RNA Conference, part 1: The Hair Disaster

Filed under: about me

So last Saturday I went for a picnic with my friend, who said, “I love your hair right now.” Of course, in the way of all rational females, I took this to mean that it was an awful colour and I had to dye it immediately. So Sunday night I armed myself with a packet of brown semi-permanent dye, the kind that works in 10 minutes, and, posting a short message about it on my blog, I went upstairs to apply it.

Remembering the whole giraffe-neck debacle of last time, I made sure to coat my skin with Vaseline beforehand, and after I’d applied the stuff, carefully wiped off any excess on my skin with a baby wipe before it had the chance to stain. The thing is, this all sort of took time, and I’d forgotten to check what time it was when I put the dye on, so I figured I’d leave it more or less 10 minutes from when I’d finished using the baby wipes. What’s a few minutes more or less? I thought.

You may take this as the first piece of evidence that I am monumentally stupid.

I washed the dye out of my hair, maybe 15 minutes after putting it on, maybe 20, who knows. Anyway, I was in for a bit of a shock. Because it was BLACK.

I washed it a couple of times. It still appeared to be black, but then again, it was night time and the lighting wasn’t that good, so I went to bed and decided not to worry about it. My husband came home from work the next morning, thought, and after greeting me in his usual affectionate fashion, he said “Your hair is a little dark, isn’t it?”

Right. This was NOT good. I started looking up ways to wash out dark dye from hair, on the internet.

This is the second piece of evidence that I am monumentally stupid.

I tried baby shampoo, and Head and Shoulders, both of which are supposed to work. And when I say “tried”, I mean “I put them on my hair and left them for an hour and then rinsed and did it again.” The colour faded maybe a little. Not enough.

So I tried Fairy liquid. This is, for anybody who isn’t in England, a brand of dishwashing liquid. Lemon scented, in this case. With a little baby on the front of it, indicating, one would think, that it would not act as a sort of paint stripper on one’s hair.

I left it for an hour. I washed it out. Dark stuff came flooding out with the rinse water, so I immediately put some more on again. And left it.

We don’t even need any more evidence at this point, do we? Can we all just agree that I am REALLY, REALLY, FREAKING STUPID?!

When I was finished with my home chemistry lesson, my hair indeed was not black. Well, not at the roots it wasn’t. It was a sort of dull brown at the roots. The ends were still black. Worse, my hair was the consistency of ten-year-old hay. I tried three or four deep-conditioning treatments. They did nothing.

I looked like a witch.

In tears, on Wednesday, I went to my hairdresser. (Yes, I know. I should have done this first. We’ve all agreed already about my intellectual capacity.) He told me he could fix it. He also told me I was stupid. I didn’t care; I kissed him in gratitude.

Thursday morning—a mere 24 hours, mind you, before I had to go to the conference and be on a panel discussion and give a workshop— a team of three haircare professionals clustered around my poor abused head, performing emergency resuscitation. They gave it a bleach bath to strip all of the colour. They conditioned it. They put another colour on it and put me under a heat lamp. They put more conditioner on it. After two hours in the chair, my hair was a decent colour, it was glossy, it was soft, and I was considerably poorer.

It didn’t matter. I could go to the conference without wearing a hat. It was magic.

Dear blog readers: if I ever, and I mean EVER, mention colouring my hair again by myself, will you please, please, please come round to my house and physically restrain me?

More about the actual conference tomorrow.

<font size=1>Left: Hair dyed by Julie.  Right: Hair dyed by professionals.</font>

Left: Hair dyed by Julie. Right: Hair dyed by professionals.

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  1. Well – you looked fabulous and no one would have known…



  2. Oh dear. Oh dear.

    Having never done anything like this at all before, as I am a big old girl when it comes to colouring my hair, I now know what not to do. Let it serve as a cautionary – humourous – tale.

    I do however remember what my sister’s hair looked like once: she decided to perm it then colour it, within hours of each other…she ended up looking like a wooly mammoth. I still laugh just thinking about it. Yes, you are correct in assuming I am the nasty younger sister.


  3. You looked your usual lovely, pretty self at conference and your hair was fab


  4. Thanks Liz and Nell.

    I very purposefully didn’t blog about it until after the conference. I am stupid, but not THAT stupid. Well, not any more.

    Liz, LOL, I think I would probably have done something like that too.


  5. Your hair and yourself looked great.


  6. Oh, Julie, you have me in hysterics! None of us would’ve guessed as you looked fantastic. (And your workshop was fab, too.)


  7. As a hair-obsessed individual, I feel your hair pain!

    But when you were giving your character workshop yesterday, I was admiring the colour of your hair (as well as listening, of course!). Really!


  8. HA! Little did any of you know of the truth…

    Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

    I was also admiring the colour of your hair during a workshop, Talli (from the back). You obviously don’t do these horrid experiments yourself.


  9. Oh Julie – that is a PAINFUL story indeed. Glad you got it all sorted though!!! That has GOT to go in a book.


  10. Julie, you looked gorgeous as usual and your story has had me in fits of laughter as usual. My pre RNA grooming debarcle was not a hair one, but a brasierre one. Luckily all was fine on the night.

    Really gutted to have not made Sunday and your workshop, but it sounds like it was fantastic. Lovely to see you as always.


  11. As someone who used to color at home… yes, dishwashing liquid works, but the sooner you use it the better and only for real emergencies. And lather, rinse, repeat is better than lather, soak and rinse.

    One thing that will work for minor corrections — a little too red, just a little too dark — is a home hot oil treatment. It will help pull the color out as well as condition at the same time.

    Sadly, bad bleach jobs are a whole ‘nuther disaster area…

    I no longer color my own hair — as you can probably tell from the above tips, I’m not very good at it.


  12. Umm it could be worse.
    1. A girl on my floor freshman year of univiersity decided to dye her already blonde dyed hair with black non permanent. Her hair went green. Her hair then had to be cut as it was ruined.
    2. During my JYA year at Lancaster, a dear friend over the Christmas hols decided to dye her hair. She also had a party with old school friends as she did it. Among other things time went out the window. Her hair became interesting. Parts were bleached, other parts very dark.

    I have never dyed my hair…but if I did, it would be professionally…


  13. We need before, during, and after pics for the full effect. Looking forward to seeing them!


  14. I think you’re looking at this the wrong way. Your solutions were really creative and you didn’t give up. You got most of the colour out too which I think is pretty darn impressive. I give you a 10 😉


  15. Well gosh, your hair looked absolutely fabulous at the conference… Probably shouldn’t mention right now the time I decided to dye my hair myself for a trip to America and it ended up purple (and not on purpose!). My mate saw me at the airport and started singing Purple Hair to the tune of Prince’s Purple Rain… Oh the shame of it! Never again.


  16. Oops sorry that wasn’t supposed to be an anonymous comment… despite the humiliating hair secret being revealed.


  17. LOL Julie!

    I do my own all the time. I think having curly hair helps as flaws are more camouflaged. The important thing is to have a cut before colouring because I have thick hair and if I do it before a cut, one box of colour is never enough.

    The only problem I have is that the colour doesn’t last as long as when I have it done professionally.

    I told my dh about your latest misadventure and he was stony faced. However I brought up the vodka incident and his eyes lit right up. LOL


  18. I once dyed my hair black before a holiday – I dived in the swimming pool and expertly cut through the water like a sleek black porpoise – oblivious to the screams from the shallow end as my mate tried to attract my attention. I had left a swathe of black hair dye in my wake – looking like a black line dividing the pool perfectly. I got out and did a runner sharpish!! Hairdressers from then on….


  19. I am not actually anonymous! Just not very technically minded!


  20. Rach, I’m sure it will go in a book, someday. It’s my main consolation. 😉

    Carol, you had a bra crisis? You looked fab (including cleavage) so it seems you must have sorted it out.


  21. Kim, if I ever allow Fairy liquid to approach my hair again, I’ll follow your advice. Hopefully.

    I did try a lot of deep conditioning treatments, but they didn’t work at all either to remove colour or return moisture. Witch city.


  22. Michelle, do you notice though, that the cases you cite were all of young women who possibly didn’t know any better. I am *cough cough* quite a bit past that age. Physically, at least. Mentally, I’m not so sure.


  23. Sally, there were NO “during” shots. Dear lord, no. I had a towel wrapped around my head for the greater part of three days.

    There are various “after” shots scattered round the net, I’ll post one soon.


  24. Lacey, your capacity for glass-half-ful-ness never fails to astonish me. You are truly an incredible person. Thank you for the different perspective.

    (Would you feel that way if it were your hair??)


  25. Heidi, I think you would look great with purple hair (purple hair)! I hope you claimed it was on purpose.


  26. Donna, trust your DH to be most interested in the vodka bit! LOL!


  27. OMG Julie, that is a scary story! You could have turned the whole pool black! Wow.


  28. I gasped several times as I read this. I’m surprised it didn’t all fall out!!
    I wish I’d known before, I would’ve inspected your hair more carefully, but I didn’t notice anything strange, so I can certify your hairdresser does miracles.


  29. […] it goes horrifically wrong. Like the giraffe-neck debacle before the Festival of Writing. Or the Wicked Witch of the West/Fairy Liquid disaster before the RNA Conference. After the Wicked Witch/Fairy Liquid disaster, I vowed never ever to dye […]


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