'I've been blonde, brunette and a redhead. There's one colour I would not go back to.'

As a ginger-haired, pale and freckle-faced kid, I would have done anything to change my hair colour and complexion. 

I faced plenty of teasing for being a redhead, mostly by a few d**khead boys at school, and I dreamed about one day being a sassy blonde boss like my favourite 'Day-to-Night' Barbie.

As a teen, I was told by hairdressers and the grown-ups in my orbit that my auburn hair was 'beautiful' and that many women paid good money for that rusty tone – and I rolled my eyes and ignored them all.

To me, being a freckly redhead represented either being a science nerd or a whimsical artist's muse from Victorian times. Some brick-red (faux) redheads had 'singer-in-a-Britpop-band' vibes, but I felt my natural ginger locks did not qualify for this elevated status. 

Did someone say early 90s? Me as a ginger tween, wishing I was blonde. Image: Supplied.


Whenever my favourite magazine of the '90s did a spread on 'make-up to wear according to your skin tone' the blondes and brunettes had all the fun. 

Being a '90s redhead meant only having access to a limited palette of eye shadows and lipsticks in muted tones, perhaps we somehow scared people (?) with all that clashing colour.

If I was ever going to become the woman I wanted to be – Kylie Minogue in her 'I Should Be So Lucky' video – I would need to be a sexy blonde or maybe a cool brunette.

So as soon as I turned 18 and had access to some Saturday job funds, I had my first visit to a professional colourist and got some Ginger Spice blonde stripes at the front.

And oh what an expensive and 'colourful' hair journey I have had since then.

As an impoverished student, I soon realised my rookie error as I could not afford to keep up with the blonde stripes. And so I turned to experimental short haircuts and cheap box dye thus ruining the natural colour of my hair for at least three years. 

Me (left) with my friend Liz in my edgy-student-hair era. Image: Supplied.


As soon as I graduated and began bringing home a wage, I went straight to the hairdressers to go full blonde. 

Bright, brashy, blonde: the opposite of quiet luxury and I loved it. 

When I met a cute surfer boy while travelling in Australia in 2001, I was still deep in my blonde phase. It suited my boho-backpacker-and-girlfriend-to-a-surfer (from Dubbo) life stage.

I fell in love with said surfer and we got married in 2003. I did a full 180 and decided it was time to return to my roots. Literally.

I let the blonde fade and grew out the remaining stripes until I was back as a (slightly lighter) redhead for my wedding day. It felt right and matched where I was at that stage in my life. A young and in-love wife-type who might also be an artist's muse if 2003 was in fact 1903.


My inner blonde came out a few times in those early married years, but in my late 20s when I decided I wanted to be taken more seriously at work, I completed the hair trifecta and became a brunette.

I loved how much less time it took at the hairdressers and how shiny my hair became. How it blended neatly into my darker roots and matched my then rather think Y2K damaged eyebrows.

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As a brunette I loved being able to experiment with different makeup and clothes and as ridiculous as it sounds; it helped me feel like I could speak up more in work meetings. This was a long time before the #MeToo movement, and it was not uncommon for me to be called 'blondey' by my much older male work colleagues. 

When I had my first child in 2010, I was back to auburn red, the thought of trying to maintain fussy hair appointments was not appealing and leaning into this redheaded natural earth-mother phase also seemed so very right. As a plus, going back to my natural hair colour really made my blue eyes 'pop' and on the negative side, people cannot help but ask about or comment on your hair when it is red.


Yes, it is natural and yes, the cuffs and collars absolutely match... *eye roll*. 

Over the years as my income has increased but my tolerance for sitting in the hairdressers has lessened, I've yo-yoed between all three hair colours frequently until sometime around my late 30s when I realised my hair was going grey. 

I had one last foray into being a brunette and since then have decided that brunette, the colour that once gave me such confidence, is now the one colour I cannot revisit. 

As I age and my skin tone changes; my face is all smile lines and sagging skin, fake brunette no longer looks right on me.

Rather than making me look and feel like a corporate, confident, cool-girl, it made me look tired and pasty. 


I needed to wear more makeup and trying to wear my favourite uniform of black with brunette hair on my complexion seemed wrong.

Now I am 44, I have very much settled into being a blonde. I feel the light shade not only compliments my older, softer face but represents who I am now.

As an older woman, I don't need (and nor should I have to) worry about feeling respected by misogynists in the workplace. I know now, too, that changing your hair colour can't change who you are or how others treat you, but I have always enjoyed the variety and playfulness of mixing it up – just for fun.

The greying remains of my natural ginger hair are for now, still under my cool blonde highlights and I feel nostalgic and sad about the fact I didn't embrace its natural shade for longer than I did. Especially now as a mum to a little red-headed boy.

Perhaps in years to come, I will branch out and embrace my greys or even try a candy pink, but right now I'm comfortable as a blonde. 

It makes my inner shy little ginger freckled-haired nerdy kid very happy indeed.

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Senior Lifestyle Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied / Canva.

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