February 9, 2000

For those of you keeping track, I'm a redhead these days. OK, sort of a brownish/auburnish redhead. OK, a recovering blonde. My hair has been a variety of colors over the course of my lifetime, but I generally stick to two different families--the reds and the blondes.

I started coloring my hair when I was 12.

It started innocently enough. Summer camp. Sun In. Dishwater blonde now had beautiful highlights. I came home from camp tanned, with golden locks. Round about November when those dark roots were taking over my mother asked me if I'd colored my hair. Ever the innocent I told her I used something called Sun In. She said she liked it and that I should do it more often.

An addiction was born.

When I was 16 I moved to Los Angeles. I was living with my dad and stepmother. Betty was a Sassoon girl from way back when, (it was the 70's, cut me some slack here). She decided my color needed some perking up and trundled me off to the hairdresser and had me get some highlights. Just a few to perk up the color.

I've been coloring my hair regularly ever since.

Having artificially colored hair is a huge responsibility. There are roots to keep in check. Chemicals to balance. You don't want to end up with doll hair.

While I spent my teen years getting blonder and blonder, sister #1 had hair every color known to man. I performed most of these chemical experiments on her myself. In our bathroom. Henna, vegetable dyes, semi permanent color, permanent color, fills, developer, I've used them all. On either her or me. Clairol 42? I have a bottle right here.

When I was 29 I moved to Spain. At the time my hair was dark brown and recovering from a really really really bad perm. The hairdresser gave me the formula for my hair color before I left the country. I brought with me a year's supply. It went something like this: 1 part this, 2 parts that, 1/4 part the other, and a splash of that one over there, mix up with 20 volume developer, apply to roots for 25 minutes, comb through the rest and let it sit for another 10, wash it out, poof voila, beauty.

That was all well and good in those days. I colored my hair for the sport of it. I wasn't trying to cover anything up, I was merely improving on what Mother Nature gave me.

Then things changed.

About six months into my stay in Spain I decided I'd like to see what color my hair was. I'd been dying it for so long I had no clue. OK, I had a vague clue but I thought it would be an interesting experiment.

Well...imagine my surprise when it started growing out and what was growing was gray! I was barely 30 and I had gray hair. No other woman in my family had gray hair. What the hell was going on here?

OK, so it's gray. Not too bad. Just a few. Of course those few were right in the front. Right where I parted my hair. But I figured it wasn't too bad. I could live with it.

A few months later when I return to the US, Sister #1 meets me at the airport. The second thing out of her mouth after welcome home was, "What's going on with your hair?"

OK, I know she meant it in the most loving way possible, but it wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy.

So the next morning, after an emergency visit to the beauty supply store, we're sitting in her bathroom and she's dying my hair. I was lamenting the fact that I was the first woman in our family to have gray hair. That was when she gently reminded me that both our grandmothers had had the same color hair as long as we'd known them, Clairol 22 and 48 respectively. Duh. Of course they didn't have gray hair. Who the hell knew what color their hair really was. They'd been dying their hair as long as we'd known them.

Then there was my mother. I know that there is a gene for hair coloring and she passed it on to me and my sisters, after having gotten it from her mother. My mother has had every possible hair color on the planet as well.

Well, coloring my hair these days is more a necessity than a luxury. The gray is taking over at an alarmingly rapid rate. And while I'm not what I'd consider an excessively vain person, going gray is something I'm not willing to accept. Not just yet.

For a while it was manageable. I could go 6-7 weeks between visits to the hairdresser. The blonde was a lot of work to maintain. To keep it up I had to dye it brown and then put blonde streaks in it. This required 3+ hours in the chair at the beauty salon. I'm not exactly what you'd call long on patience bit it was a good look so I did it. Suffer for beauty and all that.

Time passed and I was down to going every four weeks. Arg.

Well, I was getting a little tired of the whole blonde thing. I needed a change. So right before Christmas I went in to the shop and told my hairdresser to make it red.

Here's the thing about being a redhead--with darker hair the gray roots stand out that much more. I was reduced to going back to the salon every four weeks. Every. Four. Freaking. Weeks.

Well, then one Saturday Zoe and I found ourselves at the local beauty supply store (I figure it's never too early to get her started). It was there that I found a life changing product. (My friend Les assures me that I am the only person on the planet who would find something life-changing at the beauty supply store, but that's a story for another time.)

Anyway, I found this stuff by Roux (for those of you old enough, you remember that Roux Rinse is the stuff that old ladies used to use to make their white hair blue or pink, to match their poodles). It's called Tween Time. It's a crayon-like thing that you moisten and apply to your gray roots. Then poof, voila, they're gone. This stuff comes in a variety of colors; I chose Auburn. I washed my hair, applied some of this stuff and was reborn.

I was going to take a picture of this miracle product with the digital camera and then add some fabulous effects with Photoshop, but unfortunately Chuck loaned the camera to a friend. I then tried to fine a web site for Roux. All I came up with were a bunch of recipes for the flour/fat combination to thicken sauces.

But take my word for it. If those little gray devils are showing up faster than you'd like and you don't have time for a trip to the hair dresser go get some. It'll change your life too.

Until next time...

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