My hair is currently about the longest it’s ever been (or tied with the longest, at any rate). And if you look back over this blog for the past six years, there isn’t much variation with my hair—
Sure, I might sometimes have blunt bangs and occasionally get it into my head to dye my hair really, REALLY dark (okay, black), but with a couple exceptions of when I cut my hair to shoulder length (like when I was pregnant with Raven), I’ve mostly gone with dark brown (with various colors sometimes mixed in subtly), layered, and long.
It wasn’t always this way.
In fact, up until fairly recently, I’d always considered myself to be pretty adventurous about my hair. I was never one of those girls who cried about getting her hair cut or worried about getting a look that was wrong for me—I’ve always had the attitude that it’s just hair, and mine grows SO fast anyway, so experimenting a bit never seemed to faze me much.
Of course, having been a bit more experimental with my hair as a youth, I definitely do have some hairstyles that I’m glad are far, FAR behind me.
Have a look.
Stage One: The first stabs at experimentation.
Yep, that’s me, the one in the white floral shirt.
I decided that I wanted a pixie cut like Ramona Quimby (you know the character in those Beverly Cleary books?). I also thought it would save me the agony of having to stand still and get my hair curled every morning before school.
Well, unfortunately, the version you see here is actually the IMPROVED version—the original version (courtesy of my mother) was apparently so bad that it warranted my first ever visit to the hair salon.
Although I loved the ease of not having to get my hair done in the morning and I thought the little “tail” in the back was fun to play with (never a rat’s tail—don’t worry), I got a bit sick of being mistaken for a boy and never looked back to a ‘do this short again.
After the pixie debacle, it took me awhile to want to suggest anything anymore when it came to how my hair should be styled…until sixth grade, that is. When I was 12, during one of the MANY perms I got through my childhood, I told my mom that I wanted her to perm my bangs, too. In all fairness, she tried to talk me out of it, but I was convinced that it would give me the natural, buoyant look of someone born with face-framing curls all around.
This was a bad stage for my bangs, and a bad idea by my younger self.
Stage Two: Taking advice from the older sisters (and the teen magazines) + Saying goodbye to the bangs.
It took me an excruciatingly long time to see that blunt bangs might not necessarily be my best look (or they weren’t, at least, when using the curl-the-bangs-with-a-huge-curling-iron and separating-them-out with-fingers-and-hairspray technique). This picture right here (I’m top left, in case you couldn’t tell) is the very first time I allowed my friends to talk me into trying sideswept bangs (something my sisters had been telling me to do for years).
I mean, you really must understand the importance of this moment: up until this point, I had literally ALWAYS had bangs of some kind. They were simply a given (until this fateful makeover party I held for my friends right before my 8th grade year).
And I never went back. Well, not until college, anyway, and definitely not with curling irons and hairspray.
When I was about 15, I saved up my money from babysitting and cleaning my grandma’s house so that I could go to the beauty school with my sister and get my hair highlighted (because that’s what all my sisters were doing, so I felt the need to do it, too).
I’m pretty sure I didn’t tell my mom my intentions before I went because she was not exactly the happiest when we got back, me with blonde streaks all over my head.
I have been dying my hair ever since.
Keeping on top of my highlights was hard, though, and I didn’t have the $70 to blow every six weeks on my hair. So, in taking advice from a teen magazine, I bought myself some Sun-In and attempted to stay on top of my roots myself.
Brassy was never so classy, friends.
Stage Three: Stepping over to the dark side.
While it took me longer than it should have to get over my idea that all true bombshells were blondes (see later exhibits for proof), I realized that for the time being, I was going to have to stick to the dark side for awhile, to save my wallet and save my strands.
The picture above and the freakishly blonde picture before that were taken within about a month of each other, I think. I’ve never gotten so many double takes in my whole life as when I made this change (courtesy of drastically switching up your look while in the last month of junior high).
This remains one of my favorite haircuts/colors that I’ve ever had in my life, and both were done by my sister Jill.
I basically stayed with the dark color scheme throughout most of high school, ever trying to search out the illusive color I first had dyed my hair back dark again (which was discontinued basically right after I used it that first time). I also discovered that with my uber-thick hair, half-up hairdos are my best friend.
Step Four: Going to great(er) lengths.
While I had, by this point in my late high school career, gone many different shades of blonde and brown and black and everything in between, I had always kept my hair at a fairly neutral length, as in exhibit A here:
With the onset of my senior year, all that was about to change. When my hair reached that point just beyond the shoulder where the length is neither short nor long and I wanted to cut it every single day, I made myself grit my teeth and get over it, until my hair got longer…
I’m at the far right here, in case you can’t tell. I can never get over how much darker my skin used to be back in the day.
This is me circa 2005, in my musical debut (of Footloose)
Until finally I got sick of it and cut off about eight inches at the end of the year.
Which almost brings me to The Cycle stage, but with one short detour for me deciding to go AS RED AS POSSIBLE right before I took a trip to Europe (where I would be taking hundreds of pictures to document it):
Step Five: The Vicious Cycle.
And thus it began, the cycle that continues until today—I grow my hair out for a year or two, get totally sick of it, and drastically cut it off (think, around 10 inches drastic).
I cut it right before my mission because I thought it would be easier to take care of short hair in the heat. NOT.
Somewhere in the vicious long/short cycle, I also managed to learn some pretty important lessons.
1 – Going TRUE BLACK is not a good idea. It washes me out, brings out any redness in my skin, and requires a LOT of makeup to pull off.
2. Blonde is not much better than black.
In trying to fix my black hair, I always decided to go blonde after (because that makes sense). Not only does the process take about 6 hours, but it also made me realize YET AGAIN that I’m terrible at regular maintenance and still don’t have the money to blow on touch-ups every 6 weeks.
Exhibit A of black to blonde:
Exhibit B of black to blonde:
3. A-lines are ridiculously hard to grow out, and since (once again), I’m terrible at maintenance, you end up with awkward hair days followed by terrible haircuts.
Stage Seven: Learn to be a little boring and embrace what works for me (add in bangs and subtle color, when needed).
I’ve finally gotten to the stage (I think) where I’m done making hair mistakes for awhile. I like my hair long and layered, and I keep it in the dark brown range (with any other colors being added to the underside so I don’t have to do much maintenance with the color at all).
When I feel like things are getting a little too predictable, I’ll either add bangs or take them out again:
And there you have it—
Most of my hair life up until today (although since I don’t have many childhood photos here in my apartment, you all miss out on some pretty stellar blackmail pictures of me as a kid).
What are some of your most memorable hair moments?