Back in the early seventies, when I was a student, we were all reading Elizabeth K-R's seminal book 'On Death and Dying' [etymological thought - can a woman write a seminal book?]
I am sitting here, waiting 30 minutes for L'Oreal's finest to take effect on my hair, and find myself pondering on the dying/dyeing processes. I offer these thoughts to friends who may not have trodden this path yet [hoping it may save some of you from disasters I have experienced along the way] There are, according to EKR, 5 stages in the dying process. I have applied these to dyeing hair...
EKR says the first stage is DENIAL. This is certainly true "This can't be happening, not to me! I am too young to have any grey hairs"
Then ANGER The hairdresser wants to charge HOW MUCH to colour my hair? That is daylight robbery, I am not paying that. I will go and buy something in Boots.
BARGAINING - A Big Mistake in the home-hair-colourant procedure. Never buy dye on a BOGOF - unless you have used that colour before. Otherwise you end up with a bad shade for 6 months instead of twelve weeks, because you can't bear to waste the second pack - and you dither for a fortnight about using it up!
DEPRESSION - I worked so hard to redecorate the bathroom and now there is a stain on the new pale pink shower curtain, oh misery! Please be aware that the Ad where Andi McDowell swans around in a pristine white bathrobe with goopy hair piled on her head is trick photography! The box may say "Non-drip" but it lies!!!! Your only hope is to swathe your head in one of the free plastic shower caps you brought back from a hotel room. BTW, The Hairy Bikers recommend these caps as ideal for covering bowls whilst proving dough. They are very good for this purpose too - but remember, they are single-use. You cannot cover the dyeing head and then the rising bread [ - or vice versa!]
Further depression is caused when the resulting shade is not what is expected. The bit on the pack "Please note, the colour of the foam does not reflect the finished result, and the foam may often be much brighter" So you sit there, with the oven timer, red streaks dripping down your neck, feeling like an extra from "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" trying to convince yourself that's true.
Remember - never - even if you feel really old, and grey - try to dye your hair late on a Saturday night when you have some sort of up-front responsibility at church the next morning, in case it all goes horribly orange. Unless you happen to be the sort of woman who wears an Amish bonnet to worship. [in which case you wouldn't succumb to the vanity of hair dye, and the men wouldn't let you speak anyway] And yes, dear sisters, I have been there - sobbing at midnight in the bathroom "How will I go out like this?" And do NOT let your loving nearest and dearest go out to an all night chemist to find you a darker dye to "overdye" the glowing beacon on your head. That road leads to strange chemical reactions and green hair. [No I never did, but my friend at school did once!]
In the event of ending up more Lucille Ball that Davina McCall, I recommend washing your hair 7 times [minimum] with the Aldi [or Sainsbury's] cheapo equivalent of Head and Shoulders. This will strip away the top 10 layers of the hair shaft and tone down the colour [a little] At least enough for you to face the world - glowing slightly!
A hairdresser once told me to avoid any dye with a lot of red once I reached 40 as it is aging- and to go progressively lighter after 50, because your skin tone lightens with age. My aunt stayed resolutely jet black into her 80's. It was not flattering. I suppose if I keep going a shade lighter I shall be blonde by the time I am 60. [but that would make me a blonde girl from Essex! oh dear...]
Two final tips - first - use dark towels - those chocolate brown ones that you [or your mother] had for wedding presents in the 70's when they were trendy. They don't show the stains. Second - rinse well. Real Simple magazine recommends stripping off completely and getting under the shower as the best, most efficient method. I agree - but be warned, you will feel like Janet Leigh in Psycho as the colour rushes down the plughole!
EKR's final stage of dying is ACCEPTANCE. I fully accept that my hair is going grey, and admit that the occasional colour rinse cheers me up. But the timer has gone off, so I must rinse now.
Let's hope it has worked, or I may have to wear a headscarf to the concert tonight...