Returning to Brunette After 15 Years of Blonde(ish)


I still remember the first time I got my hair dyed. My mom took me to Rocco Altobelli when I was 13 and had recently grown out my bowl cut, gotten my braces off and lost a crap ton of baby fat. I was a WOMAN now and for all we knew there was a slim chance I could come out the other side of puberty looking exactly like Mandy Moore (if I did enough sit-ups).

My hair stylist told me that she was going to give me a few blonde highlights, and I would now look like Rachel from Friends, and very likely land myself my own Brad Pitt. I was sold forever.

I kept the same hairstyle for the next 15 years (not joking), except one 10th-grade aberration in which I let my best friends dye my hair brown with a box color from Target. It turned Ariel red and my Rocco’s stylist kindly converted this into punk rock black hair with red highlights. (I was lucky enough to have a mom who reacted to this kind of thing by granting me a surprise visit to the salon.)

But soon enough, people were asking if I was “goth now” and I knew deep down I looked like I worked at Hot Topic. I was a poseur again, just like the time I got overzealous with my snowboarding-inspired fashion choices (actually I still do that). The next time I hit Rocco’s, it was back to blonde highlights for me.

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This embarrassing communion photo shows my natural hair color.

In my head, I’ve always been the brunette person who, according to my mom, “was born with a jet black mop top, like a Beatle!” But for the next fifteen years, people started referring to me as blonde. “I think you mean my friend,” I would say at first, “I’m clearly brunette … duh.” But over time I had to accept that, no, I had *become* a blonde person. I guess I had faked it till I make-d it.

But recently I realized I had no idea what adult Becky looked like as a brunette. For all I remember, I basically dyed my hair part-blonde the second I hit puberty. I tried using one of those hilarious digital makeup try-on apps to see what I’d look like brunette but quickly got distracted giving myself 60 different celebrities hairstyles poorly mapped to my head. No luck. I would have to actually make the leap and see how it went.

I scheduled an appointment with the wonderful Emily at Root Salon, and brought her a Pinterest board of hair ideas. “Please give me the hair of Selena Gomez x Priyanka Chopra x Nina Dobrev, thanks. And can it also be this ‘hot chocolate’ hair trend I found on Buzzfeed?” I was pleased to find out that my dramatic hair change had earned me the coveted status of getting a “Before and After” picture on her Instagram (see above). After conducting her wizardry, she transformed my hair to hit the perfect balance of my natural color and that of every brunette celebrity I love. (Emily rules.) I loved it.

But because of the rotation of the planets or possibly the infectious nature of my own impulsivity, my hair transformation happened about the same time I left my day job, recovered from LASIK and announced that I was getting married. It became the auburn signal of me waving “hello” to 30.

I’m still getting used to my own face in the mirror. Even I had started to think of myself as blonde. But hey, I’m taking some leaps in other areas of my life. Why not do it with my hair? Who knows, maybe next time I’ll get galaxy hair. (I WISH. Not quite ready for that yet …)