Why do so many women dye their hair crazy colours?
Bright and bold colours are taking the hairdressing world by storm - and not just for the shear fun of it. Karen Ireland talks with three women who have deeper reasons for reaching for the bottle.
‘I’m happy and confident now and I feel better about the way I look'
Debbie Deboo (50) is a photographer and former teacher. She is married to Richard and lives in Ballinderry. She says:
When I was about 25 my hair started to go grey so I started dying it black. At the time I was working as a teacher so I couldn’t have anything too adventurous.
In fact, when I was about 30 I dyed it bright pink and got called into the headmistress’s office like one of the pupils and I had to dye it back to black again.
A few years ago, my health stared to decline as I have ME. I had to leave work and I became very down and depressed.
My hair was very grey and I hadn’t the energy or inclination to do anything with it.
I was in a very bad place at the time, but then I realised that while I might not be able to cure myself, I could make myself look better and ultimately feel better.
I lost four stones and started to feel better about myself. Then I talked to my hairdresser at Crafty Belfast about dying my hair a bright colour.
She recommended that we do it slowly and gently over a period of time. So that’s what we did. We coloured it mermaid shades of purples, blues and different shades.
It was very bright and I loved it. Colouring my hair was part of a bigger overall package that helped me feel so much better about myself.
The reaction was great — everyone loved the new me and, because I looked better, I started to feel better in my head. It wasn’t able to cure my ME but it did help me feel better.
My attitude to life was much more positive and friends and family saw that in me and knew it was a good thing.
Now, when the grey comes through I am able to use one of the coloured sprays to cover it up.
I’m happy and confident now and I feel better about the way I look and take an interest in how I dress.
And then I realised that if I could help myself I could help other women suffering from chronic illnesses to feel better about themselves.
So, Chronically Fabulous NI was born. We aim to do photoshoots with women who have illnesses to help them feel better about themselves.
We might not be able to find a cure for your illness but we will help you look and feel your best. The response has been amazing.
We also send out gift boxes in the post as a surprise to people who are nominated. This gives them a big boost.
A surprise of goodies in the post can be a real pick-me-up.
I don’t think you are ever too old to dye your hair a bright colour. If it helps you look good and feel even better, then why not go for it?
It certainly worked for me.”
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‘Trying to fit in is an uphill battle ... I’ve made peace with how I am’
Tina Calder (39), who lives in Belfast, is owner of Excalibur Press Media agency. She is engaged to musician Ciaran McElhinney (43) and they have one son, Logan (5). Tina says:
I started colouring my hair from the age of 11 when I would get my mum to put blonde bits in it. When I was a teenager my aunt had pillar box red hair and I loved it. I wanted mine that colour but I never had the courage and people kept talking me out of it.
I think I had always conformed to what I thought I should look like, working in the media.
I was always into rock and punk music and alternative dressing, but I toned it down because I worked in the media.
It wasn’t until I took a career break in 2010 that I thought for the first time ‘I am free to be me’.
I was single at the time and I had no one to answer to so I thought I am just going to be me.
I dyed my hair mermaid colours and I loved it. I have always been a vibrant person and I felt free to express myself.
I am sure that for some time in my life I had imposter syndrome — I never felt like I was good enough or that I had made it in my career.
But since I started colouring my hair and wearing the type of clothes I like, I have felt more like myself and I think because of that I have been more successful in work too.
I am much more content with myself now and who I am. I never felt like I fitted in before and now I don’t care. Especially now that I’m a mum I just want to be me.
I don’t think you should have to conform to a certain look or style or look a certain way because of the age you are. I think you should just be free to express your own style. That is more important than fitting in.
If people don’t already do it naturally they should embrace the opportunity to stand out. Don’t make the mistake I did in trying to fit in and, at the same time, trying to retain your own identity — I was making myself miserable.
Trying to fit in is an uphill battle. I have made my peace with how I am and know I do a good job and want to be respected for that — and not judged for how I look.
I get a great reaction to my hair.
People are always looking at it and I overhear little girls in shops tell their mums they want hair like mine.
A man even came up to me in Asda and started stroking my hair. He said ‘I love your hair, I just had to touch it’.
Even my grandmother, Margaret, surprised me by saying she liked it when it was a bright colour.
I think my family would like it if I went back to being blonde but I am 100% sure I will be a mad colour for the rest of my life.”
‘I have a bright and vibrant personality ... I can’t imagine being in my 70s and having white hair’
Michelle Black (47), from Dromore, is a full-time mum to Kain (17), Kealan (13), Molly (11) and Beth (1). She says:
I started colouring and experimenting with my hair when I was in my early 20s. Originally I was a dirty fair/mousy brown colour and I started colouring it blonde.
I liked it a different colour and then I decided to try vibrant red which was very different —and I loved it.
About 15 years ago my sister-in-law who is a hairdresser suggested I go a pink/purple colour and I tried that too and loved it.
The reaction from everyone was fabulous. People would come up to me in the street and say that my hair was a great colour, and they would ask me where I had it done.
From then on I’ve had it done in various shades of this colour. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t colour my hair to get noticed or to stand out. I do it because it suits me and I love the colour.
I have a bright and vibrant personality and the colour suits my style.
My family and kids all love it. The kids think I am a cool mum because I have bright hair.
I’ve never had any negative comments about my hair and I don’t think I would ever stop colouring it. It’s part of me and who I am.
I can’t imagine being in my 70s and having white hair. I’ll probably always be a bright colour. I am lucky as I do my hair myself. I colour it myself every two weeks and it takes about an hour to do.
It is easy to do and it covers up the greys. Getting my hair done and having it bright and fresh gives me a lift and makes me feel better.
I don’t think you are ever too old to have bright hair or a different colour from the norm. It is all about being happy and confident in yourself and doing what works best for you.”