Hair Journey Part VI.V: Strawberry-Blonde.

So, this was a serendipitous mistake.

The plan was to go from blonde to copper. When I went in to talk to Elizabeth, she pulled out her swatch book and I, not wanting to do anything by halves, picked the brightest copper in her book. I came out looking very orange:

A picture of me with bright orange hair.
There’s a makeup lesson here as well: black, liquid eyeliner definitely enhances the anime effect.

One of my friends summed it up well when he said “you look like an anime character.” Which isn’t bad, per say, just not what I was going for. Still, Elizabeth did say that the color might fade pretty fast, and I had gone intentionally bright to prepare for just such an eventuality.

Little did I know how fast that fade would happen.

The first time I took a shower, the water came out orange. I’m used to a little color the first couple times, but I’d never seen so much at once. With one shower, enough color came out to have significantly toned my hair down to the level I would usually expect after a full week. It dried well, but on my next shower even more dye came out—and this time in patches.

My root color, which was a little stronger to help mask the dividing line between the blonde and my natural hair, stayed strong. But I was starting to notice a distinct blonde patch growing on my right side, and it seemed likely to continue growing. A week in, and I started to consider moving my next hair appointment up by a couple weeks. I’d hoped to make it six, but I really didn’t want to spend most of October with an uneven color job.

Fortunately, after another shower or two the fade became more even. Now my hair didn’t look patchy, it just looked… well, blonde.

My hair, after it's faded to a lighter, cozier color.
At least it faded into a cute color! I think I liked this better than blonde.

Not a full blonde, but a light, strawberry shade. And the funny thing was: I liked it! It was slightly warmer than the blonde I’d left behind, a sort of cozy color that worked well with the spattering of cool fall days we had before Indian summer hit.

I also really enjoyed the length of my new cut. In the past, I’ve tended to grow my hair very long, and then chop it short all at once. Then I start missing the long hair, and the growing-out process begins again. I usually pass through this middle-length with slightly unkept hair, because I’m avoiding the salon. But it turns out this shoulder-length cut is just about the perfect length: long enough for a ponytail, but not long enough to be super heavy.

Anyway, Elizabeth had given me a heads-up about what to expect from this coloring. Apparently, brighter hair dyes fade faster because the pigment molecules are larger, and don’t absorb as deeply into the strands of hair… or something like that. Dye also doesn’t stick as well to bleached hair or damaged hair. She suggested that this round might fade quickly, but that my next round of color would hold better.

Me wearing a purple floral dress against a blue patterned background. My hair has faded back to blonde.
Just before going to get colored again: basically blonde.

I decided to move my salon appointment back up after all. By the time I went in, most people were back to telling me how well I was rocking my blonde hair. Yes, there was still a slight blush tone in some areas, but even “strawberry blonde” was a stretch.

Elizabeth recommended a pigmented conditioner which I plan to use for the next couple months to help my hair maintain its copper coloring. In the meantime, the unexpected detour has been fun, and I enjoyed learning more about hair chemistry along the way. There’s way more that goes into hair coloring than I ever expected. So, to salon colorists everywhere (and mine in particular): Respect.

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