To Dye For


• Ladies, did you sport a Bouffant, Beehive or “The Rachel” back in the day? Are you currently rocking an Ombré?

• Guys, have you ever spent time crafting the perfect flat top, mullet or man bun? Does your fade end in frosted tips?

• Is this a Generational thing or a Battle of the Sexes?


Lindsay (Fabulous Forties):

Growing up I was a towhead.  Light blonde hair and blue eyes.  It was a beautiful color.  Then I started to grow up.  Well aging does many terrible things to you like change your hair color for some of us.  I went from a towhead to having dishwater blonde hair.  Nothing about “dishwater” sounds attractive (not that “towhead” is an envious term).   Farrah Fawcett was said to have dishwater blonde hair and Taylor Swift too, but let’s get real ladies….it’s like men having gray hair and it’s considered “distinguished” and for women it’s “old.”  Same premise between being famous and just being.


So as any self-respecting woman would do, I started to color my hair.  I’ve never dyed it completely.  I’m too complex for that.  I started with some highlights to brighten it up and have never stopped.  After all, can I really go from a blonde in youth to light brown now?  NO!  My mid-30s hit and I began highlighting and low lightening…what?  How does that make sense?  Isn’t the dishwater hair the low light?  Not according to the woman I pay copious amounts of money to routinely who says “it’s the way to go.”  Well she’s the professional, and since I can barely style my own hair, I have put my trust and my wallet in her hands.    Now I’m in my 40s with a few stray grays (Shhhh!  I’ll cut a girl for pointing that out), and I am forever committed to never knowing what my real hair color is ever again.

I have not yet ventured into a bold, crazy color, but if I did, it would be a purple.  Possibly a streak on one side. I have threatened my boss on occasion to show up at a meeting sporting streaks of purple to which he says “I won’t stop you” which really means “do at your own risk.”    So what’s the verdict?  Do weigh in!   How old is too old to put in a splash of color?


Brooke (60-Something Baby Boomer):

I think there are basically two motivations for coloring one’s hair – depending on your age.

IF YOU’RE YOUNG: To stand out from the crowd. I say knock yourself out, kids! I may think you look ridiculous but who cares what I think? I’m not your mom. I can’t cut off your Wi-Fi, cancel your Verizon account or otherwise reduce you to a quivering mass of primordial slime. So have at it! Seriously, who would be against you coloring your hair? We live in an age of pierced lady parts, vampire teeth and ear holes stretched to accommodate pepper mills. All of these may elicit a raised (and pierced?) eyebrow, but hair dye?? Rainbow dyed hair seems almost quaint.

IF YOU’RE OLD: To vainly push back the hands of time. With few exceptions, everyone I know colors their hair – with varying degrees of success. Just walk the aisles of your local supermarket and you’ll see any number of octogenarians sporting “Waitress Black” or “Safety Orange” tresses. Please ladies, do NOT try this at home. If you must eschew the gray, cough up and pay a professional to do the job. And while we’re at it, let’s keep it age-appropriate, hmm? That means stick to colors that naturally occur among human beings. Leave the spectral colors to the younger set, OK? The old image of a “blue-haired old lady” has changed dramatically. What used to be a faint cerulean cast to grandma’s coiffure has morphed into armies of aging Smurfs. Hear me now – Marge Simpson is nobody’s role model hairdo-wise. And lest you think other rainbow hues are on the approved list, let me enlighten you: pink only looks good on Pink. (Hint: if you didn’t catch that last cultural reference, you’re too old for pink hair).

So put me firmly in the “Hell, Yes!” column regarding hair color. Your hair is your crowning glory. It’s your signature, your calling card. After all, adorning our noggins with color chemicals, along with our ability to accessorize, is what separates us from the animals.


Amanda (30-Something Millennial): 

The long and short of it (pun fully intended!): I think I’m blessed in the hair color department. I don’t have perfect sun-kissed locks, but I don’t HAVE to dye my hair. No greys here and I like my natural color. Hopefully most in their 30s don’t have too many greys yet — if you do, I get it and I’m a huge believer in spending on things that make you feel better. Hello, I’ve had Botox — we’ll save that discussion for another post.

I just can’t imagine being a slave to spending copious amounts of money and time sitting in a salon chair every 6-8 weeks. And yes, I don’t think that you should DIY your hair color unless you’re an angsty teen trying to upset your parents with your new neon highlights and the fact that you’ve now stained their bathroom sink and their fancy Egyptian cotton towels. I’m also a fan of embracing what you’ve got — Stacey London’s grey highlight is now iconic and one of my favorite bloggers, Carly the Prepster, a fellow millennial, has also decided not to mask her grey highlights.

But maybe you should take everything I say about hair with a grain of salt. This is coming from a gal that only manages to get her hair cut twice a year.


Karen (F’ing Fifties): 

Hairstyle and hair color trends continue to evolve and, like most things, what was once old is new again.   Except for me, when exactly does that “new again” thing kick in for me?

I fondly remember my younger days, sunbathing with my friends, applying generous amounts of Sun-In Hair Lightener, hoping Mother Nature plus a little pseudo hair bleach, would result in that perfect, sun-kissed look.  Spoiler Alert:  It did not.  We would undoubtedly end up super sunburned with dry, frayed ends, which did not do any favors for my requisite 80’s perm.

Now it seems much easier and less damaging to change your hair, but also slightly exhausting.  There are so many options and I envy all who embrace it.  I, on the other hand, think I missed the hair exploration window.  At my age the only hair color I am interested in is “Not Grey.”

I recently freaked out at the first inkling of a grey hair and immediately did a Google search to see if they still make Sun-In (they do).  I then went down a very colorful, sometimes frightening, hair color rabbit hole.  What look should I go for?  Should I go lighter or darker?  Highlights or color melt?  Should I add a pink stripe or red underlay?  Am I too old to try blue?  Am I too young to try blue?  Should I just be patient and wait for Father Time to turn my hair blue?  Wait, how quickly does that happen?

Once I was able to breathe again on my own, without the aid of a brown paper bag, I realized it wasn’t actually a grey hair, it was simply a “highlight.”  I mean, I did just get back from a trip to a warm, sunny climate.  It must just be nature’s less evasive version of Sun-In.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!





Do you change your hair color more than your bed sheets?

Have you ever had a nightmare hair dye experience?


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12 thoughts on “To Dye For

  1. I used to just get highlights back when I was in my 40’s (today is a different story). A new product came out that stated you could do your own highlights in the comfort of your own home. Well, I thought I could save a lot of money if I did it myself, so, bought it. I left it on the correct amount of time and rinsed it out and HOLY CRAP, my hair was glow in the dark yellow! My husband wasn’t home, so I put a baseball cap on and headed to the drug store. I bought a shade of light brown, hoping it would go back to my natural shade of dirty blonde. My hair was now a shade of shiny auburn. I kind of liked it. Some of my friends liked it and the ones that didn’t comment I assume hated it. After a few weeks I broke down and called my hair stylist and told her what I did and asked if she could fit me in and try to correct it. I asked her not to yell at me. When I walked in to the salon, the first thing she said was, “Oh Lucy”! Anyway, after about 4 hours in the chair, she was able to get my hair back to it’s original shade. That was the last time I ever tried anything at home. Now I just pay the big bucks and have my hair dyed professionally every 4 weeks.

    1. I had a similar experience with a DIY DYE attempt back in my early twenties as well.  It seemed so easy and foolproof.  The final result, however, should have landed me a starring role on The Smurfs.  There are reasons that there are professionals!

  2. I have been coloring my hair for DECADES…..I do my natural color to color gray hair and it cost only $8 and I can do it on my schedule (no many hours at the salon)….Get with it…This is not a difficult or costly task! You just go some confidence and buy a good brand over counter hair color.

    1. You must have dark hair, it is too risky for the rest of us. I’ve seen some things (and will be scarred for life)!

  3. Karen, you are way too young to “go blue”. Hell, I’m in my 70’s and I’m too young to “go blue.”

    1. Agreed, the only thing I want to have in common with the Cookie Monster is a love of cookies!

  4. Naturally gray and loving it!

    1. I hope to love mine someday but will continue to fight it until then!

  5. i know i did the “rachel” cut–who didn’t? i had highlights at one point. however, with my jet black hair, it was hard to tell i had highlights. plus, i am Asian, so blond highlights were not the way to go. i did a purple tone and i think like a light brown. then i decided it was too much work and stopped. i had (heaven forbid is say this) a perm–my hairstylist called it texture waves–everyone else knew better–it was a perm. i always wanted long luxurious curls. it worked for a good number of years. i stopped doing that and went back to my naturally pin-straight hair. now, i have sliver-gray strands woven between my jet black hair–sporting the salt and pepper look for the last 5 years. I can name every person that has given me my gray hair! my hairstylist says i’m her only client that doesn’t color her hair and loves it. my sisters, who are younger than me dye their gray hair. i love mine!

    1. I had “The Rachel” and a perm as well, if my hair could talk it would probably ask me why I tortured it so much. Your “list” sounds interesting and I the fact that you don’t dye your hair, there is something so elegant about jet black hair with gray highlights. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have never done anything other than cut or shave my hair, but I may aspire to a man bun. I say go for it all, why not? It’s just hair! You can always change it, cut it, color it or cover it with a hat. A guy can always use a new hat!

    1. I like the way you think! Besides, who doesn’t love a good excuse to go shopping?

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