Dyeing to Change

I think I’ve been clear that I am not a typical girlie-girl. I didn’t arrive on the planet with preconceived notions of how to be feminine. Make-up, clothes shopping and high heels are complete mysteries to me. So imagine my horror when a deflated budget, a hectic schedule and an increase in grey hairs meant I was going to have to colour my own hair.

I was a sight to behold, standing in the hair dye aisle of the local drug store. Panic stricken, I stood before rows of brand-name boxes with a virtual rainbow of fake hair samples to assist in my colour selection. It was overwhelming. I started to read the boxes. That didn’t help. Who names these products?  Talk about misleading. Do I really want to be a Mocha Morning brown, or perhaps a Chocolate Latte head? I pondered a walk on the wild side, possibly becoming a Passionate Cranberry. My dye choices sounded more like a desert menu than a hair colour. I settled on Pomegranate Brunette, but don’t ask me why. Logic had nothing to do with it. I just wanted out of that aisle. Fast. 

The drug store was nothing compared to the horrific scene in my bathroom. I looked like a mad scientist, mixing bottles of liquids with potions, reading and rereading the step-by-step directions for fear of burning a hole through my scalp. My final concoction resembled a bottle of Catalina salad dressing. I was not convinced this was going to turn my grey hair to rich brown.

My daughter came in to watch the spectacle. She read the box. “Mommy, it says pomegranate. Isn’t that a big red fruit? Are you going to have a big red head?” she asked, seriously.  Yes, I could potentially look like a giant red fruit at the conclusion of the cost-saving exercise. Deep breath.

I pulled on the rubber gloves. Now I was serious. Everything is serious when rubber gloves are involved. I knew everything was riding on this moment. For the next six weeks, I was either going to be a brunette or a giant red fruit.

By this time the whole family had converged in the bathroom, mesmerized. I poured the red slime on my hair while blobs started to drip down my forehead. My scalp was orange. Splatters of dye hit the white porcelain sink. My reflection looked like a wet, matted orange cat. I could not reach the back of my head and foolishly asked the Carpenter for assistance. He looked more afraid than I did. Maybe it was the gloves. I begged him, tears in my eyes (from the chemicals, but he didn’t know that), pleading for help as the clock was ticking and the pomegranate hair slime was taking hold. Time was of the essence.

Real men don’t dye their hair, apparently, but real men know that they don’t want their wives to look like giant red fruit either, so despite his masculine pride, he helped for two seconds – and then he fled the scene of the crime. Ten minutes later, I knelt over the bathtub and rinsed the salad dressing from my hair. The tub was awash with red water. It looked like the scene in a horror movie. Then came the moment of truth and I was alone with my reflection.

It turns out I make a fabulous pomegranate brunette. Only now I know why it’s better to pay a professional. Worrying turns my hair grey.


Kelly Waterhouse