no turning back. You feel in your bones that something isn't going right, but there's no way to know for sure until...
You hop in the shower or walk over to the sink where the hairdresser sits you down and your hair is rinsed out. Once you look in the mirror, you know you've made a mistake. Sure, the color might be a little different once it's dried, but really, your hair isn't right. It looks nothing like the photo on Instagram you showed to the stylist or the swatch on the side of the box, and the worst part is that there's nothing to be done.
You could throw a tantrum, but that's not going to get your hair back to its original shade. Your hair is ruined and it will never look normal ever again. Things will never be OK again.
After your hair dries and you've had some time to calm down, the denial sets in. You try to convince yourself that it's really not that bad because, well, you're stuck with it. You text your boyfriend and your best friend and your mom, "Look, I'm so blonde! Isn't it great?" Their silence, followed by a brief text carefully crafted to minimize their shock, is the first sign that you need to deal with the very real, very regrettable consequences.
You step outside for the first time since botching your hair color and a wave of regret sweeps over you. You're convinced everyone is staring at you and your unnaturally colored hair, and you wish you had a hat or a wig to cover up the damage. You wonder why you ever thought you could be a magical unicorn with beautiful pastel hair, or why you didn't speak up when it seemed like things were going downhill.
You will never full accept your terrible dye job because, well, it's terrible. But you will learn to tolerate it because you're stuck with it for the time being. Maybe that means finding a hairstyle that minimizes the amount of dyed hair you actually see, like a topknot, or grabbing another bottle of bright pink hair dye and giving the ashy locks of your dreams another shot.
At the end of the day, re-dyeing your already damaged, strained hair immediately after a bad dye job can't be good. You try to remember that it will grow out eventually. It's just hair, after all, and some of the worse hair dye mistakes turn into some of the best hair trends. (I'm pretty sure that's how ombré hair got started anyway.)
Just pray that you won't look totally crazy for your cousin's wedding this weekend. But even if you do, it's all going to be OK. You might just spend the next few months building up a sizable collection of hats.
Photos: Maxine Builder