[I'm doing some blog house cleaning and was inspired to re-post this since I went red again a few months ago.]
A while back I posted a teaser about being a "self-inflicted" red head, but I never posted my observations... Oops.
Now my hair hovers somewhere between honey blonde and traffic-cone orange (not as ugly as it sounds, swear), so I still consider myself part of the ginger camp, albeit one that is perilously close to being blonde again.
A big part of me wants to go back to traffic-stopping red, Rita Hayworth red... or Franka Potente in Run Lola Run red (orange... whatever). I knew I was ready to commit to the the color. My dad's a redhead, as are several of his siblings. So was his mother. So are my mom's sister and several of my cousins (the result of my red-headed maternal aunt and red-headed paternal uncle mating. No, it's not incest, but thanks for asking). I'd been surrounded by redheads with near identical genetic makeup to me my whole life. It was like spending years looking in a mirror, if my reflection had had red hair.
My personal observations on being red are evergreen (mwa-mwa).
1. Being a red head is like Marmite – many people either love it or they hate it. Be prepared to meet both types. Few are opinion-less on the matter, which makes sense because it's so rare. Just 1-2% (or so) of the world's population is redheaded. This is a 1% I am proud to be an part of, albeit artificially. No matter. I happily pay to swell their ranks.
2. Even though you’re an adult, a certain type of man(boy) still thinks it’s funny to ask you if *all* your hair is red, ignoring your mousy eyebrows or even your mismatched roots. You'll get this sort of comment, it seems, mainly in America, where men have the collective flirting IQ of a puddle that's gone on a "seduction science" course hosted by someone evolution should have already taken care of as a favor to the human race. We get negging, or whatever undermining activity it is that you're attempting, dudes. You'll never find out if the curtains match the carpet. Ever.
3. On the other end of the male spectrum, you'll quickly become acquainted with the gingerphile. I don't know that he's quite as offensive as the glut of racial fetishists out there (you know the type... the one who only dates Asian girls like 85% of the tech dudes in San Francisco. My heart goes out to you, ladies of Asian decent), but he still mostly sees you for your hair color, much like Amy Schumer and her hairomance in The Perm. Usually harmless but annoying, like a man-squito drawn to the light that is your red hair. They come in all ages, shapes and sizes and don't seem bothered by things like your wedding band. They do not break eye contact. Sadly, you can’t turn off your hair – or zap him – so he'll be buzzing around you all night. Be forewarned.
4. Red hair is having a moment thanks to follicular endorsement from Christina Hendricks (even if she did go strawberry blonde recently), Florence Welsh and Rihanna. Hipsters. Love. It. And let's not forget the originally red-headed hottie Mary Magdalene. Or Titan's beauties, or name-taker and ass-kicker Elizabeth I.
5. Red hair means you'll get lots of comments – good, bad and weird – like an online community without a manager. You’ll hear cries of ‘Hey, red’ and "Gingers have no souls!" yelled from cars passing by. Strangers almost accusatorily ask you ‘is that real’? Which leads me to the next point…
6. Blonde hair and a tan hide a multitude of beauty sins, whether committed by errant genes or your bad habits. Plus, it's easier to blend into the herd with those two attributes. But maybe there's something to be said for standing out. Emma Stone? Famous after going red. Same with Lucille Ball, Hendricks and Hayworth and the photos that made Marilyn Monroe famous featured her natural (red) hair and a lot of red velvet. Red heads don’t have the luxury of hiding behind the lovely, warm mask of tan and blonde that somehow put every other feature into soft focus, like a lens smeared with Vaseline. Frankly, I'm a little jealous. (If I had the patience and budget (even bigger than simply going red) to do it right, I'd probably be an enviable color of caramel year round, head to toe). If you go red, get ready to experience a higher level of scrutiny, even from science.
7. That said, if you’re faux red and have skin that tans, you’ll really freak out the peanut gallery. Everyone thinks that if you have red hair you must have pale skin. Nope. Go Balkan-chic and rock the red and tan.
8. People blame your red hair for all sorts of things. Stand up for yourself in a recent meeting? They’ll say it’s because of your fiery temperament, of course caused by your red hair, even if IT'S NOT EVEN REAL. Although maybe they're a little bit right... there seems to be some scientific evidence that redheads have higher pain thresholds, among other things, so it could be that red heads do share some traits aside from hair color.
9. You start to see red heads everywhere when you never noticed them before. You exchange a knowing nod, like members of a secret society, similar to how I imagine men with mustaches must do, quietly acknowledging fellow Magnum PI lookalikes with a quick lock of the eyes and near-imperceptible head tilt.
10. Dying hair red takes dogged dedication because it fades quicker than all other colors and costs $$$$$$$$$ and time (and that equals more $$$$$) to keep up. Something about the color molecules being to big to stay in the hair cuticle? I dunno. What I do know is that I go to the salon every four weeks and spend at minimum two hours there. That's three full workdays a year sat in a salon chair flicking through old magazines learning about who dared bare their cellulite at the beach to achieve my desired level of orange.
11. Box dye for red hair really and truly does not work. It lifts your base colour too much and doesn't deposit enough red, leaving you, almost without fail, a brassy orange. If you want to DIY, go to a beauty supply store and buy the professional stuff (the depositing color and the developer/lifter) after spending time reading up on how to do it.
12. Red lipstick looks awesome with red hair. Ignore the so-called experts. I particularly like a mulberry color. Burgundy lips, orange hair, can't lose.
13. So do red clothes.