Day 22 of my 30-day writing challenge
Dear me, let us be elegant or die – Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
My hair has been going white since I was sixteen, starting with a shock in my bangs. Wikipedia tells me that this is caused by a localized decrease in hair melanin, and goes by the delightful name of “Poliosis, also called poliosis circumscripta or blondika or Bujwit’s burden.” The first name sounds like a fatal disease; the second like a fatal disease that sneaks up on you, quietly and with discretion; the third like a leggy assassin from Scandinavia. As for the last name, I really, really want to know who this Bujwit was, and why his white hair was such a trial to him, but alas, it appears there are limits to the internet.
In my twenties and early thirties, my hair gave me a Rogue from X-Men vibe, but gradually, as the white spread, I started to look more this little guy here.
Then I discovered that past a certain age, half-white hair does not make you look like a super hero. It makes you look like Cruella De Vil. While I cannot deny she has a certain fabulousness, I do not particularly want to look like someone who murders puppies for kicks.
Thus, for the past year or two, I’ve had a lot of fun dying my white streaks in bright colors. Since my hair is already white, I don’t have to bother with the bleaching most brunettes have to go through; I can just wash in the Manic Panic and go. I’ve also used permanent dye meant for dark hair, which gives my white strands a pop of color and leaves more subtle traces through the rest of my hair.
Last night, my teenage daughter helped me pick out my latest attempt at color: Splat’s Midnight Indigo. I had some time this morning between doing laundry and packing for our vacation that starts tomorrow, so I pulled on my plastic gloves, dabbed some Aquaphor on my face, neck, and shoulders to keep the color off my skin, moved the bathmat out of the bathroom so it wouldn’t get stained, and went at it.
It was a disaster.
The last time I dyed my hair, it was considerably shorter. I was completely unprepared for how much messier it is to dye waist-length hair. By the time I was done rinsing out my hair in the shower, the bathroom looked like the shower scene from Psycho, but with Smurfs. Blue dye was EVERYWHERE. Splattered all over the shower tiles and curtain, swirling around the tub, staining the shampoo bottles. On the sink, floor, toilet, cabinet. And since I apparently did not apply Aquaphor with enough vigor, it was all over myself, including my hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and face.
To add insult to injury, I also put a splotch on my laptop when I frantically googled “how to remove hair dye from skin.”
Thankfully, Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Magic Soap, at full strength, really is almost magic! It took me over an hour, but I no longer look like a visitor from Planet Pandora.
My face is clean, although my scalp near my hairline is obviously too dark. My fingernails and toenails are blue, but I can cover that up with nail polish. The remaining problems are the tops of my ears and a stain on my neck that looks like the world’s worst hickey. Did I mention I’m going on vacation tomorrow? To a church conference?
My husband hasn’t stopped laughing at me. My five-year old immediately burst into “Dumb Ways to Die,” the charmingly morbid PSA by Metro Trains Melbourne.
The most vexing problem is that Splat is a semi-permanent dye, which means it as long as my hair is wet, it will leave stains everywhere: Clothing, bedding, skin, any porous surface. Did I mention that I have so much hair that it takes forever to dry? That means for the next six weeks I am the human version of a leaky pen. Everyone, grab your children and your upholstery and run!