Wheaton’s Way

Hair colouring at home 101

This Saturday, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, better known as the NCVO, will be holding an online fundraiser for the first time ever.

Yours Truly was approached to host some segments of it, so I thought I should make an effort and try to look somewhat professional for the occasion.

Like, I believe, so many of you out there, I have been allowing my ‘routine’ to … slip, a touch. I still brush my teeth every morning and apply deodorant, but as restrictions on society have tightened outdoors, so I have loosened them indoors.

Any ensemble bottoms with a defined waistband and zipper or buttons have been firmly relegated to the bowels of my closet. The tops I wear are loose and fancy-free, and bras are being reserved for home jai alai tournaments rather than their usual primary role.

When I looked at my hair earlier this week, I wondered if Frankenstein was still searching for a bride. Like a mullet, it had become business-in-the-front and party-in-the-back with so much grey above my forehead before hitting the long-forgotten red, that it could no longer just be called ‘roots’. If I was going to be on camera, I had to sort this out. Time to pull the L’Oréal big guns from the bathroom cabinet.

Whenever I see Feria #36 (Chocolate Cherry) on supermarket shelves, I buy a few boxes because it isn’t always available and heaven forbid I should resort to stopgaps I’ve tried in the past.

Por ejemplo, when getting ready to host a big, fancy gala one night, I realised I had completely forgotten to dye my hair. Using mascara to disguise grey soldiers marching across one’s scalp is all very well and good when one has dark brown or black hair, but can look downright wackadoo when the remainder of one’s hair is a completely different shade (unless one is Gwen Stefani).

In desperation, I grabbed a red Sharpie and started some frenzied colouring on the most visible grey. The result resembled a dance of red LED fibre-optic strands along my forehead and not so terribly permanent, it turned out, as I perspired under the hot lights on stage, but it got me through … I think. Who, I suppose, would have been so brutally honest as to point it out on the night? “Vicki, darling, I think your head’s on fire.”

But I digress. I had my Feria on the bathroom counter and had donned my crappy black T-shirt in case globs went astray. I also had another box of colour nearby in case I needed a twofer. I didn’t know if my hands were swollen or just COVID-19 fatter, but the application gloves were Johnnie Cochran specials. They must acquit, and all that.

I fondly remembered the days when I coloured my hair so rarely, I needed to remind myself of the instructions each time. Now, I could put it all together with my eyes closed.

Take the tip off the application bottle, add the colour stuff, then the little packet to supposedly make my locks shiny and glossy. Cover the open tip with a gloved finger and shake vigorously. Apply to roots first.

For me, there is always a crucial decision: Do I lean forward towards the mirror and squint through the process or do I wear my glasses while I apply? I don’t have contact lenses, so it’s one or t’other. I went with glasses this time around.

The transformation was about to begin and I squeezed the application bottle with vigour. It was supermodel time!

Immediately, my thumb went right through the plastic, and the contents inside began to ooze out onto my head, my T-shirt and into the sink. Clearly months in the cupboard had taken their toll on the bottle filled with chemicals and it was now disintegrating in my hands.

I tried to catch the thick liquid as it fell with random abandon over everything in the near vicinity, including the lenses of my spectacles. Of course, rather than see it disappear down the drain, I started to scoop it up like a mad woman, plonking as much as I could on my noggin whilst extricating pieces of broken plastic from my hair.

I grabbed a big piece and hurled it towards the rubbish bin, missing spectacularly and sending a spray of red across the toilet seat before it landed on the tiles, instantly creating a pool of colour that suggested it had been brained in cold blood.

The sink looked like the scene of the Cadbury Bar Murders. It was everywhere – in the bowl, around the drain, up the taps and the faucet – and still I gathered what remnants I could to keep going. I was determined to not open that second box.

Thanks to the gloves, my hands were about the only part of my body untouched by Feria. I had gone spectacularly outside the lines and was now sporting a chocolate cherry chest and ears with liberal striping on my cheeks. Mercifully, a cloth and some soap got rid of most of the damage, but I’m sure the back of my neck still looks like it’s recovering from third degree burns.

Unbelievably, at the end of the trauma, my hair came out looking pretty good. I managed to cover the worst of the grey with no visible missed patches. Another bonus was that I had to wait about 25 minutes for it to set before washing it out. That gave me just enough time to clean up the devastation in the bathroom. #nothingtoseehere

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