Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ginger vitus

My original medium dark brown hair

A not particularly flattering photograph of the marmalade hair.
(The gentleman next to me is Atters, of Chaporgasmic terrors fame).
photo courtesy of the Chairman.

I now have hair the colour of marmalade, not a subtle shade, bright enough to attract the odd stare. With pale skin, freckles and grey eyes, I own the perfect complexion for russet locks. The shade of red I now have is a true ginger, but too strong to pass for natural. The reaction thus far has been interesting. Immediately after having it coloured (at Miss Betty's in Kingly Court) I realised I would need some new make-up, a red lipstick with orange undertones and a light brown/chestnutty eyebrow pencil. This necessitated a trip to Selfridges (again). The girls at the Chanel counter were very taken with my hair colour and made a point of remarking upon it, Chanel girls have never thrown me any compliments before. When loitering at the Mac counter another customer commented on my hair and said I looked 'fierce', which I gather is not an insult.

Mind you I have noticed a few other stares, perhaps because during the day time my look is not overtly vintage, nor do I look particularly alternative. My dirty book-moving day job means I get grubby and cannot wear the kind of clothes I prefer in my own time. I think strong hair colours are now primarily associated with counter-culture lifestyle and I don't immediately fit the bill. I also feel it is a reflection of an obsession with having highly coloured and treated hair that is nonetheless percieved as 'natural'. My sibling is a hairdresser and is amused at the blond highlights that are the norm in the UK. In his opinion the foil highlight is as bad for your hair as all-over colour as with more than two or three applications it ends up being all over colour..but stealthily and more importantly, expensively. As hardly any British women are blonde it is perfectly clear that all these natural blondes are fakes, self deception is rife. Strange how they are dyeing their hair only a shade lighter than it's own shade, if that were the case, why bother? The fact is of course that a good shade of pretty all over blonde can be obtained from a box of Nice and Easy for about a fiver and two of the prettiest blonde barnets I know of are obtained from exactly this brand.

Dyeing your hair a lurid shade is more tricky, perhaps because strong pigments such as red are fugitive and fade fast. To get my hair pale enough to take the red, its natural muddy brown had to be bleached and then tinted, a process when carried out professionally has little effect on condition, apart from the fact your hair gets less greasy. In fact my hair feels nicer now, probably because the tint has conditioned it.

Vintage style clothes and strong hair colours certainly match. Most of the beautiful women of the past I admire had ferociously strongly coloured hair: Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner. Even those that had their own colour had a soft minky brown that most women, in this country anyway, dye blonde. That minky colour is very close to good old fashioned, and often really attractive, English mouse brown.

Strong hair colour is arguably harsher and makes you look your age, in a world obsessed by infantilism that is not good. But I do not care, I would rather look my age than give in to insipid caramel. I'm not sure whether the marmalade locks I currently have will be darkened a bit next month but at the moment I am having fun trying to live up to the colour. Red in it's natural form is the rarest hair colour in the world, yet most common here in the UK. It's associations, even the negative ones, are really quite appealing. In any case I don't want it to look natural, there is nothing wrong with my own brown hair, and I am spending good money on it! Mind you the bearded one has been heard to say there most be some kind of state benefit out there for men who care for ginger girlfriends....


Anonymous said...

LOVE IT, LOVE IT welcome to my world

Unknown said...

I think it looks perfectly fabulous! And your dress on Saturday night was also utterly gorgeous!

Helen Highwater said...

Oooh, it looks fab! Suits you!

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