Crowdsourcing: Should I Dye My Hair? Maybe? Or No, Probably?

jennifer wright

We just got an e-mail from The Patrick Melville Salon offering us a free cut and color. Look. If I were to have a life motto, it would probably be “sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc.” If I were to have a life motto that was in English and not pretend Latin it would probably be “take all the free stuff you are offered.” So, it’s pretty hard for me to turn down an offer to have my hair professionally dyed. Especially since Patrick Melville works with Catherine Zeta Jones, and Brooke Shields, and tons of other good hair people.

But I’ve never dyed my hair! And the idea kind of scares me! My normal, human colored hair is pictured above. The fascinator I am wearing is not part of my hair. It is part of my soul.

Now. If I were to dye it: which color?

Black: I think this would actually look pretty good, and be close to my natural brown color, and work with my coloring. I’m also terrified it could tip too far into Wednesday Addam’s territory. I mean, it definitely would, right? Would I have to start listening to chamber music and move from midtown to a non-metaphorically haunted house (we all live in metaphorically haunted houses)? Would that be fun? Can apartments be haunted? Beetlejuice is a good movie that Winona Ryder looks really great in.

Red: Look, ever since watching The Philadelphia Story one of my lifelong dreams is to be referred to as “Red.” I just feel like it is the best possible nickname you could have as a woman. I also wish my first husband were C.K. Dexter Haven, but, you know, without the abusive drinking parts? I feel like we’re getting sidetracked on this.

Blonde: I really want to go blonde. So much. But I’d never be able to handle the touch-ups! OR WOULD I? Have you dyed your hair blonde? Is it great? Is it like, everything Anita Loos says it will be? I bet it is!

Grey-Purple: Look. This.

This is essentially my dream hair color, and I cannot see it without thinking of 18th century French aristocrats and the witch in the illustrated version of Into The Woods that I had as a child. I love this hair color. But it would also require changing my entire life. I would have to enjoy really different music and dress differently and kind of adopt this cool, tough-talking streetwise person, and oh, God, thinking about that makes me want to lock myself in my room with a bunch of Gene Tierney movies for about a week. And seriously, pretty much all my childhood friends work in finance, and just the thought of showing up anywhere with them with this hair color is seriously stressing me out.

But I think grey/purple hair is so cool it kills me. It kills me. Jesus. I’m also 26. I work in an office. The time for grey-purple passed ten years ago. And yet, still we dream.

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    • Fabel

      I wanted to write a thought-out response. But I think I’ll just go with…



      • Jennifer Wright

        But look at how sassy and full of feelings purple hair girl is!

      • Fabel

        Okay, I mean, unless you really want to. But I’d advise that you stay away from any bleaching (which eliminates every option? except black, or maybe red. Red might be cool if it’s just a semi-permanent over your natural color? Sorry, I seem to be projecting my own fears of hair dye, and also committal, onto you.)

      • Fabel

        She does look sassy! But the maintenance!

      • Sam

        Just FYI on the dyeing-hair-black-note: it’s even worse to go black for your hair than just to bleach it! That’s why you seem so many people with dyed black hair that’s incredibly dull :(

    • Jamie Peck

      I’ve often wondered what I’d look like as a blonde, and whether I’d have more fun as one. Then again, if I had any more fun that I do now, I might be dead. I guess what I’m saying is that I want you to go first to see how it looks on you. Something to consider: would you dye your eyebrows, too? Blonde hair+dark eyebrows might be a trashier look that you’re going for.

    • Brittany

      Do the purple-grey! I’ve always wanted to do it but am terrified to do so! And I want to live vicariously through you!

      (Also, for the record, I think purple-grey can be really classy)

    • Maggie

      Go blonde! I’ve been wanting to recently but I know I never will, so it would be inspiring to see you make a drastic change. I’ve been spending most of the week desperately deciding what to do with my hair and feel so lost

    • Lauren

      Don’t bleach your hair. I’m naturally a brunette and went very blonde a few years back. After loving the blonde for a few months I eventually got sick of the color and since I had very long hair it took a solid two years to grow it all out so I had to keep dying my hair brown to cover up the blonde. My hair was so dry and nasty.

      Did I mention that I died my hair blonde after I had dyed my hair black? No? Oh well, I did a semi-permanent from a box dye job at home because I wanted to see if I could pull off black hair. Turns out I can’t. I’m far too pale for that. I didn’t fully commit to the Lydia Deetz look so it just didn’t work out. Luckily I was in college so it didn’t matter. But that color never washed out. I had to go get it professionally stripped multiple times to get it all out. Then they were dying it red for a while and then I eventually went blonde.

      If you want to take full advantage of the free color, don’t do anything too drastic so if you want to grow it out you don’t look crazy. Red is the quickest color to fade, so I would probably do that. Unless they want to bleach your hair first. Then I guess if you really wanted to do it you’d eventually know what you would look like blonde since the red will fade out.

      Your sophisticated classic wardrobe won’t really match gray purple hair. People who have fascinators as parts of their soul usually can’t pull off gray purple hair long term.

      • Jennifer Wright


        Also, I’m really sorry that happened to you. Is your hair good, now?

      • Lauren

        Yes, my hair is good now! After growing out all the blond, I then I had to grow out all the brown hair dye, which was close to my natural shade so I didn’t look crazy but my hair was brittle for a while. My hair is finally all natural, healthy, soft and shiny again!

    • MJ

      Red! I’ve been dyeing my hair (that is approximately the same color as yours) a browny-robin-red for the past year or so and I luuurve it. A plus is that the eyebrows can stay brown, so nothing weird happens. Except you look sassy and happy and glowy and everyone loves it. Go!

    • Lindsey

      Well, worst case scenario is that you dye it red/blond/purple and the maintenance damages it too much and you cut off ALL the hair and get a really chic bob but then you realize you’ll never be able to grow it all out again and you’ll be resigned to short hair for the rest of hour life.

      Once upon I time I got a not-permanent purple black hair dye. Inside and at night it looked dark, but it shined dark purple in the sun. I think it lasted like, a month and a half, but that was in high school when I thought that it was dirty and unhealthy NOT to wash your hair everyday. So I could see something lasting 2-3 months with infrequent washing. And it gradually fades. I dunno. That was fun.

      After buzzing my hair off in the fall I’m only a month or so away from having hair long enough to have a hairstyle. I want either the dark purple, or go all out and bleach bleach bleach. But if I do do that it’s going to erase these few month’s worth of having nice, healthy hair???

      I also need advice. Stats: pale with freckles and green eyes, medium brown hair, world’s most pathetic eyebrows.

    • Jamie Peck

      Another thing to consider: I used to dye my hair black all the time (using store bought “permanent” dye) and it faded out fairly quickly. I don’t think I ever even had roots, really. So it wasn’t much of a commitment. Hmm, now I miss my black hair.

    • Meghan Keane

      What if you did one or two thick streaks of an awesome color in the under layers of your hair? (lowlights?) My friend did this once and it was awesome. But all the Google pictures I found online looked like dirt, so I can’t show you. It could be temporarily awesome and easy to deal with when you get bored.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Hands down.

    • Lindsay

      AGHHH! I can’t wait to see what you decide. My hair is your same color and I’ve never colored mine either. So… you get to be my guinea pig. Keep us posted :)

    • Fabel

      Okay, I came back because I am emotionally invested now, & I’m seconding Lauren’s response. My experience with hair dye is actually pretty similiar to hers (with the black, and then multiple attempts at restoring my natural hair color, to bleaching all-over blonde highlights for distraction, then dye-ing red over that, all while my hair was fried and brittle)

      After 6 years, my hair is finally virgin again at its medium-dark brown state, & I vow to never fuck with coloring again. Until I go gray, I guess.

    • Quin

      Go with the grey-purple! Or red. One of those. Also, the magic of hair color is that you can always dye it back! Especially with your hair color, it’s not hard to find a nice brown.

    • Daniela

      Red. Go with red. Do it.

    • Erin

      I have natural dark brown hair that I dye an auburn color almost every fall (I like to match the seasons). I had it done professionally the first time then I’ve done it on my own ever since. Because the color is similar to my natural I don’t notice it growing out. More like- oh hey! my hair is all brown again!- one day when I look in the mirror. If you’re scared the first time stick to something close to your natural tones. Good luck!

    • Holden

      Grey-purple. You only live once, and your TRUE fiance executive board member friends will support your regardless.

      • Holden

        *Finance, not fiance. Freudian slip?

    • Sabrina

      Grey-purple! You only live once! Now I kinda wanna do this… but it’s ok, right, since I live in Seattle and we wouldn’t run into each other and I would have to admit that I copied your idea…

    • erin

      if this stylist is so great and all that – then, go. let him decide with all his professional, celebrity skills.

      • Jennifer Wright

        Okay, this is 100% the wisest choice.

        I will go in and demand grey/purple.

        (No, really, yes, I’ll do this, good plan. Although sometimes stylists are intimidating and I get flustered and that is how I ended up with a mullet when I was 11).

      • Alexis H

        Smaaaaart. Go Erin.

    • April

      If grey-purple is your dream color, do it!!! My natural hair color is pretty much the same as yours, and a year ago I went red and haven’t gone back!!! (As a warning though people will actually call you “Red” to get your attention on the street. It gets old pretty quick.)

    • Elizabeth

      You’re 26 and work in an office where it’s OK for you to have gray-purple hair. If you’re going to do it, now is the time to do it.

      I remember being 26 and thinking, “Oh, the crazy hair window closed on me and I never had the guts to try it.”

      Now I’m 31 and I’m like, “WTF was I talking about? I was 26! At 26 you’re young enough for anything.” And seriously, never in my entire life was I hotter than 26-27. I should have just done it then, but I was in an office where I couldn’t do it. We had a dress code and an employee handbook 403 pages long.

      For years now my plan has been “dye it blonde, see what it’s like. Dye the blonde a crazy color, because it will already be blonde. Then cut it really short, because you’ve always wanted to try short hair and think it’s cute. Then, if you don’t like it, it’s going to be growing out anyway and you’ll be back to 0.”

      Haven’t done it yet, though.

    • Gina

      Why, oh why do you want to have your hair dyed? The color you have naturally looks GORGEOUS!
      And something to think about: I started dying my hair red when I was 13. Ever since my hair hasn’t lost the red touch. I’ve tried going back to my natural hair color (dark blonde), but it had a red shine to it. Every facet of brown I’ve tried now has a red shine on my hair. Seriously, that shit can mess with your hair, and yours is already so beautiful. (Gosh I want brown hair like you do xD)

    • Kellyn

      I have that grey/purple color in my hair and I love it! I only did a few subtle pieces around my face and the rest of my hair is its natural color. I wouldn’t ever bleach my whole head to get the grey/purple color but a few pieces is a good compromise! I still feel a little daring but not over the top. I highly recommend going for it, 26 is still young! If you hesitant just do a few pieces of hair.

    • Alexis H

      Red! As a fellow brunette (who is envious of how glossy and rich your natural hair is), I can tell you that of all the colors I’ve tried, red was the best. It was the most believable but still fun, plus the roots were way less noticeable than with blonde or black hair. Black hair with lighter roots may be even harder to deal with than blonde with dark roots. Seriously.

      That purple-grey is gorgeous, though. I agree with everyone else that you can pull it off, but if you want a happy medium then go red.

    • MeenaK

      Grey-purple is a fad. The worst thing you can do when coloring your hair is go for a fad. You’ll look back at pictures and realize how dated it looks. The stylist may have the wisest advice. You can always just take your natural color up a notch with a semi-permanent glaze, to brighten it up. I do that in between full colorings because my naturally-blonde hair is now a more natural-looking (on me) dark brown. Then my blonde roots aren’t as obvious and glaze is a lot cheaper than total permanent monthly/6 week upkeep.

    • Clio

      Do it! You’d be a hot redhead.

    • Sam

      If you love grey-purple, go for it. It might be a fad but you also might love it and decide to have it for the next five years. Seriously–I thought dyeing my hair blue in the 9th grade would be a temporary thing. I’m 22. It’s blue still and I can’t imagine it any other way. You might as well take a big chance while it’s still free; you never know how much you might fall totally in love with it!

    • kjon

      I really like your hair color as is for the record. I love the gray-purple but, like some over commenters have mentioned, it’s the height of trendy. So I say… go blonde!!!

      FUCK IT.