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Add a splash of color

to the grey of winter

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It seems that writing in the winter is always a bit more difficult for me. Or at least writing about this winter. 

Sure, I got some new ink, and there's been some small adventures... but there's no ice fishing, no romps through the woods on a snowmobile. There's no strange backwoods pictures that make you wonder how I got where I was. 

The snow (or lack thereof) in the past few weeks is great for driving, but kind of puts a damper on everything else. The photos are hard when there's nothing but browns in the background.  Even the sky seems to mute this time of year unless you catch it at just the right moment.  It's just blah out. 

With eight more weeks until spring starts to peek around the corner, it's really easy to get caught up in the boring, dull space that occupies mid-January to late-March. BLAH. 

So, how does one spice up the muted winter wonderland?  Well, if you're me, it starts with a small road trip for supplies. A trip "Up De Eynon" ...  I mean, technically, I go through that spot to get to Dickson City, but it's always a fun NEPA-ism to say.  

So, you might be wondering where I'm headed at this point. Not to the mall, not to the Archbald Pothole, not even to go for food at one of the many restaurants. Nope. I'm going to Sally's Beauty.  I know how strange that sounds to most of you that know me. I'm not really the makeup type. 

This just so happens to be the only place I've found that carries the line of colors I need for my hair. And since I haven't had a re-do on the rainbow since I did it in May, I figured now was my time to shine. Because... is there REALLY any better way to add some color to winter than with a big ole bright spot of me?

Sally's is the only store I can walk into and find the stuff I use... it's not the dirt cheap, washout Walmart Splat dye.  This, if done correctly will literally last a full 6 to 7 months depending on how well you treat your hair. (I will admit, I spent some time in chlorine this summer which probably helped the fading quite a bit.)

I was on a mission for two colors. The rest I had in my big bin of dye at home. I needed red and lemon yellow.  I had looked online for it, but the shipping cost, paired with the wait time made the drive worth it. And really, what else did I have to do  last Sunday?

I walked in, grabbed the colors I needed and then looked at other colors sitting there. I had shades of pink, blues and purples, and three shades of green too.  (Yes, even chartreuse.) Unless I was willing to completely embrace the grey hair that was cropping up more and more, there wasn't any other colors to buy. (They do however have a gorgeous line of silver colorings to add a pop to your grey... or make your whole head grey.) Maybe next time I'll think about that. (When the colors of summer are too bright and I need to tone it down somewhere.)

I checked across the aisle and looked at the bleach powder and developer creme. I had enough of that in stock under the sink, so I didn't need to grab any of that. I did need some color sealer and a nice thick conditioner so I grabbed that in the next aisle over and headed to the counter. There was a very short and heavily oxygenated woman  talking to the cashier about wedding rings.  She showed off her things and admired the nice ring the cashier had on and after a little chit chat was on her way. 

I didn't mind. After all, she was probably just trying to beat the winter blues too. (Her hair did remind me of the typical blue-haired old lady stereotype. I wonder if she used the same brand of dye?)

I set my stuff on the counter and at first thought the girl was going to tell me that I'd need more stuff to make that dye work, and then she looked up and smiled. Guess she realized this wasn't my first rodeo. With the dye and extra things in the bag, I headed out the door and back to the car. 

On the way home I made a stop at the discount grocery store that actually is 'Up De Eynon' and came across an older guy who had a hat that said "Jesus Saves" on. I smiled at him in passing when he touched my arm and stopped me. "Your hair is simply amazing my dear. You should be very proud of that." 

I mean, I was... but in my head it was faded, my roots had grown a few inches and it badly needed a retouch. Instead of mentioning that, I thanked him and said, "I do it myself."  He reminded me that it's not always about what I see, but what someone else sees that can make a huge difference.  I tucked that thought in the back of my brain and moved on, looking for a few specific things on the shelves.  

A cart full of groceries and 10 aisles later, I found myself running into the same guy. He was eating a pastry and motioned to it. "At only 39¢ a piece, these are tasty and a great treat." I laughed and said that I usually stayed away from things like that. Waaay too much sugar. (Right Jonathan?)

He shrugged at me and continued eating. I spied a case of 12 bottles  of kombucha for less than $7 so I put that in the cart. "Ewww," he laughed, "But to each his own." 

With a chuckle to myself, I waved at him and finished my shopping. A short (ok... more like 45 minute) ride back home and I set the dye on the bathroom sink. I changed my shirt, grabbed the other supplies and  closed the door. 

Time to begin. 

This process seems simple, but without the right mixing and timing, it can really ruin your hair.  (AKA... probably best if you don't try this at home... boy, that sure does seem to be a theme with the stuff I do...) I mixed the powdered bleach and the creme developer together in the same bowl I had used for years. Some gloves, a dye brush and pretty soon I had the bleach right where I wanted it. Getting that old color out so I could put some new color in. 

Two short rounds of bleaching later (only because the red from before refused to leave my hair) and I was ready for the next step. Color. 

Red at the roots, magenta, salmon, blood orange, cantaloupe, lemon yellow, mint green, chartreuse, jade, aqua, lagoon blue,  sky blue, purple, radiant orchid... I do have 30 inches of hair to color, so I can fit in quite a bit of color and blending.  (I may have missed a dye color in that lineup honestly. I have a basket of tubes of color and just buy the new shades when they come out.)

Six pairs of rubber gloves later and the color was in. Now, to wrap it up and wait. And wait. And Wait.  Honestly, I cooked a pot of French Onion Soup from scratch and then did dishes and laundry. I forgot my hair even had the dye in it. Not to worry though. I didn't cook 30 inches into mush. (This dye won't kill your hair like bleaching it will.)

When it was well past time to rinse the dye out, I hopped in the shower and watched as rainbow turned to mud in the bottom of the basin and washed down the drain. It might have taken a solid five minutes to be able to get the water to run clear. Next came the color sealer and then my typical routine. 

A half hour after that, I was a dried up mess of poof as I sat near the wood/coal stove. An appointment with a flat iron to tame it down, and I had a massive rainbow. Massive. 

I looked in the mirror and smiled. YEP. That was completely the look I was going for. The blue-haired old lady would smile, the girl behind the counter would give me the thumbs up  and the 'Jesus Saves' man would wink and offer me another pastry. 

Now I saw what they saw. A bright spot in the middle of the winter blues.  

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