“I give you eight months. Eight months, and you’ll be back here asking for your blonde back.”
I should have listened to my colourist’s prophetic words.
But I’d been living in Europe for months, and the glossy brunettes gracing every piazza table, billboard and boardroom had swayed me. My blonde Australian look had started to feel cheap (although really, blonde is a very expensive colour). Still, it seemed unsophisticated. Even homely. I wanted to resemble a Lavazza ad, and I wanted it now.
The actual dyeing process didn’t take long; I read a magazine and by the last page I’d become a brunette. As the styling assistant blasted my hair dry, I caught my reflection in the mirror and had a subtle sinking sense that maybe that chocolate-coloured semi-perm wasn’t as sophisticated as I’d hoped. My dark eyebrows looked a bit lost with my dark hair; they had nothing to contrast with, so they no longer framed my face.
I thought going brunette would save time and money, good bye lavender shampoo and bi-monthly split-end removals! But it was immediately clear that a different type of upkeep was necessary.
I'd never noticed it before, but clothes look different when you change your hair colour. The neutral and black tones that dominated my wardrobe went from chic to sombre and frumpy against my dark-haired look.
Not to mention a tan. Dark hair and dark eyes against pale of skin is quite a different look from the sultry Penelope Cruz vibe I'd been aiming for. Funny how I'd never noticed my light skin before.
It turns out if you're aiming to look Mediterranean, not being Scandinavian helps.
My hair did adopt a lovely shine after going brunette – blonde can never look glossy in quite the same way– but the need to slather myself in St Tropez mousse every two nights to keep from turning into Morticia's mousy sister wore thin, fast.
When I returned home from Europe, magazine photos of Asher Keddie and Delta Goodrem took on a new appeal. There was nothing homely or cheap-looking about their hair: they looked young, vibrant, soft, and so damn pretty.
And so – almost exactly eight months after my hair transformation – I was back in a salon, demanding my old blonde look back. But I soon learned, going back to blonde - like coming home - is never as easy as it seems.
Stage One of my “journey back to blonde” – my Melbourne hairdresser emphasised that it was a journey – involved seven hours in the chair.
For three of them a colourist painted chunky white stripes into my long, thick hair. Afterwards, distressingly, I appeared to belong in Taronga Zoo or stretched out across a road, helping children to cross safely. As soon as I was dried off, my colourist and I met eyes in the mirror and unanimously decided I needed “a few more lowlights to break things up.”