It’s probably safe to say that nobody’s most beautiful moment has happened in the past 14 months. Rummage back through these storage libraries and there is a far more likely chance that you will find moments when you’ve tried to sanitize a banana or found that you can easily watch an entire series in one sitting. Or maybe your not-so-nice moment has to do with how you look. In particular, to change it – great beauty decisions lie at the dangerous intersection between sheer boredom and sheer despair, which is also where many of us happen to be pitching our tents to overcome the pandemic. When the locks relax, we look back. What DIY jobs went wrong? What hasty redesigns did you immediately regret? Three ITG readers share their horror stories below – add yours to the comments.
The far too red alarm
Ups Level: Wine stain on a red carpet
“I had naturally blonde hair when I was growing up, and when it started to naturally darken when I was 16, I started highlighting it to make it light blonde again. When the first Covid-19 ban went into effect in Florida, it was imperative that I mend my roots. At that point, we all thought that it couldn’t possibly take more than a couple of weeks.
After two months had passed and there was no end in sight, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had previously used both pink and lavender overtone color conditioners on my very blonde hair, and both hues were completely washed out in about ten days. So I decided to soften the edge between my natural base and the highlighted blonde by mixing in overtone in golden brown with a dash of ginger. What could go wrong? I picked up the mixture, set the timer for 15 minutes … and came out looking like poison ivy. My poor toddler son didn’t recognize me and started crying!
I tried EVERYTHING to block it out: powdered vitamin C tablets applied like a mask, shampoo clarifying, many days on the beach. But this stuff was stubborn, and when it lifted a little, my hair turned a neon yellow. Finally, I took my half gray-brown, half yellow hair to my stylist, who also tried everything in her arsenal. The only thing left to do was dye the yellow to match my natural hair color. I’ll be a gray brunette now until the last bit of yellow has grown out enough to be cut off. Then it’s blonde again. I will never touch colored conditioner again! “
– Kate Losee
The badly influenced pork chop
Ups Level: Tell your loudmouthed friend about a surprise
“After barely leaving my apartment in 10 months, a look at an Instagram feed full of chic French influencers like Jeanne Damas and Camille Yolaine began to strain my psyche. You could say I was more than a little fixated on my hair. Her elegant photos slowly brainwashed me into thinking that the only thing between me and this ease was praise. My hair was almost waist-length and, like Rapunzel, I felt that its length symbolized my imprisonment in the limited space of my apartment. Praise conjured dreams of strolling along the banks of the Seine in a floral dress and casual red lipstick while the wind swept through my perfectly disheveled locks. I was convinced that if I could only get a rag, I would finally be free.
Over the years my hair has seen a number of DIY disasters. (I tried just bleaching everything with Frost & Glow highlight kits, accidentally dying it purple, and giving my friend an uneven bowl cut, a professional.
Inspired by the centuries-old “change your hair, change your life” fallacy, I believed my new life was only an hour and 12 inches away. And then the blow-drying started. I held down my emerging panic, raved about my new cut and when I got home I looked like a watered-down Cameron Diaz at my best friend’s wedding. (Minus the pearl necklace and the restrained sweater.) Hair that was supposed to be just above my collarbone fluttered out over my shoulders. Usually the flippy-out phase is the center of an uncomfortable outgrowth, but in this case my hair journey began. Three months later, I finally accepted that short hair made me look more like a ’90s WASP than a cool French girl. At this point, I’m just praying that I can get out of lockdown without the bangs. “
– Madeline Baldrey
The downward spiral for perfect spirals
Ups level: shrimp cocktail if you are allergic to shellfish
“For most of my life, I’ve styled my hair the same way: a buzz cut. If I had a great opportunity, or maybe, just maybe, felt myself, I’d tip my hair forward. When I got to college, it was time for a change. I let my straight hair grow so long that it lay perfectly with a little product. It fell in exactly the right places. It was great! Downloading TikTok at my low point in the middle of quarantine changed that feeling in minutes. Every TikToker had perfect curls that I’ve always envied. As soon as the salons reopened in the summer, I made an appointment for a perm. And I couldn’t have been happier with my new hair. A bonus: The mix of perm, sun, and salt water made my already blonde hair somehow shiny white. I really had the bleached hair that every crisis gay man dreams of.
But without knowing how to take care of curly hair, the curls began to fall. Six weeks later, I felt ready for some refreshment. Another six weeks later, I got ready for even tighter curls – this time it didn’t work. So, less than a week later, I returned to the salon to try again. If you know something about processed hair that I didn’t know, none of this was a good idea. But I just thought: apparently the chemicals were washed out too soon! At the same time … do you remember how my hair turned platinum? Well, of course, I decided that coloring blonde hair dark was a force move. I immediately hated myself with brown hair and had the stylist bleach it back to my natural shade. Three months, four perms, a single process and a double process later, I was finally done. Not only was my hair fried, but my scalp was chemically burned, creating the illusion of premature baldness.
Nine months after the fatal day of my first perm, my hair and scalp are still recovering. I take finasteride every day, inject my head with minoxidil, and went through two bottles of Olaplex No. 3. A word to the wise? Be careful with TikTok. “
– Henry Kline
Photo via ITG