I’m A Real Blonde

I’m a real blonde. (I declare this proudly, as though it actually matters.)

And yet, we can all use a little help…

Background of a Blonde

Born blonde, I grew up in a southern state where we frequently went boating on the weekends and to the ocean for local vacations. It was also an era when kids played outdoors for hours on end. My blonde hair soaked up the sun (and the freckles began their lifelong spread.)

1981, age 10, Yours Truly as a young blonde (with a coal-black puppy, the dog that I loved for 18 years before Angel.)


As I grew older, like many blonde children, my hair darkened. However, it didn’t change totally, and I remained a dark blonde. (“Dirty blonde” is just not a pretty phrase.) After moving to the midwest as a young teen, my hair would lighten up in the summer and darken in the winter. Even then, I followed the sun.

High School graduation, 1989

Growing up with parents who remembered their working class roots and stayed true to those values, we kept things simple. I didn’t realize that extravagances like spas and professional beauty treatments even existed. My mother even cut my hair herself for many years.

When I was in my mid-twenties, at the end of law school, one of my friends introduced me to the pleasures (and pain) of waxing for hair removal (shaping eyebrows, etc.). After I landed my first lawyer job, I evolved into professional haircuts and ventured into highlights.

By the time I was working full-speed ahead as a big-city attorney in my 30’s, various salon treatments had become the norm. Especially with long work hours and long winter months, my hair no longer saw the sun.  I relied on highlights to keep the blonde going, and my attorney paycheck allowed me to indulge in the spa treatments.

And then I moved to an island.

No spa exists on the island. No attorney paycheck is forthcoming to subsidize such extravagance when I visit the States.

But, it hasn’t really mattered because I’ve delighted in my return to the sun. Swimming in the salt water, baking in the Caribbean sun, all of this contributed to quickly bleaching me back to my natural blonde state.

But after a few months on the island, my darker roots began to grow in. The sun would eventually catch up, but it bothered me, so I tried a few home remedies as a stop-gap procedure.  Now, a few times every year, I dig out my stash of products from Sally’s Beauty Supply and brighten up my blonde roots until the sun evens things out. What used to cost me at least $160 every few months is now just a few bucks a few times a year.  And I haven’t experienced any hair drama with my new approach.

Until Yesterday.

It was a work day. Beau was off on a construction site. I was researching and preparing an early draft of a corporate ghostwriting project. After several hours, I was ready for a mental break. Plus, I was going to lunch with a girlfriend to celebrate her birthday, so I planned to shower up in the late morning instead of my usual end-of-day cleanup before dinner. A perfect time to quickly treat the dark roots which had begun to bother me.

Especially good because Beau was out of the house.  While my hair treatment is certainly not a secret, we’ve never discussed it either. I suppose because it’s just never come up. Besides being a man, his hair – as a black person – is quite different from mine. And, while he generally likes the outcome of how I look, he would likely find any beauty treatments to be frivolous.  Lastly, I confess, I think there is something good in keeping a little mystery behind the beauty of a woman, no? (Perhaps this is why the mental image of me vomiting when I got seasick was not the picture of me that I wanted in his head! Sigh.)

Bottom line, I had the house to myself, and I might as well work on my hair and shower/dress for lunch a little later.

Let the treatment begin.

I dug out my materials. The only thing missing was my little note of how I did it, how long I let the stuff stay on, etc. Hmmm.

Since I’m not covering dark hair or trying to outwit coarse gray hairs, my basic root treatment varies slightly from the box’s printed instructions. But I couldn’t find my note of how I’d done it before. And it had been so long that I didn’t exactly remember.

I read the instructions, came up with my modified plan, and – crossing my fingers – began.

The key materials.

For any readers who are men or non-hair-treating women, the procedure basically involves mixing a few products and shaking them well in an applicator bottle. You then separate your hair section by section, squeezing the goo along the roots.  I massage the goo into my roots but leave the rest of the hair dry (since it’s already light blonde). Technically, this should be done with gloves to protect my hands, but whatever, I can feel better with my bare fingers.

After about 10 minutes, I applied the remainder of the bottle throughout my hair to blend the color.  These days, I have a lot of hair so it’s quite an ordeal. I’m careful not to stain my skin and keep an old towel tied around my shoulders. I also don’t want to stain my clothes, so I just didn’t wear any!

My magical mix includes a little packet to prevent already-blonde hair from becoming brassy or orange when blonde treatments are applied.  However, that particular mix of chemicals makes the mixture purple, which is daunting as you smear it all over your head!

The Best Laid Plans

So there I was, standing stark naked in the bathroom with a wet head of purple hair when Beau walked in.

After a long pause, he simply asked, “What are you doing?”  “Umm, errrr, I’m blonding up the roots of my hair,” I stammered in reply.  Fortunately, he was distracted by what he was looking for and didn’t pay me much attention as he hurriedly moved about.

But, then, he announced that I needed to drive him back since his workers were using the truck. “NOW?!” I gasped. “Or I can just take the golf cart if you don’t need it,” he offered.  Normally, that would work. But today, I needed it for lunch with my girlfriend. (Truly, on this small island, we could have easily strolled on foot like the good ol’ days, but I just wanted the convenience of wheels.)

To Beau’s credit, I’m embellishing my reactions slightly for comedic effect. He would’ve figured out something else if I said I couldn’t do it. But, I looked at my watch and thought it might just work. I wasn’t entirely sure about the best hair timeframe anyway, so better to “undercook” than to “overcook” my head. I might as well rinse it out now. It certainly couldn’t wait until I got back from dropping him off.

So I quickly pulled on a sundress. Running out back to the hose on the patio – the most forceful water spout in the whole house – I leaned over and rinsed my hair as best I could. Knowing Beau was waiting for me, I toweled off the biggest drips, threw a floppy hat over the tangled wet mess and ran out to the golf cart. I hadn’t even paused long enough to look in the mirror so I had no idea what I was in for.

And the Results?

Speeding to and fro, I avoided exchanging pleasantries with people along the road so I could get back to the house for potential damage control. I quickly jumped into the shower and lathered up my hair for a thorough wash. As I dried off, I cautiously peered into the mirror. Although it’s hard to tell when it’s wet, I could tell the roots were lighter, but nothing looked traumatic.

I pulled out the hair dryer for a rare blow-out so I could get a good look.


Blonde roots, as though they too have been kissed by the sun.

Disaster averted yet again.

(Photo by Lion’s Den.) Walking to my neighbor’s with my refreshed hair.

Did I imagine that my formerly-under-the-radar hair treatment would become a blog topic?! Definitely not. But as I reflected upon it, I considered:

  • The whole episode was spawned by island living (since I didn’t just pop by a hair salon).
  • I was able to see the humor in it all and not let things spiral into negativity, as we Better Lifers strive.
  • Despite lamenting the absence of spas, I realize I don’t miss them all THAT much. My hair is fine – and far cheaper these days!
  • You might just enjoy chuckling at my expense yet again. 🙂

So, dear readers, what did this blog post conjure up for you?


4 Responses to I’m A Real Blonde

  • Christine says:

    So funny!!! Must’ve been quite the sight for Beau! Great job, though – your hair looks like a pro did it! (And I’m speaking as someone who’s gone to a salon for years to tame the grey that came early). Good for you for keeping your cool when you didn’t know what the results would be… I’m not sure I’d have been that calm.

    Great post – you had me grinning from ear to ear! 🙂

    • Dawn says:

      Hah! Thanks, Christine. I’m glad you saw as much humor in it as I did. And I’m crossing my fingers that, like my paternal grandmother who I take after, the blonde will serve as a buffer to grays for decades to come. I guess we’ll see! Thanks for commenting.

  • Jacki says:

    I only wish I had blond hair! My mom has been highlighting her hair since the 80’s and of course HJ has some “dark blonde” hair. But this girl, along with wanting straight hair has always wanted freckles and blond hair. Hilarious story!

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