It’s 12: I counted them. Had to assess the strength of the enemy. Right on top of my head, and, against my dark hair, these 12 gray strays are even more noticeable. I didn’t have it in me to be a good sport about it and declared war over a year ago. Armed with tweezers and glasses, I could be found, most nights, in front of the bathroom mirror. Plucking away more than just those 12 hairs. Have you any idea how hard it is to pluck the exact strand while looking in a mirror?
Finally, Maxime, my ever patient hairdresser who has known me for 15 years, asked: “If zey bug you so much, why don’t you have your ‘air colored? Here, let me introduce you to Heide”. And, just like that, beautiful Heide entered my life, and she seems set to stay until I am ready to let go. Or keel over with beautiful, dark tresses.
Taking the first step wasn’t easy. I never, ever, colored my hair – not even in my ’20’s, when punk was fashionable and experimentation was rampant. I was blessed with a very dark brown, with some natural tinges of red after a long summer in the sun. My hair got lighter living in LA but it was a good natural colour I never felt the need to change.
I knew to skip the whole do-it-yourself Revlon kit that Olivia Wilde is touting these days. Whenever someone, no doubt wishing to protect my wallet, suggests one of those touch-up pens, I look at them as if they suggested I enter a nunnery. I would rather eat bean burritos for a month than skimp on my hair colour. Because, even though Olivia’s color in the current Revlon ads looks convincing, I don’t dare imagine what my mane would resemble if I were left to my own devices. There are some things best left to professionals – hair coloring and sushi rolls are but two of them.
Maybe when all my hair goes gray, I will be ready to revert to natural again. But, even when I see photos of beautiful women with stylish gray hair, I never think: “I wish I looked like that”. If hair is indeed a symbol of strength, mine is wrapped in deep chestnut.
I would go grey in a heartbeat. If it was that uniform, platinum, shining helmet that I see on women around me. My mother included – she went grey early and has worn her hair au natural, short and proud ever since.
But that’s not to be for me. My hairdresser reports that I have patches of full grey, some salt and peppery areas and other areas that are still my natural colour under the current dye. “Not nice”, she says, ever the mistress of understatement. “A bit like a monk.” Then she looks me in the eye: “Please don’t try anything on your own. This isn’t an easy process.”
Home Hair kits should come with huge warnings on them. Much like cigarette packs. The most important of which is: “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND THE RESULT WILL BE A COMPLETE CRAPSHOOT DEPENDENT ON A MYRIAD FACTORS OVER WHICH YOU HAVE MINIMAL CONTROL”
Though, as I once did in a hotel room in Milan, millions of women worldwide will ignore the warning. And will end up (if they’re lucky) with a colour never seen in nature or (if they’re not) a burnt scalp and fractured hair.
The hairdresser I slunk off to, spent three hours muttering at me in Italian and covering my hair in weird smelling preparations. He then cut my hair into the style I still wear today and told me: “And now you leave to experts”. Which I do.
I did tell Pascaline the other day that we should consider taking me to Platinum at some point. “Sure”, she said: “let’s do that when you turn sixty”. So watch this space.