Funky Hair Me: How purple hair dye taught me a lesson about self-identity #Style & Grooming#aging#fashion#hair#identity May 19 2015 | Guest post by Kelly Bauer By: SarahKristin – CC BY 2.0 I am sitting at my dining room table with a Russian Imperial Stout, and the world’s largest shower cap on my head, and I think I might be having a pre-mid-life crisis. This occurred to me as I was doing the task which requires the wearing of this monstrous shower cap — dying the ends of my hair a deep purple. It has been a decade since my hair color was anything even remotely out of the realm of what is considered to be “natural.” But before then, and throughout my entire teenage life, my hair shifted through a rainbow of colors like a prism in the desert at high noon. Wacky hair and funky glasses were kind of my unintentional calling card, since I never meant for them to be identifiers of “who I was.” I just liked bright colors and funky glasses. Through the years the funky glasses have stuck, but the bright hair colors faded with adulthood, when the corporate career atmosphere discouraged that sort of thing. And, if I’m being honest, I didn't really miss it. When my hair could no longer be brightly colored, I made up for it with the cut and bright clothes. I moved on. So, what’s with this goop on my head now? Well, as I was slapping dye on my hair, fretting about getting it on the counters and thinking about all the things I’d rather be doing, I began to wonder the same thing… This wasn't even the first time that I’d purpled my hair — this was my re-apply, and it was less than a week from the initial coloring! When I was 17 that might have been fine, but today I have two kids, a full time job, a house to run, and I freelance on the side. Related Post Ok yes fine, I got a haircut: on ditching your signature style After I off-handedly changed my Gravatar over the weekend, several Offbeat Empire commenters asked if and why I cut off the pink-tips off my hair... Read more As I was applying the purple sludge to my lightened ends, I began to have thoughts unlike any I have ever had before, at least in relation to my appearance. Thoughts like: “Does this even look good? Do I look totally ridiculous?” (Don't get me wrong, I think people, of all ages and walks of life, look amazing with brightly colored locks.) For the first time in my life, brightly colored hair did not make me feel comfortable in my own skin. I am a really low-maintenance gal. I like to keep it simple and I feel as though I look like I’m trying too hard. Shit. Am I trying too hard? My 30th birthday is this month. Coincidence? I haven't been consciously worried about my impending 30th birthday. The truth is that I feel better at almost-30 than I have my entire life. I feel surer of myself, more confident in my own skin. I don’t outwardly feel like I am going through any kind of crisis about turning 30, but does that mean that I’m not? Maybe subconsciously I am a total basket case. Or, as it occurred to me, maybe I am just able to see and accept the parts of my evolving adult identity that I’m okay with shedding. I’m not saying that it’s not cool to be 30 with purple hair, far from it. I think being any age with any color hair is totally cool. All that matters is that you feel good in your own skin and for me, having stand-out hair didn't make me feel like me anymore. I can let go of Funky Hair Me, because age has made me more confident in the evolution of my identity, in elements both tangible and intangible. So, as I sit here waiting for the dye to set, I acknowledge that this will likely be my last re-coloring of my purple locks. When this round of Manic Panic Purple Haze begins to fade, I will take myself to the drug store and buy a nice box of chocolate colored brunette hair dye — the closest thing I can usually find to my natural dark ash brown. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not look the way I looked at 19. I’ve also learned that, even though I’m totally confident in where I’m at in my life at almost 30, I might still be a little subconsciously worried about this age milestone, and that’s cool too, but perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that identity, like everything else, is in constant flux, and self-reinvention is always at your fingertips. How refreshing is that? Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Kelly Bauer Kelly Bauer is a Communication Specialist by day, writer by night. She is a proud Mama to sons Silas and Caiden, and is happily married to the best man on the planet, Chad. When she isn't writing or talking your ear off, she can be found knitting, exploring the world of craft beer and daydreaming about moving off the grid to raise alpacas for wool. https://twitter.com/kbauerwrites PREVIOUS Why I'm totally ok being the 40-year-old at the music festival NEXT How a Roomba saved my marriage Show/Hide comments [ 57 ] I ask myself about this a lot. I've mostly done pink hair on and off since I was 15 or so. I re-dyed it just this past March and am getting ready to bleach the roots for the second time since then. I'm not who I was at 15 (now almost 27), but there are still parts of that-me here now. They definitely overlap in my hair color decisions, though perhaps a bit less in style. 1 agrees Reply Glad the idea resonated with you Tasha! I think it is so interesting to think back on the evolution of my self identity. There are definitely parts of me that are the same, and others that couldn't be more different. Such an adventure, these lives of ours! 1 agrees Reply I love love love hair color product of http://www.thehennaguys.com/. I found it easy to apply and the color turned out lovely look.I would highly recommend this product. Reply I keep seeing the cotton candy pink hair everywhere, as well as some incredible teal shades, and I ADORE color. I am 33, and have a job that, while attention would certainly be called to a bold hair statement, I would be perfectly within office guidelines if I had colored hair. But I wouldn't feel totally in sync with my upcoming professional goals if I went for it. I always think: if I were a stay at home mom, or pregnant, I would dye my hair a bright color, and spend less time curling it, and doing my makeup. My hair would be the color my skin craved, and it would take less time out of each day to maintain than makeup etc. But alas, I don't even plan on having kids. I think when I retire though, it will be back on the table. As one poet says, "when I am an old woman, I shall wear purple." And I shall. Right now though, it would feel too trendy for my lifestyle and position in my world, and I feel like it would be a setback in my attempts to gain respect as a career woman – something that has always been a challenge for me, being small, shy, and "young-looking." When I turned 30, I threw out all my "juvenile" clothing – anything with an empire waist, ruffles, or that could be construed as "girlish," simply because I wanted to own my new age-bracket; to be a "grown up." Well, I don't think I will stop being insecure about that any time soon. I feel like my 30's are for developing a polished, gracefully aging version of myself, and colored hair just doesn't fit that image, no matter what my heart says (like,"Swoon! Pink!"). For me, now is the time to get some respect in the workplace, not to experiment with what's fun. (though I hear you all silently screaming: "Life should always have room for fun!") That's what my other, compartmentalized, and private artistic life is for, and it's on Sassoon mega-hold until I can get some other things under control. Just my personal stance. I envy the color, but now is not always the time. 4 agree Reply I completely agree with it being about what *feels* right. That's what was so weird for me this time. Crazy hair always felt like me, and this time it felt like a costume! Perhaps someday it will feel right again but until that day comes, I'll stick with my regular shmegular brown. 🙂 3 agree Reply Totally off topic but I personally know the poet who says "when I am an old woman I shall where purple." She's my mom's best friend. 3 agree Reply Does she wear purple?! 😉 4 agree Reply Jenny Joseph! That's incredible. I grew up loving her book by that name. My mother and I have both always worked with elderly who believe in life after retirement, and it's been a bit of a motto for us. 🙂 Reply That is awesome! I love that poem to death. It's so sad but empowering, and really helped me come to terms with growing old (not that I am yet, but I've always been a bit morbid and contemplated aging and death). Anyway, I have this poem tucked away and re-read it every now and then to regain my perspective on life in general. I hope you can pass on how much the poem affected me to your mom's friend! 🙂 2 agree Reply I've never had brightly colored hair except for that time in the 90s when I loved my so called life and put some red in it. I haven't dyed my hair in about 10 years and now that I'm 33 and starting to get grey hair, I've started thinking about it. Do I let the grey come naturally? Do I dye it to retain my youthful brunette look? My husband is turning grey, should we just turn grey together? Is it completely vain to want to cover up something that happens naturally to everyone? The jury is still out for me. 3 agree Reply I have some grey, too. I started getting them around my hair line when I was in my early 20s! They don't really bother me though. For now my plan is to let them come and embrace the change. That said, I don't think it is vain at all to want to cover them! Certainly no more vain than using concealer on a pimple. I'd say whatever makes you feel most comfortable is the way to go! 4 agree Reply I feel like the mismatched hair is what makes me want to dye it, but I don't yet – I still pluck. I would not mind all grey, but having random greys stick out all weird and wirey drives me crazy. Another reason I have not been dying my hair is because I am saving the effort for later, when the greys are beyond tweezing, but not yet fully populated (if that ever happens – my family doesn't really go fully grey). I am planning to dye (maybe even bleach) my hair when I am in my 40's and 50's. 1 agrees Reply Don't pluck your greys! This damages the hair follicles and may eventually result in NO hair growing in that spot. So unless you want tiny bald patches where your hair used to be–DO NOT PLUCK! 2 agree Reply It's so easy to forget that a LOT of people go grey in their 30s! My coworker was nearly completely grey when she finished college at 22. And… is it odd that I didn't consider dyeing my hair an unnatural color until I WAS 30? I think it's still the desire to do it after not being allowed in high school, being too broke in college, and the recent give-no-fucks about appearing "professional." 12 agree Reply Not odd at all, I'm 28 and I'm thinking about getting a crazy colour for the first time ever. As a nurse with only white scrubs and with literally no fucks to give about my look in the early morning/late morning/evening when I get ready to go to work, I feel that I miss that pop of colour that my clothes or make up gave me while I was doing other things than hospital work. Purple or teal hair can give me that! 10 agree Reply I feel like the fact that everyone ages differently shows up really strongly in your 20's-40's. Most of my best friends are over a decade older than me (and couple that much younger), so I see it all the time. It seems to me that what many of us don't get out of our system in our younger years, we will get out of our system in later years, within this span especially. I gave way too few fucks in my 20's, and am trying to catch up on giving fucks in my 30's. It's working out pretty well so far. I am getting the "professional lady" out of my system this decade, and hopefully will go back to more experimental things later. My friend who is nearing 50, just asked me about my thoughts on her going all Manic Panic. I told her I think it's a fantastic idea, and perfect for where she is at in her life (back to giving very little fucks, and working from home. Nobody is going to question her professionalism, no matter what color her hair is. She's got it going on.). I have another friend in her early 20's, just starting a new career in a new place, and I would not make that same recommendation. She, on the other hand, has given way more fucks in her early years than I ever did, and I could see her cutting loose pretty soon. There is a time and place for all fucks. 🙂 21 agree Reply "There is a time and place for all fucks." This is the best thing ever. *clapping* 18 agree Reply Yeah, this entire comment is a thing of beauty. 12 agree Reply I was 28 and a doctoral candidate when I first dyed my ends purple. I was about two years and two failed treatment plans into a chronic illness diagnosis, and struggling to feel comfortable and safe in my own skin again. Purple hair was partly my way of reclaiming my body and sanity from illness and stress. 6 agree Reply Also: YES! Angela Chase was my spirit animal! That was my first go at dying. 2 agree Reply It's funny, I am just starting to get a few grey hairs and I am babying they hell out of them. I think they are fabulous, luckily my hair is already curly and I was so proud of the one hair that started out straight and began to curl recently. I decided to just embrace the change and go with it. I think it is because my husband is 14 years older than me, so anything that makes me appear to be a bit more mature is fine by me. I have decided that when I am completely grey I want to dye my hair that light platinum purple color. 1 agrees Reply I am going to turn 30 in a few months & have been considering dying my hair for the first time for a while now. I have dark hair & would like BRIGHT coloured hair. So I'd need to use bleach/lightener. Problem is, my hair & skin have reacted to every skin test I've done, even the ones that are contained in the dyes. Manic Panic dye itself is ok, just the lightener that my skin & hair hates. So, I eagerly await the day I have enough grey hairs to dye them bright pink/turquoise/blue/purple or maybe a mixture of all the above! I am the only 30 year old I know who looks in the mirror & says to her husband "Yay, look, another grey hair to add to the collection" with a big grin on her face!! 5 agree Reply If you ever find a dye that can work on dark hair, even if it's not super vibrant but at least has a lot of COLOR, please let me know!! I really don't want to have to bleach my hair, but I am starting to really crave some beautiful crazy color. Also, I am 28 and JUST starting to want to dye my hair, like you! 🙂 2 agree Reply I'm 29 and I actually just picked up a few crazy colours to use on my dark hair. I'm waiting for the red to get delivered still, but between it and the blue/purple I have, I think they should manage to add at least a good hue of colour to my hair. I'll report back to you. 🙂 1 agrees Reply Having dyed my hair a fabulous shade of red two weeks ago, I'm going to recommend Special Effects hair dye. I did Blood Red and Blue Velvet, over both bleached and my naturally dark hair. I think the Blood Red added more colour than the Blue Velvet did. Course, they both worked best on the lightened hair, but it definitely didn't need to get too blonde for either colour. Now that it's summer, there's a few ways to lighten your hair just with sunlight, like lemon and/or honey. You could try messing with those first. 2 agree Reply Have you tried to isolate what ingredient is bothering you? If I get any ammonia on my skin, I get an itchy rash and watery eyes, but I've found ammonia-free bleaches that don't bother me. Then I used a semi/demi-permanent dye for the fun colors. My hair is dark chocolate brown (almost black), and I love having purple highlights, but I usually just do magenta, because purple requires bleaching to almost white before it shows up well. 3 agree Reply Is it your hair that reacts poorly to the bleach, or just your skin? There's a new ombre trend going around to just dye the ends of your hair, you could probably get away with not getting the bleach on your skin if you tried for that. 2 agree Reply I started greying at 23. Due to health issues I haven't had the energy to keep up with my dyeing. One day the sun hit my exposed greys, actually whites, and made them sparkle. Between covering them for 10 years, the lack of spoons for hair dye, and not wanting to ruin my new white strands, I've gone au naturel. Now I just wish I had more white in my hair. 2 agree Reply Part of me wonders if my affinity with crazy colored hair as a teenager was really exactly what all those old people said it was – "a way to rebel and a call for attention". It's definitely not that for everyone, of course. But, I grew up in conservative Texas and I relished standing out. Now, though I still stand out somewhat with tattoos and funky style, my introverted nature resists any further spotlighting at all costs! It both amuses me and bothers the hell out of me that all those stodgy old people of my childhood may have been judging me correctly all along. Ha. 2 agree Reply I read almost all the way through this nodding my head in agreement the whole time. Then I hit the paragraph where the author isn't yet 30 and I burst out laughing! I'm not belittling the seriousness of the introspection. Honestly, I'm not! It's just that, well, to me 29 is so young so I wasn't expecting such angst over rebel hair color as such a young age. 11 agree Reply Glad it resonated with you Kirsten. I am 30 now, this post was written before my birthday, though I am still young. I'd never claim otherwise. 🙂 I wouldn't call what I was feeling "angst", though, as the experience was neither upsetting or dreadful. Rather it was the first in what I expect will be a series of revelations about *who I am* being different than *who I was*. I find that journey to be remarkably encouraging and am inspired by the idea that an evolving identity is inevitable, acceptable and available, should my Self ever be in need of a makeover. 🙂 4 agree Reply I meant "angst" in the most informal way possible, though I admit that I did read this piece as an expression of uncomfortable realization. I apologize for reading it so literally. Although I was wrong about what I perceived as a nervousness about turning the 3-0, I'll say to any readers who might have identified with the idea of being nervous about the outside matching the inside: One of my favorite things about myself is that I learned very early in my 20s that I felt most comfortable looking different from people around me. It was something I discovered about myself at a time when it wasn't such as acceptable thing to display (late 70s -early 80s). When I became a mom at 25, I briefly attempted to adapt my exterior to fit my surroundings (research editor at [insert name of publishing house]). I quickly learned (for myself) that not only did I not feel authentic, I found that looking like my work peers actually seemed to work against me in the long run. Feeling uncomfortable in my skin made it difficult for me to feel comfortable in my job (contrary to what headhunters will say: "dress for success"). As soon as I went back to wearing all black and playing with ever changing hair colors and styles, I zoomed in confidence in my job, creativity unleashed! It's not for everyone, but for me it was the right thing to do. I traced my own angst about aging to moving away from myself. I wasn't adapting or growing. For me, it felt like I was stifled. It wasn't always easy, though. For the first 15-20 years, it wasn't acceptable to look less than corporate in a corporate world and, truthfully, I probably traded upper management positions as a result, but I don't regret that. I could have made more money, but I don't feel like that would have made me happier. In fact, I know it wouldn't have. I feel more authentic in this plumage and that made it worth it to me. [Note: My "authenticity" is not better than anyone else's, it's just being true to me. I am only speaking for me.] 3 agree Reply This is interesting, because while I did have a mini panic attack at turning 30 (silly "nooo it's all downhill from here" thoughts) I've now realized that turning 30 gave me the confidence to be a little more offbeat. I've dyed my hair since high school, but it wasn't until after I turned 30 that I thought, screw it – I'm getting pink ends, I want more tattoos! And I think some of that comes with not caring what people think anymore, because of my age. Or maybe I'm just subconsciously trying to hold on to my youth 😉 5 agree Reply Isn't it funny how age affects us all so differently? Turning 30 has definitely given me a new confidence and for me it's come as an acceptance of who I am now. That person just doesn't have crazy hair. Maybe someday I will, but Present Day Me feels very out of place with wacky hair. This definitely didn't have anything to do with wanting to be less visually offbeat. I am fairly covered in tattoos already, with plans for many more. Instead, it was just about the comfort in realizing that my identity is fluid. 1 agrees Reply Yeah, when I cut off my pink hair a couple years ago, I was like "Oooh, now I can go INCOGNITO when I want to…" As much as I loved sticking out for many years, there was a certain point where I liked being able to be the sneaky-freak where I don't immediately attract attention to my offbeatness… sometimes you can get away with more. 😉 8 agree Reply I feel like this is quite a common desire as you get older, becoming more comfortable with yourself and not needing to display your offbeatness, but still being as offbeat as ever. I totally talked about it my article from a while back…! http://offbeathome.com/archaeology-and-identity 2 agree Reply Totally get that. I'm guessing it's because I didn't have quite as much of an offbeat streak in my 20s that now I'm ready to let it out. Although after almost a year of pink hair I did crave a bit of anonymity and started to let it fade out, but now that it's almost gone I miss it and I think I'm going to bring it back lol. Acceptance is such a awesome thing though, no matter what form it takes. Yay 30s! 1 agrees Reply I wonder about the nostalgia feeling about the dying process itself. I think a lot of what I felt when I was younger was about wanting to impress my friends when I finally rinsed out my manic panic. I remember living for shock value I got from certain traditional family members reacting to my colored hair, or seeing my first large tattoo. Now that I'm nearing my 30's, people have seen my style evolve and change over the years, and most of them are not concerned about my adult appearance. 1 agrees Reply I've been feeling this too lately, though with tattoos. I finally got Husband to okay a tattoo I've wanted for a while, but now I don't really know if I want it anymore. I remember fantasizing about my tattoos when I was younger, waiting for the perfect time to get inked and loving the whole process. Now I'm not sure that a new one is really right for me, and that's weird! 1 agrees Reply This was so me. I got two back to back tattoos when I was 18. Then life happened and even though I wanted more (They truly are addicting!) I just could never part with the cash that was needed to get them. The mature rational me said "That's a car payment!" When I met my now husband 7 years ago (Also tattooed) we discussed over and over and over the different "Couples" tattoos we would get. Finally last year I broke down and got two more tattoos. One was as a donation to a Humane Society and is a representation of my love of animal welfare and rescue. The other I got on my arm. A very personal saying that means the world to me. The problem is it is the first tattoo I have that cant be hidden easily. And it really threw me off for months. I had buyers remorse almost immediately. Turns out the new 40 something me wasn't the same as the 20's and 30's me. I have made peace with my arm tattoo and it hasn't affected my personal career at all to my knowledge. But I truly don't know that I will get any more. Some days this makes me sad. 2 agree Reply I'm thirty and all my hair is purple, so this is relevant to my interests 🙂 For me, the impetus was increasing numbers of grey hairs. I figured, if I'm going to dye it anyway (and I am, sorry, not willing to embrace the grey for another two decades or so) I might as well have fun with it. So I went from my natural colour to bleach-blonde, and then when I got bored and broke of bleach…? Might as well use that blank canvas and go purple. I'll likely get bored of this too. For me, it's something fun, but I can't say it's tied to my identity in one way or another. I don't think I've ever been "The girl/women with [insert physical identifier here]" so it's not… meaningful to me either way. Reply Wow. I was literally thinking about how I am going to dye my hair purple (or blue or pink) as soon as I quit my job when I saw this article! I am 30 and am going to back to school to change careers from something really conservative and corporate to something much more flexible. And I realized it meant I can dye my hair a crazy color, which I was never allowed to do as a teen. I was just thinking to myself "That's a lot of change, am I having an early mid-life crisis?" when I happened upon this. But, honestly, I think it's actually that I have a *stronger* sense of who I am and the life I want. 1 agrees Reply I always wanted to dye my hair crazy colors. I was so jealous of my blonde friends who could dye their hair with Kool-Aid (doesn't work on almost-black hair). My mother refused to buy me hair dye. When I was 16, I got a job where I was required to have "natural-looking hair," so with the help of a friend, I dyed the top layers of my hair red. Of course, every color I tried was way to brassy/orange, but coloring my hair was fun! During my freshman year of college, I went back to my natural color. When I was 23, I got a job at a coffee shop and was so excited I could finally have crazy-colored hair. I got blue stripes put it. It looked awesome, and more natural than the orangey-red that I had in high school. It was so exciting, because I'd never had the opportunity to have blue hair before. It faded super fast, and I alternated between "adult" highlights (red/copper/honey). After I turned 30, I decided I wanted purple highlights (which are a pain), and now have magenta highlights/tips. I want to go a little crazier (bright pink or teal), but since I'm currently in a job search, I'm keeping it a little toned down. Reply I am 32 and I have purple in my hair (for the first time in a long time.). I spend ages 15- 27 dying my hair all kinds of colors. Then I just got sick and tired of the upkeep, and started working somewhere it wouldn't really fly. I liked my natural color at first, a dark brown, but the sun just kept on beaching it lighter and lighter, which I really dislike on me. Recently I started made the move to being self employed, teaching movement and meditation to adults and to kids as an artist in residence at elementary schools. Seeing all the kids with funky hair made me miss the bright colors, so I decided to go for it again. It's a pain in the butt ('cause purple fades so fast), but I feel fun, colorful and funky again, plus I think it wins the kids over to my side more quickly. I had been feeling a little frumpy, especially after cutting my long hair into a shaggy bob. I cut it shorter when I dyed it and then cut it shorter still into a pixie and now I don't have to do anything with when I wake up, so I feel like the time trade off to dye it evens out! I won't keep it up forever, but it's fun for now. Reply Purple doesn't have to fade fast. Pravana Violet is Amazing. Especially if you can let it set for awhile after the first post-application wash, and use cold water for many subsequent washes. I had a couple months of purple, followed by a few months of lavender, with those steps. Reply Hi Everyone, I'm 36 and have been dying my hair since I was 11 years old. I started with henna and I've been a coppery redhead most of the time, although there has been some black inbetween. I started dying my hair a dark magenta two years ago. It's clearly a non-natural color, however, it's not too punkrock to work in retail. I get a lot of compliments, and I like it, although the upkeep is a pain in the ass. When I got pregnant, it was even more important to me to keep at least one thing that was truly me, to assure myself and others that I wouldn't die and be resurrected as part of the mommyverse. What makes others identify me as "the one with the pink hair" is not so much the hair itself but the attitude behind it. I am prepared to be looked at, frowned at and to stick out. I started with pink as undercolor (looks awesome with an orangey red!), then thought "fuck it, I like it, I'm dying all of it", and that's exactly what people recognize. It's a bold color, and I'm a bold person, so it suits me and I don't care how old I am. So much for philosophy! Hair Talk: I did Directions in Cerise and Manic Panic in Hot Hot Pink, but they faded too fast and bled too much, like onto my pillow etc. Then I tried Koleston Perfect Special Mix in 0/65, but the result was too blah, pre-bleached or not. Now I am happy using Goldwell's Elumen pk@all, mixed with some rv@all, and I'm so happy! Since I'm a brunette, I use Majicolor Contrast Magenta every two weeks for my roots and Elumen two weeks after that, alternating them every two weeks. Yes, that's a lot, but my hair grows so fast nowadays! Must be the hormones. The Elumen bleeds the first two times I wash my hair, but not nearly as much as the other stuff I tried. Be careful though, because I don't know whether you can get rid of it completely. And be sure to wait a few days/washes after bleaching or otherwise coloring your hair, because while Directions and the like are negatively charged and will stick better to your hair if applied directly after bleaching, with elumen it's the opposite – it's positively charged (or the other way round, never can remember, whatever) and bleaching does something with your hair so it's charged one way or the other… you know? 🙂 Reply What an interesting article and comment thread! I am in my 40s, and have dyed my hair regularly for my entire adult life. When I was in my 20s, it was pretty much every color under the sun. In my 30s, I got rid of the midnight black I'd had for several years, and continued with a medium-dark brown that was closer to my natural color. I was climbing the corporate ladder, and felt that I needed to present myself in a certain way. In my 40s, I've started to experiment more again. While I don't want to go pure black again (it looks a little harsh agains my aging skin – just a personal choice), I've definitely sneaked darker the past few times I've been to the salon. I even did dark brown with a few platinum blonde highlights a couple of times, which really looked fabulous! For my wedding in September, I'm adding a purple streak. It'll be under the top layer, so when my hair is curled for the wedding, it will be visible – and will make me inordinately happy. But I will be able to easily cover it up for work as it fades. I just think it is kind of funny that, as someone mentioned in another comment, my 20s were ALL over the place, my 30s were more about "giving all the fucks", and my 40s are now reverting back slightly to a more expressive hair style. I guess the pendulum had to swing a bit too far in the opposite direction to make up for my crazy 20s, and now it can fall into a nice balanced spot. (BTW, in case you are wondering – being 40-something kicks ass! Who knew?!) Reply I'm older then most if not all of you yet you all sound older then I am. Dye your hair or not- at 42 mine is now mauve. It may end blue or purple. I have zero fucks to give of what people think of me. I did when I was younger. I had no self confidence. I do now. I have a house, I'm going back to school, I have a dog and two cats and a husband. I do my art and I say fuck it. You all are too uptight. 1 agrees Reply Hey, wow. Let's slow the roll on the insult tossing, yeah? Some of us probably are uptight. Hell, I struggle with postpartum anxiety and am probably the most tightly wound person in this thread. That doesn't mean it's cool for you to go dumping on people for sharing their opinions/feelings. Offbeat Home has a no drama comment policy. Judge silently if you must judge at all. Secondly, I just want to point out that if you thought this piece was about caring what other people think, then I must be a pretty shit writer, because I can assure you I give as many fucks today as I did a decade ago – zero. This piece was about realizing that I didn't want my outside to look the way it used to because it just didn't feel authentic anymore. It was about giving myself permission to let my identity evolve. I mean, I have had a baby, so it's not likely that I will ever look like my 19 year old self again, hips and hair included. This article was about becoming okay with that. For those commenters who DO care what other people think, they are perfectly entitled to do so, and I find that the best way to inspire someone into giving less fucks is to embrace them rather than berate them. 1 agrees Reply I am almost 50 and just started dying my hair purple. I have been covering grey for 15 years and decided I might as well have some fun. I honestly don't care what other people think (except my hubby and kids and they love it). I am self-employed and getting to the age that if you don't have grey showing, you are clearly coloring your hair so why not go Purple! What's the difference? 4 agree Reply 31 here… I've dyed my hair off an on since highschool… Of course initially it was just the natural box colors my mom let me do. Strawberry Blondes – so I could creep closer to reds… and then various shades of blonde (here or there from my natural blonde color) and then in college… I went full Manic Panic Magenta Pink. I was studying Acting so at some point I had to stop changing my hair color – when you're in a production there is a rule on changing any appearance without director approval. But now I've been working in an industry that is filled with dyed hair, tattooed, pierced, long haired metal heads and more… So I finally took the plunge again and have dyed it purple, blue, pink, reds… my husband wants me to do green and I'm very much particular about which colors I use… Green is one I won't likely do. That said… I've been pleased that many of the box colors at your local market with brands such as Vidal Sasson and Loreal's Feria have added purples and blues to their color options. Reply I'm soooo with you on this one… I've always found it easy to come to terms with who I am, but sometimes I'm struggling with the perception of others, and the way it changes with your looks, even though you – yourself – don't necessarily change. I'm a natural brunette, but I've died my hair in every color of the rainbow since I was 13. Mostly in bright reds and purple. I had really thin blonde dreadlocks too. I loved those. I could've worn a tuxedo and still look like me. When I was 19, I switched to black and sticked with it until my 27th, more or less. I cut my hair myself, or had it cut by drunk art students at parties at 5 am. When I saw I was getting greys, I found that quite charming and decided to switch to my natural color. I've been 'natural' for 4-5 years now. I'm almost 32, by the way. Some time ago I was walking around town in a little black dress, with killer heels and huge Chanel sunglasses and I passed a group of teenagers sitting on the pavement, drinking large cans of beer (this is Europe). They yelled at me: "Where are you going, Miss Fancy Pants?" I ignored them, but inside I screamed: "Can't you see?! I'm a little punk kid, just like you!" But of course they couldn't. I don't look like a little punk kid anymore. It really troubles me if I show teenage pictures to colleagues and they act all surprised or fail to recognize me. Sure, my hair isn't pink anymore, I'm no longer underweight and my clothes tend to have less holes in them nowadays (it's no longer the 90s, after all), but I feel like I haven't changed. I still wear lots of vintage, just a bit more expensive, and I still make my own clothes, I've just gotten better at it… For a couple of weeks I've been playing with the idea of dyeing my hair red again… When I was younger, I would have just done it immediately. It's just hair after all: you can cut it, redye it, it grows back. But now, I'm not so sure… Do I want red hair? Or do I just want people to recognize the punk girl I really am? 2 agree Reply Oh em gee. THIS. The "this" button was not enough to sufficiently express the this-ness that I am feeling right now! You understood the point of my article perfectly. Many people seem to have mistaken it for caring what other people think of me now that I am "older", but I can assure everyone that I give zero fucks today, as I gave zero fucks a decade ago. The point was not whether or not it was okay to have funky hair at 30, but instead it was a reconciling of my feelings of really, honestly NOT wanting to have crazy hair even though I am still just as quirky and offbeat as ever. It was giving myself permission to be a "sneaky freak" as Ariel so awesomely puts it. It was realizing that it's perfectly fine for me to look however I want to look (boring, even!) and that I don't need to define my identity by how much I am willing to stand out in a crowd. As for your red hair pondering – Either it will feel like you, or it won't. Coloring my hair again after so long made me feel like an imposter, which was so weird, considering how frequently I dyed it as a youth. But this is who I am now, and I'm cool with that. For some people though, it feels like coming home again. Only one way to find out! 😉 Reply I've been using Manic Panic's Electric lizard to put a streak of green in my hair, but I'd really like something permanent. As I get more grey, I want to add a streak of blue and purple to each side of the green. I like the Manic Panic color, but I want something that I don't have to redo every time I wash my hair (once per 3 days). Can someone recommend a permanent dye is bright/neon green? Reply My purple was having trouble sticking and a cashier with colorful hair recommended a brand called Goldwell. She orders it on Amazon. She says it has great staying power. I haven't looked into it because I'm dying my hair back for my wedding soon so I won't have need for bright colors for a while. Reply Hi I'm almost 50 (Nov) and have decided to dye my hair Ultra Violet – hoping it to be subtle. I am looking forward in years to come to be like Helen Mirren – loved it when she dyed her greying hair – she looked fab!! Reply I want allowed to have crazy colored hair in high school; no matter how much I begged I was told when I was 18 & on my own I could color my hair anything I wanted to. The down side the ideology of my mother was that at 18 I had to get a job & most jobs don't want you to have non-natural hair colors. I eventually settled with various dyed shades of red because I couldn't stand the dish water & grey I had in my 20' s. I'm now nearly 40 years old my current employer has no restriction of hair color so I've gone all out From fusha to purple to blue, my hair is in a constant change. This spring I'm going with neon green & orange. My hair is a huge part of my self identity & for much of my life I've hated my hair because it's mostly been lifeless fine & straight, however thanks to better hair science I now have healthier hair & I strive to keep it that way. Since I've never been about "styling" my hair every day I love that I can color it & just let it be cute in its natural state. Nearly 40 & wearing a rainbow on my head! Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.