The Pros and Cons of Colourful Hair

As you all know, I have colourful hair.  My natural colour is a sort of strawberry blonde, something like this:

My face looks weird here because I was suppressing a laugh, I think!

But I got bored of it after years of the same colour.  I wasn’t brave enough to change up the style, so I went through dying phases.  First, dark brown in 2005:

Then, deep pinks and purples in 2007:

2007, in The Jolly Tar. I love my hair here.

This was a Stargazer dye, so it all washed out within a week.

Then red in 2008:

October 2008

Then in December 2008, 2 months into my degree, I decided to take the plunge and bleach it.  I wanted to shake up my image a bit, do something radically different, and stand out from the crowd.  I was struggling with making friends, and naively thought that colourful hair would draw people to me (though, it must be said, it did work to a certain extent – it was certainly a good conversation starter, and many of those conversations led to decent friendships!)  So I did this:

For the past three years, almost, I’ve loved having colourful hair.  The pros of having colourful hair are, in my opinion:

–          Colourful hair is its own accessory. You can wear jeans and a t shirt and still look good.

–          You become instantly memorable (“who’s she?” “the one with purple hair”).

–          It’s a conversation starter. People have started talking to me on buses, in shops, in toilets, and on the street about my hair.

–          It tends to attract other “alternative”-ish people. (one of my old uni friends told me that the reason she decided to start talking to me was because she thought my hair was cool)

–          Kids getting excited when they see your hair in public – “look mummy, look at her hair! Can I have blue hair?” I love that. ❤

–          Obviously it looks cool as fuck.

I’ve dyed it many colours since then; here’s a quick selection:

February 2009
Blue – March 2009. I miss this colour so much, but it was hard to maintain!
Deep pink – summer 2009
Blue and black – December 2009
Red and black – autumn 2010.
March 2011 – cut it short and bleached out the black to go back to purple

However, three years later, I’ve finally decided to dye it back to a normal colour – probably dark brown again.  Having coloured hair has lost its shine (literally and figuratively), and I’m sick of all the downsides:

–          It’s an absolute bastard to maintain.  I used to dye my hair dark brown, and as long as I dyed it every 6 weeks or so, when my roots came through and the colour started losing vibrancy, the colour always looked fantastic.  Now, with purple hair, I need to dye it every two weeks, and bleach the roots every month, if I want to keep it looking good.  I can’t afford to do it that often, which means that I usually spend half my time having grey-tinted hair and brown roots.

–          Dirty looks from sanctimonious strangers.

–          Creepy come-ons from strange men who think it’s acceptable to stroke your hair when it’s an unusual colour. No dude, it’s still my hair, FUCK OFF.

–          Dirty men who ask you if the carpet matches the curtains (true story).  Have these men considered the logistics of dying your pubic hair?!

–          Dirty men who ask if it’s true that alternative girls prefer anal (also a true story).

–          Nagging relatives asking you when you’re going to grow up and dye over it.

–          You’re less employable. I pretty much lost my retail job in 2008 because I dyed my hair purple.  Fuck BHS. (purple hair is “unnatural”, whereas white blonde with black streaks is totally fine…)

–          Stained bath towels, pillows, and collars (I learned the hard way that dark blue towels are the way forward).

–         Sometimes it’s nice not to stand out.  You can’t blend in with purple hair.

So I return to being normal and unmemorable – but with hair that’s easier to maintain.  I am mostly doing this to try and find a job – I know how stiff the competition is, and I don’t want anything to put an employer off hiring me.  *sigh*  I’m also getting sick of standing out all the time, especially now that I’ve left the student bubble of Nottingham and am in the “real world”.  Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or in the Job Centre, feeling people’s eyes on me when I wish I was invisible… it’s not a nice feeling.  I’m almost looking forward to being a normal colour again, actually.



Filed under Personal

13 responses to “The Pros and Cons of Colourful Hair

  1. i’m gonna miss your purple hair :/ i have a tendency of living vicariously through my friends colourful hair.
    but it’s totally understandable, i got tired of dying my hair black every once and a while (then again, i don’t have a shower so i have to go to carl’s mum’s to dye my hair. trying to wash off hairdye in the sink is not going to happen.)

  2. Hannah

    I had pink/purple hair for a few years when I was at uni (the first time round, doing my BA) & loved it for all the reasons you’ve listed as pros. I went natural again mostly because the upkeep is such a bastard… Nowadays I’m often tempted to dye it blue, or pink (again) but I do quite like my natural colour, it’s a rich shade & seems a shame to bleach it!

    By the way, I love yr natural colour & can’t believe how different you look with it, I didn’t realise the first pic was you at first!

  3. Your natural hair colour is amazing! I definitely feel your pain on the ‘trying to find a job’ front. I feel like pink is my natural hair colour, silly as that sounds, and the kids I work with all love it. The adults who are hiring, though, slightly less so. If you get a cool boss (and you feel like it) you can always just redye your hair once you’ve got the job. So long as you check with them first a lot of workplaces are OK with it.

    • Catherine

      That’s what I’m hoping! My last boss loved my hair – but I worked in an office away from customers, so maybe if I was dealing with the public they’d be more strict. :/

  4. Yeah I’ve stopped having bright hair because of all the time spent on uptake too. Esp cause my hair’s naturally dark, it tends to get fried ends after a while from the bleach, and once the colour fades to a lighter shade I tend to look a bit ill ….

  5. This is a really interesting post, good to see the honest pros and cons. You’ve definitely made the most of being a student and tried out loads of looks though 🙂 Your natural hair colour is so pretty 🙂

  6. Carissa

    i love your hair. the last purple picture here is what i’m getting next week. luckily, at 14 i don’t have to worry about getting a job. all of your hair colors honestly look awesome though.

  7. emmi

    Im only 11, and I really want to dye my hair blue and purple, but I read your artical, and I dont want creepers. I was just wanting your advise. Do you think creepers will “attack”? I might just be to weirded out.

  8. Pingback: How to dye your hair: a step-by-step guide! | Catherine Elms

  9. Jolie O.

    I stumbled across your website when looking for this one online gallery – because I want to look at different hair colors. Anyway, I can’t believe you got fired over your hair color. Yes, some jobs, here in the U.S., will hold it against you, but certainly not in retail. Not unless you’re working at like some family oriented shop, but in the fashion industry or the mall, no way. Well, anyway, I love your pics. I’m thinking about going natural, too, but I’ll probably look to highlight and tint because, as you’ve mentioned, I’m getting tired of maintaining it. Yes, everything is purple and red from before, lol.

    Well, anyway, did you find a job? And then go back to dying your hair? That’s what I would have done, lol.

  10. You looked so beautiful with your natural hair colour. Saying that, I’m sat here with purple hair. But hey, I’m old, older, oldish. Well, well old at forty three !

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