In December 2014 I celebrated a decade of blue hair. The second I left school at 16, I ran to the hairdresser's, where they, bewildered, streaked my hair with the kind of old-lady blue dye you see around the bingo table. I was puzzled, but addicted. Since then I've gone through turquoise, aquamarine, peacock and cerulean, and settled for the last 8 years on a stunning semi-permanent color called Blue Velvet, named after the Lynch film, which looks a bit like a royal cloak and fades to a beautiful jade green. I've had blue hair for virtually every milestone in my life, and most of the people who know me now have literally never seen me without it.
But having blue hair doesn't change your life as much as you think it will. Nobody's ever called me the Devil or asked when I'm going to stop rebelling, and evangelists on the street treat me with the same detached enthusiasm as they treat everybody else. If I'd done it for attention, I think I'd be upset about that, but as I did it because, among other reasons, I wanted to look in the mirror and always see something beautiful, it's worked out fairly well.
However, it does make some small, and vaguely eccentric, differences. Here are 15 things that happen when you have weird-colored hair.
1. Small children think you are either amazing or peculiar.
Or they don't care, because in child-world everybody has weird hair and super-powers, and also dogs can probably talk.
2. You exchange secret glances with other weird-haired people.
"I know how long that shade of purple must have taken to perfect. Respect. Also, your hair is weirdly shiny, teach me how to do that."
3. You become an expert at cleaning stains.
I have put semi-permanent blue dye on everything from grouting to shower curtains to light switches. I know the tricks for removing it from basically anything — particularly pillows, which have had so many years of staining that they now hate me.
4. All your towels are dark-colored.
True story: the towels we put on our wedding registry were black, and a friend casually inquired if we were becoming Satanists. Nope. It's just easier when one of you is perpetually dripping blue like a leaky paint pot.
5. You become a pro on entertaining yourself in hairdressers.
This sh*t takes five hours. First the bleach (and "normal" dye in between if you're having streaks), then the setting time, then the blue dye and its setting time, then rinsing and drying. Life is what happens while you're waiting for your hair timer to go off.
6. Hairdressers themselves are either your best friends or your nemeses.
Hairdressers tend to like me because I supply the dye myself (I redo the blue at home when I need touch-ups), pay a lot, and know exactly what needs to be done. If, however, they refuse to listen to the instructions or bugger it up — one apprentice shampooed out all the dye seconds after it had been applied — they are on the black list for life.
7. Strangers think your personal space doesn't exist.
When my hair was a lighter, more slightly ridiculous blue (it's a more "natural" darker shade now, and yes, natural and unnatural shades of blue/green/pink exist), people would touch it. All the time. Once, a tourist pulled it to see if it was extensions. Yep.
8. You become totally blasé about having weirdly colored ears.
It happens. If you redye your hair at home, your primary concerns are whether you've ruined your entire bathroom and rinsing dye off your face and neck so you don't look violently alarming. Ears? Forget 'em.
9. You buy enough disposable gloves to make your supermarket cashier suspicious.
I promise I am not committing a murder. Also, this roll of protective sheeting is actually for my bathroom floor to stop drips. NOT LIKE THAT.
10. People make personal remarks about your employability.
"Oh, sweetheart, nobody's going to want you in an office looking like that. It's just not professional." Yes, thank you for that, you judgmental idiot.
11. You have tried every conditioner in existence.
Bleach, in an unsurprising revelation, is not good for your hair. I have done everything: keratin, Moroccan oil, conditioner made from the resin of sacred trees gathered by dancing acolytes by the full moon. The smoothness of "virgin" hair is the ultimate goal, and it's always just a teeny bit unattainable.
12. You frequently forget your hair is a different color at all.
"What? You couldn't see me in the crowd with a hat on? What do you — ohhh."
13. You look at hair chalk with a mix of envy and faint disapproval.
I mean, it just seems so upsettingly easy. If only you could get lasting serious color just by rubbing some things on your hair. Why do we not yet have the technology?!
14. When people find your hair everywhere you have no excuse.
Bleach also means breakage. Which means that if somebody finds blue hair floating in their soup (or on their sheets, or in their clothes) you have nowhere to hide. Thus you would make a terrible spy.
15. You plan for what it'll be like when you've got this hair color at 70.
The future's bright, the future's Technicolor — at least as far as my hair's concerned. Women like Anna Piaggi, the late editor of Vogue Italia, who kept her blue hair until her death, are my style inspiration.
Bring on the next decade.
Images: Rebecca Harris/Flickr; Giphy; Vogue.