Hair Dye for the Uninitiated


by Claire

Up until this weekend, I had never had my hair professionally dyed. I just thought for all the expense and maintenance and sinister sounding hair damage etc that I would just opt out. ‘No thanks! My hair is fine as it is!’ I would cry. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve flirted with the odd box dye at home, including some unfortunate forays into Mahogany as a teenager, but other than that up until Saturday I had primo virgin hair. But much like opting out when everyone is tanning their limbs and waxing their cooch, you look up and suddenly look your arms/cooch/bonce look a bit…flat. And dull. And old.

Rebecca is obviously queen of hair and swooshes about this earth looking like a suggestive My Little Pony. I asked her what she thought, and much like any time I’m thinking of making an expensive purchase, she cheered me on. ‘Do it babe. You wear your hair every day.’ Nodding at the truth of this statement, I made an appointment.

I had my hair dyed by Josie, who I know because I used to be her BTEC teacher. She is now a fancy hairdresser – it felt nice to have it done by someone who knows me and knows my look a bit = relaxing. Given that when I was teaching her I was commuting to darkest east London on very little sleep, Josie has probably seen me looking at my shittest many times, and will be familiar with how slatternly I will become in the interest of an extra 30 minutes in bed.

 Anyway, we discussed what we would do:  subtle beigey caramel pieces which would have an altogether sunkissed effect. ‘Spiritually, I think I’m a brunette’ I twattishly said (she had the good grace to nod smilingly at this outrageous statement) ‘so I don’t want it too blonde. But I want to see a difference’.

 She carefully painted on a full head of summery highlights, whilst using a balayage technique to blend them from the root so the regrowth would look seamless – this is key if you are not prepared to drop £70+ every few weeks to get it all touched up ( I am not, surprise surprise).

 She lightened everything, then rinsed it out and used a toner to get it to the beigey shade I’d picked in the creepy hair book with the little tufts in it. There was a stage pre toner where it all looked a bit Justin Lee Collins, but knowing that I needed a little hand holding she made sure I was aware that this was not the final result.

 She blow dried it all out and there it was: very subtle but everything just a bit….lifted. It also gave my snape hair more texture, which is very welcome. To give you an idea of the level of subtlety:  I would say a heterosexual man (eg my husband) probably wouldn’t notice that you’d had anything done, but your best girlfriend would. And now I see it everywhere, on every nice head of hair I see on the tube. You were doing this en masse all along! You bastards!

 The whole thing cost me  circa £100 and took 3 hours from start to finish. I went to see Josie (insta @whoisjosiewho) at the very warm and welcoming Moose London Salon in Clapton (where btw I asked them all which popular hair products were shite and they all said Aussie and I said I like the 3 minute miracle because it comes out of the little butthole on the base of the bottle and they laughed so they demonstrably have a GSOH)



1 - Just go for it. It’s lovely to have a mix up. Even if you hate it please forgive yourself; we all make mistakes and it’s not a waste because you now know forever you’ll never go that shade again.

2- Do not book anything for the rest of the day/evening you have your hair dyed, in case you need time to adjust.

3- If you’re going a brand new colour, do not pay to have your hair blow dried afterwards and ask them to dry it naturally. You will get a much clearer idea of how the colour looks day to day, and whether you are happy with it. Also, the amount of times I have loathed the colour and the blow dry and run straight home to wash it myself, I might as well have poured £20 directly into the plughole.

4- Not everyone will love me for this, but it does pay to go pricey when it comes to your hair because, as I told Claire, you wear it every day. There’s another reason. If you hate a cheap job, there’s a chance you’ll dismiss it as your own fault for being cheap. If you hate something that was very expensive, you also buy the right to turn around and say ‘no I’m sorry, I paid a lot of money for this and it isn’t right’.

5- On that note- complaints. I am pretty forthright but also a people pleaser and will quite happily insist I love something then go and cry in private than I will tell someone I hate their work, even if that work is on my head. I do however believe in complaining if it’s not right, and would suggest an email. If the salon has more than one branch, I would write in the (very polite) email that perhaps I would be able to get what I initially asked for in a different branch with a different stylist. You don’t need it to be any more awkward than it already is.

6- If you utterly loathe your dye job (which I always always do at first), and you have arranged an appointment to have it rectified, you need to do something about it in between. There are only so many days you can wear a headscarf without looking like a clairvoyant, so I would suggest buying a small travel sized bottle of either head & shoulders or Aussie shampoo. These two brands honestly knock the colour off your damn head and a little goes a long way. It just rids you of that ‘freshly dyed’ brassy halo and makes the colour sit more naturally. You’ll see what I mean when you observe the colour of the water in the shower.

7- By all means, if they offer you a beer or prosecco or espresso martini in the chair as many do nowadays, stick to the one. Do not get pissed, it’s weird, it will cloud your judgement and you’ll be uttering the dreaded ‘just do whatever you think is best!’ before you know what’s happening. And because they’re artists and want to experiment, you’ll trot home hammered & wake up the next morning, hungover and with Mary Quant’s hair.

Claire Rigby