I’ve had coloured hair ever since I was 13, when I first discovered Clairol’s now discontinued Glints and henna. My best friend and I destroyed my mum and dad’s bathroom applying that gloopy, messy paste to our heads and accidentally our faces, our hands, and the walls. I’m pretty sure my parents deciding to redecorate their en suite after I moved out had absolutely nothing to do with my adventures in hair dye, of course.
I did the whole Sun-in thing when I was 14, all envious of my friends with their fair hair and blue eyes. To me, Asian wasn’t exotic, but the Sweet Valley twins were. I wanted that Swiss Miss white-blonde hair, so I sprayed by wee head religiously with the stuff in the vain hopes it would magically lighten my hair to some sort of flaxen, golden goodness. It didn’t. It turned me ginger.
By the time I left school, I was ready for something a little more permanent. I’d been getting “highlights” for years, with everything from those 90s skunk stripes to the more subtle shades of chocolate. I remember the first time I discovered Manic Panic. The blonde streaks were replaced with hot pink and disco purple, and I honestly thought my hair was the brightest it could ever be. My parents flipped the hell out when I went home for Christmas because I’d decided on a whim to bleach the hell out of my whole head and go full-on Smurf blue. I was so used to seeing my friends at uni with every colour in the rainbow that it never occurred to me that it was at all unconventional. When I eventually bleached all that colour out of my hair neither of my parents said a word. I was platinum blonde for a couple of years and they’d either decided I’d just have a giggle at photographs of myself when I was a bit older, or they wanted to pick their battles. I also for some reason felt I didn’t need eyebrows.
Just over a year ago I thought I’d try a little something different. The last time I’d gone for a brighter follicular fancy was at least 3 years before, when I decided to try out a pillbox red ombre. My hair was so frazzled at the time because I had no idea how to care for coloured hair, so I’d opted for more subtle highlights for ages. I’d gotten myself a grown-up job, stopped going out every weekend because I thought that was what I was *meant” to do once I hit the quarter century mark. I figured I’d give this being an adult malarkey a shot.
Well as it turns out, I’m not very good at it. I absolutely HATED being a grown up. I didn’t want to look responsible, like someone would trust me with their taxes, I wanted to look like ME. Luckily my job is in a creative industry so no one even batted an eyelid when I went a little bit more Purple Rain than chestnut brown, or even when I swapped that lilac for flamingo pink, then mint green, then a slightly ill-advised acid green. Well you get the picture. In the past year I have had nearly every colour of the rainbow in quick succession, from galaxy shades to mermaid hair, and I have loved every single moment.
If you’re interested in experimenting with bright hair colours, there are so many options out there from subtle pastels to HOLY SHIT NEON FUCKING GREEN. Some last for ages, but there are loads that wash-in and wash-out. If you’re feeling nervous about trying something quite so in-your-face, I would suggest buying a bottle of cheap clarifying shampoo that is designed to “remove product build-up”. If you don’t like the result, that stuff is super effective at stripping the colour out quickly.