My Hair Journey

For many years, I was the only redhead in my entire family. That has since changed (yay!), but it was a bit of a shock to my parents when I was born. How could a blonde mother and a brunette father produce a child with strawberry-colored hair? Well, of course I learned how in my junior high Biology class, but it still seemed like such a strange occurrence. When you’re a little kid in the ’90s, the technicalities don’t really matter. I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid and having red hair only increased my love for Ariel. I was convinced I was a mermaid and no one could tell me otherwise. Needless to say, I was a fan of this unique hair color.

I don’t remember ever being teased for my hair growing up and I never really harbored ill feelings towards it, other than despising being called blonde when it looked lighter during the Summer months—to be fair, my mom did put blonde highlights in my hair when I was 11 and we were huge fans of lemon juice for a while. But as far as I can remember, I felt proud and special to have red hair.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college. At 18, I moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University and my first year in such a sunny, beach city lightened the color of my hair. It went from an almost auburn color to very strawberry blonde, and 18 year old me was not having it. So I did what most kids did when they are free of their parents’ guidance—I dyed my hair for the first time.

I remember this day in March of 2011 so vividly. My friend Amanda had been visiting Paul Mitchell beauty school frequently to have her hair dyed and I loved how great it looked. So she suggested we both visit the location in Downtown San Diego to have our hair done, together. I asked the stylist to color my hair a little bit darker, to the auburn color I used to have. I was expecting to look like Emma Stone, but instead I looked like the photo you see above. I mean, my hair came out black. I panicked in the salon chair when I saw myself in the mirror and I knew the stylist could tell I was not happy. She offered to lighten the color, but I knew at that moment that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. No lightening by a beauty school student could fix the dark mess that was my hair.

I did eventually grow to love this color. Sure, it wasn’t what I had wanted when I made the appointment, but I had often wished I had been born with dark hair (mostly because I wanted to look just like my cousin, who I’ve admired for as long as I can remember). So I accepted that my hair would thus be dark and I embraced it. My mother and father were not at all happy, but I didn’t care. I was obsessed with this new side of me and when the color started to fade, I went to Sally Beauty to buy more dye.

I’ve gone through several more hair transformations since 2011, from cutting bangs to chopping my long hair into my first bob. And I’ve had it dyed so many times, but always a color within the red family. It wasn’t until March of this year that I decided enough was enough. I’ve had my fun, now I’m ready to grow out my natural color again.

It’s now been a year since I last had my hair colored. It was one of the most vibrant color jobs I have ever had and it was fun! I got so many compliments from people and I’m happy my last experience was one I could enjoy.

The entirety of this year I’ve gone through a major transition. I’ve been reevaluating the type of person I want to be and how my actions align with that. I read once that we “change” every seven years and I feel strongly that this is one of those years for me. I’m learning about the types of people I want to surround myself with and who I put my trust in. I’m also learning about how to face my deepest struggles and insecurities, so I can unpack them. And along with all of that, I’m learning that I really miss my unique and special natural hair color.

So after seven fun years of experimenting with hair dye, it’s time I get back to my roots—literally! It’s going to be an arduous journey, but I already have three inches of natural growth and some days my natural color blends in okay with my dyed color. I’m anxious for the day I can finally trim off the last dyed strand, but for now I’m going to enjoy this journey.

-Ciara ❤️

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