Thursday, 2 December 2010

Red heads under the bed (and everywhere else......)

Lily Cole brunette and light red hair.

Recently Lily Cole swapped her trademark copper tresses for a dark brunette shade. Being an inveterate hair hue shifter myself I realize you get bored of the same old colour. Some don’t feel this way and happily leave their hair to its own devices. Not a bad idea, au naturel naturally matches skin tone and everything else. Some dye their hair and hang on to the same old shade of blonde forever. This is a little more difficult to understand, if you already zap your hair the condition is whatever any stylist tries to sell you, kaput. Condition is highly overrated; it’s the way it looks that matters. So if you hair is coloured how do you resist the temptation to then tinker with it?

There is no other thing (short of amputation which seems a bit extreme) that overhauls your appearance as effectively. I have personally been just about every shade some of which were ill advised. Jet black or rather Recital blue black was my default in my youth. Then it set off my pallor and I had the youthful patience to paint on my Goth warpaint every morning but I cannot really carry it off now or rather I can’t be bothered. I have had all kinds of blonde from the light and brash (which I liked )to some ill advised ‘classy’ high lights (yawn), I lived in Bath and I think I was trying to match the architecture. Brunette is my natural shade, in my case a darkish chestnut the same hue as fenland soil. I have had lighter browns and personally I like mouse brown. A true mouse brown should be more fairly labeled sable or mink, a lovely tone I wish I had. Currently it is a coppery red but this has veered from marmalade to pinkish in the last year alone.  I do understand Lily Cole’s motivation but the change has somehow or the other managed to make a very tall slim woman with unusual features look duller. This is probably because red hair is so flamboyant, like black and peroxide blonde you can’t escape from it short of wearing a large wooly hat or being decapitated (what is it with me today? I have a very bloody turn of phrase).

Red haired Rita

Brunette Rita
Blonde Rita...

There seems to be a kind of pecking order with hair colour changes. Blondes reverting to their natural brunette works well if the blonde is the high maintenance ‘natural’ type. The brown hair brightens eyes, improves skin and just makes people look more interesting.  A peroxide blonde or that incredibly rare creature the natural blonde can however risk becoming heavier and older; swamped by the brown hair. Somehow or the other moving from red to another colour always seems to involve a kind of ‘giving up’. Moving from a vibrant bright unusual colour into a kind of monochrome. Last time I moved from red back to my natural brown the reaction from many was of dismay. My claims that I needed to save money and time were not sufficient to make up for losing the red tresses which I had become identified with.
Kristen McMenemy's beautiful grey hair.

I’m not always sold on my red hair, my colourist is one of the best in London but when tired or manic I have the suspicion that I resemble Vivien Westwood in one of her stranger moods. Red can be brassy, like black and peroxide blonde it demands some cosmetic effort and it does stand out. It has the advantage of being associated with positive values in a woman: fieriness, passion, strong character  and independence. I also like it's associations with celts, pre-raphealites, jewish proto godesses and romantic heroines. Also it can  absolutely sing when combined with particular colours in a way that blonde never can. Blonde can only be complemented. Lily Cole has been red for a long time and the quiet more mysterious image of the pale skinned brunette must be fun to play with, I would be surprised if she maintains it for a long time. This natural brunette may revert to her brown hair but cannot help thinking that after fiery locks  brown  alone may not be enough and a silver/white streak bleached through the front may be required.  I had to go blonde to go red, and peroxide blonde was tempting for a mad moment but I doubt I'll ever go for a tasteful blonde again.

Of course a white 'mallen streak' might might age me, but that is one of the advantages of styling yourself for yourself; I don’t feel the need to look youthful. I’d rather aspire even if I invariably fail, to look distinctive.  I have also discovered people being surprised by my advanced years recently, I suspect this is because the fake tanning, hair highlighting, figure hugging jersey and modern jewellery default of looking more youthful is perversely becoming ageing. Or maybe it is just down to my immature personality.or dressing like people's grannies. Of course talking of grannies, white and silver tresses are the last frontier of hair colour and if I am fortunate enough to turn a nice shade of pale grey or silver white I may finally hang up my hair dyeing hat forever.  I  am particularly inspired by model Kristen McMenemy's fantastic wintry locks but suspect by the time I get these I may have stopped bothering!
Comments are welcome, especially if you have just had or are planning to change your hue. How about you redheads, how do you feel about your flame coloured tresses?


LandGirl1980 said...

I went from brown to red recently - after having red RED hair many moons ago. I loved it. But loathed the upkeep. And I notice that alot of people in "vintage" circles had red hair and I felt a little like I was copying them. Perish the thought. But it was mainly the upkeep. I dyed it back to brown (although not my natural shade) and love the versatility it now gives me. I felt a little confined with my red locks wardrobe wise. I know that this is most certainly NOT the case for everyone - but it was for me. I love my browny/red hair and if I am tempted by a change, I try to chanel Ava Gardener *wink*

Penny Dreadful Vintage said...

I went red about a month ago and after the initial shock, loved it. Of course now I need to redye it I am feeling less enthused. I would love to go peroxide blonde (in fact that was what I was originally after), but I have olive skin so it would just look awful on me.

Retro Chick said...

I'm another that's been pretty much every shade under the sun. Including a Louise Brooks bob, dyed blue black, which required a substantial amount of make up to stop me looking, if not dead, then at least very, very ill.

I'm naturally a mousey blonde, and I've been a bright peroxide blonde, brunette, highlighted, you name it, but I often gravitate back to red. It's so dramatic and everyone always tells me how green my eyes look!

Jemima said...

I have a hair appt on 18th December, and I am planning to end the year as a redhead. I've had it a sort of burgundy before, and more recently been darker. It will be a semi permanent so will just see how it fits; I can always wash it out or dye it back. I wouldn't like to continually dye it, but it's great to have the freedom to change your hair in this way without risk of slowly poisoning yourself like the days of yore!

garofit said...

i love red hair, as in natural redheads. or so i think - i thought lily cole was one of them. i think that nothing is more beautiful than red hair, it fascinates me.

i have not really dyed my own hair much, maybe once or twice many years ago - i am 32- i wear it natural - i am a dark chestnut brown, i'm happy with the color. will only dye it when i'll have to because of too many grays. not just yet though.

Louise said...

I'm a natural brunette who was black for most of high school and college and then reverted to brunette when I entered my professional career because I thought I had to.

Took me about 5 years to get over that, and I've gotten redder and redder in the last two years. I don't think it's any mistake that I've also gotten more attention from men (though whether that's positive or negative is up to interpretation), and more offers to do pin-up modeling. Apparently I should have been born with this shade of hair.

I imagine someday I may change, but it won't be any time soon. I've found my signature shade and I feel very much myself in it!

Lavender and Twill said...

~ * ♥ * ~

I love red hair! It's really sad that Lilly Cole has gone brunette ~ she just looks so less interesting than she did before...

I myself am a dark aurburny shade of red. I love it, but the upkeep is a pain in the backside. More often than not I'll end up with a couple of inches of roots before I redye as I do it myself and it can be such a pain to find the time... Still, it's way better than my natural dishwater blonde, so I don't see myself going back anytime soon!

bonita of Depict This!

~ * ♥ * ~

Straight Talking Mama! said...

I have also been every colour under the sun but have been a red head for years and years now, different shades, but I feel it's just me now. I last had my natural colour when I was 15 I think which is a VERY long time ago, I'm a mousy brown, it really doesn't suit my personality, and I feel good with red hair, I do wonder if I will ever change.....

monika said...

I dyed my hair with henna between the ages of 18-24 (I'm 30 now). It was fun at first, but then my hair turned darker (from medium to dark brown), so it didn't get really bright red any more. I've worn my natural colour (dark, cool brown) since I gave it up, and I still love it. Red hair doesn't suit my complexion at all, so I really do look better, and I like not having to dye it. I still love red hair on other people, but it's just not for me. It may be relevant to add here, that I don't really like going to the hairdresser - I cut my own hair and have never considered a colour that would have to be done by someone else, so that limits my choices a bit.

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