5 Lessons I’ve Learned From 26 Years Of Bad Hair Makeovers

I was not blessed with hair that naturally cascades and shines like that of a heroine in a cheap fantasy smut novel. If left unattended, my hair is somewhere between Hagrid, Hermione, a 1970s teenage skater boy, and Cousin Itt. There’s a lot of it, it’s thin, fragile, and has been described before as “very stubborn”. Pair that with the fact that I am extremely lazy when it comes to any sort of styling, and this has left me heavily reliant on a good hair stylist to make my coif suitable for the public eye.

This epiphany came courtesy of my last three haircuts, where saying “I really like it” at the end was no longer a bald-faced lie. I bit the bullet and paid for a salon-level haircut and have decided I am never looking back.

To avoid the same mistakes I’ve done, here’s a list of the things I’ve learned over the past 26(ish) years of bad haircuts. Avoid these if you can.

1. If you’re going through a major life change, bangs will not solve the problem

Ahhhhh bangs. It’s common knowledge at this point that if your friend abruptly decides to get bangs, the only kind thing to do is ask her over for a glass of wine to figure out what is going wrong with her life. Bangs are a simple way to change up your whole look that requires minimal commitment. Bangs also do not look good on everyone.

Instead of coming out a new person completely – be it quirky and cute like 2010s Zoey Deschanel or disheveled but sultry like 1960s Brigitte Bardot – you’ll end up with a high-maintenance style you’ll love for exactly the one day the salon styled it for you. You’ll then loathe them each morning when they decide to defy gravity. Somehow they’ll either be too poofy and thick or too greasy and you’ll have to deal with that awkward growing out phase, with the added bonus of acne now erupting on your forehead.

Plus, you’ve still have been ghosted by that douche who was definitely way below your standards already. Only now everyone knows it.

2. If you’re going to go blonde, do it right or don’t do it at all.

Although we’d like to think we’re past the times where blondes were seen as the sexy, fun alternative to the dowdy, serious brunette, if you’re not already blonde, there will reach a point in your life where you will ask yourself “do blondes really have more fun?”. Once this starts, it’s over. Despite all the hair coloring apps and filters in the world showing you that you shouldn’t do it, you’ll still be wondering if you’re not reaching your full potential by being blonde.

But going blonde is a commitment. If you’re going blonde, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind – it’s one of those things that’s worth doing it right.

  • If you’re starting off really dark, do not do it all in one 6-hour session. Not spreading out the sessions will help you hair not only look like straw by the end of it, but feel like it too.
  • Be aware of upkeep and TONE IT so you don’t end up with piss yellow hair. No one has ever crooned over “your beautiful piss yellow hair”.
  • Be willing to pay up. Don’t try to skimp on this. If you’re taking up hours and hours of someone’s time and you want them to do it right, pay them for it.

Maybe the reason we revere peroxide blondes is the same reason heavily tattooed people can be so hot: nothing says mating potential like showing off you have large amounts of patience, pain tolerance, and disposable income.

3. Pitch black hair only looks good on a very very very select group of people

At the opposite end of the spectrum of going blonde, we have going pitch-black. Maybe not as popular a choice, but definitely one that will pop up if you’re light-skinned with light eyes, because somethingsomething high contrast. Pitch black hair has a few advantages over blonde. It’s easier and faster to DIY, it gives you that big makeover moment, and it can look striking.

What nobody tells you is that there is no way to dye it any other color afterward. Your hair might lighten a bit, but it will stay dark for a ridiculously long amount of time. Enough time that if you don’t like it, you’ll end up absolutely hating it. If you’re pale, it can wash you out and highlight every blemish and sign of hyperpigmentation under the sun. If your hair is prone to frizz, oh wow will it look fuzzy and fried. Because nothing says good hair like emulating a Brillo pad.

Try dark brown instead: it lightens up quicker if you don’t like it, while still giving a similar look. With the added bonus of not making you feel like either a Russian spy or Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way. Unless that’s the vibe you’re going for.

4. Dyeing your hair at home is actually fine (depending on your end goal)

Some people will tell you that you should never use box dye and that your hair will be irreparable if you do and to only let a professional dye it and yadayadayada. Do not listen to these people. Also stop hanging out with those people too, because they sound really boring.

One of the thrills in life is sitting on the bathroom floor with a glass of cheap wine, waiting for the dye you just haphazardly massaged onto your scalp to finally settle in. And if you can get a friend involved in the process? Boom, that friendship will last as long as those splotchy stains in your sink: forever.

Unfortunately, you need to be realistic. If you want to go from black to blonde with just a bottle of at-home peroxide, it’s not going to happen (see: blonde misadventures above). If you want highlights or to give yourself one of those multi-tiered bright color dyes, you’ll likely be highly disappointed.

But if all you’re looking for is to go slightly darker or a little more red or to dip dye your ends? Just do it. The worst that’ll happen is it’ll be a bit patchy and you can always buy more dye.

5. Don’t (!!!!!) go back to the same hairdresser who never fully gets your hair right

The reason I have trust issues can be directly traced back to the fact that my mother has always insisted that my aunt is a good hairdresser. Which is true if you’re not related to her, but when it comes to doing my family’s hair, it’s not exactly true either. She was my hairdresser growing up because she was cheap, easily available, and meant to understand my hair type. She was also a fan of experimenting without consulting us and prone to spacing out when dishing the dirt about the latest dramas.

Highlights of the capillary torture she’s put the family through include: misreading labels and dyeing half of her sister’s hair pitch black and the other bleach blonde because she was stressed gossiping about an affair. Giving my risk-averse oldest sister a mullet. Giving the entire family bangs and only realizing at the end that our hair type was very different from the model with thin, pin-straight hair. Dying my hair pitch black when I’d asked for dark brown because she thought it would “make my eyes look beautiful”… right after she’d had a lengthy conversation with my mother about not dyeing my hair pitch black.

While this wonderful woman would never do any of these things to her non-related clients, she kept on doing it to us and we kept on paying her for it. This leads me to my final recommendation: if your hairdresser just can’t get it right and won’t listen to you, go somewhere else. Even if she’s the cheapest. Even if she’s family. Even if you’ll have to make up a new excuse every time she asks to do your hair when she sees you.

Here’s the thing about hair: generally speaking, it grows back. Unless you’re suffering from a serious condition like male pattern baldness (my condolences), it will grow back.

So get bangs, dye it box blonde in your bathroom, or do any of the things I said you shouldn’t. Because everyone’s hair is different, so what works for me may not work for you.

Except for the bad stylist thing. Ditch them. You deserve better.

I’ve Never Been Good at Sticking with Things: The Lifecycle of an Abandoned Hobby

As you get older, you begin to accept parts of yourself that you used to be delusional about. At the ripe old age of 26-going-on-27, I’ve already come to understand a few things:

  • Bangs in any way, shape, or form do not look good on me,
  • I will never be the “chill girl”, because I have never been chill for a second of my life,
  • And I have never been, and probably never will be, good at sticking with things.

I could blame the last one on an inability to stick to routine, an ego that can’t handle not being perfect at everything immediately, or an attention span that rivals that of a coked-up squirrel. But instead of taking responsibility for my actions, I’ll just blame my parents. It’s their fault for being too supportive of their children, encouraging us to be independent and take ownership of our hobbies. Instead, they should have been over-invested in what we were doing and set up unrealistic expectations that we’d never meet. Like normal parents.

Despite this dilemma of nurture or nature, the result is the same: I have more abandoned hobbies than I can even list. While I can’t remember each reason for picking them up or why I abandoned them, at this point, all I am sure of is that they all go through the same cycle.

Phase 1: The Epiphany

It starts innocuous enough. Your friends are doing cartwheels around the schoolyard and are talking about the new gymnastics class they all signed up to. No, you watched a YouTube video on nail art and realized you can walk around with ladybugs on your nails all the time. Wait no, your sister came back from her tap-dancing class in a leotard and tap shoes and oh look, everyone’s looking at her, and doesn’t that look really fun?

And then the thought creeps in….

“I could totally do that.”

Phase 2: The Honeymoon Phase

You’ve now done it a couple times and it feels a-ma-zing. You’ve convinced yourself that this new thing you’re doing is going to change your life. The stars have aligned, and you’ve finally found your calling.

Although you’ve just started – or not even that yet – you’ve already told every person you’ve met about the new coding app you bought (even though just the thought of anything too detail-oriented and logical makes your eyes glaze over) or shown them your brand-new rollerskates (even though you’re terrified of going faster than walking speed or doing any tricks without at least 7 layers of padding on first).

It’s all uphill from here, bay-bay!

Phase 3: The Struggle

It turns out to be good at things you have to actually be consistent… and slog through the rough parts… and you’ll probably most likely suck in the beginning. And it turns out you won’t be an amazing superstar/professional athlete/X-games winner/yogi instructor/coding genius after a month.

Although this happens every time, you are both shocked at how hard things can be and disappointed at the lackluster results. This time was supposed to be different. You saw how it was all supposed to play out (ending with you being awesomely amazing at everything, naturally), and now see your half-baked dreams slipping through your fingers.

And all you have to show for it is a malformed vase your ten-year-old hands made in a community center basement, surrounded by sexagenarians.

Phase 4: The Bargaining

You know what? Who even has the time and energy to do something every few days for a limited amount of time to get better at it? What do you mean spending an incessant amount of hours in a short time isn’t sustainable?

You’ve tried to see it through and still, things don’t seem to be getting much better. Your fingers still hurt from playing the guitar those three times for like 15 minutes and you’re still unsure if you’ll ever be able to pick and strum at the same time. Ignoring the fact that every 20-something year old guy with a beanie can do it, you’ve convinced yourself that people who can do this must be multi-armed wizards.

And since you’re not an appendagely-gifted wizard and honestly, it’s getting kind of boring, you quietly give up.

Phase 5: The Shame

Here’s the thing with quietly giving up: it doesn’t really work when you’ve announced to the whole world that you’re seriously – but like, seriously this time – taking on a new hobby. That unlike last time, this time you did the research and bought all the right stuff for it. And yes, I know I quit the other thing but this time I made a PLAN.

You want to disappear as soon as someone starts asking about how your YouTube channel’s going and when you’re going to post your next video on how to quit shopping for a year. You want the Earth to swallow you and the over-stuffed Zara bag(s) hanging on your arm. But since it won’t, the best thing to do is just accept the shame, own up to your flakiness, and mumble something about a completely unrelated topic to distract them.

Plus, I just saw this other thing that it turns out I really want to do, and I think I could be really good at it? And if I was doing the first thing I just gave up, I’d have no time to do this new thing! I’m not actually giving up, I’m just prioritizing. Look! I’m making a plan and everything!

Was this entire blog a long-winded way to say that I hope this lasts but that my track record isn’t exactly stellar, so please, set your expectations accordingly? Maybe.

But hey, a few things have stuck along the way. I still make art and love to read and even write every so often. You try so many things out, something’s bound to stick.

Let’s hope this one does too.