Like Red, But Not Quite: What I Learned Having Pink Hair for 11 Months

Nov 18 2014So last November I went to a new colorist* who came highly recommended from a friend. I went in figuring that I would get pink highlights in my natural brown hair. When he asked to see pictures, I pulled up my Pinterest board and showed him what I was thinking. "You don't want highlights," he said matter of factly. "You haven't shown me a single picture with highlights. Everything you're showing me is all-over pink. Take the plunge and DO. IT."

So I did. And I've kept it all over pink (with a few tricks at times) since that day 11 months ago. And over that time, I've learned a lot.


1. Kids love it! Oh sweet dear lord, the comments from kids are THE BEST part about having funky, vivid hair. If I could bottle up the smiles, the looks of curiosity, the questions, the pointing fingers, the exclamations... aw, man, I'd drink that on any day I feel bad. Kids have no fear and no sense of social awkwardness when it comes to asking questions. So when they see someone walking around with hair the color of My Little Pony blood, they will say what they think. "Look, daddy, it's Pinkie Pie!!" "Mommy! I want pink hair!" "Is that your real hair?" "Why did you do that?" Sometimes they would just stare at me in awe. There's something so fun and cool about being the walking embodiment of a cartoon character, and sharing a clandestine smile with a kid who still believes in fairies.


2. Not all dyes are created equal. I knew this going in, but over the past year I've gotten quite an education in what it takes to keep color fresh. Because there are no permanent dyes for vivid colors (yet), all of my pink colors are semi-permanent. They all fade, some slower than others. So, through experimentation, I found that I LOVE Special Effects brand "Virgin Rose" or "Atomic Pink". Manic Panic is okay as a brand, but it left my hair feeling filmy. My hair soaked up the Special Effects colors and held them for at least 2 weeks longer with more vivid tone.

IMG_07103. That shit's expensive. Or it can be. Not only would I be touching up every 6 weeks or so, I discovered that my hair grows insanely fast. The roots would need a touch up every 8 weeks or so. Going longer drove me crazy because the dark brown roots made the pink look...I don't know, dirty? It just didn't blend well. And it was most pronounced when I pulled my hair up into a pony tail. So, maintenance (bleaching, dyeing, touch ups, gloves, dyes, bowls, brushes) got to be pretty expensive. On top of that, there are other products that I tried using to extend the life of the color. While those worked well with Manic Panic, they became superfluous with Special Effects.

4. Totally great for my career. Seriously, some people look at vivid, unnatural hair and think, "You will never get a job," or "that's got to be terrible for work." Being a full-time writer has a number of perks, and having pink hair was a boon for me. At Phoenix Comic Con, my pink hair was my calling card. People saw me on panels, at signings or events and had an instant way to remember me. Being "that pink-haired author" may not have sold more books, or maybe it did. I really can't tell if that made people more or less likely to buy my work. But it did help with my recognition and building my brand.

IMG_12565. I love having vivid hair. I dig the way I look with pink hair. I had a lot of fun playing with different shades, as is notable by the fact that I took WAY more selfies over the past 11 months. Mostly, though, I love the pink hair because it's an outward expression of ME. Like tattoos, piercings and clothing styles, my pink hair is a way to communicate what's inside the physical package.

After 11 months with pink hair, though, it's time for a change. I'm tired of lamenting my roots coming in and doing the "gotta get bleached, how does the bank account look?" dance. But I really love the pink. If I could just naturally grow pink hair, I totally would. Sadly, I can't. I want to keep that color, that calling card. So, I'm going back to my colorist with some ideas for the next chapter of what to do with my hair. And yes, it will include pink. But it will also play better with my natural color so hopefully it won't be so crazy to maintain.

*If you're in PHX, check out Austin Michael!