Like most women, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my hair. Mostly I love though. I love how there are so many things I can do with it. I can grow it, cut it, curl it, dye it, braid it, twist it, and cover it with a hat. How about you? Over the years I’ve done just about anything one can do with hair or I’ve had someone do it for me. I’ve never attempted to do a self-perm and I’ve only had a couple of those done at salons. My hair just doesn’t like to really curl up. Once though, sometime in the early eighties, I had this killer perm. I had a friend who would go to hair shows and then come back and play with my hair. I figure as long (pun) as it is not permanent and forever, I’ll do anything once. If it is horrible, well, let’s just say I do have a really nice hat collection. Anyway, I had shoulder length hair and got a relatively tight perm. Now this is during the “use a pick for ringlets” period. Well, we didn’t do that, heck no! I brushed that mess and poof! I looked like a white Diana Ross. I loved it, but it was not a hit with anyone else.
Most of my life my hair was straight, straight and straight. I can remember being a little girl and mother making spit curls at night with bobby pins so Laura and I would have curls in the morning. And yes, spit curls were exactly what that sounds like. Ewwwww. Gross. During the ’60s my straight hair was really an asset. I never had to iron my hair. In case you have forgotten, when we ironed our hair, it was not with the fancy flat irons of today. No, it was a real iron that we also used on clothes. Jana had long beautiful blond hair, that was really straight as I remember. But that didn’t stop us from ironing it anyway. Seems like I remember an ironing session that went wrong, resulting in some scorching, but surely not. We were never that silly I don’t think. Oh, and let’s not forget using orange juice cans for rollers! Don’t see that anymore.
Clairol, of the does she or doesn’t see fame, used to make a product called Loving Care. It came in basic colors and would wash out over a period of time. Laura and I were allowed to use it when we were in junior high school (but not the hard stuff, that was for older people). It was great for a shade or two change, but would not bleach hair. At that time, my hair was a very dark brown, but I wanted it black. Very black. This was when I first developed the dyeing bug. I just knew I was a dead ringer for Cher. Long black straight hair and bangs that pretty much covered my eyes. The parental units hated it, but who cared. I looked very mod.
Laura and I also had wigs, hair pieces and falls. Long ones, short ones, blond, frosted, red, brown and black. I loved how we could go to school with hair one color and style, then cheer at a ballgame that night with a completely different look. I don’t know what eventually happened to them, but more than once I’ve wished for a collection like we had then. If I could find a fall or hair piece of the quality and type I had, I would snap it up in an instant. The clippy and hair band things are just not as good or versatile as the ones we had then. But really now, what is? That is one of the joys of this age. We get to complain about how much better stuff was back in the day.
Hot rollers came along during this time too and they were a wonder. Now, instead of rolling hair wet (and coated in Dippity Doo, remember that slimy pink stuff?) and sitting under your own personal bonnet hair dryer or the portable one with the plastic cap for ages, you could just heat the rollers and ten minutes later have beautiful curls or waves. That is if you didn’t make a terrible rats nest and have to cut the roller out. The original hot rollers had a metal core with a hard plastic outer cover. The little spikes were hard plastic that LOVED getting tangled up in hair. And did I mention a metal core that got really, really hot? So not only did your hair get hopelessly tangled, but you could give yourself blisters on your fingers trying to get the little @#!$^%& out.
After a while, I graduated to the more serious hair dye. Frosted hair was all the rage at one point and of course, I had to frost my hair too. Must say thinking back on it now, that was probably not a good look for us do-at-home types. I have a sneaking suspicion we looked more like speckled pups than fashion models, but that didn’t stop us. Laura let me frost her hair, screaming the entire time that I was killing her with the crochet hook. I might have been just a little too zealous digging around for hair to pull through the holes in the cap, but she is the one who let me. All these trials at a formative age may have been what made my friend Teresa into the hair stylest she is now. (Move closer Teresa, I need you!).
There were years I had no idea what my true natural color was. Once roots started showing it was time for another color. (I don’t understand the style now of serious rootage. Just looks lazy to me.) By this time my hair usually stayed shoulder length or shorter so I didn’t have the dreadfully damaged ends coloring can cause. I learned that I was not a blonde and they didn’t really have more fun, so I stuck with various browns, deep auburns and black tones. I some times ventured into the mahogany colors, but they faded too quickly and left my white streak I’d had for years pink. And this was way before colored stripes were cool.
Then I quit. I don’t know why now. Maybe I just got tired of the whole process or too lazy to do it myself and too cheap to have it done. I got my hair cut short and all the dyed parts finally gone and found out my hair color had completely changed. I still had brown hair but now also had beautiful silver sparkles scattered here and there, mostly around my face. I loved it. Laura calls it glitter. We are fortunate that we have truly silver sparkles rather than gray or even pewter. Not that those colors don’t rock, they do. Just not on my coloring. And to top it off, the silver hairs were almost corkscrews! Now, I have wavy hair and if it is short enough, fairly curly hair. How much fun is that! A whole new world of hair looks opened up for me.
This lasted for about 15 years (?????) I started a blog called Age of Gray because that is what I am and eager to embrace aging gracefully. Then I got really, really lazy and just never got around to getting a hair cut. So my hair got longer and longer. And yuck, what was beautiful silver glitter in short hair just made my long hair look drab and dull. I began to long for the fun “old lady” colors. Lavender, pink, blue and peach. But they no longer make the “hair wrench” wash out colors like sweet little old ladies used. (Remember when the only people who had those colors were old ladies?) The dye colors now are bright, wild and wacky. And if you know me, you know that I am anything but bright, wild and wacky. So I just whined a lot. Then Nort found a box of Burgundy hair color at our favorite store, Treasure Hunt, for just $1.00! How could I not do this? Beautiful burgundy hair! It was glorious! I glowed in the sun!
Then it started growing out (see above for my opinion on roots) and since it was probably an old, expired product, began to fade and wasn’t pretty anymore. So, time for a decision. What shall I do? Nort is enjoying the long hair which he had never seen on me before, but he doesn’t like roots anymore than I do. And the color was a funky tone now but not in a cool way. So tell me, what would you do? Do you keep your natural lovely gray, white, silver, salt and pepper or do you “tint” your hair? Long or short? Just because we are older, doesn’t mean we don’t have choices to make. As for me, I headed to Sally’s Beauty Supply.
As I was looking at the fun colors, a woman of my age was looking also. She had a lovely milk chocolate skin tone with fairly short hair and was looking at the various black shades. She asked me, “Do you think I could wear this and not look ridiculous?” It was a beautiful navy blue black. I held up a swatch next to her face and Oh. My. Goodness. It was spectacular. Perfect with her skin tone. I asked what she thought about the color I’d decided on. She pronounced it perfect for me. We had a giggle over what we were about to do, and what our children and grandchildren would say, then we each left the store very happy. I do hope I see her somewhere and we can compare hair colors. Oh, what did I pick out you ask? Right now, this very sedate, serious baby boomer is totally rocking a wonderful dark brown PLUM. It is glorious.