The UK is a nation of lock-colouring addicts: According to a 2019 survey conducted my haircare brand Living Proof, close to 80% of women in this country have dyed their tresses at some point. And, why not – trying out a new shade, much like playing with your style – can be a fun way to experiment.
But, what happens when a shade becomes entangled in your identity – and then you decide to let it go? Here, for WH series Back to my Roots, part of Hearst Beauty Month 2020, Isabel Sachs, 34, who lives in London and runs networking and mentoring initiative I LIKE NETWORKING, breaks it down.
I grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, where blonde hair is coveted. As the only flaxen-locked child in my nuclear family – something passed down from my great grandmother – it was part of my identity.
Like a lot of people, as I hit my teens, my strands began to darken. I went from having straight, fair hair to curly, oily hair, although when I spent a lot of time under the hot Brazillian sun in the hot months, it would lighten up again. I loved this: having golden hair and that 'beach-y' look was very much the vibe. Soon, I began getting highlights throughout the year to keep it topped up. Rapidly, I went from getting a few sections lightened to having an entire head of blonde dyed. I became even more attached to seeing myself as 'a blonde.'
After running a production agency in Brazil for a while, I moved to London at age 28, to study for a masters in culture and arts management. With the lack of sun, here, my hair quickly got a lot darker, and so I went to a salon for a top-up. Now, in Brazil, beauty services are pretty inexpensive.
Here, I realised I simply could not afford to maintain my highlight habit – especially as a student. It was a funny one, though: between feeling super pale and with much darker hair than I'd ever had before, I didn't feel like myself. But, after multiple conversations with friends and my boyfriend (now husband) I decided that this was it. I would let the dye grow out, and learn to live with my hair, as it is.
While it was a bit of a challenge to accept my new aesthetic – one I had clung to my entire life – I was really happy with the healthiness of my un-dyed hair. Historically, it had been brittle and now, it felt soft and swishy.
While I had made peace with my look, a trip that summer back home showed that it was a slight shock to my family, who decried how 'unhealthy' I looked, thanks to my paler complexion and brunette locks! Much as with anything, though, they soon got used to it.
My advice to anyone who dyes their hair a certain colour and wants to transition away, but feels a bit weird as they identify with a certain look? At the end of the day, it's hair. Hate what you end up with and you can start again.
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