The Pros and Cons of Colourful Hair

Posted by Catherine Elms on October 12, 2011 Blog posts | Personal | | 15 comments

As you all know, I have colourful hair.  My natural colour is a sort of strawberry blonde, something like this:

But I got bored of it after years of the same colour.  I wasn’t brave enough to change up the style, so I went through dying phases.  First, dark brown in 2005:

Then, deep pinks and purples in 2007:

2007, in The Jolly Tar. I love my hair here.

This was a Stargazer dye, so it all washed out within a week.

Then red in 2008:

Then in December 2008, 2 months into my degree, I decided to take the plunge and bleach it.  I wanted to shake up my image a bit, do something radically different, and stand out from the crowd. So I did this:

For the past three years, almost, I’ve loved having colourful hair.  The pros of having colourful hair are:

–          Colourful hair is its own accessory. You can wear jeans and a t shirt and still look good.

–          You become instantly memorable (“who’s she?” “the one with purple hair”).

–          It’s a conversation starter. People have started talking to me on buses, in shops, in toilets, and on the street about my hair.

–          It tends to attract other “alternative”-ish people. (one of my old uni friends told me that the reason she decided to start talking to me was because she thought my hair was cool)

–          Kids getting excited when they see your hair in public – “look mummy, look at her hair! Can I have blue hair?” I love that. <3

–          Obviously it looks cool as fuck.

I’ve dyed it many colours since then; here’s a quick selection:

January 2009

blue hair

Blue – March 2009. I miss this colour so much, but it was hard to maintain!
Deep pink – summer 2009
Blue and black – December 2009
Red and black – autumn 2010.
March 2011 – cut it short and bleached out the black to go back to purple

However, three years later, I’ve finally decided to dye it back to a normal colour – probably dark brown again.  Having coloured hair has lost its shine (literally and figuratively), and I’m sick of all the downsides:

–          It’s such a pain to maintain.  I used to dye my hair dark brown, and as long as I dyed it every 6 weeks or so, when my roots came through and the colour started losing vibrancy, the colour always looked fantastic.  Now, with purple hair, I need to dye it every two weeks, and bleach the roots every month, if I want to keep it looking good.  I can’t afford to do it that often, which means that I usually spend half my time having grey-tinted hair and brown roots.

–          Dirty looks from sanctimonious strangers.

–          Creepy come-ons from strange men who think it’s acceptable to stroke your hair when it’s an unusual colour. No dude, it’s still my hair, FUCK OFF.

–          Dirty men who ask you if the carpet matches the curtains (true story).  Have these men considered the logistics of dying your pubic hair?!

–          Nagging relatives asking you when you’re going to grow up and dye over it.

–          You’re less employable. I pretty much lost my retail job in 2008 because I dyed my hair purple.  Fuck BHS. (purple hair is “unnatural”, whereas white blonde with black streaks is totally fine…)

–          Stained bath towels, pillows, and collars (I learned the hard way that dark blue towels are the way forward).

–         Sometimes it’s nice not to stand out.  You can’t blend in with purple hair.

p.s. want to dye your hair?  Read my how-to guide!


  • miss tukru (@kissakerho) said on Oct 12, 2011 6:53 pm

    i’m gonna miss your purple hair :/ i have a tendency of living vicariously through my friends colourful hair.
    but it’s totally understandable, i got tired of dying my hair black every once and a while (then again, i don’t have a shower so i have to go to carl’s mum’s to dye my hair. trying to wash off hairdye in the sink is not going to happen.)

  • Hannah said on Oct 12, 2011 7:08 pm

    I had pink/purple hair for a few years when I was at uni (the first time round, doing my BA) & loved it for all the reasons you’ve listed as pros. I went natural again mostly because the upkeep is such a bastard… Nowadays I’m often tempted to dye it blue, or pink (again) but I do quite like my natural colour, it’s a rich shade & seems a shame to bleach it!

    By the way, I love yr natural colour & can’t believe how different you look with it, I didn’t realise the first pic was you at first!

    • Catherine said on Oct 14, 2011 11:43 am

      Thanks so much! Your natural colour is lovely, I can’t imagine you with pink hair!

  • Will said on Oct 13, 2011 11:09 pm

    Your natural hair colour is amazing! I definitely feel your pain on the ‘trying to find a job’ front. I feel like pink is my natural hair colour, silly as that sounds, and the kids I work with all love it. The adults who are hiring, though, slightly less so. If you get a cool boss (and you feel like it) you can always just redye your hair once you’ve got the job. So long as you check with them first a lot of workplaces are OK with it.

    • Catherine said on Oct 14, 2011 11:26 am

      That’s what I’m hoping! My last boss loved my hair – but I worked in an office away from customers, so maybe if I was dealing with the public they’d be more strict. :/

  • emma f said on Oct 17, 2011 1:37 pm

    Yeah I’ve stopped having bright hair because of all the time spent on uptake too. Esp cause my hair’s naturally dark, it tends to get fried ends after a while from the bleach, and once the colour fades to a lighter shade I tend to look a bit ill ….

  • Ingrid said on Jan 10, 2012 10:26 pm

    This is a really interesting post, good to see the honest pros and cons. You’ve definitely made the most of being a student and tried out loads of looks though 🙂 Your natural hair colour is so pretty 🙂

    • Catherine said on Mar 24, 2012 12:43 pm

      thank you! 🙂

  • Carissa said on Dec 5, 2012 12:16 am

    i love your hair. the last purple picture here is what i’m getting next week. luckily, at 14 i don’t have to worry about getting a job. all of your hair colors honestly look awesome though.

  • emmi said on Jun 23, 2013 10:54 pm

    Im only 11, and I really want to dye my hair blue and purple, but I read your artical, and I dont want creepers. I was just wanting your advise. Do you think creepers will “attack”? I might just be to weirded out.

  • Jolie O. said on Nov 26, 2013 4:37 pm

    I stumbled across your website when looking for this one online gallery – because I want to look at different hair colors. Anyway, I can’t believe you got fired over your hair color. Yes, some jobs, here in the U.S., will hold it against you, but certainly not in retail. Not unless you’re working at like some family oriented shop, but in the fashion industry or the mall, no way. Well, anyway, I love your pics. I’m thinking about going natural, too, but I’ll probably look to highlight and tint because, as you’ve mentioned, I’m getting tired of maintaining it. Yes, everything is purple and red from before, lol.

    Well, anyway, did you find a job? And then go back to dying your hair? That’s what I would have done, lol.

  • Jaci said on Jun 26, 2015 2:41 pm

    Do you remember what shade of red the stargazer dye was? I would like to experiment with it:)

    • Catherine Elms said on Jun 30, 2015 4:46 pm

      Foxy Red I believe! 🙂

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