The first question seems to be "Why?" The answer seems to be that I'm not really sure. Time for a change? Halloween? Sounded like fun?
The funny thing is, I was just lamenting to myself about how much I dislike change. Change is bad! I'm changing living situations, I just changed my computer's operating system, I only recently came back to work after time off; you'd think that there was enough change going on in my life.
melts the snowman waits for no man.
The original plan was that I would dye my hair Thursday night, with Kam's help, and would go into work on Friday and surprise everyone. Then Kam pointed out to me that there were temporary hair dyes out there that wouldn't require me to undergo radical long-term change; I could try them and see if I liked them.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the only such items available (that have a particularly noticeable effect) are designed to work with light-colored hair. My hair is dark brown. I know there are hair-color products that would give me reddish highlights that you could see if you looked at me in direct sunlight, but I wanted something dramatic and obvious. And to do that, I had two choices:
- Use spray-on hair color, which is temporary and works on dark hair but seemed unlikely to be usable for my beard and eyebrows.
- Bleach my hair, then decide whether to apply other colors or not.
Thursday night, I was still waffling, but I was kind of leaning toward bleaching, and moreover toward having a professional do the job. Lori had provided me with a fair tad bit of helpful advice, including the advice to have a professional do the eyebrows, and I wanted it to look good, and it seemed easier all around to just get someone who knew what they were doing. I talked with a salon near work; they said there was a 9:30 a.m. appointment on Friday, and another one at noon. (I expressed surprise that there was a 9:30 appointment available, since the sign on their door said they opened at 11, but no further comment was forthcoming.) I asked about beard and eyebrows; they said those could be bleached for an extra $10-$15 or so. I told them I would think about it and call them back.
Unfortunately, I didn't make up my mind 'til late that night. Friday morning, I called them and found that they didn't open 'til 11. I could've tried to make it to the salon by 9:30 and tried to attract their attention from outside to see if the appointment was still open, but I figured noon would be good enough.
Friday at 11, I called again, and was told there was indeed still a noon appointment open, for a haircut. I explained that I wanted my hair bleached. They told me the only open slot was at 3:30.
At work, we were supposed to be gathering at 4:30 to view costumes and find out the results of the costume-contest voting. I figured I'd be cutting it a little close, but would probably be back more or less on time.
So I went off to the salon. The stylist guy was very friendly; he was also extremely surprised that I wanted to go blond. "You really want to do this?" he kept asking me, in tones of great enthusiasm. I finally said, "Are you telling me it's a bad idea? 'Cause if so, I'd rather know now than later." He said, "No, it's a great idea! I never get to do anything like this!" (Or words to that effect.) I asked about eyebrows and beard; he told me that he wouldn't recommend it, because the bleach is a little painful on the scalp, and facial skin is more sensitive, so it would be very painful on the face. I indicated that I wasn't sure what to do about my beard; he said to shave it off. I said I didn't especially like how I looked without it; he said that he wouldn't be comfortable bleaching any hair on my face. I was disappointed, but figured I'd come this far and I might as well go on with it.
I told him that it would be great if I could get out of there by 4:30 (it's a five-minute drive from work); he said that wouldn't be a problem, I'd be done well before then.
So they applied bleach to my hair, and stuck me under a blow-dryer helmet for about 20 minutes. I didn't feel a thing—no tingling, no pain, no itching. They did more bleach around the fringes, where they hadn't quite gotten everything, and stuck me back under the dryer. By the time I came out from the dryer, it was 4:30. The hairdresser guy said they'd be all done in another ten or fifteen minutes.
They washed my hair, and put various other things in it, and washed it some more, and did stuff, and sold me some purple shampoo and conditioner to use on it (apparently to make the color less bright yellow over time). By the time I left the salon, it was about 5:05. By the time I got back to work, everyone had gone home, except for a couple of my co-workers. Neither of them provided the "Oh my God!" reaction I'd been hoping for; they both kind of raised their eyebrows and said, "Um, why'd you do that?" or words to that effect.
All very disappointing. I finished up work and left to hang out with Arthur & Pam; they live in a real Neighborhood, where there are dozens of kids, and they tend to have friends over to hang out on Halloween while they give out candy to trick-or-treaters. So I was expecting half a dozen friends to be there, but it turned out to be just Pam and Arthur and me and, later, Kam. And the kidlet, of course, and Pam's parents stopped by briefly to see their grandson.
Saturday morning, I called Mary Anne on iChat AV (video chat software); she was suitably surprised, which was gratifying, and we chatted about eyebrows and beards and such. Mary Anne found a blog entry titled Raising Eyebrows, which provides "Notes towards a taxonomy of eyebrow morphology in adolescent Japanese males"; we were amused by the caption "semi-declined with deliberate sagittal trauma," among others, but mostly I'm pointing to it for the instructions on how to bleach your eyebrows, which you can find a little less than halfway down the page, a little way below the heading "Colouring." The first three steps of the instructions start out looking reasonable, but be sure to read all the way through all four steps.
Anyway. It became clear that I was going to have to either shave the beard (and do something with the eyebrows) or apply some further bleach on my own. Kam came over Saturday evening, and brought with her some Sally Hansen Creme Hair Bleach For Face for lightening "dark, unwanted hair." I applied it to beard, mustache, and eyebrows, despite quite a lot of trepidation (the instructions explicitly say not to use it near eyes, and I'm not thrilled with the idea of inhaling a lot of chlorine at close quarters either).
The results are somewhat mixed. On the one hand, the beard and eyebrow colors blend much better with the hair color now. On the other hand, the less-dark beard means it does less of its job defining the lines of my face; one reason I wear the beard in the first place is 'cause it's a lot easier to shape a beard than to shape a face. And the cut parts of the beard seem to me to stand out more now—the sharp line of cut mustache across upper lip jumps out a little more, and the beard in general looks a little scruffier to me. Also, my facial hair grows quickly, so dark bits will be showing again soon, and I don't especially want to apply bleach to my face every day.
But I think I'll try it one more time, to take it a little lighter; I think that might work a little better with the hair. (It should be noted that the beard looks a bit darker in the photo here than I think it looks in real life. It should also be noted that we were having trouble getting a photo in which my eyes were open and I didn't look like I was on drugs; this was the best of the lot, but one eye is still half-closed.)
I washed with the purple shampoo and conditioner this morning, and I think my hair is a little paler and less bright yellow than it was, which is a good thing.
We'll see how it goes. I certainly don't expect to keep it like this long-term, but it'll be fun to see how co-workers react on Monday, and I might try some various other colors while I've got the chance.