It’s been 2 years. Well, just over 2 years.

One morning during the summer of 2016, right smack in the middle of recording my band’s most recent album [After Laughter], I called Brian and proclaimed, with passion, that I needed a change. He was a little hesitant about my idea and rightly so, seeing as we’d just launched a company devoted to bright, neon hair dyes. He listened, nonetheless.

“I need to see myself as a blank page. I can’t look at myself and keep comparing that person to all the other versions of her that were better, or happier. There’s got to be a way that I can get to know the person that I am now. We’ve always done that with my hair and this won’t be any different, it’s just… not going to be a color.”

Finally, I convinced him. So, after suffering through two more days with my old Steal My Sunshine test-formula dye job and 3-inch greasy roots, Brian bleached my hair to smithereens. I emerged from the shampoo bowl looking like a tiny (and much less tense) Malfoy. One look in the mirror and any doubts I might’ve had just disappeared. That was me. I knew I’d uncovered a part of myself that was desperate to be seen and understood. Even Brian was surprised at how much he liked it. The more I’d play new Paramore songs for him and the more we’d talk about life and where we both were at, the more the bottle blonde ‘do made sense.

Over the next few weeks, I got more comfortable with the change. I was playing around with makeup again and experimenting with my fashion choices. It really helped me to combat some of my anxieties too. The best part of the whole thing was realizing how much I love wearing the color red. I loved how graphic the white and red looked together. That look inadvertently became a big part of the After Laughter visuals: red denim jacket and trousers for Hard Times, red dress and beret for Told You So… even my 3-piece vintage look for Rose Colored Boy. The only video I didn’t wear red for is Fake Happy. Only now am I starting to see more meaning in all of it. A look of truth and liberation vs. one of discontent and discomfort. Color was still a huge part of my life story with or without it being on top of my head.

So after a whole album cycle of wrestling with my own growth, I felt like I’d reached some sort of new checkpoint in the whole process. It occurred to me that it might be time to once again embrace a new season of life, hair first. Why change the process? It’s what has always worked for me. Hair, just like songwriting, is a very expressive outlet. I started flirting with the idea of letting Brian dye my hair a more natural color – inspired by the fact that Paramore as a collective unit decided we desired some time at home. After trying to imagine myself with brightly colored hair, walking around my hometown, doing very basic things… it just didn’t feel right to me yet.

A few days later, Brian sent me a picture of Goldie Hawn in her 30’s, sometime in the early 80’s. That was it! I’m getting ready to turn 30 soon. I’m going to have my first chance at really living at home (sans band drama) since nearly half-my-life ago. What better way to embrace this forward motion than to try something new and completely void of parallels from other eras of my life?

This is me, for now. It feels strange and new and there are days I know I’ll eventually want something more exciting at the top of my head. But, y’know what? I’ve never felt more myself. Maybe neon-me isn’t “back” but my hair is no longer a reflection of bleakness, void of color. Plus, isn’t this exactly the kind of thing Brian & I created Poser Paste for? I can mess around with color and wash it out until I feel the urge for something a little more permanent. That’s what keeps me interested in identity and presentation. Nothing is actually ever permanent. We keep creating and discovering ourselves, forever. All these years later, hair is still one of my favorite ways to do that. I really want to know more about other people’s hair journeys. I know everyone has a hair story and they all say something profound about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go. So please feel free to share via socials or contribute to Strands by submitting your own stories and musings. Thanks for reading about mine.

Yours in technicolor… and now in dirty blonde,

Written by Hayley Williams, Founder of Good Dye Young.

To learn how you can submit your own work, please click here.

36 Responses

  1. Probably since my teens people would say nice things about my hair, how shiney, soft and lovely it was. Was one of the only things I actually remember having positive comments for, I was shy didn’t look people in the eye, walked with my head down. So I try and make sure I looked after my hair, as at least THAT was being noticed. Over the years I began to dye it/use extentions to add colour. I would spend a lot of time drying and tending to it before school, before work, before leaving the house so it was looking its best. A few decades on, I had a baby (so less time for managing my hair so much) quickly followed by breast cancer. I lost all my hair, eyebrows, most if my eyelashes. Its sad that it my main inital worry when told i’d cancer was not the cancer, not the surgery or the chemo but loosing my hair. Treatemrnt staryed fairly quickly and buy round 2 of chemo the hair went and I was left with a bald egg head, i’d never seen mysrlf in this way before, it was very odd, alien, i had to really start at myself in the mirror to recognise myself, my eyes were familar buy even they were slightly odd, sader, older. I tried wigs and hairs scarves, but its wasn’t the same and most were unconfortable, eventually I just went bald (I wasn’t an attractive bald like some woman are!). There just came a point where the missing hair didnt matter anymore. I had become enough, my view of myself and what I could get through, how weak I may have thought i was, was changing ..i walked with my bald head up. I knew who I was and what was import to me. Now I’m better and have hair again I still experiment with cuts, buzz cuts, colour etc. I dont spend quite so much time on it as I did before. I still love hair, it’s what I notice first about a person and it always makes me want to know more about them.

  2. This was such a wonderful read.

    There’s not a whole lot to say when it comes to my hair. It’s been my natural dark brown color for pretty much all my life. The only hair dyeing experience I’ve had was adding auburn highlights to my choppy layered haircut when I was about 14 years old. Eventually I got tired with the style after having it for over a year and then dyed it brown again to get rid of the auburn color. After that I decided to just let my hair grow because I wanted to know what it was like to have longer hair than what I have been used to. I’m 22 now and haven’t done much to it since; and really as of now, I want to do something new but not sure what to do yet.

    I’ve loved colorful hair for as long as I can remember. I think it brings out a unique and fun side out of someone. I remember wanting to dye my hair a color out of the rainbow after seeing some of my friends/peers at school with it when I was younger and still want to do it today. It’s the only thing that caught my interest when it came to anything beauty related. But my parents wouldn’t allow me to have it which sucked in a lot of ways. And now it’s “unprofessional” to have at work.

    One day I’ll have the bravery/ opportunity to express myself with a unique color on my head semi-permanently. But until then I’ll keep experimenting with Poser Paste (which has been pretty fun btw).

    So there’s my short story about my hair and thanks again for sharing yours Hayley. :)

  3. When I was a kid I was jealous of people has colored hair. I thought that they were in a band or something haha. I also remember obsessing about Hayley’s hair on TWYG. I started dyeing/bleaching my hair when I was in High School (summer break). I was scared of bleaching my hair at first because it was my first time and I was kinda scared of damage. but after bleaching I feet like I was a changed person haha but change feels so good!!! Then I dyed my hair red (Ofc inspired by red headed Hayley lmao).It was hard because everyone around me kept telling me that I look like shit, I look ugly with my hair. I ignored them but then when I dyed my hair green for our cosplay in school (I cosplayed Joker). Some liked my hair but my relatives kept calling me things like I look like a tree or whateva. I was sad because I loved my green hair and I never heard them liking it. Every single day I had to listen to their bs. I stopped dyeing for a very long time but when GDY came I became obsessed with dyeing my hair. When I tried Narwhal I loved it. I stopped caring about what other people think or say. After 9 months of Narwhal. Last August I dyed my hair with Ex-Girl (I LOVE IT SO MUCH IM CRYING) for Tour 6 in Manila and my parents loved it lmao my mom wanted me to dye her hair too but I used all the product.

    I really want to wear poser paste for my graduation picture on December but shipping is so expensive + broke life ugh (ˢᵉⁿᵈ ᵐᵉ ᶠʳᵉᵉ ᵈʸᵉˢ ᶠᵒʳ ᵍʳᵃᵈᵘᵃᵗᶦᵒⁿ ʲᵏᵏᵏ ˢˡᶦᵍʰᵗ). If I graduate next year I swear I’ll dye my hair with steal my sunshine as thank u. I just want to thank you for this ya know. Inspiring people to express themselves through hair dyes. Thank you for doing this + wish me luck on graduating !!! :) Love yall

  4. I feel like we grew up together. I’m turning 30 next month and remember seeing your first Seattle show in 2006 and thinking “finally, a girl with my attitude who can actually express herself.” Your red hair was a symbol of something fiery and new. You didn’t seem to give a shit about anything but being the best version of yourself and taking the high road when you had to. I can imagine that your hair was a way of expressing all the things you knew you couldn’t explicitly say out loud.

    I started dyeing my hair box red at 15 (probably inspired by you, let’s be honest) and kept up the same look for a solid decade before realizing that hiding behind this shield wasn’t making me happy. It felt good when people noticed me because of my hair. It was a safety net in a time when nobody had ever complimented the way I looked unprompted.

    A few years ago, I kind of all-at-once gave the middle finger to the idea that I had to look a certain way for people to respect me (also… so many chemicals), so I stopped tending to my more superficial qualities aside from basic hygiene and moisturizer. I got less attention and fell into a spiral of self-loathing, but I felt like I needed to figure out who I was outside of the way I outwardly presented myself. The internet is dangerous in this way: If you don’t look the part, onto the next one. I wanted to force myself to get used to this idea and hone my photography craft to the point where people weren’t just nice to me because they thought I was pretty. I guess it worked, because it led me to tour opportunities with awesome humans who are more concerned with whether you’re a good person than the most beautiful.

    After spending too much of my 20s trying to find myself again, last year I said “fuck it!” and bleached my hair for the first time before going to Burning Man–also for the first time–and realized I could have unique hair and not be a nitwit about it. It’s truly a blank slate for whatever color you want to try. Once I finally have a professional even me out, I’m diving into GDY products. :)

    Thank you for sharing your story and giving us a platform to share ours! You da bomb.

  5. I’m so glad that there is a community of people that are open about how they tie their emotional maturity and life events to the colour of their hair. I am not alone. I feel like as I have hit milestones in my life I automatically mark that by marching to my hairdresser. She is always all-too-happy to oblige a wacky colour.
    The story goes that in my teen years people were very vocal about how they saw me as a very outgoing, bubbly person. I always had bright shocking hair and I was known for that, and by extension those two ran side by side. When I left school I felt like I had ‘grown up’ and away from perhaps this ‘childish’ phase. I went back to my natural colour, hoping to gain some kind of respect and be taken more seriously by people older than me. Maybe gain some favour. I ended up going to university- not because I particularly wanted to, or because I thought it would help me in what I wanted to do- but because I had be expected to (and obviously it’s a privilege). That being said it had made me completely miserable and I hated every moment, which is a whole other journey. Long story short I ended up in a very dark place with depression and had lost sight of the vibrant person I had been previously. Side note: I realized quickly that your hair colour isn’t going to change how people see you, or what they say to you, and you to them. Generally, respect is earned regardless of if your hair is green. I digress. Eventually I managed to land myself a full time job (that, by the way, has nothing to do with my degree- thank God) and in celebration I went and had my hair stripped down to the route blonde. I felt like it was transformational and like a reward for perseverance that I could even afford to keep up with it. I could find myself once more. Everything was good for a while, coming back up and gasping for air, rediscovering who I was.
    I feel like a lot of things made me feel like I was a shell of myself around the dark times, and honestly I could not remember the strong-willed, bubbly girl I had been- and at this point I was letting people walk all over me, constantly. I had been allowing people to have some weird Divine control over how I felt, because a lot of the time I felt like I couldn’t summon the energy to decide that for myself. A week ago I made my hairdressers day by asking her to dye my hair back to a vibrant firey red. It didn’t feel like an immature colour that I’d left behind- it sounds odd but as soon as I saw it, it felt like home. I really wanted to rediscover the person that I really was; confident and outgoing and kind. Before then it would have almost felt regressive, in a way. Everytime I see it in the mirror I’m like yes! You are strong and you are fiery you get it girl.
    If you’re reading it and you made it this far congrats, and thanks for allowing me to ramble for too long about my hair. xoxo

  6. I’m currently going through something with myself and as a result I’m changing my color constantly. And as a licensed hair stylist I feel like I have to always change it (or that’s my excuse)
    I just haven’t been happy with myself and I’m worried it’s because now that I have a new job where I’m not stressed at, that I’m putting my stress and anxiety into something else and what’s an easier target then myself.
    So this past summer I have gone from neon orange, red-orange, pink/purple/blue unicorn, back to orange and now I’m currently pink.
    I’m planning on going back to a natural color but I’m so scared I will no longer have that little bit of control over myself. I’ve already shaved one side of my head to gain some sort of control.
    I hope with going back to a natural color that I can ONE use warm water on my head again, I’m tired of usuing ice cold water to make sure my color doesn’t run and TWO be okay with whatever life tosses at me, if I can handle not having the ability to throw whatever I have into my hair, I can handle whatever I’m going through personally and THREE to get my hair grow for Pete’s sake. For a half Mexican I don’t have strong hair to bleach.
    But I hope to find myself again with my naturally dark hair. My crazy adventure with fashion colors will have to end pretty soon.
    Thank you for listening to me. IG @SaraSmiles4L
    Professional hair IG @SaraVictoriaHair

  7. I cut my hair short one other time in my life. I was 8 and expected short hair and bangs to be so exciting and important of an event in my life only to end up hating it. Ever since then, I grew it long. Long, chocolate brown, and side bangs for years. Then, at the age 11, someone told me and my mom I had lice and my mom decided to get rid of it by dying it my natural color. As far as I know, it worked. (That is, if I ever even had lice lmao) Nobody ever noticed and my hair didn’t look different at all but knowing my hair was dyed made me feel so different. It was life that episode of Gilmore Girls where Lane makes Rory dye dye her hair purple and then she freaks out and makes her dye it back. Something about just knowing my hair had been changed was empowering even though nobody could see it. By age 14, my hair had grown out to be longer than ever before and the only part that still had dye on it had been lightened significantly by the sun giving me an unintentional, subtle, ombré effect. One night, my mom and my sister and I found ourselves at the drugstore looking to buy nail polish and left the store with red and green hair dye. That night, in the bathroom I shared with my sister and brothers off and on my throughout entire life, my hair was dyed an ombré red and I felt incredible. I didn’t quite understand the differences in style and what box having colored hair would put me into through the eyes of a stranger, but something about it made me feel so cool and even brave. The color never washed out, it barely faded and it stayed until I had my hair cut several times. After that, My hair was cut a couple more time to be a borderline medium to long length and finally, the idea of getting bangs washed over me and I did just that…. I went to hair salon I trusted and they had a stylist in training cut my hair (without telling me she was in training) and she had no idea how to cut bangs and left me with this weird haircut I ended up fixing myself when I got home. I felt ~cuteeee~ after I finished my bangs. They were in combination with a side part because I had commitment issues and didn’t want to switch to a middle part just yet. I cut those bangs myself until the next year and got yet another bad haircut. Got that fixed and then randomly, I went to cut my bangs and started with a middle part. SO MUCH EASIER TO DO, MY FRIENDS. That was just last December, and I rocked that until April of this year. This was my biggest change in a while and when you talked about needing a change, I related to it so much because I had been having some real humbling moments in my life and realizations about myself were hitting me so hard a few months before the ending of the year. Wanting to go short again excited me and made feel like I was finally taking a lil tiny risk. It became a source of hope as well has finally having a whole sense of style to kind of identify but also play around with. This would be the year I turned 18 and I needed a change so badly for so long that when opportunities for change kept popping up, for the first time ever, I didn’t dread them. I embraced them. This April, I had my hair cut “short” or so I thought. It was actually just between medium length and short hair but it was a huge deal either way to me. I freaked me out as the cuts were made because for some reason I really didn’t expect her to go right to chopping the length off so when 9 inches of hair started hitting the floor I definitely panicked a bit. I had mentioned to the stylist that I had been looking to pick up a diffuser piece for my blow dryer and and when the time came for her to dry my hair, she offered the option of a diffuser and I was like HELL YEAH PLEASE. I went home and danced around my room and threw my hair around and I remember thinking so many times, “I have never felt more like myself than I do now.” And months later, I had my friend who is not a trained professional and is not looking to be, cut my hair in her bathroom. It definitely come out much shorter than before and surprisingly the world didn’t end so a couple months later, I made my sister do the same thing to me. There is something about challenging yourself with hair. Somehow, I went from being terrified of switching my bangs from a side to a middle part to cutting my hair short 3 times and forcing my friends to cut my hair in bathrooms in only a year. Hair represents character development. Ask anyone. That is all.

    -the stina machine ⚡️

  8. I’m not into hair dyeing, to be honest (though I admit that your Poser Paste is quite intresting) – so, what am I doing here? I don’t know, really. I just had something to say, I guess, and this seems a safer place than Twitter or Instagram. Definitely my hair plays a role on my personality.

    I used to hate my messy curly hair, as a kid. I felt like a less pretty Hermione Granger, to mention another Harry Potter character. Through my teenage years I noticed that whenever I needed a fresh start, especially on a sentimental level, a new haircut was a good first step. It always feels cathartic, like a ritual I need to move forward.

    The best thing I’ve ever done with my hair so far was a pixie haircut I did in 2011, when I was 18. It was amazing, I never felt so confident before. I kept that look for two years but then I wanted my long curls back.

    In the last few years I went through a dark period of my life with very low self-esteem. I started doubting myself, I doubted about my whole life and my university career. I was scared about the future. I wasn’t taking care of my hair and my whole body, during this time. I think I really started hating my appearance, at some point.

    I recently changed my haircut but this time I didn’t know what I wanted them to look like so it was not that drastic change. Anyway, I started liking my hair again. I also started trying to focus on my present in order to achieve my goals and not being anxious about the future.

    Thanks, Hayley, for being so caring. Love from Italy.

  9. My long brown hair has always been something I’ve relied on as a sort of security blanket. Three years ago I bleached my elbow-length, chocolate brown hair bright blonde to see if I would like it (I didn’t and the damage was horrible). I eventually dyed my dry, lifeless hair back to dark brown and spent months using deep conditioners and hair masks to try and bring some life back into it, but nothing seemed to work. After spending an hour on my hair (and not being happy with the results) I went to a family party where I was told I “spent too much time on it trying to look pretty.” It set off something in my brain that made me incredibly hurt, as that was not who I wanted my friends and family to think of me as, someone who just wanted to “look pretty.” It also woke me up to the fact that I could no longer hold on to my damaged long locks. The next day I cut my hair into a chin length bob and never looked back. I’ve had my short hair now for three years and I’ve never been happier. It’s super healthy and makes me feel more like myself, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow it out again!

  10. Throughout my junior year and senior years of high school I had really long hair that was my natural boring brown color and I honestly hated it. The only reason I let it grow was because I didn’t know what to do with it, but every time I brought up that I wanted to cut it or do something different, everyone tried to change my mind because “long hair is so pretty!” My senior year was so stressful and I feel like I was kind of hiding behind my hair and using it to distract from my constant anxiety. When I graduated I finally cut my hair to my shoulders and felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, but fast forward to sophomore year of college right before my 20th birthday I cut it the shortest I’ve ever had it (not quite touching my shoulders) and dyed it bright purple! My roots are growing in and I told myself I was just going to dye it once to say I’ve had a crazy color, but I’m thinking about dying it red with Rock Lobster next! <3

  11. My story begins a little over a year ago. I’ve always had long hair (long as in down to my lower hip long). I defined myself through my long, beautiful brown hair. When I graduated last summer, I was completely broken. For almost two and a half years I was in an abuse relationship. It was all about me taking care of another person who was blaming me for everything, and in the end ended up hurting me more than I had ever been hurt before. At the same time, I was in the same class as and friends with poeple who treated me really badly. For some reason, I’ve always been an easy target for people to let all of their anger out on and making me the blame for everything that went wrong in their lives. I still can’t quite figure out why. The case is, I was in deep deep pain. My heart was aching, and I didn’t have anyone to go to about it, because at the same time I struggled with family problems. I literally wanted everything to just stop.
    At the same time, I felt like I’ve changed throughout those experiences. When I looked myself in the mirror, I no longer recognized the person staring back at me. What I saw in that long hair, was a happy and innocent person, who for me got lost some time ago. I ended up cutting my beautiful long hair of to my shoulders. I had it dyed with a light caramel colored ombré (which is a big deal for me, as I NEVER let any form of dye touch my hair). By doing that, I felt like I was cutting and hiding away all of my pain. I was no longer the girl with the long brown hair everyone had been seeing me as for all those years, I didn’t want to be her. With this new found identity I went out and started the journey of healing myself.
    A year later, my hair is still short. I haven’t let it grow out, but I recently decided to let it grow out again, and I didn’t even realize why before reflecting on this whole situation. Here I am, a year later, and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’ve found some amazing friends, who understands, loves an respects me for who I am. I started speaking with my dad again. All the people who made me feel bad and pushed me into my darkest place are gone. I learned to love myself again, and to only spend time with the people whom I value and actually brings me happiness. I’m not in pain anymore. My natural hair color is almost grown out again, but there’s still an inch or two of the light caramel color left. I look forward to the day it will be gone. Even though my long brown hair seemed to be symbolizing my pain back then, I actually realized that it was the short dyed hair that showed off my pain. Now that it’s almost gone, it seems to me that my pain has gone. I’m finally able to let he long haired girl back into my life. She will never be the one she was before the pain. She will be a better version of her. She will be good, I promise.

  12. I have always admired people who dyed their whole heads glorious colors! The bravery, the courage to express yourself that way must feel amazing. It wasn’t until last year, at 36, that I was comfortable to try it myself. I don’t like to draw attention to myself. I don’t like to stand out. That changed a little when I got tattoos a few years prior. I can’t wear short sleeved shirts without people looking. But I got used to it. I love my tattoos. They’re art. Being an extremely creative person I felt a little more me with them. I loved my skin art. I loved the compliments and would pass them on to my tattoo artist. After playing with the idea to color my hair, it took a minute to find a hairdresser. They’re like tattoo artists. Unicorns. Has to be the right fit. After that I quickly got over the whole my husband loves my hair a certain way and he helped in that too. He told me it’s my life and my body. So that was it! I did it. It was liberating. I’ve had every color but red yellow and orange in my hair…I go for low maintenance. But it was so fun!!!! Now it’s fall and I went dark mahogany for the season. My hubby loves it, instead of the crazy colors. I knew he would. And I needed a break too. I do miss my bright blues in my hair and I’m sure come spring I’ll have some new idea I want to try. My hair does not define me. I can cut it short if I want to. I can shave my head. I can color it bright purple. I’ll still be me. Just a slightly different version. Who’s learning to love herself a little more every day. ?

  13. keeping it really simple and “short”.

    i never really liked my hair when i was younger. i used to put all kinds of products so it would be straight but none of them never REALLY worked (obviously. plus, i was going through puberty, so yeah). one of them even dyed it black. it was really weird.

    i think i was 15 years old the first time i decided to cut it. i was tired of not knowing how to handle it, so i chopped it off. asked my friends, my family and the stylist if it was the right thing to do and they all said no. so i went and did it. my hair was now a little bit above my shoulders. it grew back and a couple years later i cut it shorter. i donated it and that made me feel SO good. i was actually helping someone else by getting rid of something i wasn’t finding useful anymore. but by the time i got home i immediately started to hate my new look. who knows, maybe it was me, maybe it was whatever the stylist did with my hair. but i cried so damn much about it.

    then i learned to handle it. dyed my tips and started playing with my hair: different styles, different looks. i was a whole other person. a new one. it was pretty cool. i tried to keep dying strings of hair, but sooner or later it’d turn yellow again and that was it. but i got to know my hair. well, i get to know it EVERY SINGLE DAY. but you get what i mean.

    anyhoo, i went to college and had short hair for 5 whole years (but i’d cut it off and style it i different ways every two months or so). and there i was. i graduated. jobless. broke up with my boyfriend. with friends fleeing the country. almost alone.

    time for another change: let it grow, for you are growing too.

    even though i’d love to dye my whole hair with some Blue Ruin or Narwhal (but i ain’t got the moneyzzzz), i actually love how it looks right now.

  14. It’s been a year since I shaved my hair off. I did it a few months after a terrible break up that left me feeling irreparable. I’d wanted to do it for years, but I was finally at the age where I could decide for myself. It was like I wanted everyone to know I was saying “this is what happened to me” just by looking at me. They couldn’t guess the details or know the depth of what I had felt, but they could make a guess. It signified a new era of my life. I understood that need for a blank slate. A rebirth. It’s October now and I haven’t shaved it in two months. I’ve tried before but never let it go on as long as it has now. I always want to catch myself and ask, “Are you sure this is over yet? Have you moved past this chapter?”. The truth is that I really don’t know. Not to be fake deep, but hair was coping to me. It was surviving and making sure everyone knew it. At twenty, I have dozens of more eras to enter. But I learned a lot from this one.

  15. Basically the same experience for me girl.. except it’s different this time. I’m starting a whole new chapter of my life. Im leaving past 18 years are behind me (I’m only 19, turning 19 in a few months). This time I didn’t do a different color at all, I shaved my head. My plan is to let it grow out and go back to my natural color for as long as I feel like keeping it that way, which I’m hoping is a long time. I’m super excited for this new chapter of my life and everything it holds for me (and for my hair) ?

  16. My hair journey started as me just wanting some color. But, I went to private school that prohibited hair color change, so I had to wait until i graduated to add the red I wanted. Then I went to college and was limited to “natural” hair colors— which i didn’t see limiting until their was a rule about it. But for the most part I was happy about being able to dye it. My hair changes were more about style than color, I think. So as a teenager, getting a perm and straightening my hair was normal (I’m african american). Getting extensions, sew-ins, braids— all of it was a way of self-expression and I think was all a way of trying to gain control of something in my life. It wasn’t until later in college that I decided I did not want to put a bunch of chemicals in my hair— I loved my natural hair and either wanted my afro or braids— but still colors :) This was a big step in learning how to love myself as I am, which is fun to re-realize. Whenever I got long braids, I felt sexy and more playful; when I had my afro I felt in-charge and more serious.
    Now here’s where Good Dye Young comes in (this is so interesting to write about, thank you for inviting us to share!): When I learned about the launch of this brand, I knew I’d buy some products. I’d been wanting “unnatural” hair color since it was banned in college (#rebel), but didn’t know how long I wanted ro commit, and whatproducts I could use since I decided to be more to be more bougie with my hair products ;) Hearing this was vegan and cruelty free with essential oils sold me on these dyes. I may have used two of the semi-perminent colors on my afro-ed hair before I started purchasing the poser pastes. I currently work for a church with 1st-5th graders and needed a way to encourage good behavior, so i set up a point system where if they followed the rules they’d earn one point. Whichever class got the most points after 8 weeks would help me decided what color my hair was. At first I was a little nervous about this, but even if they picked a color I wasn’t thrilled on, I was glad it was washable. Interestingly, during this time I went through a hard time (pun not intended) and for the first time, got my hair cut very low. I legit had no idea how upset I was until I scheduled my second hair cut in a months time-span (I used to HATE getting my hair cut because I’s coveted long hair for so long). It hit me that, almost like a post-break-up hair cut, I was trying to heal and for once I needed less hair to help me express this. Thankfully this painful situation allowed for easier poser pasting, lol. What was cool was the day I looked in the mirror and realized that i wanted my braids back. In deciding to let my fro grow back out it hit me: I was healing and I was happy. So now I’m in process of regrowing my fro. I’m excited to buy the purple and red as options for the hair coloring (the children will get to decide between those two and pink this time around— might I add that this has worked phenomenally and Sundays are much easier, LOL).
    Hmm, this was cathartic; thank you.

  17. I have naturally curly, bright red hair. I grew up hearing “oh you can never dye your hair” and stuff of that nature my entire life. At one point my hair was so long and people told me “oh you can’t cut it, it’s so pretty and long.” I didn’t mind being told those things because I liked my hair. Then one day, one of my best friends died in a car accident. I was numb to everything. My fairly mild depression spiraled out of control, but I didn’t even realize because I was great at pretending like everything was fine. I didn’t cry at the funeral because I was numb, still in disbelief. The numbness happened until I finally spiraled out of control two years later. But in my numb days, I would impulsively do random things because I convinced myself that life was too short to not take risks. For example, I got a tattoo after thinking about it for an hour. I was tired of seeing my curly long hair. I was not that girl with the long, curly, bright red hair anymore. She disappeared when her friend died. I decided to cut my hair to above my shoulders. I was afraid of what people would say because of hearing all those comments growing up, but I realized they meant nothing. It’s hair. It changes and grows. Like I did. I felt empowered and new. It physically represented a change that happened to me mentally. I also experimented with dying a section of my hair to be rebellious against those who said I couldn’t. It’s been three years since I chopped my hair off, and it’s getting back to its long and curly state. I love my hair now and it represents me more now after I’ve figured life out and healed more. Well, I felt like I really needed to get all of that off my chest, so thank u

  18. Since little, I’ve been a fan of “funky” colored hair and I’ve dreamed of the day I’d at least had an odd color strand in my hair. I was 17 when I had my first dye job. I wasn’t going to go full color but got some peakaboo strands in bright red. My hairdresser was a friend of my mom and not too bold in terms of changing hair colors. I’m a naturally medium brown and I she lift my hair to a ginger with the red strands. I loved having a change and it was a kind of transition from my school days to university. Fast forward to 18, I wanted to experiment with more colors but still was going to the same hairdresser, so I was very specific that I wanted the strands to be blonde, so I could dye them a bright color myself. I went from purple, to turquoise, to green, to half yellow half green bangs… it was just amazingly train-wrecks, like what was going on in my life. Then, when I turned nineteen, I changed universities and had dyed my hair black with blonde bangs, but I felt I needed a change. I bought one of those hair dying kits the sell at the drugstore. I bleached my hair blonde and dyed it Barney purple. It was the best thing I’ve done. Then, when the purple faded, I dyed it dark green, from there I went to half black, half blonde (that blonde half was purple and blue too). After, I went through another life crisis, turning 21… I decided I wanted blue hair… it has been all the blue tones you can imagine: denim, midnight, turquoise, sea… but the problem was, I was doing all this myself and was damaging hair in the process. And for the first time in 6 years of dying my hair frantically, I decided to go to a hair dresser. She was so perfect, she understood just how important it is for hair to be your presentation card, your outlet of expression. I went religiously, even if I was going broke because she finally understood how much I love expressing myself through my hair. I was still going through a “blue period” so she played with all shades of blue too, until one day I told her: “I want bright purple hair with a chunk of black on a side”. She was ectastic. After that, I kept refreshing my head at home because she told me she was leaving the country. A few months later Hurricane Maria happened and that’s when I had to take a break. Our live changed drastically and dying my hair became something so banal that I didn’t even think about it 24/7. That’s when I decided that I wanted to just have my natural hair again, be reborn. On December 31st 2017, I went to my last salon appointment in a disappointing place, I wanted to go red to counteract the remaining green from the blues of the past year but the guy that was going to dye my hair didn’t want to so I just refreshed the blue. Right now my hair is finally strong again, I have my natural curl pattern back and it’s well below my shoulders with the remainings of those dye jobs in my tips, as I haven’t had a haircut in a while. I feel like we all need a form to let our emotions out and dying my hair, for me was just that. It was a cathartic, in all sense of the word. It has made me cope with all the emotions I didn’t really let myself feel and a way to really find who I am and where I want to be. I’m planing to cut my hair and embrace my natural hair for a while.

  19. (Holy wow, this came out as much longer than expected!)

    Having unruly, intensely curly hair makes it sort of like having your head on fire. There’s no “medium” setting; it’s always turned up to eleven, with volume, knots, and the *obligation* of those around you to comment on it, likening your locks to everyone from Carrot Top and Simply Red to Napoleon Dynamite (and be assured attending primary school around the release of that movie meant there were oodles of unoriginal comments hurled my way).

    For most of my life, I only wanted straight hair. Manageable hair. Easy to deal with hair. Most hair cuts were done to the point of shortness that left little room for any sort of shape to happen across the length of any given strand, and hats were a constant, if misguided, tool of laziness/obfuscation.

    Arriving to the whirlwind of high school with history’s favourite misfit musical artists as my idols, I eschewed cutting my hair entirely, hoping I’d eventually either make my way to the dreadlocks donned by SoCal punk kids I was sometimes tolerated by, or that maybe with enough length and weight my hair would work its way into a flowing mane reminiscent of 70s guitar gods I’d poorly emulate across six oxidised strings in frenetic fashion between (and often instead of) classes. Deciding my haphazard afro-to-be didn’t have enough punk cred for my taste, I sloppily smothered my hair in green Manic Panic, not understanding that without first lightening the base tone of my hair I’d end up with a hue that would spark a close friend of mine to encourage everyone else who knew me to call me “Broccoli Kid.”

    Eventually the green washed out and the afro took full form, before I was strongly advised by my father’s fragile masculinity to sport a completely shaved look for a year or so. Welcome, refreshing change nonetheless, and it suited my growing interest in especially brutal metal. Still, the desire for long straight hair remained, and the mid-00s layered cuts that every high schooler saw on their favourite band’s MySpace page populated every school and shopping mall around. Whether or not I cared for the music, I was tired of rocking a boulder-shaped chrome dome and decided it was time to aim high.

    The instant it was long enough, I began the painstaking routine of straightening my hair every morning before school, which in my unskilled hands took about an hour to navigate the sheer density of my hair as its length increased. I went through countless products trying to find one that would circumvent the “Scarecrow” straw texture and retain moisture, though living in a place with upward of 80% humidity every day meant that hair I’d gotten mostly straight in the morning was moderately wavy by the time I’d finished walking to school. I learned to use beanies to maintain a relaxed texture, though this was less than comfortable during perpetual, equatorial summer and effectively ruled out beach days if I thought I was having a decent hair day.

    Finally, I opted for chemical straightening. What seemed like an expensive magic bullet seemed as my only answer to avoiding a lifetime of cramped wrists and occasional scalp burns, so I dove in. Much to my chagrin, the angular hair cut examples I’d shown the stylist were misinterpreted through language barrier as “Basically give me a bowl cut.” Fuck my shit up, indeed. With mixed emotions, excited to finally have straight hair but mortified at the cut, “beanies and a fuckton of Bed Head” became my standard for the handful of months it took my roots to grow out to the point where something had to be done. After a few months of baling out water by way of straightening the growing roots in the mornings and really putting CHI’s promise of relaxed hair to the test, a misguided application of Manic Panic never washed out, and it became undeniable that this hair had been pushed too far.

    Some major life changes happened as the setting for giving up on the dream of long hair, shedding rebellious locks in place of a discount bookish ‘do and a poorly-fit school uniform. As dramatic as it feels to say, losing that fried, violet hair felt like an undeniable underscoring of this new, miserable bout I’d entered, and it wasn’t long before I went looking for change. I too wanted to be a blank canvas, as the vibrant relics of youthful exuberance felt dishonest to the shuffle in my walk.

    Rid of many of my possessions and completely so of my feeling of place in the world, a minimalist all-white aesthetic become something of a solace for me, with an empty room and blank t-shirts providing a welcome quietude in contrast with the bright screen print tees I used to eagerly peruse Hot Topic for. After some time this manifested itself in the form of platinum blonde hair, courtesy a few lengthy sessions of waiting for Quick Blue to work its magic while trying not to imagine that the physical discomfort of its harsh mixture wasn’t actually some army of microscopic alien invaders seeking to bore into my skull in pursuit of its gooey innards.

    Still, my inexperience with how to appropriately moderate hair bleaching and my uncertainty that I could care for environmental causes while using such an intense mixture for an unnecessary purpose left me puzzled; bleach was even straightening my hair in the process, so I had not only the colour but also the ease of styling I’d always wanted, yet it still didn’t feel like a long-term solution.

    Lately I find myself growing out my hair in its natural state, letting it do its thing and just accepting what that is. Still perpetually sporting beanies to tame it while it dries, I’m learning as though for the first time how to care for longer hair and don’t have as much of a yearn for perfectly straight strands as I once did. (I mean it would be nice, but I also don’t hold out for Jeff Bezos to pay off my student loans either). Now I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and ignore the paranoid voice in my head wondering if I’m starting to lose any of this hair I’ve fussed over for so long.

  20. Hair has been a hard subject for me in the last year. I moved to Japan 6 months ago as an American. I already stand out here as a ginger redhead (being that 98% of Japan is ethnically Japanese). Japan doesn’t dive into individual expression as much as back home does, so it’s been hard for me to want to dye my hair bright colors. It’s like.. I want to do it, but I also am anxious about standing out. But that’s why poser paste is so perfect! I can have pink hair on a night out, and wash it out to blend in as much as I can the next day. I need to order some soon! I feel like it’ll really help me love hair again. Thank you Hayley and Brian ^_^

  21. After my long term boyfriend cheated on me with his baby mama (and others smh nasty boy) I went bleach blonde, then hot pink, blue, and finally back to my original hair color. It felt like I was bleaching him out of my hair (and my life) and it felt damn good.

  22. I just recently realized I wanted to change my hair, I’m a guy and I’m sophomore in high school and I’m honestly so over high school haha. I have no idea what kind of haircut I want to change to (right now it’s nothing special, I don’t really know how to describe my current haircut haha but I don’t use any product or anything I just use a brush and comb to put it in right direction every morning), I don’t know what haircut I want to change to but I know I want to and I’ve been thinking about getting poser paste too to be different and the colors are really cool and vibrant. I might keep my hair I have now but get poser paste.. I’m not sure but if anyone has ANY suggestions for haircuts please tell me. (P.S my hair is dirty blonde and I wouldn’t want anything too short, maybe a “messy” look or something idk haha)

  23. Whoever is interested in Hair stories should check out the book Me, My Hair, and I by Elizabeth Benedict. It super relevant to this convo about transformative periods of life that coincides with hair. Thanks for the insight Hayley! I think your story is rad and so are you

  24. My hair story began when I was 12. I had dirty blonde hair, down to my waist. Still enjoying the simplicity of being a little girl, without taking much thought in my appearance yet, my stepmom forced the thought of cutting my hair to my shoulders due to her own hatred of long hair. I still have the dirty blonde ponytail that was cut off at the salon. Being in Miami at the time, and not knowing anything of styling hair, my hair changed me. What used to be long, mostly straight, beautiful hair became a shoulder-length frizzy mess. It was the first time I truly felt ugly, and it brought this little girl into the world of self-hate. I then started dyeing my hair with box color, getting shorter haircuts because I didn’t know how to stop being ugly with the frizzy hair. Middle school, people thought I was a boy from the short hair cut that I had and baggy clothes I wore. I began experimenting with hair color, and seeing how powerful it was. When I started working in retail, I noticed that I would get more complaints from customers when I had brown/black hair versus blonde hair. Nothing about me had changed, but hair color. It is so strong. Now I feel stuck at 31, feeling that I need to keep dyeing my hair blonde just so people will like me.
    Thank you for sharing your story, Hayley. You and your music have helped me through my depression days. Singing along with you is truly therapeutic. I hope to meet you again some day.

  25. My relationship with my hair up until the past two years of my life was very… hateful. I tended to always be in the thought process of “oh I have really curly hair, really short curly hair, why can’t it be long, sleek, straigh, and most importantly blonde?” Growing up I was always told to brush my hair, or that I looked happy or like I just got out of bed. No one took into account that i have EXTREMELY curly hair. So I used to straighten my hair to the point that I looked like a frizz ball. And now looking back I feel so sad for my self, because I used to feel so out of place with my box dyed burgundy hair, partially straightened due to humidity. But the past two years I have experimented so much with my look, I’ve had every color I can name. As I got older I became so attracted to the color blue that it was my hair color for the past six months. I felt like the blue was me and my mask. Well, I made a change recently to bright pink, and I’ve never felt more alive. I have bright pink curly hair, I honestly feel like I have cotton candy on my head. I think for so long I hid behind my hair. I hid behind the fact that there’s just not a lot of people who understand the dynamic of curly hair. I spent my entire life being called “Ronald McDonald” and now here I am, embracing all of my colors and my natural hair. Thank you so much Hayley, for always rubbing your emotions raw to share with us.

  26. Reading festival, summer of 2010 at the Kerrang Signing Tent. I will never forget you telling me you liked my hair. Maybe it was just a filler sentence, as I hadn’t washed my hair in almost 4 days and id put it up in a hair band, but to me those words meant everything. Growing up naturally ginger you have two hair stories….those who find humour in making fun of ginger hair and the others who tell you not to dye it. And how I longed to dye it. I still do. And I still get hairdressers refuse to. For which I think I’m grateful..? And I love my hair now, I do….But I’m bored of it. All my friends get to experiment with their hair and vamp up their look. And there’s me who has looked the exact same for going on 12 years now. The most I’ve done was having blond put through it 2 years ago. And I love it. It adds definition and a bit of pizzazz. I’m still ginger, but I feel the blonde adds an extra dimension. Sure I’d love to go a full head of another colour at least once, but in all honesty after 27 years of minimal hair care, I’m far too lazy for the upkeep. And ginger roots just aren’t as easy to get away with. I love my hair for the most part, but ill never stop wondering what it would be like to really play around with colours.

  27. My hair journey started when I was 13, I wasn’t allowed to do much except put a few highlights in my brown hair. Looking back it was hot topic kind of awful. I had always changed my hair in some way in high school, whether I cut my own bangs (bad idea) or went bleach blonde. I tried desperately to find who I was without breaking school rules. Two days after I graduated I found the brightest purple I could and sat at home trying to soak my head and detach from the catholic school image. It was weeks before my brothers wedding… He wasn’t too happy. I started a new era of hair and watched it fade different colours of purple, blue and green. My hair grew to be something I depended on when I was in a crisis and having an unstable mental health situation my hair didn’t stop changing. I went every colour… blue then pink and then purple again and even accidentally green, that’s a whole other story. After three years of constant change I left my toxic/abusive relationship and found that I went back to a natural blonde (entirely without thought). I hid my feelings behind my hair for the wrong reasons. A year later and I have very supportive friends and family and my mental health has improved significantly. I have found a new essence of hair and now I no longer hide behind the colours but the colours express who I am. Everyday I am reminded with lyrics inked on my skin “I’m not afraid of hurting anymore”. Thank you for the last 11 years, Hayley.

  28. I went through the same transformation this year. I’ve been dying my hair neon colors since I was 14. I’ve done every color of the rainbow, combated my natural roots every 6 weeks for 8 years. I went through a rough breakup and on a trip to San Francisco with friends to “cheer me up” I realized, I didn’t know who I was anymore. Every window I walked by, my neon yellow hair glared back at me. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. As soon as I returned to LA after the road trip, I scheduled an appointment at my salon and dyed it my natural color- dark black. As the dye started to develop and darken on my head, I felt my soul return to my body, almost. It’s been 6 months of black hair and I’ve never felt better. I look back on my colored head with a fondness, but not with remorse. I’ve been using semi-permanent dye, just in case I want my teal/pink/yellow hair back someday, but for now, I’m living for the Lydia Deetz looks I’ve been serving.

  29. this is so touching and honest, i’m so happy you felt comfortable enough to open up and talk about your story! these words are truly inspiring and will help many people on their own journeys, i’m sure :)

  30. Due to my religion I’ve never been able to dye my hair crazy bright colors. Which is unfortunate for me because hair, clothes & makeup are my top ways of my self expression. I’ve dyed my hair every natural color you could think of. jet black to platinum blonde. The closest I’ve ever gotten to a “crazy” hair color was a natural red. I felt so rebellious. Haha.
    I now have the nape of my neck area dyed platinum blonde, so I do my crazy colors there!! I can only do pastel colors so I’ve been experimenting with some cheap drug store hair dye. Once I have a stable job the first thing I’m gong to buy is GDY hair dye and fader! Until then, my hair doesn’t look the most professional but it builds character. & I love my poorly done Sally’s bleached hair :,)

  31. My hair journey started when I turned 17. I finally got to cut it and color it how I wanted to in my senior year of high school. I had always wanted the brightest cherry red, and I started with a reddish brown (my natural hair color is a dark golden brown). Every month I slowly got to more red and maintained a cherry red for 6 months. Then I got more creative with top half purple, blue tips, then inverse.

    In 2013 I first tried getting my hair to white, and I have gone back to that color so many times since. In between sessions of white, I did a mint green flowing into dark blue then purple, my favorite ombre I have done. The mint faded so beautifully but I kept redying the intensity into the blue and purple. I then went into an icy blonde and then did half pink half orange.

    My hair finally grew to the length I wanted it at, but that’s when cancer hit me, and I slowly lost everything about myself that I liked. Before it fell, I did one last thing to keep my hair spirit alive, and became the miz biz dream I had yearned for. Since then, the ends of my hair broke off all the color as it grew out what remained of my hair into the dullest brown but I slowly grew to accept it. It was nice feeling how soft untouched hair felt, and it was so shiny as it came. I never valued hair so much until then. But of course, 6 months after treatments were over, I had my favorite cosmetologist friend bleach the heck out of my hair to get me to that ice blonde again, and I tried an A-cut for the first time. He is the only person I let touch my hair for bleaching and cutting. My hair started to curl to so I absolutely ADORED the cut and how light my hair felt. I brought it back to a white and have only put pastels in since. I mainly had a “pink cloud summer” pastel pink, white breeze flowing through my hair, sometimes with some hints of lilac.

    The process has been slow, but my hair has been growing out well. I want to try a pastel version of my pink and orange, if one day I get over the snow blonde I have going.

    Hair is definitely a journey and palette of expression that I can’t see myself parting ways with anytime soon. It’s been 6 years of this hair journey, and I am 23 now. I love experimenting with colors but I love the white snow even more as it makes every outfit color shine.


  32. First time I dyed my hair, it was after I had a small bike crash, so I stayed home for few days and just said to myself “Why not?”… so I dyed it Black with a lower part of my right side dyed white (My hair’s shorter on my left side and longer on my right side). After I got back to school, I remember when my teacher read that I was home home because I injured my head, one guy said that it’s quite obvious. It was quite weird for me, because nobody really realised I was even in the class before. Recently I made even “Bigger” change, and dyed it blue (It looks almost like “Narwhal” but not exactly like it). I just got to new school and it kinda helps me to break out of my “shell”. Now I’m thinking about using Steal My Sunshine :)

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