By Amy Gee
My 40th birthday is looming and I feel it is the time to do something drastic. Having floated the idea to my sister, she suggested a big hair change, so I handed myself over to the experts and here is what happened.
A little background: I’m shockingly bad at looking after my hair. It is at best curly, at worst coarse, definitely greying, and I’m not always loyal to my conditioner. Also, no time or patience, I have a young family, work full time, run a separate home business and general life just gets in the way. Plus I cling on to the myth that because my hair is curly I don’t need to do anything to maintain it.
I am distrustful of hairdressers because I am insecure around them. I just don’t have the foresight to know what will suit me, so I say ‘surprise me’, which never goes down well. So I just let my hair grow with the occasional trim every 6 months or so. This has resulted in more of a limp mane than a hairstyle.
My anti-ageing prescription: Bob it, dye it baby pink. Baby pink! What will my children think?
I tried mentioning the plan to a few friends and work colleagues and reactions ranged from “wow!” To “Oh my god, no” Which did nothing to help the moments of doubt. But hey, it’s only hair and it’ll grow out.
Step one: Find reference images. My sister collated a few, then told me I’d need to commit. Change my whole wardrobe philosophy and do different makeup. This is starting to sound like an awfully big commitment.
Step two: Chop most of it off. Any kind of rainbow shade needs as pigment-free-hair as possible to show the colour, so there will always be bleach involved. My hair is long, prone to tangling and dead at the ends, so it had to come off. A ‘younger’ colour like baby pink, peach or even blue will always look more sophisticated with a shorter style too. Or so I am told.
I went to George Northwood’s Bob Bar in association with Redken and, on his and Sophie’s advice, went for the no.4. Longer at the front which would suit my face shape better, shorter at the back which made the style a little more quirky and appealed to me a lot. There is a wig version of all the options so I could try before I buy, but I needn’t have worried. The cut was 100% perfect. It made me feel like a different person, and it is SO easy to maintain–washing is quick and easy (I still don’t own a hairdryer) but it still looks great when left to do its own thing.
Step three: the bleach. Brad, my colourist at Bleach London explained that because my natural hair is dark, it would take more than one bleach session to achieve the level of lifting needed for true baby pink. I realised my main criteria were for it not to look natural, but not to look like clown hair. We would see how it turned out. I was starting to get nervous.
It wasn’t until my sister told me with surprise that the intermediate blonde suited my skin tone, that I realised I hadn’t even thought about whether it would actually work for me – just that I wanted the end result to be extremely different.
Having quite a few grey hairs actually helped as it takes the colour really well, and in the end I achieved a rosy pink, that lightened over the course of a week or two, by which time I reapplied the take home Bleach London Super Cool Rose colour rinse, and finally achieved the baby, peachy pink I’d had in mind.
I had no idea I could love my hair so much or that it could have such an impact on my overall state of mind.
I genuinely feel like a new person, I have a lot more confidence in my overall appearance – It has made me look younger and feel younger. I don’t feel like a scruffy, exhausted mum, I feel like it’s bringing out the quirky side of my character that has kind of been suppressed as my responsibilities have grown.
Somehow my complexion looks smoother and creamier. A hairstylist friend tells me that it's the perfect shade for my skin, which helps it to look younger and fresher. People keep thinking I’m the younger sister when I am in fact four years older. This stuff should be prescribed on the NHS in place of Botox – it’s a hell of a lot less invasive and I’m pretty sure, a lot more fun.
8 weeks later and I’ve just had my roots re-bleached. The condition of my hair isn’t too bad considering it has had the colour sucked out of it. But I have some really good intensive treatments that help improve the condition and as my hair is so much more manageable it is no effort to use a decent condition and a hair mask once a week. The pink fades really quickly (after 1-2 washes) but I top it up with the Bleach London rose shampoo and conditioner, plus the home dye. I wish I could keep it forever but the maintenance is high, so I think I will use Bleach’s dye in service to graduate my natural colour back in after the summer.
I’m never going back to the frizzy mane though, it’s decent hair cuts all the way from now on. I have a cut I love, that makes me look and feel so much better, and no excuse to return to the old days.