Blue Hair, Don’t Care. Actually, I do care…and I’ve learned lots of tips on how to care for my blue-hued hair. I’ve also learned a valuable lesson about dealing with other people’s comments – both the compliments and lack of saying anything.
Insights on the technical part of Blue Hair
- Use cold water to wash your hair. This is to preserve the brightness and help the color last longer (technically it seals the hair cuticles which lock in the color, while hot will cause the cuticle to swell and the color runs out.) I was fine with this in the summer, but cannot fathom this on cold winter mornings. Along with this some say use apple cider vinegar. And importantly, non-sulfate shampoo & conditioner. I told my friend’s teen daughter this cold-water tip, and she informed me (in only that special way teen girls can) that she has been washing her hair in cold water for a long time, as it’s a way to keep hair healthy. Even so, be aware that dye is going to come off, and you need to be careful of staining your own skin and the shower surrounds.
- Don’t wash your hair daily. Back in my younger days, this would have been an issue. In the recent years, I haven’t needed to wash daily. And I have tried dry shampoo. While shopping for Manic Panic colors recently, I decided to try their cute little, easy to travel with, "hair freshener dry shampoo." It’s easy to use, and I don’t get the same baby powder feel on my fingers afterwards.
- Upkeep is different than blonde highlights. With regular hair color dyes, one worries about the roots coming in.With bright hues, the roots can be an issue, but the bigger concern is the fading to grey.
While a lot of the blues stayed longer than normal (which I’ve been told is about 3-4 weeks), my hair did start to fade. To keep the fun lasting longer, I bought Manic Panic (bad boy blue, after midnight blue and blue steel). The colors in the jar are not the same as what came out on my head. Apparently this happens, so it’s key to test a strand before going full on with it.
- Use good product. My stylist used the Pravana Vivids line. The inventors of Manic Panic are from NYC, have a salon here and started their company back in the punk 90s. It’s lasted because it works. Friends have also recommended Joico (with it’s thickness and used right out of the tube, it doesn’t get everywhere), Jerome Russell Punky Colour and Special Effects Hair Color (which apparently has colors that glow under black light!). They have different lengths of time for how long the color lasts, as well as amount of bleeding.
- Don’t sweat it. Having hair color bleed is something new to me. Since I had my hair done in the summer, I did experience color running down my neck when I was hot. I love Bikram yoga, but I definitely avoided it when my hair color was new & bright. I can only imagine that having streams of blue sweat running down my back during class would not be very attractive. Another discovery is that my skin is not the only place where the hair dye would bleed! Besides shirts, pillowcases, hairbrushes, and towels…it can get on other people. This past summer, it was extra hot when we were camping in the desert at Burning Man. In the mornings, my partner’s armpit was streaked with blue! So, every morning I would take baby wipes to clean his armpits. We both laughed. And I ended up using this trick to clean the dye off my ears and neck during the trip.
People will comment. Or not.
I knew when I decided to color my hair blue it was a bold move, a courageous move, an empowering move on my part. Like I wanted the world to not just notice me, but to tell the world I’m worthy of being seen. However, a part of me did not expect much reaction. I expected similar responses to when I bleached my hair very blonde and added extensions. Lots of cooing, but no genuine compliments. To me, I was so much more comfortable and felt so much more attractive with the “unnatural” blues hair than I did with the very “unnatural” blonde hair color. But because blue is still not that common, I expected that I would receive attention just for the uncommonness of the color.
- The woman at the deli who, when calling out who she knew was next in line, yelled “lady with the blue hair, you’re up!”
- The older, black gentleman who flirted with me throughout the supermarket, holding a spot for me in the checkout line. His conversation in line gave me the impression he thought I was an artist.
- The young black man who yelled across the parking lot “hey, great hair! Looks good!”
- The two Latina women in the department store that admired the color, saying how nice it looked on me
- The white male yoga instructor who is my age and knows me, didn’t say anything. At least not until I brought it up. And then he had a bunch of questions and compliments.
- My mom’s church friends who all think my hair looks wonderful (my mom is an artist, so I’m assuming they believe I’ve inherited that gene too).
- The countless side-eyes from many Caucasian women in my town (noticing, but keeping to themselves)
- The white man, a former friend from when our kids were babies, and whom I haven’t seen in about 10 years, chatted with me for 20 minutes and not once asked what was up with my blue hair.
- The kindergarten girl who had colors streaked in her hair, shyly looking up at my full head of mermaid hair.
- The little old Greek lady who exclaimed how our hair color almost matched (she has a natural white with blue tinges, and it did look sweet).
- My biological father, who hasn’t seen me in person in about five years or more, made no comment when I sent him a story featuring me with blue hair.
- The elderly black lady, who after I deflected a compliment, insisted how nice my hair color looked…
You may notice it seems that there’s a difference in how people of color seem to offer up compliments or are unafraid to state the obvious more often than Caucasian people. I don’t know why, it’s just an observation. Has this happened to you? I suppose it will be a future adventure to be open to the wonder of surprise that comes with learning about others.
Today, this is my ideal color
One of my friends, Kara, who currently also has blue hair, observed how she also deflected compliments –we agreed it happened most when we felt the shade wasn’t the perfect color. I was telling her how I was agonizing over going to the Midwest to see family, who are traditional and tend to be conservative. I was afraid of their potential embarrassment to be seen with me, because of my blue hair. When I finally let my hair down, which let all the (faded) color flow, my Aunt exclaimed how pretty the blue was! I realized I let my self-doubts take over my knowing how much I like my own blue hair, which others enjoy too.
Kara and I decided that this is not just our own insecurities, it’s a cultural phenomenon that many women are brought up with -- not being taught how to receive compliments. How are strangers to know the color they see & like isn’t the “perfect” color? They are just letting us know that they like what they see, right in that moment. Kara’s reflection shifted her response. She now tells herself “Today, this is my ideal color.” I totally agree. This blue-hair adventure taught us lessons. We learned to be open to receiving compliments, however they show up, and not put our self-judgments on them.
So it is true. Blue hair, don’t care… (about other people’s judgments) and today a white woman yoga instructor came up to me and told me she loved the colors in my hair…and I gratefully & gracefully accepted her comment.
Are you inspired to do something bold? Or to let go of some self-judgment through some adventure of your own? If you have any great tips on taking care of colored hair, or insights or inspirations from the story – please leave a comment! I’d love to know!
P.S. If you want to read my hair-ventures with blonde hair...click here