For years, I’ve gone to hairdressers full of courage and ready to change everything. Born with incredibly boring hair – straight, brown and incredibly greasy, making me feel like the reject member of Hanson – there was only so much I could do with it myself so I pined for excitement whenever I went to my hairdressers. “What do you think I should do?” I’d ask, hoping for a jaw-dropping makeover but my wildest dreams were always met with the same safe option.
Bringing in photos of Britney Spears, Blondie and The OC cast for most of my teen years but the result remained the same; a few fresh layers that would turn into the unwanted bob of a tennis player from the 80s. Having gone to an all-girls Catholic school, hair dye was strictly forbidden, unless you went for the sizzled, peroxide Paris Hilton lewk of the early noughties, which, for some reason, the nuns were ok with. So as soon as I finished my Leaving Cert, I hit the bottle.
Getting a taste for hair colour experimentation is akin to the buzz of crossfit, I’d imagine. You start with a smattering of red but then want to pour the equivalent of 20kg tyres of fire engine red into your hair. But I’d always reach a wall when my hairdressers decided I was either going mad with power or couldn’t be trusted to maintain my hair. It was during the Great Balayage and Ombré Craze of 2012 – 2016 that I began to feel the restrictions of my then hairdresser’s low opinion of me. Everything was just a “whisper of copper” or a “hint of a warm autumn’s day”. Having believed the lie that I was born with natural highlights, something that the Oh My God What a Complete Aisling authors presented as the ultimate fantasy of people who play it safe, I was livid to be spending €100 on something I could have achieved with a bottle of Sun-In and 16 degree heat.
That was when I found Louise in Cowboys & Angels and, let me tell you, she is no cowboy; she is but an angel. I arrived in need of change. I wanted to go full lilac and in one sitting, lilac was what I got. There were no drawn out promises of “We’ll have to take this slowly and build it up over time” because Louise found a way. Whenever I went to Louise, I outlined my hopes and dreams and she answered them. With this trust in Louise, and her returned trust in me to actually look after my new tresses, I was soon an icy blonde qween, living my Britney Spears dream. Until I decided to ruin it all by adding a peacock blue colour to my hair at home.
And let me tell you… blue sticks. One of the strongest pigments out there, it clung to every pore of my white, white hair. “This will be grand,” I thought, “It will wash out”. To avoid disappointing Louise, I began the arduous task of removing the blue. I washed my hair every day, rinsing three times with Head & Shoulders and three times with Fairy Liquid. It faded a little. I upped my rinse to nine rinses per wash, loading my hair with leave-in conditioner for an hour before and after, so my blue wouldn’t go bald. I soaked my hair in tomato ketchup. It did not work, it just made me smell like a chipper bin. I crushed Berocca tablets into leave-in conditioner. It did not work, it just gave my hair a green hue. Now a violent shade of chlorine-green and blue, I introduced bicarbonate of soda to the Head & Shoulders mix, leaving it to sit in my hair for an hour before nine rinses. This… worked slightly but hair smelled like Jolene, the moustache bleach. The blue was budging but it wasn’t budging fast enough.
I returned to Louise with my tail between my legs but instead of a rap across the knuckles, we came up with a recovery plan. She bleached my roots, gave my ends a chemical cleanse and then matched the colour so I no longer looked like a half-eaten, washed out blue Smartie. Sitting at the washbowl in Cowboys and Angels, Louise and two other hairdressers lovingly massaged my hair, slowly moving the blue and matching my new roots to my faded ends. With some dark magic (not really, just some clever colour mixing), my hair morphed into an icy blue. Like a Fox’s Glacier Mint, with each wash revealing more and more of my original blonde.
Hairdressers should listen to your requests and make them a reality. There has to be a mutual trust and even when you dye your hair bright blue, that doesn’t mean that the fun has to stop. When I think back to the hairdressers that wouldn’t brighten up my balayage with some blonde, I can’t believe that I stuck with them for so long. I have a lifelong dream to look like a wolf and once this blue settles, we will start the process of dying my hair grey and silver. Other hairdressers might look at me like I’m cracked but Louise and I are already working on that lupine look and this is how you know that you’ve found The One. Once you find them, never let go.