When it comes to hair, the burning question is, “Who do you trust?”
The answer for most of us: almost no one. Certainly not ourselves or our spouses.
For the past several years, I’ve entrusted my hair to my hair stylist Walter. Every month or so, I slip into his sleek black chair as he touches up my roots and occasionally paints my hair Balayage-style. It’s like highlights, but instead of foil, involves a board and brush and sometimes, a spinning heat lamp.
But with salons closed for the past two months, I’ve been looking a very ragged in the root department. I’ve tried to deal with it with temporary spray-in color, floating parts, barrettes and hats, but it’s an uphill battle.
This is sort of a cultural phenomenon right now. There are a lot of women walking around with white and gray crowns that are expanding every day. In fact, one of my sisters is using this time to consider permanently transitioning to gray.
I know many women who look fantastic with their gray, white hair or salt and pepper hair – two or three friends instantly come to mind. But I’m not ready to go that route right now. I’m still clinging to the illusion that my hair is mostly brown.
I haven’t colored my own hair since high school. Back then, I used Clairol’s Quiet Touch to achieve golden highlights, but it often came out orange. After one unfortunate incident, my hair looked an awful lot like a tiger. I had to walk around with orange-striped hair until it grew out.
Buoyed by tales of other people taking their hair into their own hands, I bought some hair color during a supermarket run. Truth be told, I’ve never been in that section before, and was impressed by the number of products on the market.
I bought a box of Revlon Colorsilk for about $3.50 because it was marked light golden brown. That’s the color I think I’m after at the salon, but who knows? Like lipstick and BB cream, it’s all a crapshoot until you get it home and open the box.
The directions sound very simple: section your hair into four parts and place color on the roots, working it through to the ends. I skipped the ends part because I just wanted the roots colored. Let it sit for about 25 minutes, 5 minutes longer if you want to cover stubborn gray.
But it’s not so easy to color your own hair. After the first few front pieces, you can’t see what you’re doing. I enlisted the help of my 18-year-old daughter, who stormed off after a few minutes, declaring me a control freak.
I then screamed for my son to stop writing a paper for college and finish the back sections for me. I knew the kid would come through. In this house, he’s the only one who can handle throwing away a dead mouse or anything else bordering on scary or gross.
This isn’t the first time I’ve enlisted his help for my scalp. Several years ago, one of us came down with lice from school (don’t get me started) and I needed someone to inspect my head to make sure I was lice free. I asked the Curmudgeon to do it, but he just moved the comb around my hair for about a minute and proclaimed me OK.
“NO!” I screamed. “I need someone to put me under a light and really make sure I don’t have it.”
I admit I was hysterical. Dealing with lice isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, I’m pretty convinced you have to be a maniac to get rid of it on the first go-round. There’s the daily washing of linens, vaccuuming of carpets and sanitizing of the home. There’s also the nightly inspection of your beloved child’s head for at least three weeks.
In case you’re wondering, I think Lice MD is the best product on the market. Its thick oil is non-toxic and makes the process much safer and pleasant for everyone involved, if that’s possible.
I think my son was around 9 at the time. He sat me under a gooseneck light in the bathroom and spent about 20 minutes parting and inspecting my head with a magnifying glass. I think he thought of it as a science project. After about 20 minutes, he reassured me that I had no lice. Yippee!
I could tell he wasn’t thrilled about putting the color on my roots. It’s not something most kids want to contemplate: seeing their moms’ gray roots up close and personal. But he put aside his reservations to do me a solid. I knew there was a reason I was so sad when he went off to school.
My daughter laughed when she saw my root color all over my forehead. I’ve never been known for neatness and this was no exception. Hair dye was everywhere. But I was pleasantly surprised when I rinsed out the dye and didn’t start crying. The product had done a fine job considering it was in the hands of such amateurs.
For now, I’m going to have to get along on my own. Hair salons are closed for at least another three weeks, maybe longer depending on when Connecticut opens up. But I think I’ll be OK. Three boxes of hair color arrived on my doorstep today.