Easy? Yes. Nice? Not so much.

November 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm 3 comments

A number of years ago Julia Louis-Dreyfus did some kicky little commercials for Clairol’s Nice ‘N Easy hair color. You may remember her performing an impromptu dye-job on an unsuspecting bus passenger in this commercial.

In one of those ads, she revealed the color she used on her own hair – something like a “Rich Chocolate Brown” – and somehow, for some unknown reason, I decided that would be a great look on me, too.

Now, I’d had my hair colored plenty of times before at the salon, but other than that year I was obsessed with Sun In (“So natural looking!” Well…at least until I saw photos and discovered what I actually looked like), I’d never colored my hair myself.


I wasn’t worried, though. On the contrary, I was quite confident as I marched down the hair care aisle at Eckerds, picking out my box of Nice ‘N Easy dark brown permanent hair color.

Once I got home, I tore open the box and set all the liquids, potions, protective gloves, plastic caps and instructions out on the bathroom counter. I gave the directions a quick once over – who wants to read all that? – and got to work.

Twenty minutes, three stained towels and one dye-splattered wall later, I staggered out of the bathroom in a haze of chemical fumes. I set the timer. I waited for the magic of the reveal.

This whole process had all the makings of a hair disaster, but honestly, I never saw it coming. So when I removed the plastic cap, rinsed out my hair, toweled it dry (there goes another towel) and glanced in the mirror, I just wasn’t expecting to see what I saw.

It wasn’t quite goth. It was more like one notch past goth.

It was justthisclose to navy blue.

There was a time in my life when I would have been pretty happy with this outcome. This was not that time in my life.

I had an office job. A very buttoned-up corporate job. I had to wear suits and pantyhose every day. And now there was the very real possibility that my hair was going to clash with half of my wardrobe.

I dug around for those instructions I’d casually tossed aside just a few hours before.

“Permanent?? What does ‘permanent’ mean?!”

I did the only thing I could think to do. I called the Ms. Clairol Help Line, helpfully (should have been a red flag, maybe?) printed on the side of the box.

Let’s just say, it was not the reassuring experience I was looking for.

“Ma’am, it sounds like that color was too dark for your hair color…Yes, permanent means permanent. Your original color has been removed by the peroxide. If you want to get it back, I’d suggest buying our product ‘Born Blonde’ to dye your hair back to a lighter color and then restart from there.”

It was now about 6 pm on Sunday night. I toyed with the idea of heading back out to Eckerds, but some belated shred of sanity finally came over me. I decided I’d done enough damage for one day and that I should quit while I was ahead.

The next day at work, the most common reaction was “Hey, Mar –” followed by a double-take and then, “Oh, your…hair. It looks…great!? Is, uh, so…haha…uh…is that your natural color?”

To which I would reply, “Have you ever seen this color in nature?”

wigs and manequins

I decided not to take Ms. Clairol’s advice. Instead, based on the advice of practically every woman in my office, all of whom were clamoring to share their hair color horror stories, I decided to wait it out and wash my hair a lot over the next few days.

Within about two weeks, it was actually at a nice rich chocolate brown. Years later, I would look back at photos from that time and think it ended up looking pretty decent after all.

I’d even begin to think that it might almost be worth it to go navy blue again, just to get to that color.


This post was inspired by the prompt “a hair disaster,” from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.


Entry filed under: Don't Try This At Home, Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Umami Paste: More than just a great name for a band The New Mr. Peanut: Now THIS is more like it

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Regina  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:53 am

    LOVE this! Navy blue sounds MUCH worse than my different shades of orange that I’ve had using Sun-in!

  • 2. Harter  |  November 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    The minute I read Sun-in’s I know it couldn’t be good! I used those as a kid and my hair stylist refused to perm my hair after she found out because she said it would be a disaster!

    Great post, thanks for sharing! Visiting you from MamaKat’s!

    • 3. marlainkontheside  |  November 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      It sounds like we could all share some cautionary tales from the good ole days of Sun In!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Follow me on Twitter

Recent Posts

Flickr Photos


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,369 other followers

%d bloggers like this: