This is the page from my high school year book that has my picture on it -- a much smaller version than I am now and I am not talking pixels, if you know what I mean. And if you don't, just shut up anyway. Some things you just don't need to have explained to you.
Anyway, I am in the fifth row down, the fourth person over. If the picture was in color like the one that hangs on a wall at my parents' house, you'd be able to notice that my hair, which has been dark brown since I was in about seventh grade, was a very odd and brassy shade of reddish orange, all due to the indiscriminate use of a hair lightening product called Sun-In.
I was at the pharmacy the other day to buy some allergy medicine and I passed by a display of Sun-In -- I had no idea that this particular madness was still being perpetrated on the innocent public. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sun-In, here's what it looks like in the bottle. I'm afraid to post a picture of what it looks like on actual hair, although I've learned through scouting around on the internet that it actually works really well on medium brown and lighter heads.
Not on dark brown. No.
The summer before my senior year in high school, approximately one week before my senior pictures were scheduled to be taken, I was overcome with an overwhelming desire to become a delicate, fragile blonde. I don't know why, but I think it may have had something to do with the fact that my grubby little brother Pat, eleven years old at the time, had the most perfectly beautiful blond hair in the world. And it was wasted on him, utterly wasted. He had no appreciation for it and I often wondered at the vagaries of fate and human genetics that left me a dull brunette while gifting Pat with hair that Cheryl Tiegs would have envied.
My mother steadfastly refused to allow me to bleach my hair, so I did what I thought was the next best thing: I went to the Hook's drug store near my house and surreptitiously bought a bottle of Sun-In and casually stuck it in my swim bag where my mother wouldn't see it and carried it off with me to the White Estates pool. Once there, I spread out my towel, sat down, and liberally drenched the top of my head only with the Sun-In. Then I remained outdoors for about the next seven hours, baking my hair blonde.
You might wonder if I was really so stupid as to think that my hair was going to be blonde, a real, true Nordic color, and the answer is, yes, I was. I was that stupid. I thought that if I sprayed half the bottle on my head, my hair would be maybe a lovely honey shade, so if I used the whole bottle, the results would be even more spectacular. Boy, were they.
That night when I took my shower, I was disappointed to see that my hair still seemed very brown, but comforted myself with the thought that hair always looks darker when it's wet. The truly horrible damage wasn't visible until the next day when my hair was dry.
My mother was the first to lay eyes on me as I scuffed out to the kitchen, yawning. "YOUR HAAAAAIIIIIIRRRRRR!!!!" she screamed, nearly dropping the coffee pot. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR HAAAAIIIIRRRRRR???!!!!!"
I ran down the hall to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and burst into noisy tears. My hair was not only not the cool, pale wheat color that I'd been imagining, it was aggressively, obnoxiously orange. Like a clown. But only on top! Because, you know, I was very stupid and hadn't had the foresight to cover my whole head with the Sun-In; now I was stuck with a really frightening two-toned look that was like a physical assault on the eyes. And lo, my senior photos were looming, one week hence!
My mother took me to her hairdresser, her lips pressed into a tight line. She had pointed out some words on the Sun-In bottle that said something to the effect of "Not for use on black or dark brown brunette shades" or something like that. Oh. Whoops!!! I can't remember what the hairdresser did, but it managed to tone down the BRIGHTNESS of it all and by the time I went to keep my appointment with the photographer, I looked passable. Kind of. Still brassily orange, but not looking so much like Bozo anymore.
If the smile in my photograph looks a little strained, now you know why.
Have you ever done anything really stupid to your hair?
Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking Chez Moi - Cranberry Crackle Tart - The second recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie is Cranberry Crackle Tart, found on pages 135-137 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi book. Dorie has also publish...
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