Thought Catalog Agency

7 Struggles Only Girls With Colored Hair Will Understand

When I add up all of the years of my life with colored hair and without, I come away with a high ratio. Over half my life I’ve had some form of unnatural color, from the blonde with blue tips at my senior prom to the sunset-inspired pink, orange, and yellow progression of college. To now, a pink-haired professional in a world increasingly more accepting of those of us who just want to feel joy when we look in the mirror. As Jenna Marbles once said, “Life’s too short not to have really exciting hair.” Even so, that exciting hair comes with struggles that only use girls with colored hair will understand.

1. You love the color…until you wash it for the first time.

All those gorgeous hair trends you see on Instagram and TikTok? The rainbow gradients and oil slicks and unicorn pastels? They seem like such a good idea. They are at first. You feel invincible. And then you wash your hair for the first time–even sulfate-free shampoo and colder water–and all the colors run together and become muddy. Hopefully you got your picture-taking in already, because that vibrant hair moment is gone now.

2. And you avoid the shower like the plague.

Any water will wash out colorful hair dye, let alone if you use shampoo or condition. So you avoid washing it, going days longer than anyone else would dare. You want to keep your color as long as possible, and you can only do that if it’s safe and dry and out of the water.

3. Because the maintenance is no joke.

The maintenance just sucks. It’s so much different than boxed dyes. You have to worry about bleach and developer and toner, the impermanence of colorful colors, and the danger you might become the star of one of Brad Mondo’s reaction videos. If you want it to always look good, you either spend hundreds every month at a professional or risk destroying your hair by doing it yourself. And if you want to change it? Good luck getting blue, green, or purple out. You’re stuck with it for good.

4. People mistake your motivations.

I once had a guy yell at me at the grocery store when I was 16. I was innocently bagging my groceries several lanes away and he yelled, “What are you trying to say with that hair?!” He was mad. He thought I was making some kind of statement. He’s not the only one who assumes things. They’ll assume you do it for attention or to be different. In reality, you just do it because you like it, because it makes you feel good. And that’s the best kind of reason for doing anything, really.

5. You always know when it’s your hair that got in the food.

There’s no pretending it wasn’t your fault when someone pulls a long blue hair out of their mashed potatoes. Sorry, you’re the one in trouble. And if you change your hair color regularly, you’ll start to notice so many colors everywhere. Your vacuum will be filled with a rainbow array of all your past accomplishments. Thanks, shedding.

6. Your pillowcases look like a colorful disaster.

You can gauge how long it’s been since you washed your pillowcases by how deep and saturated the hair dye stain is. That big splotch of pink is like a watercolor version of a Jackson Pollock painting. And because you’re so aware of how your hair can leech out onto your pillow, especially if you go to bed with wet hair, you’ll be hesitant to stay at someone’s house.

7. Strangers always want to talk to you.

Like I mentioned above, people could be really mean about colored hair back in the day. Now? They love to give me compliments, ask questions, talk about how they always wanted to color their hair themselves. When you do something as bold and against-the-grain as dying your hair fun colors, it’s like you’re putting on a neon sign that says “Talk to me.” It used to bug me when I was a teen, but now I’m happy to chat, if only for just a minute while I wait for my tall decaf mocha. And just as long as they’re nice. Because there’s always that one-in-ten interaction that leaves you wondering if you should just shave your head and start over.