The day after Disney, I dyed my hair pink.

I’ve been looking forward to this for months. I have only colored my hair a couple of times since starting with the mouse over eight years ago, and even then it had to be a natural-looking color. I missed the crazy shades! I mostly used to do reds and oranges, or just bleached blonde, and thought about those colors this time around. But I finally decided that I’d do a color I’ve never done before: pink.

To start with, here’s a before picture:

before - dark hair

With extra bonus helper sink cat!

On the 10-scale of hair color, black is a 1 and lightest blonde is a 10 (there’s a color chart later in this post). My natural color falls right around a 2, even though it looks mostly black in this picture. (I took most pictures in the spare bathroom, because it has a nice plain white door right behind the mirror. The lighting in there isn’t 100% awesome, but I adjusted as well as I could.)

I washed my hair the night before, so it was free of products but also had some time to build up a little bit of scalp grease. Ew, that sounds gross. But seriously, don’t color freshly-washed hair; you need a little oil on your head to protect your tender head skin from the chemicals.

Behold, my supplies:

pink hair coloring supplies

I browsed the Sally Beauty Supply aisles thoroughly, torn between the Manic Panic and other brands. I ended up going with Ion, a brand I’ve used before (though for more “normal” colors) and liked. All of the unnatural colors are “semi-permanent,” so it’ll be interesting to see how long the color sticks around before I need to freshen it up.

With hair as dark as mine, it needs to be lightened significantly before it can take any really good color. So it was a two-step process: bleach, then color the lighter hair. I got a blue-based lightener, because my hair tends to go really orange and brassy when it gets lighter, and the blue is supposed to counteract that.

And yes, it’s really, actually blue.

blue bleach

Mix the blue powder with cream developer (I went with a 20-volume, recommended by the lightener packaging for when you’re working right at the roots) until it’s the consistency of pancake batter, then brush it on all over. I had Scott assist briefly, to make sure I got the small hairs on the back of my neck, and didn’t have any big drips or smudges on my skin.

The lightener packet recommended 30-50 minutes, depending on how light you want to go, and how tortured/thick/stubborn your hair already is. My hair was virgin and uncolored, so I was comfortable going with 50 minutes to get it as light as possible. The goal was to take me from a level 2 up to a level 7/8.

hair color chart

According to the packaging of the pink color I chose, I didn’t need to shoot for a level 10 to get good results; it recommended a 7.

So, after 50 minutes, I rinsed out the bleach and ended up with the following:

middle phase: bleached hair

Yeah, it’s still a little on the orange side, but not much. There’s only so much that the blue goo can do. If I’d gone for a non-colored lightener, it would have been WAY orangier, believe me. Been there, done that. Spell check is telling me that “orangier” isn’t a word, but I’m rolling with it.

Also, if you compare to the chart, it’s definitely lighter than a 7. I’m lucky, in that my hair is pretty dark, but it always bleaches out really well. Maybe it’s because I was blonde as a child, who knows?

Every time I bleach my hair, I’m tempted to stop there. It’s a kind of cool color. I could get a toner and use it, which would take out more of the gold tones and put it more toward platinum. Hmm, maybe in the future. For now, it was project pink all the way.

I let my bleached hair dry thoroughly before putting on the magenta dye. Some recommend waiting a couple of days between bleaching and coloring, while others insist it should be done right away, while the hair follicle is wide open. I figure, if they do it right away in the salon, and I’m using salon-quality supplies, I’d be just fine coloring immediately.

On with the pink sludge!

all pink sludged up

The instructions that came with the color said to leave it on for 20-40 minutes. However, a lot of the young people with their YouTube how-to videos appear to leave their color on for 2 or more hours. Since the color is just pure color (as opposed to store-bought boxes of hair color, where you mix a developer in with the color), you could leave it on overnight if you wanted to, and you’d be perfectly OK (well, you’d have a hell of a messy pillowcase to clean, but other than that, OK).

I rinsed after 40 minutes. And yeah, when I refresh the color, I’ll definitely leave it in for longer, because it’s way lighter than I expected it to be — more of a candy pink than a deep magenta.

I took some shots in the spare bathroom, but the color was hard to get right. Here’s the best representation, in natural light by a window:

the final pink hair

And even though it isn’t the color I thought it would be, I really dig it! It’s definitely not Disney-appropriate, which is a great reminder every time I look in the mirror that I don’t have to go in to work next week.

A couple of notes:

If you’re going to put a crazy color on your hair, rub some petroleum jelly on your skin along the hairline first. Because these colors stain like crazy! Here you can really see along my hairline where my skin had Vaseline on it, and where it ended and the color got on my scalp:

color stains the scalp meat!

(You can also see that my accuracy along the hairline was not all that great. There are also spots on top of my head where I missed the roots by a quarter-inch, and some areas that barely got the pink dye. These are all because of doing it with my own two hands, and not being able to see parts of my head directly. It’s hard when you’re using a hand-held mirror to look at the reflection of the back of your own head in the bathroom mirror, y’know?)

Anyhoo, the scalp line is no biggie, since I wear my hair over my forehead, and the stains will wash away after the first couple of shampooings. (I even got a color-protective shampoo, to replace the bar soap I usually wash my hair with. Yes, I wash my hair with bar soap. My hair is baby-fine, and just lays there limply in the Florida humidity unless I torture it a little bit.)

These color dyes are really thick. You can thin them out with some hair conditioner, but whatever you do, DO NOT thin them out with the developer solution you used with the lightener. Bad mojo there. You can also thin out the dye with a lot of conditioner, to get more of a pastel look.

Use non-metal bowls. I like to go with glass — easy to see that you’ve mixed everything up from the bottom, easy to clean, and non-reactive with the chemicals you’re using. And don’t wear anything too precious, because you WILL get bleach on it.

I plan on accompanying this color with an undercut, which I’ll probably do today or tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll end up with 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch on the sides — I’ll start out with the longer and see how I feel, then go shorter if the mood strikes. I kind of can’t wait for the roots to start growing out — nearly-black on the sides and pink on top will probably look really cool.

When refreshing the color, I may try Manic Panic or Special Effects or one of the other big brands, to see if I like them better. Anyone out there have a favorite brand?

In Which My Toes Get Toe-Tally Fancy

A coworker showed up to work a while back with really fancy fingernails. I’m not just talking about painted nails — I mean, cool printed patterns. Turns out she went to a site called Jamberry Nails, and holy wow do they have a lot of options for cool nails. But they’re also $15 per set (although since each batch of “nail shields” can do your nails 2-3 times, I guess it comes out to only five or ten bucks per application).

So I did what I always do when confronted by a price I’d rather not pay — I went to eBay and searched for cheaper, flimsier imitations.

Here’s what I found: Nail Polish Stick. Each package only does one set of nails, but they only cost a buck fifty each. That includes shipping from China. And while the Jamberry nails are thick and sturdy and apparently easy to apply, these are floppy and difficult.

BUT CHEAP! Did I mention the cheapness?

Anyhoo, in each package you get a set of 12 stickers:

They appear to come in the following sizes: 1 extra-large, 1 large, 3 medium, and 1 small. I decided to do my toes, and didn’t use the large. I’m not much of one for doing my fingernails, since I keep them unfashionably short. Plus, I figured this stuff would last longer on my toenails, since I don’t do much typing or filing with my toes.

The instructions are hilariously helpful:

So I used the transparent top layer as an assistant, much like when you put vinyl decals on your car and they have that clear sticky sheet over the top. Just make sure your nails are clean and dry, stick the thing on, run a fingernail along the edge to cut away the extra, then throw a coat of clear polish over everything.

I ended up not lining up this big toe quite right. But the magic of doing your toes is that they’re almost always a good 5 feet or more away from your eyes, so you could make a thousand tiny errors and not really see them.

Here’s the full set. And if you even back away a little bit, you can see that they look pretty cool. There were a few bubbles and ridges in there, but that’s mainly due to my ineptitude.

The packaging doesn’t say, but the auctions themselves stated that these were good for “up to 10 days”. But at the 10-day mark, they still looked fine to me. In fact, I waited three weeks to take them off. Here they are at day 22:

Still looking pretty darned good from 5 feet away. Although up close you can tell that my toenails don’t grow especially fast, and that the stickers have worn away at the ends of the big toes.

And while they advise soaking in warm water for 8 minutes to remove them, I just peeled them straight off. They might have been a little more flexible after soaking, but they still came away pretty well without.

I was a little worried that they’d come loose in the shower, since soaking in water is one of the removal steps, but there were no problems at all. They stayed well-stuck the whole three weeks. I even managed to gouge one of them when I ran over my toe with the caster on Scott’s office chair — a big chunk of one of the big toes was sticking up in a flap. I just smoothed it down and threw another coat of clear nail polish over the top.

Like everything from China, these took about 3 weeks to arrive. But since they last for 3 weeks (at least) as well, I can always order up more when I put the last set on. Now, since I took the silver and black checkerboard pattern off last night, I have to decide what to go with next. Orange Hawaiian? Pink leopard? Colorful swirlies? Hmmmm.

This Hair Grows Fast (But Not Fast Enough!)

The growing out of the pixie cut continues. I’m at a stage now where I don’t mind it some days, and others it drives me crazy with ugliness.

Back on August 1, I posted pictures of the pixie. I’ve taken pictures in between, but what with the move and such, I’ve been remiss in posting things. So here’s the progress:

August 28: The hair really started coming in over the ears. But still a long way to go. Keeping the back short!

September 8: It’s kind of a … mom-flip. Thing. sometimes tolerable, other times not so much.

September 18, trying to get the craziest possible eyes in this shot. Just trimmed the back again. I’m using the 1/4″ clipper on the very bottom, and trimming the rest with shears. I don’t want it to look mulletty at all, since that’s the kiss of death for the whole project. So I’m keeping the back trimmed as the top and sides catch up.

For the record, I don’t use conditioner on my hair. That’s why it’s so voluminous. I have tons of hair, but it’s almost baby-fine. When I use conditioner, it lays flat and limp and lifeless. But without, it has some texture.

Also, in heartbreaking news: after many years of good service, my hair-cutting shears broke today. Fortunately, I have a second-string backup pair. But my little favorites are headed off to the salon in the sky.

Not As Fast As Chopping It All Off

Many times in the last few years, I’ve thought about growing my hair out. And every time, I get to a certain point where the hair enters the ugly-times, and nothing can be done to style it, and I get frustrated as heck and cut it back down. I just don’t see how it can be done!

But on the flip side, maintenance of hair this short is a constant process. I cut my hair probably once a month, and it can get really shaggy-looking really fast. Plus, I get hair all over the place.

Yes, I cut my hair over pages of old magazines next to the bathroom sink. I’m all about the glamour, baby.

The killer is, I know I’ve grown it out before. I just don’t remember what the heck I did, or how I put up with the torture. Of course, it’s probably been 10 years. But you’d think that would stick with someone.

Anyhoo, I’m seeing super cute chin-length A-line bobs everywhere now. With the absolute cutest on Allison Scagliotti, part of the Warehouse 13 team. Dare I say it–since Joanne Kelly’s hair is straightened this season–Scagliotti has the best hair on the show.

See? SO CUTE. So I’m going to try to grow my hair out. And stick it out through the tough ugly times.

By posting it here, hopefully that’ll give me the gumption to stay the course.

After consulting the internets, I think the most important thing is to avoid getting mullety. So I’ll be trimming the back of my neck regularly as the top grows. I’ve also done a little light trimming on the sides, so the little sideburns don’t turn into sidelocks.

Here’s where I’m at as of August 1:

Keeping the back really short (I think my hair grows farther down my neck than most people. Seriously, it’s like I have a case of werewolf neck.) and letting the top grow.

I have bobby pins and some headbands at the ready to tame the beast. And since I’m a couple of weeks past my usual haircut time, it’s already getting a little too long for short-hair styling. Which you can really see when I show you how it likes to stand up in the morning:

Go, hair, go!

(By the way, the manga-style avatars at the top are from Face Your Manga, my personal favorite cartoonerizer on the web.)