Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Great Purple Hair Dilemma of 2007

As you’ve probably gathered, my hair is one part of my appearance I have regular crises about. This is because it is the one thing I have some control over.

Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel RossettiI tried to dye my hair purple last week, but as a friend wisely pointed out, purple was one of the last colours they managed to invent an effective dye for, so it seemed unlikely I would be able to develop such a thing myself out of herbs and berries. My concoction involved a large quantity of henna, and now I look rather like Veronica here. I didn’t seriously expect it to work, if I’m completely honest. I shall call my concoction Agent Orange in tribute to Eternal Sunshine.

So after much arm-twisting, I was persuaded to buy some purple dye. It arrived today and suddenly I am in crisis.

Do I want purple hair?

There's a bit of guilt in here. During the first couple of years I was ill, I used to feel terribly guilty about wearing colourful nail varnish. Because really I should have been at school and at school, where I wouldn’t have been allowed to wear nail varnish. Similarly, I feel guilty about the idea of having purple hair when, if I was in regular work, I wouldn't get away with it.

Veronica Veronese, mirrored and purpleAnd I'm thinking, if I have purple hair, will people think, no wonder she’s not got a proper job, she has purple hair?

Or will they think, ah, there’s the Goldfish, you can tell she is an eccentric artistic type as she has purple hair?

Or will they think, poor woman, not only has she been crippled by the Dreaded Lurgy, it has also turned her hair purple?

And is it all right to have purple hair in rural East Anglia? In Whitby, nobody would have blinked a heavily powdered eyelid, but there might be a lot of porphyrophobia around these parts.

Also, and this does occur to me, perhaps I am (ahem) too old to have purple hair? I am twenty-six; maybe I really should have got all this sort of thing out of my system in my teens. I don't much like it when people who grow up, but most people do and most people expect me too. And what will my mother think?!

I am also conflicted because the dye is called Manic Panic, and I'm not sure I am very comfortable endorsing a product which uses mental health terms to advertise cosmetics (although they are punks, and punks may be a special case). But then the colour is called Purple Haze and I like that.

It will be a fairly dark purple as I have no intention of bleaching my hair before hand. And it will eventually wash out. And if I do do it, I am going to wait at least until the end of next week, after I have met and made a good impression on my new GP.

But what do you think? Do you think? Can't you see this is important, dammit?!

Next time I shall return to far more trivial matters. In the meantime, check out the 35th Carnival of Feminists at the F-Word.

Edited: I also told you that the Disability Blog Carnival was today, but it's not until next week. I appear to have lost a week. Then I read something that said today was Maundy Thursday. I was completely oblivious. Is this Easter Weekend coming up then? What? How? My apologies if I befuddled anyone else.


Anonymous said...

Purple hair dye, yes yes yes. I'm 25 and frequently dye my hair crazy colours including purple. Hair dye rocks. And do you really care what people think?! I always work on the assumption that if people are gonna stare because of the chair i should give them something to really stare at. Isn't the carnival next week? I totally missed the chance to participate if it's this week *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Hi- I am a regular reader in the states, and have used manic panic before- it washes out really quickly, if that is any consolation, so it is not too much of a committment. and 26 is not too old!

Anonymous said...

if you're too old at 26 to have purple hair, than i'm positive ancient. i'm 34, and have - guess what? - purple hair.

and i love it. in the last few years i've always dyed it purple or red. go for it, and don't look back!


Anonymous said...

Does it go with your complexion, that's the only thing that matters. Age is totally irrelevant. Sarah Bernhardt and Dirk Bogarde went on dyeing their hair up to the day they each died of old age.

It's not exactly in the same class as a blue rinse, after all; though you could wear some pearls and specs with upswept frames to confuse the issue.

Anonymous said...

Back in the earliest '80s, punk's heyday in Southern California and also the time of my brief sojourn into art school, there was a product one could buy which was like mascara for the hair. L'Oreal made one, but there were others. My hair was very, very short, because as I said, it was punk's heyday in SoCal and I was in art school, and I would run that wand through my little locks whenever I felt the urge and go from blonde to purple or turquoise, my two favorite alternative hair colors (for my coloring), as quickly as I could turn my lashes black. It would wash out with the next shampoo.

If I were you, I would try something like this first. Daring to be different is excellent, but flexibility where you can find it is downright luxurious.

Sally said...

Erm, dye = poison !!!

Not the colour (fabulous), but the fact of the dye. It is absorbed through the scalp into the system. Its toxic. One of the health warnings I received from a clued up (female)GP (who often changes her own colour) was don't be tempted to dye your hair if you have a compromised immune system.

I shall be forever silver.

Think again please.

Anonymous said...

Sally, surely that depends on what the dye is composed of?

All sorts of different chemicals must be used to make the different colours and shades and not all of them are necessarily toxic, surely? (mind you, I don't know what the hell they would put into purple dyes. Probably not blackberry juice.)

The Goldfish said...

Thanks all,

Now feeling slightly guilty about the age thing. I know goths in their fifties who have brightly coloured hair, and I never think they're too old, but hey.

Sara, thanks, it is actually called Hair Mascara. Trouble is I have loads of hair; it's not terribly long but there's a lot of it. I would need tubes and tubes of the stuff to cover it.

Sally, thanks for the warning. I'm think what Charles is thinking, to some extent. I'll do a little more research and actually whilst it isn't blackberries - and elderberries were a constiuent indregient of my Agent Orange concoction, the Manic Panic range is supposed used natural indregients, non-toxic, conditioning to the hair etc. I wouldn't dream of putting peroxide on my head, but anyway, will do more research about that.

Penny L. Richards said...

Do it right now! That way if it goes awry, you can claim it was just an accident, something happened during the Easter Egg-making process.... this excuse only works in the spring, so hurry up.

(I sprayed my hair purple for at least one Easter, to entertain my kids. They're easily entertained. And I was about 35 at the time, so you've got years to play.)

Oh, and the Disability Blog Carnival is second and fourth Thursdays--so there are sometimes three-week intervals between editions.

Anonymous said...

I have been to rural East Anglia, specifically Crowland; if there is one thing that part of the country needs (and my hubby will back me fully on this point, I don't doubt), it's more people with purple hair. Do it, youngster!

Twenty-six? Is that all? Bah. Wait till you're thirty-two like me, then panic. Case in point: I've got a pair of new FLARES on right now. I have never worn flares in my life, not even when it was actually the Seventies. What on earth am I thinking?! But good heavens, do these things ever flatter my arse. I didn't think that was possible.

Too much information? Well now it's too late. :D

Sage said...

I'm middle aged and often dye my hair weird colours. To me it shows a creativity, a willing to take risks, a refusal to abide by the status quo. It says, "I'm not dead yet!"

Mary said...

Today is Thursday. On Sunday, that is the 8th, that is three sleeps from now, it will be Super Mega Happy Fun Chocolate Day.

I have lived in East Anglia all my life, I have seen and worked with plenty of purple-haired people.

Sally said...

Someone back me up here (and I just knew I was inviting knowledgeable comment from CD) - yes, natural ingredients, but used where nature never imagined ... concentrations, applications ... can be unnatural, meaning the body does not have an age-old design mechanism to deal with it .. its late, I'm off to bed (to dream of long swathes of purple hair).

Anonymous said...

Sally, for what it's worth I know you're not supposed to dye your hair while you're pregnant, which is a temporary state of compromised immunity, and there's a chance (however remote) of passing the toxins along to the fetus.

I dyed my hair for the first and only time when I was 27. It was instead of shaving my head, which was what I really wanted to do, but my brother's college graduation was coming up and my mother argued me out of shaving.

I used a dye from a health store and it was still pretty harsh.

BloggingMone said...

I used to have my hair dyed for quite a while and found that colours which do not last long and can be washed out are not very toxic. Only the really good colours, very bright and lasting are a bit more toxic.
People think you will not be given a job because of purple hair? At my favourite coffee shop one of the baristas has got purple hair, the other one green highlights. My GP's assitant has got a bright orange fringe. We used to have a secretary with a bright blue streak. Oh, and the woman in the local flower shop has got a bob in bright pink.

Anonymous said...

Not commenting Sally, just asking. I know from nothing about hairdyes, having been resigned to going a distinguished grey since my twenties.

Anyway I can't quite see how the fact that it is going on the scalp makes any difference. Presumably nature never intended us to put lotions or ointments on any part of our skins.

But I thought there were pretty strict laws about safety for cosmetics, hence all the animal testing. And even those companies like BodyShop, who boast that they don't test on animals, probably have a battery of scientists backed up by a battery of nervous lawyers, to pre-empt any damages claims.

Of course, individual sensitivities and compromised immune systems, that's something else. Some people have been proved to get allergic reactions to distilled water or normal saline, for goodness' sake.

Mary said...

Who cares about "natural" or "synthetic", whether something is sold by Holland and Barret or by Boots - surely the only consideration is whether something is actually harmful?

Hemlock is natural. So is cyanide. And mould, and cowpats. I don't suggest you eat any. It'll do you more harm than a Turkey Twizzler.

Sally said...

Charles, you have illustrated what I was trying to say - the reason why we put lotions and potions on our skin is because they are capable of being absorbed, in a beneficial way. And Sheila's comment is interesting, so there must be something about dye being absorbed becomes toxic once it is in a system inside the body. An allergic reaction which can be proved in cause and effect is not the same as a subtle change to the body's immune or other system, which may happen weeks months later. Think how natural sunlight alters the DNA on our 'tanned' skin.
Also, Charles, I was hoping you would comment with knowledge - I didn't use 'comment' prejoratively, just that's what we do here, and BM I think a pink bob would suit me a treat, but it may scare the birds out of the garden.
Goldfish, the word verification is go with the 'flowz'.
I am going back to bed now.

The Goldfish said...

Wow, thanks everyone. I guess that's a Yes, you ought to dye your hair purple, overall.

Sally, point taken and I'm sorry you're having so much bed time just now; take it things are not good?

I did some more research on this, because obviously I don't want to jeopardise the progress my health has made of late.

However, as I understand it,

(a) very many natural-colour hair dyes contain metals which are toxic to anyone, but have no effect in healthy individuals in the short term. The thing about pregnancy and hair-dye is that there is no established risk, but it is best to err on the side of caution (as with so much modern pregnancy advice). There are however hair-dyes which advertise as being completely safe in pregnancy.

(b) and there is some suggestion that folks who dye their hair persistantly for decades may have thus weakened their immune systems. This is controversial - it's such a longitudinal area of research they don't really know; the studies which suggest a danger are looking at women who dyed their hair for 20 and 25 years running.

(c) a body with an auto-immune disease like Lupus identifies the smallest threat - a toxin, micro-organism or simply something unfamiliar - and stages a massive over-reaction. I read several warnings about Lupus flare-ups and various cosmetics, including hair-dye, alas.

(d) however, a body with simply (ha!) a debilitated immune system is simply more vulnerable to toxins or infections. Similar effect, slightly different mechanism.

Therefore, if I am satisfied that hair-dye isn't actually "toxic", and so long as I keep it off my scalp (as you're supposed to anyway), then... I don't think it's a significant danger. I shall proceed with due caution, though, and do appreciate the advice.

Anonymous said...

Old-fashioned dyes (and modern ones for all I know) contained two components: the colouring matter and the mordant which, as its name suggests, was to attack the surface of the object to be dyed and render it capable of taking up the colour.

This is why old-fashioned black, peroxide blonde, and henna hair dyes tended to look so lifeless. The hairs had been literally roughened.

And most of these mordants, whether for hair or for cloth or leather or whatever, were either metals or strong caustics or acids.

I suspect that modern dyes have to work very differently, but recipes for the older ways still surface in recipe books and suchlike aimed at those who like to think they are being "natural".

Sally said...

Wonderful crip bloggers arrive at the right conclusion after much research and discussion = a purple Goldfish. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

Charles Dawson, my understanding of dyeing from working with fiber is that all dyes need a mordant, the mordant can affect the color profoundly, and the mordant is likely to be as variable in toxicity as the dye.

When you mix Easter Egg dye with vinegar, the vinegar is the mordant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sheila. The vinegar, being acid, eats slightly into the egg shell and makes it receptive to the coloured dye?

Apparently medieval ladies used caustic soda as a mordant on their hair; they had a special hat with no crown, over which they spread their hair, so that the caustic would not touch the scalp.

A choice between dark roots and baldness, apparently.

Geosomin said...

Dyed my hair purple when I turned 30. Bleached so it was vibrant and the whole bit. No probs...There's a great purple dye out there that's currently in my hair right now. Course it's "normal" dark underneath now and washes out eventually so it's a bit less vibrant than the "see? I'm not old!" color change of my birthday, but still great.

I say you're never too old to dye your hair purple...or any color. I say most red dyes don't look any mor enatural, so why not.

Anonymous said...

I like purple hair, but actually I like to change hair color sometimes. And actually I tried henna also, but had not purple color, but red. But anyway it was nice.

Anonymous said...

I think purple color is nice, and if you are 26 years old, it's not so much. 50 years old woman is maybe too old, but for you this color would be nice.

GROLDIS said...

Sorry 'Hair Transplant' I'm 52, Australian and regularly have a combination of purple, blond and black hair. I love my Swedish hairdresser to bits and let her do whatever she likes with my hair. I call her an artist. Life is for living whatever your age!

Term papers said...

I’ve probably gathered, Your hair is one part of your appearance you have regular crises about. This is because it is the one thing you have some control over.