Hair-Care Tips

Beauty Horror Story: I Dyed My Blonde Hair Plum, and It Never Was the Same

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Photo: Well+Good Creative

I wanted to be the Princess of Darkness, and that's my fault. I was 14 and eager to amp my goth street cred by dyeing my hair purple. I had taken enough “Are you gothic?” Quizilla quizzes to know that blonde hair was for "preps only," and my mom had little sympathy towards this plight. Finally, the summer before my freshmen year, she caved with a compromise: She would dye my hair a semi-permanent, wash-out plum color with the expectation that it wouldn’t do any irreparable damage.

Oh, but it did.

I’m not a colorist, but here’s some "Home Dye for Rebellious Teens 101": To get that really vibrant hue, you're supposed to bleach your whole head and Manic Panic the hell out of it. I was not allowed to do this, because my mother was afraid the peroxide would make my hair fall out in clumps. And so, we slathered the dye over my dark blonde strands late one summer. When I leaned back in the sink I could feel the magenta foam seep into them, guaranteeing I would be a true Lord of the Underworld. When I looked in the mirror, though, all I could see was a monster.

Spoiler alert: The demi-gloss that sat over my dusty, not-bleached blonde hair and created a sort of shadowy plum tinge that was not at all what I was going for. My olive skin gets a pretty Trumpian glow in the summer, so the tinted, purple-ish lengths set against my orange-ish skin made me look more like an Oompa-Loompa than I was going for. Luckily, your freshmen year of high school is a safe and happy place where you’re allowed to express your unique self. OH WAIT JUST KIDDING IT’S THE SEVENTH LAYER OF HELL AND YOUR CLASSMATES ARE OILY LITTLE DEMONS. I was a stylistic disaster starting up high school, hoping that this bizarro plum shade would give way to my natural dark blonde. The problem was: It didn’t.

In my September school photo I’m all hunchback with an unbrushed, violet mane. My hair was faded raspberry when in October, and even by April⁠—April⁠—my hair was deepened as if dipped in a winter wine. 

I had wanted to be Princess of Darkness, and it worked; I had Monkey Pawed my way into permanently anti-flaxen hair. Even when freshmen year gave way to sophomore and I was billing myself as a blonde with yellow bangs, but it was a fallacy. The darkness was in me now: My hair was growing back medium brown at the lightest. 

I realize that may sound ridiculous is. My alternate (read: sensible) theory is that the unforgiving onset of puberty and my moustache-sprouting Greek heritage transitioned me to brunettedom, rather than some form of witchcraft. As a cosmetically careful adult, I’m good at faking blonde without looking like a freak of nature. I have that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina look down to an art form.

Still, when the dark roots start to come in, it reminds me of the monster inside, insecure and terrible at applying liquid eyeliner. And I remember: I am cursed. I am haunted. I am going to have to throw down a little extra for my next balayage touch up. 


Speaking of blonde hair, here's how one editor's attempt to look like J.Lo made her into an accidental tigress. Or how an army of exfoliants had another writer looking like the Crypt Keeper

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