The first time I dyed my hair, I was fifteen. Fifteen, I think, is about the age we all start to make decisions that sound something like a box of stop-sign-red hair dye at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday, and I obviously was no exception. Would I make the same style choices as a junior in college that I did as a sophomore in high school? Of course not. Just a few boxed dyes after the bright red fiasco, my bright orange hair making me look like the Heat Miser at prom later that year reminds me of this fact every time a Facebook memory pops up to haunt me. But self expression is a funny thing, and having had a total of eight different hair colors (not to mention different lengths and styles) since that fateful night in 2014 that started it all, I truly believe that dying your hair is one of the most fun ways to play with how you present yourself. Although my ultra conservative mother would likely disagree, I would say dying your hair is one of the safest and most fun ways to play with your physical expression, especially as a young high school or college aged person discovering your identity in a world where fashion trends hop from perms to side bangs to pixie cuts in what seems like a split second. No matter how damaged (…or orange) your hair gets, you can chop it off when you want it gone. And that’s the beauty of hair, it grows back! So before you get that tattoo you’re going to hate in a few years just because you want to change it up, hear me out. As long as you move forward with these tips in your arsenal, you can be rocking a cost effective new do any time you want to change up your look.
First, do not be afraid of boxed dyes. The first time I dyed my hair it was with a boxed dye… as well as the second, third, fourth, and fifth. To be fair, one of those times did result in the Great Orange Prom Fiasco of my sophomore year. Going forth without fear does not mean going forth without caution. But spending $200 at a salon for a color that you’re just going to have to get touched up in a month’s time is definitely not always worth the price. If you’re looking for a more complicated cut or style like balayage or highlights, definitely consider a salon professional as an option so you get exactly what you want. But if all you want is a darker color than your natural blonde for those October vibes, get that L’Oreal boxed dye from Walgreens and make a girls night out of it! Definitely make sure you’re getting a brand you trust, but by the ripe old age of twenty I’ve become a boxed dye connoisseur and spending a few extra bucks on an ultra conditioning boxed dye beats wasting a few hundred on a simple color change any day.
This being said, if you do decide to take the DIY route, have some friends around for styling backup. When I decided to cut off a foot and a half of hair at 2 a.m. in the middle of a New Girl marathon with my freshman year roommate, having her there to tell me when I made an uneven chop was a lifesaver. It can feel a little nerve wracking even if you’ve got help from someone you trust, but I’ve never been one to shy away from messing with my own hair. Because, quite frankly, sometimes you want a cute bob at 2 a.m. and just can’t wait to make an appointment at SuperCuts the following afternoon. In high school I always had my mom and my sister on standby in the bathroom to help me lather hair dye on that one section of hair I almost missed, and since getting to college some of the best girls nights I’ve ever had involved a few friends, a box of hair dye, and a pair of scissors. Like I said, hair grows back. So if you’re going to make an impulsive decision, changing up your hair isn’t the worst one you could make.
This isn’t to say that all changes to your hair should be impulsive ones. Once you’ve decided that you do want a different look, consider other commitments. If you’re working at a local coffee shop, dying your hair blue likely isn’t going to make or break your ability to pay rent. But if you’ve got an interview for an internship that could make or break your career path on Thursday, maybe think twice about cutting your own microbangs on Wednesday night. In most cases playing around with your own hair is easily fixable by covering up a funky color with another simple dye or evening out a choppy cut, but if you’re worried about those kinds of slip ups give yourself a cushion of time to problem solve. No one wants to wear a hat for a week because they don’t have time to fix a home salon moment gone wrong until the next weekend.
Lastly, even though taking style inspo from friends, Instagram influencers, and Pinterest is absolutely a wonderful way to go, be true to your own personal style before anything else. It might take a few colors or haircuts to find what works for you, but make sure you’re changing up your look to make yourself happy and not just because of a new trend. Although playing with looks that are popular can be fun, in my own experience the colors and cuts that I’ve stuck to for the longest have been ones that really made me feel like myself as opposed to looks that I tried after seeing how well they worked for someone else. Taking inspiration from lots of other people is a great way to build your own style, but after some experimenting really think about what works for you!
This past weekend I dyed my hair for the ninth time, and went from a silver gray platinum back to my natural brown. I’d had a lot of fun with the gray blonde for a while, but with the craziness of the school year starting it feels so good to have a more natural look for now! That being said, this will absolutely not be the last time I dye my hair. My own history has shown me that every time I say it’s the last time it’s usually a matter of weeks or months before I feel the need for a change, but every time I do try out a different look I have an amazing time doing it. People are constantly experimenting, evolving, and changing, so why shouldn’t our hair?