Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holding on tight to my 20s UPDATED

I know everyone wants to hear about Zionism, maybe about college admissions, but instead you're getting a hair post. Ombré, at long last. Fading to more to strawberry-blond, more to yellow-blond depending on the light, as the photos indicate. Another hour or so of bleach would have probably been necessary for the effect I'd imagined, the one that would fade to platinum and thus permit blue dye to show up properly over it. Pink, I remember from experience, works fine on this shade. Anyway, I kind of like it as it is, am in the land of no pink hair-dye, and am kind of not up for smelling bleach again any time soon. Two major advantages to this look, for those among my readers who might be craving a change of coiffure: 1) Yes, bleach damages hair, but if you have long hair, or hair you heat-style, or both, your ends are damaged anyway, and you already own whichever gunk is necessary to hide that fact, and 2) however odd it comes out, the great thing about dyeing the tips of long hair is, next haircut and it's gone. This is not an "I need a radical change" kind of D.I.Y., more the risk level of trimming one's own bangs.


For an example of the professional version, on coloring virtually identical to my own, see the Man Repeller here, or post-salon-styling (presumably) here. Damn. I'm thinking I may as well open an ombréing salon in my dorm room. "In the heart of the Latin Quarter, for a mere 75 euros, you too can have the bottom third of your hair bleached for an hour, the bleach washed out, and bleach once again applied to just the tips for another hour, then go wash the whole thing out yourself in one of the moldy showers down the hall."


kei said...

Wow, you did a really great job! Did you do anything to ensure the ombre-ness, so the change isn't so sudden and apparent? I've been wanting ombre myself, but am not sure it lends itself to bobs. Or bobs with bangs, which I'm thinking of returning to someday.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...



Re: ombré-ness, I first put bleach on more than just the tips, then once I could see it had visibly changed the color, washed it out and put it only on the ends.

Re: shorter hair, this seems to have worked for Alexa Chung, the ombré that started it all. The only disadvantage is that if you get sick of it, you can't chop it off and keep your hairstyle. Not sure re: bangs - I think one picture I found online was of long hair and bangs, but it was a superairbrushed hair-model kind of thing, hard to see how that would look in real life.

The only other tip I have is, if your hair is naturally really dark, getting it something other than orange-brown takes forever, and apparently requires leaving in the product far longer than the folks at L'Oreal or whatever would advise. The examples of ombré on "dark" hair I found online (Alexa Chung, Ruby Aldridge, etc. - I did some research!) were largely, as I'd feared might be the case, women with light brown hair just a couple shades darker than blond, consistent with the trend of calling anyone with darker hair than platinum a "brunette" (see: Portman, Natalie). The look *does* look better on darker hair, but on really dark hair, however much fading you do, anything that ends in any variant of blond looks more dramatic than... what Alexa Chung is known for.

kei said...

Hmm. I may look into this DIY project. I have highlights, which I think would make the transition to lighter tips look less sudden. Thanks for pointing out Alexa Chung--she did have super short hair at one point, but her hair has that tousled, messy-on-purpose, "natural" look (waves, "texture," etc.) that I can't pull off. I really look like I just got out of bed! And in a not-glamorous way. I also feel like I'm lying if I jazz up my hair that way. Not that I'm going for an Anna Wintour look, but I'm usually somewhere in between her and Alexa, and I feel the ombre looks better with the messy, layered look. Anyway, thanks for the tips and keep us posted with additional colors that get added on, if you can ever find them in Pah-ree!

Britta said...

Your hair looks nice. I personally like the tips not going all the way to platinum, but that is because I am boring when it comes to hair and should probably move to France.
It's interesting with the brunette thing, because it works the opposite way with blondes. I guess part of the problem is there's no single cute term to describe women with medium-light brown hair? Also, can women with black hair be brunettes, or...? it seems weird that a vast majority of women in the world probably have black hair but we don't have a good name for them either.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


The advantage of platinum, aside from a diminished orangey-ness, is the possibility of turning the tips blue, as opposed to green, with blue dye. But I'm not about to spend another 15 euros on this project, without even the possibility of blue dye any time soon.

Re: "brunette," I suppose I've generally thought of myself as one, even though my hair is naturally closer to black than brown. I think this is because "black hair" generally refers to the hair of black women, regardless of their hair color, whereas hair that's the color black just gets classified as "brunette." On white women. On women of color, rather than "brunette," one gets the woman's race - black, Asian (specified country or region of origin, or not), etc. Another example of a white-centric society. I tend to think even "ethnic" white women, such as myself, from communities where most are naturally dark-haired, get called "brunettes," because of the way race is discussed - sub-categories are not often taken into account.

Britta said...

Yeah, there is an implied whiteness with all those terms. Like, I probably wouldn't refer to an Asian woman as a brunette. I wonder if part of it is that it's expected women from Asia have black or dark brown hair, so it's not necessary to mention hair color at all? (I imagine if an Asian woman had red hair, I might point out that she is a "red head"? I haven't really thought about that.) I would probably also use the term brunette for a white woman with black hair, like Penelope Cruz or someone, so maybe it just implies dark hair rather than dark brown hair. (Also...where brown hair ends and black hair starts isn't always easy to tell. In China, everyone considers themselves to have black hair, but actually many people's hair is probably super dark dark brown (or...light light black?), and "real" black hair (i.e. with blue highlights rather than red) is considered really beautiful and there are tons of blackening shampoos on the market. With my relatives anyone with somewhat darkish brown hair is considered to have black hair, which on Scandinavians is fairly rare and considered beautiful and exotic. (Also the term "black Norwegian" or "black Swede" is used to describe someone who is ethnically Scandinavian but has dark hair and eyes, not someone who is black and is Norwegian or Swedish, but that might be changing now with immigration.))

But, long digression aside, maybe there does need to be a term for women whose hair is neither dark enough to be brunette nor light enough to be blonde?

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


In reverse order... "Châtain" in French is the word you're looking for, apparently (Wikipedia, merci) the most common hair color in France. Anecdotal evidence confirms.

Two tangents:

1) At my half/mostly-Asian, after that, Jewish, high school, "châtain"=blond. I was baffled to learn, in college, that these individuals identified as brunettes, or at least were classified as such by Midwesterners. Where white people - like, the kind who count according to white supremacists - are few, there's no "châtain." If it's lighter than dark, it's blond.

2) I get the sense that this hair color is a bit like having wavy hair - in-between - and that those with it often wish it were blonder or (claim, often unconvincingly) they want it darker.


While it's always nice to have a word for something, I don't think this is all that pressing, given that the addition of yet another word to describe the hair of those of European ancestry would just contribute to the idea of there being normal on the one hand, ethnic/black on the other. The terms "blonde," "brunette," and "redhead" tend to be used only in reference to women who, it might be imagined, could have this color naturally, or could have at one point in their lives. (So Pamela Anderson, who at this point is perhaps naturally gray-haired, is very much A Blonde.) Do we have names for all the various ways non-Euro hair might look? Given that "for normal hair" on a shampoo bottle means "for white people without major dandruff issues," I'd say the next step in hair-description ought to be one that helps the dark-haired majority emerge from the shower pleased with the coiffure results. That said, "châtain" is fine by me, we'll just have to take the hat off the first "a" for use in the States.

Britta said...

Sounds like chatain is the word! Maybe we should start to popularize it in the US by inventing a series of chatain jokes, such as, "a blonde, a chatain, and a brunette walk into a bar..."

There is actually a term in Norwegian, lys hår, which means "light hair" and is used to describe dark blonde/light brown hair, i.e. hair darker than blonde but lighter than brown, but that is really putting too fine a shade on it, at least outside the Arctic circle.

I agree however, that this issue is not of utmost pressing importance when it comes to beauty issues facing the world today. I'm wondering if any other culture/continent divides women up based on hair color the way Europe does, or do we only care about hair color because there's a high level of natural diversity? My knowledge of non-Western hair issues comes mainly from watching shampoo commercials on Chinese TV and chatter at the hair salon. It seems like in China you either want your hair as straight and black as possible, or in auburn ringlets (or some combo of those). It also seems like if your goal is beautiful hair, shine and texture are really important and more so than color. Again, people distinguish between "black" and "really black" but as far as I know there aren't terms to differentiate the two, except the first is usually unremarked on, and the second gets comments like, "oh, your hair is so black!". There also aren't terms to describe hair color that are separate from color terms in general. Maybe we then need a term or two to distinguish brunettes from those darker than brunettes. Hopefully the french have a word for that too.

I agree on the shampoo. I think shampoo should be designed and explicitly marketed for different hair types, like "curly and thick" or wavy and wiry" or "straight and fine" or "extremely curly" etc. Rather than "volumizing" or "clarifying" or whatever. You can kind of play around and figure out what might work more for your hair (like you probably don't buy volumizing shampoo but I do), but it's a bit confusing. Again, not helping the larger issue of non-white people hair, but I once used at a friend's house shampoo which stated it was formulated for Scandinavian hair, and I have to say my hair never looked better. I don't think shampoo needs ethnic labels, but fine grained distinction for hair type would help.