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Page Two of It's a Gray Area

The day of the big event arrived and Mike knew that the best recourse for him would be to make a quick exit to his hobby room off the main house. He was smart enough to stay out of sight until I either came in and let him admire a younger-looking brunette, or entered in a flood of tears after looking in the mirror and discovering I would look like a circus clown for the next several weeks.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror with the memory of my mother’s image superimposed over my own reflection. A similar ratty, old towel was pinned around my shoulders, protective gloves covered my hands and dampened hair hung in disorderly curls. The moment of truth arrived! I was actually squirting globs of brownish goo onto my head.

The wait seemed to last much longer than the strand test had taken. My cat climbed into my lap and made no effort to disguise her disapproval at this awkward stage. She gave me what we refer to as the ‘stinky face’ before passing premature judgment and running away. Just what I needed – a critic.

The timer buzzed and since I wasn’t sure how easily our prefabricated shower stall might also become a brunette, I began washing out the dye by holding my head under the kitchen faucet. I couldn’t tell how well the color was washing out, so I took a chance and removed the protective gloves. They were filling up with water and hair color anyway.

This was definitely going to require a trip to the shower. The dye was diluted enough by then to prevent staining, aided by the large amount of water flushing it down the drain. The final step was to apply the special conditioner for two minutes to lock in all that color and shine, followed by a final rinse.

My first peek in the mirror was enough to satisfy me that I wasn’t sporting anything close to ‘orangutan orange’, but it was too soon to judge exactly what I had until it dried. I was amazed, not to mention relieved, that the product performed as advertised. My natural brown hair remained the same color with perhaps a nearly undetectable aura of translucent color. My own natural highlights and variations remained, keeping the overall effect dimensional. Finally, the white strands had taken on a golden-brown tone, implying I spent a reasonable amount of time out in the sun.

The information included with the semi-permanent dye explained that it would cover most, but not all the gray. That proved to be true. The few white hairs that resisted the color blended in and, in my opinion, added to the naturalness I preferred.

The only negative part of the experience I encountered can’t be blamed on Clairol. Dye splattered on the bathroom wall when I squeezed the bottle. Excess goo dripped on the linoleum floor and bath mat, and a large drip slid down the door. Even though the dye had been there nearly an hour before I noticed, I wiped the painted surfaces off with a damp paper towel.

The first impression I had when studying my hair color was that it somehow drew more attention to my face. My eyes had more sparkle, lips were rosier, and my skin tone appeared brighter. I hadn’t anticipated the overall effect the hair color would have on my appearance.

While I was admiring my new look, all the accidental splatters I thought I’d eliminated returned. They were fainter, but still obvious. I went back to scrub the areas with a household cleaner. There was satisfactory improvement on the walls and the linoleum cleaned up completely. I wasn’t concerned over the staining on bath mat, since it had already been a victim of my clumsiness with a container of bleach, but it was too late to save the door.

I’ve concluded that it’s going to require a trip to the home improvement center for a pint of semi-gloss acrylic in (you guessed it) Pecan #18 to cover the drip on the door. Maybe I can kneel down so they can stick my hair under the computer scanner to come up with an exact formula for the paint. Either that or I could call the Clairol Help Line for assistance in calculating the number of bottles of Color-Enhancing Colorant and Gentle Activating Creme it would take to stain the entire door.

Mike cautiously pointed out that our kitchen sink now had an interesting pattern of freckles; it certainly added character, but not a designer look I could be proud to show off to guests. Fortunately the spots responded to powdered cleanser and firm scrubbing.

I told my husband that future do-it-myself dye jobs should probably take place in the backyard. When 20-minutes are up, he can just turn the garden hose on me. Perhaps if I contact Clairol and suggest that they add this helpful hint to their instruction sheet, they’ll consider sending me a year’s supply of Natural Instincts out of gratitude. Okay, that might be expecting a lot. I can be reasonable; they could humor me by dropping a coupon in the mail every four weeks or so, and I’d be perfectly satisfied.

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It's a Gray Area, Part I

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