I’ve been reflecting on the dramatic changes to my life, pre-pandemic, to the life I’m living now. If you had told me in early March that by May, I would be a mask maker in a pandemic, I would’ve thought you were nuts. But here we are. Making masks. Writing blogs. Living history.
I feel like I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, too. The stay at home order flattened the curve and now we’re able to start slowly venturing out again.
New York’s PAUSE expires Friday. I’m not sure how much life will really change for us for the foreseeable future. Restaurants are still take out only. Retail is still divided into essential/curb side pick up only/ or closed (Peter Harris, I miss you!). We can’t travel anywhere or do much of anything. But things are starting to open up finally.
Jumping Jacks opened (but then they closed again after issues with their phones), ice cream stands, drive in movies, and the dog park did too. These are all the seasonal markers Upstate New Yorkers look forward to every year — confirmation that winter is over and finally the best part of the year (for the warm weather lovers among us) has arrived. You can almost feel the deep, collective sigh of relief when this happens each year, but especially now, after the spring we’re had (capped off by a freak May snowstorm). I think I speak for all New Yorkers when I say we’re just screaming into the void at this point. We need these things in our lives right now. Bad.
It’s not surprising that with so much returning to normal, my quarantine appearance started to bug me. I needed to go to the salon in January. In the fall, I dyed my hair red, and most of it faded out except a stubborn stripe around my head. I kept putting it off because I didn’t have the money for a $100 fix. I wanted red hair, damnit, but not if it mostly washed out leaving weird red stripes in random spots.
Then, as news of Covid-19 spread, I decided to severely limit my non-essential trips out of the house. There was no way I setting foot in a salon. Then PAUSE happened. And as it stands, salons won’t be reopening for a while still.
My hair was starting to look tragic. A line of natural ash blond striped with grey, then that stubborn stripe of red, plus last year’s highlights. Jeremy, God love him, said it looked just fine. But it was sooo not fine.
Perhaps this is melodramatic, but we have a pandemic on, and I didn’t want to possibly die with this hair. If I have to go out, and I have a choice, it won’t be looking like this.
I considered Loreal Preference, but I have skin reactions to all kinds of things, had never used it before, and now is not the time for a bad reaction to anything. Plus, I am one of those people who can never rely on *anything* to go on and, on my face and hair, stay the color it was intended to.
Purple lipsticks turn pink. Pinks turn orange. Reds turn coral.
I once dyed my hair what was supposed to be blonde with a touch of copper and it went burgandy.
So no way was I picking a hair color based off a photoshopped model’s picture on a box. I wanted to fix my problem, not create a new one.
Henna seemed like a solid option though. I’d tried it once before, with my host sister when I was living in Hungary, and remembered liking the results. Being plant based, I wasn’t likely to have an allergic reaction, the color is permanent, it covers grey hair, and it’s cheap.
So I ordered some. While I waited for it to arrive, I read a bunch of henna hair dying tips. Then I ordered a bunch of disposable plastic caps and gloves because it is MESSY.
While I was attempting an in-home spring makeover, there was the issue of my eyebrows, which were a hot, hot mess. I have never had any success with in home waxing kits, but tweezers are the devil’s own torture device, and I was getting desperate. I ordered this kit.
I decided today would be beauty makeover day. After sewing masks feverishly all day in order to get to the post office before closing, I started with the eyebrows.
Y’all, I don’t know what magical elixer went into the wax, but it was the easiest, most pain-free eyebrow wax of my life. I’m never going to a salon for eyebrows again.
Bouyed by new optimism I tried the henna. Whatever I did once in Hungary, it was not this. You cannot begin to imagine how messy it is.
I started with a green powder of crushed up natural henna. Added boiling water. Stirred until it resembled the consistency of yogurt. Let it sit an hour.
The glop in the bowl turned brown with a vague greenish tint–like guacamole that’s been sitting out all day. After an hour, I coated all my hair in what looked like a baby’s diaper explosion, covered it in two plastic caps, and let it sit for 2.5 hours. It has a decidedly planty smell and felt like I had a wet mud pie sitting on my head. Not the best sensation, to be sure. But also kind of fun to guess what kind of redhead it was about to turn me into.
2.5 hours later, I hopped in the shower and starting rinsing the henna out. After I got the majority out, I used A LOT of conditioner to work out the last of the paste. Then I rinsed it again (no shampoo), brushed it out, and dried it with a hair dryer to set the color.
I am really happy with the end result. It’s not unlike a $100 salon job, but this won’t wash out EVER.
People keep talking about what people have learned/discovered from being in quarantine and how this newfound self reliance will translate to a post-pandemic world.
I know I’m going to do my own eyebrows and hair color from now on. This was so much cheaper AND so much easier that going to a salon. I will not, however, be attempting to give myself haircuts. That is just a bridge too far.