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Wednesday 8 May 2019

My Life in Hairstyles

Teenage girl in the 1970s with medium length dark wavy hair

Dear friends. How experimental have you been with your hair over the years?  I didn't think I had been, until I started looking at the archives. Folks, I have had short hair, long hair, a bob, a mullet, permed hair and hair extensions (klaxon). I went from dark to red and then blonde.  Let's look at the evolution.

The first pic above is one of my favourites, and throughout my teens to my 40s, this was mostly my default look. I called it the "au naturelle" because my hair was quite thick and wavy, and I liked it to do its own thing. I hated going to the hairdressers because they were always trying to cut it shorter or blow dry it straight.

Mind you, when I was young, my mum had it all cut off because my hair got very tangly and only my dad had the patience to get rid of the tangles. But I grew it back after a waitress called me "sonny" !

Girl aged around six in the 1960s with short dark hair

Adventures with Colour

I started using semi permanent colour when I was about 15, at school.  At that time I had a feather cut  (also known as a mullet);  sadly, all those photos are at my Mum's so I don't have one to show you.  I remember that the first time I coloured my hair was with a Rimmel product in a glass bottle. The next day we had a fire alarm at school and had to stand outside in the rain. The dye started running down my face, which was mortifying.

My hair got alarmingly red at times.  Here I'm about 20 and I'd had a few inches lopped off.  

And here I'm about 46. I'd found a hairdresser who used a diffuser  (embracing the "au naturelle") and she coloured it  red. However, I stopped going to her after I got home and found red dye all down the back of my white top! 

We'll go back to colour later.  How about perms, ladies?  Who remembers them?  My first perm was done by my mum, with one of those Tweeny Twink boxes.  The perm rods were my Gran's. At the time my hair was quite long, and the perm made it very wide and woolly. I decided I wouldn't let my mum do it again so I went to Jill Finch at the Co-Op and came out like this, aged 16. It was so coarse I had to use a special comb.

I only liked the perm when it had grown out considerably.

When I first went blonde

I had a very brief flirtation with blonde when I was 39 and used a home bleaching kit. I'd been having highlights - which in those days involved strands of hair being pulled through a holey swimming cap with a crochet hook - and thought I would go the whole hog.  It looked OK initially, although it wasn't very even. But when I tried to retouch the roots, they came out ginger.  I then tried dyeing it back to dark brown, but two colourants later, I was a strange mousey colour and my hair was in terrible condition.  The moral of that story is not to attempt these things at home.

Hair extensions before they were trendy

In 1999, long before they were trendy or mainstream, I had hair extensions because I wanted to know what really long hair felt like. I went to a specialist salon near Reading owned by Lucinda Ellery,  who went on to become extremely well known in this field.  She developed a hair system for people with severe hair loss. Anyway, it took an extraordinarily long time - about six hours - and the extensions were bonded to my own hair, which was quite short, using glue and a gun. The first night was incredibly painful, like sleeping on bags of frozen peas.

The worst thing was when the hair fell out in random places.  You had a lot of extensions put in, because a lot fell out over time.  I remember being in an airport on business and seeing a whole hank of hair by my feet.  I was with a group of colleagues so I tried to bend down to scoop into my bag without anyone seeing.

After a couple of months I needed the extensions replaced and during the second cycle I got bored with the "faff" - drying my hair took forever - so I extracted them myself.  And as far as having long hair was concerned, unfortunately I couldn't wear a bun, as I'd always wanted to do, because when I tried to put the hair up, my own short hair was visible underneath.

Getting to where I am now

I started seeing a new stylist, Jodie, in about 2014 and had some lowlights and then highlights put in.  Jodie had been trained by Toni & Guy and was extremely good with colour.  She was also using Davines organic colours, which are so kind to the hair. As is often the way with highlights, I wanted more.  This was me in 2015.

I had a medium length bob for a while and then Jodie messaged me on Instagram to say she wanted to try a different cut, to better match my fashion blogging.  I agreed with her - there were a lot of ladies of a certain age around with the same bob hairstyle and highlights.  So for a while I had quite an edgy cut in that it was very short and razored at the back.  I loved it, but a few others didn't.

Just over a year ago I wondered about losing the blonde and finding my way back to darker hair, because the upkeep and time it takes is a killer.  Jodie did a very clever job with a combination of colours but I went back to blonde as soon as I could. Mum said it made me look older.

Where I am now

It's still blonde (and dark underneath) and I have the roots touched up every seven weeks with a few highlights. I won't consider going grey until I'm retired. It's a very personal decision and at the moment there's a view that you're somehow not a feminist or you're letting the side down if you keep colouring your hair. I'll freely admit that my hair makes me feel youthful - but I can still be a feminist! This is me now:

Middle aged woman with highlighted short blonde hair

I've been growing it for a few months but I'm tempted to go for something a bit shorter and edgier. What do you think ladies? Any ideas considered, as long as they don't include a perm!

More to Read on Hair

You can literally take years off your age with the right hair cut and colour. View my post. 

Famous and not-so-famous women who have gone grey and seem to love it:  read my post 

Let's Get Our Wow On

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday. Laurie from Vanity and Me had the most clicked post last week with her review of Trinny London makeup. It has certainly tempted me to try the Trinny range.

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  1. Lovely post. I love your short blond cut the best. I remember the perms and the crochet needle too!

  2. Funny, I had all those styles but not the colour. It was like a journey through my hairstyle story .


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