There has not been a time in the last 17 years when I have not had dyed hair. Every three or four months, I rove the hair color aisle looking at all of the colorful boxes filled with so much promise of gorgeous multi-faceted color. Every drugstore has an identical aisle of uniform-sized boxes containing a chemical developer and color, latex gloves and a tiny bottle of conditioner that is so perfumed, you won’t ever smell the peroxide in the dye.

I am convinced of hair color’s transformative possibilities by the pictures on the glossy boxes—here a lady emerging from a pool of water, like Venus in a half shell, her hair perfectly coifed and colored. Sometimes, if I am in an older drugstore, I will find a box of Wella, with a picture of a coed, circa 1979, and even her hair will have incredible body and hair color that matches her corduroy blazer. Recently, celebrities (and I use this term lightly for Milla Jovovich) have posed for different dyes—Sarah Jessica for Garnier, Katie Holmes for Open, and even Beyoncé for Feria. I am such a sucker that I believe these happy celebrities have actually used the exact shade they are modeling and perhaps even applied the dye themselves, by putting on the supplied rubber gloves and pouring bottle A into bottle B.
As a freshman in high school, I dyed my hair inky jet black because the girl on the box had blue eyes and black hair—the exact look I was going for. Very Goth. When I saw my first gray hair at age 21, I bought a box of Nice & Easy with a “before” picture of a woman sporting a whole head of gray. I felt confident that if she could cover her gray, certainly the hair color would cover my one shameful strand.

I usually buy what is on sale, or what is new. Always hopeful, I expect that it really will be new and give me the subtle highlights and low lights I crave. Recently I tried a new shade, and looked on the side of the box, “if your hair is brown, your result will be deep chestnut magic!” If you say so! Such dramatic promises never come true, and I have yet to achieve true chestnut magic, after years of trying.

But back in the hair color aisle, with much hope in a bottle, I look around at the other ladies searching for that one perfect shade that will undoubtedly change everything. Look at her, look at the bottle. I want to tell the middle-aged woman with the one inch roots to please, for the love of God, do not buy that eggplant color dye. “Don't you know that the purples will completely wash you out!” I silently plead with her. She buys it anyway.

And I buy a box, too, hoping that this time, my color will dazzle and sparkle.


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