Judging by my Instagram activity last week, I became a little obsessed with color while covering beauty backstage at New York Fashion Week. Color, specifically, of the Manic Panic variety. Every time I caught sight of someone with hair of a non-natural hue -- Chloe Norgaard or Natalie Westling, for instance -- I snapped a picture for inspiration. In the same way that I get impulse haircuts, it was rapidly becoming apparent that I needed a change of color on my head, stat.
On the last day of Fashion Week, the perfect color arrived. It was at Marc Jacobs, and it didn't belong to a particular person, but rather to the wigs that some of the models wore.
Let's break down this color. It's pink, but only a blush of that, and there's a gray-brown tone to it. It looks like the hair team made the pink pastel and then some — muddied it a bit. The result is a color that's fantastically neutral and for that reason totally wearable. You might not even know it's pink at first glance, and therein lies the fun.
I texted my roommate that she should clear her Friday night because we were getting crafty. Also, it was Valentine's Day. What better to do than drink champagne with your best friend and dye your hair pink?
The Marc Jacobs color was mostly a jumping-off point. I knew I wasn't going to achieve exactly that tone since I wasn't willing to bleach my entire head -- that was a little more commitment than I needed on Valentine's Day -- and my hair has a lot of different tones in it, ranging from golden blonde to an ashier hue underneath. What I wanted to achieve, though, was the concept of the Marc Jacobs color: a subtle, natural shade that made people look twice.
The following hair adventure took place over the course of four days.
Friday: The process: Mixed equal parts Manic Panic Cotton Candy and Virgin Snow Hair Color Cream -- a toner that takes some of the electricity out of the pink -- in a plastic bowl that would not get washed for the next three days. Coated whole head in said mixture, getting bolder and upping the ratio of pink to toner as I worked up through the bottom layers of hair. Waited the allotted 30 minutes. Followed directions and rinsed out hair with freezing cold water in the shower, instilling in myself a deep dread of rinsing out hair dye that would linger over the course of the following days and probably forever.
The result: Achieved an accidental but pretty rose gold tint, with more intensity in some strands near the top. The color varied with the lighting, so that at times it looked straight-up blonde, at others strawberry blonde or pink. A friend we met up with at a bar later said he totally could tell it was different, but something in me didn't quite believe him.
A lot of people liked it on Instagram, but I worried that they couldn't really see the color either and only did that to make me shut up about it.
Finding it difficult to discern how strong the color was due to crappy apartment lighting, I decided to ramp up the intensity. Go big or go home.
The process: Added less Virgin Snow -- which, by the way, is purple in the jar -- and more Cotton Candy in wide highlights on both the top and bottom layers of my hair. Manned up about the cold shower after standing around in my towel and putting it off for 10 minutes.
The result: After blow drying, the color was more apparent but still not strong as it could be. Actually, let's be honest: It really wasn't that different.
FaceTimed with a friend and told him about the dye job. He said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but it looks like something is off about your hair, but you don't quite know what it is."
I told him that was exactly the point.
Decided that sometimes subtle is too subtle. A little over the whole dyeing and re-dyeing thing and wondering if I was just undermining the slow process of building up color by rinsing so often, I decided to make one last attempt to get my hair to a place where people would definitely say, "Ah, yes, her hair is pink. I think."
This is basically the hair dye equivalent of trying really hard to dress like you didn't try at all but also wearing a statement necklace to make sure people notice your outfit. Or of loudly making a hilarious joke while your crush is sitting the table over. I realize this.
The process: Went to Ricky's to buy more hair dye. Did my whole head, at first with an 80-20 ratio of Cotton Candy to Virgin Snow, and then upping that to pure pink on some sections. Left on hair for 40 minutes. Rinsed with warm water because I do not hate myself.
The result: Bingo. The ashier sections of my hair handled more color well and hit that nice muddled tone that the hair at Marc Jacobs had. Other portions veered toward a more electric hue, especially under flash photography, but even then they were tempered by the blonde underneath. Because the dye is semi-permanent, the color is going to be in flux over the course of the next three weeks anyway.
That's three more weeks of hair color soul-searching, friends.