How To Not Freak Out When You Don't Immediately Love A Major Hair Change

I’ve had lots of experience with hair regret, so I wrote a little guide on how to survive this dark time. (In my case, literally dark because I just dyed my hair black.)
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I’ve had lots of experience with hair regret, so I wrote a little guide on how to survive this dark time. (In my case, literally dark because I just dyed my hair black.)

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I’ve become “that girl who’s always changing her hair.” 

This was my hair on the last day of 2013. Over it.

This was my hair on the last day of 2013. Over it.

I’ve had three different hair colors in the past three months, the most recent being a stark black. One of the librarians at work said to me today, “You look different every time I see you.” Compliment? No? I’ll take it!

Anyway, I’m pretty cavalier about what I do to my hair. When choosing a new shade to cover up the weird orangeness that was taking over my hair, I decided to grab the cheapest box of “reflective blue-black” hair dye.

Seriously, not a good look. I was willing to cover it with anything.

Seriously, not a good look. I was willing to cover it with anything.

My boyfriend was all, “Umm… I don’t think that’s the best idea,” and I was all “Shut up, you big wimp! It’s just hair!” Target brings out the worst in me. 

My boyfriend was sort of right (he usually is, sadly) because I didn’t immediately love my choice. Luckily, I’ve had lots of experience with hair regret, so I wrote a little guide on how to survive this dark time. I know we’ve all been through it.

1. Don’t freak out. 

So you changed your hair, either by bleaching it white-blonde (been there, done that), or giving yourself bangs, or shaving it all off. And you hate it. Now what? 

The last thing you want to do is make things worse by overcorrecting. Take a deep breath, back away from the mirror and the scissors/hair dye, go have a good cry if you need to. Do that for the next day or two. If you can give yourself a week before making any further drastic changes, that would be ideal.

It’s also best not to look in the mirror during the transformation. This is my FREAKING OUT face.

It’s also best not to look in the mirror during the transformation. This is my FREAKING OUT face.

I didn’t immediately love the black hair. In fact, I felt a nasty plummeting feeling in the pit of my stomach for the first day or two every time I looked in the mirror or took a selfie. And what is my life without selfies? (People who follow me on Instagram can probably attest: not much.) The Rugrats episode in which Chuckie dyed his hair black and hated it kept replaying in my head. 

But I gave it a week, forced myself to put on lipstick and take selfies anyway, and now I’m actually really into this color. I just needed to get used to such a drastic change.

Change is good!

Change is good!

I didn’t immediately love my blonde hair either, and now I consider that to be one of the best risks I’ve ever taken with my hair. The only change I ever made that I immediately loved was my pixie cut, and that’s probably just because I was born to have short hair.

Few appearance changes will immediately feel just right, so give yourself time to adjust before you dive into damage control. Unless you already shaved your hair off, in which case I doubt there’s much else you could possibly do.

2. Look to others with a similar style for inspiration (and a much-needed ego boost). 

The very first thing I did after dying my hair black was go on Pinterest and look at other women with black pixie cuts. This made me feel a lot better because it turned out that I was in good company. Winona Ryder, Rihanna, Ginnifer Goodwin and Morena Baccarin are all gorgeous women who kicked ass with super-short, super-dark hair. 

It also gave me lots of inspiration on how to style it, which leads me to my next step.

3. Try styling your new ‘do as many different ways as possible. 

Unless you buzzed it all off, you’ll have a few options to work with. Even inch-long pixie cuts can be spiked up a bit or accessorized with headbands or clips or flowers.

Normally, I just wake up and go with whatever personality my hair decides to be that day. I definitely got myself into a hair rut. The silver lining of this new color is that it propelled me into trying a few different hairstyles. 

For New Year’s Eve, I managed to somehow get my hair into an amazing shape that I can only describe as “the camelback.” After loading up my hair with product, brushing it back, and forcing it into position for hours with a tight headband, my hair had not one but two sky-high bumps. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 10.55.38 AM.png

I felt like an extra on Mad Men. My sister wanted to know what I was hiding under there.

I also tried a more severe, slicked-back hairstyle with a center part. The shine and the center part made my hair feel less like a black hole, which I appreciated.

New year’s resolution: Get better at center parts.

New year’s resolution: Get better at center parts.

The point is: you have an entirely new hairstyle. This is the time to see what it can do, to test the limits and break through! OK, that was a line from Frozen. Sorry, that’s been happening a lot lately.

4. Similarly, test out a bunch of different makeup looks to see what works best with your new style. 

I would never say that you can only wear this color lipstick when your hair is this color. I’ve basically carried on wearing every shade in the rainbow no matter what my hair color was at the moment because I’m a lipstick junkie. Still, it’s always a good idea to experiment. 

I realized right away that black hair against my pale winter skin does not lend itself well to minimal makeup. In the past I’ve always felt better with a bright lip, but now I practically refuse to leave the house with some color on my face. Luckily I think most shades look great with black hair.

Wearing ALL of the colors.

Wearing ALL of the colors.

Clockwise in the above photo, I’m wearing Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti, Revlon ColorBurst Lipgloss in Adored, Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids Lip Color in Brazen Berry, and Kate Moss for Rimmel in Kiss of Life.

The only lipsticks I might be retiring for a while are my super dark purple shades… I feel like it’s a little too ‘90s teenage goth for me.

What do you think?

What do you think?

I’m also finding myself wearing tons more eyeliner now than I used to. Part of that is because my sister got me Sephora’s limited-edition eyeliner gift set for Christmas after I begged her to, and part of it is because there’s nothing quite like black hair and black eyeliner. 

So spend an afternoon trying on all the makeup that you have and experiment a little--you might be surprised at what works with your new hair!

5. Treat your hair with some serious TLC and adjust your routine as needed. 

Too much bleach and hair dye will make even the thickest, coarsest hair start to suffer after a while. Mine felt particularly damaged this time around, so I’ve been slathering it in coconut oil, argan oil, and deep conditioners (not all at once). I only wash my hair about twice a week, and rarely use heat on it, so that helps to reduce damage as well.

I also had to reevaluate my shampoos and conditioners. Previously I was using the John Frieda Go Blonder line; obviously that’s not really gonna work for me anymore. This means I’m in the market for nice shampoo and conditioner. 

6. Finally, if all else fails, fake it till you make it. 

So you gave yourself time to get used to it. You tried wearing it in different styles and with different makeup looks--maybe even with different kinds of outfits. And… you still hate it. 

Sometimes hair changes are fixable. If that’s the case, know that there’s no shame in admitting you made a mistake, and get thee to a professional. Even pixie cuts can be dyed a different color or shaped a bit differently.

If it’s unfixable, however, usually the only thing that you can do is wait. My senior year of high school I gave myself horribly unflattering bangs. I’m not even going to post a picture, it was that bad. Unfortunately, all I could do was smile and pretend I looked awesome until they thankfully grew out. 

I learned a valuable lesson that year: I am not one of those people who can just randomly decide to give themselves bangs in their bathroom one day and come out looking awesome. Oh yeah--and confidence (real or faked) will you help get you through it.

This is me faking confidence (badly).

This is me faking confidence.

Now if this comment thread doesn’t immediately fill up with pictures of everyone’s worst hair gaffes, then this website isn’t what I thought it was. Don’t disappoint me, guys.