When Tween Confidence is Easily Bought

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Recently I did what some parents would consider unthinkable. I dyed my 8 year-old daughter’s hair pink.

by Laura Ettenberg @ Instagram / Facebook / Pinterest / Hang It Up

Yes, it is waaaaaay brighter and louder than I imagined it would be.

And yes, it was permanent hair dye.

Calm down, it was not the whole head, just two half-inch strands in the front of her head. It was a three-hour process (a haircut happened, too – a pixie cut no less!) that included bleaching her natural hair until stripped of color, then application of the hot pink color. THREE LONG HOURS for this - This is my Bean #2-  Bean #1 will be introduced a bit later.

By now, I bet you’re wondering why on earth would I do this. I will get to that shortly. This decision to dye Bean #2’s hair was planned out (by my standards) and not just a rash decision.

It first started with planning her new pixie cut and thus a Pinterest board was created.

pixie on pinterest

She went back and forth with different looks and decided this was the haircut she liked best.

Cute right?

I believe Bean #2’s hair fascination started when she was around 4 years old when those darn Monster High dolls came into our lives. You know those scantily dressed dolls with multi-colored hair and shaved heads? Soon she was asking to shave her hair and dye it green. I love green, but come on! “It's just a phase,” I kept telling myself.

As she got older and grew out of playing with Monster High dolls, the inner rock star attitude grew bigger.

Her unrelenting self-confidence continued as she entered elementary school. By age 5, Bean #2 started playing the drums (after months of asking) and she still loves her weekly jam sessions with her teacher. As time went on, I continued to hear her plea for pink hair (thankfully we moved away from green). I finally gave in and embraced her desire of self-expression. 

Bean 2 before color

I can only hope she holds onto this unwavering self confidence for as long as she can, or at least through middle school.

Here she is, pre-cut and color. 

I consulted with another Mom who bravely dyes her son’s hair at home, I decided I needed a pro for what my daughter wanted. We went to a local salon and talked to a hairdresser about the process, cost and maintenance. I was mostly concerned about the cost as I see my hair stylist every 8 weeks and it can get pretty expensive. The stylist was kind and honest about the process and upkeep when you dye hair - i.e. no chlorine. The price seemed reasonable, $40 for the color.

I scheduled Bean #2’s appointment for the end of the summer which meant she had to wait 3 weeks. She was over-the-moon thrilled and started counting down the days to her hair appointment. Each person she encountered heard about her upcoming hair transformation and then looked at me with a surprised look. Yup the judgements started already, insert eye roll.

Once Bean #1 heard her little sister was coloring her hair, she wanted in on the “self-expression.” Bean #1 is a creative, old soul and more conservative when it comes to personal style. I gently encourage Bean #1, who is 11 years old, to take a chance with with personal style, but many kids this age want to blend in which I totally understand. I was excited to hear she had the confidence to dye her hair but I was not about to spend another 3 hours in the salon. There was another issue with Bean #1 dyeing her hair, she’s on the swim team and with practice four times a week, that is a whole lotta chlorine.

Luckily, I had another plan up my sleeve as I had recently read in O Magazine about a temporary hair dye with fun colors like teal, hot pink and magenta. I trust Oprah, so off to Target we went and found the brand called Colo Rista. Bean #1 chose teal and an “ombre’ like” effect. I found the application process pretty straightforward and if you ever used boxed hair dye, like myself, it was standard. I loved the results and thought I should have done this with Bean #2 instead of sitting in the salon for 3 hours.

Bean #1 loved the results too and had a new spring in her step. Here is the final result for Bean #1- pretty right?

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Despite my warnings of fading, Bean #2 went swimming a week after her hair was dyed. Here’s the result of about 5 hours in a pool. 

I was surprised how fast the color faded but was happy that it was no longer scary clown red. Now it’s more of a pastel pink, noticeable but prettier with her natural dirty blond hair.

Bean #1 also swam in pools and her color washed out completely after about 7 washes. It was really easy and low maintenance.

Bean #2 has gotten much (mostly positive) attention from her haircut and color. Most people compliment her new look and ask when the color will come out. I get some wide-eyed looks from friends when I tell them it is permanent. Some teens have told her she is lucky to have such a cool Mom that would let her make such a change. Oh yea! A close friend said she loves it and hates it at the same time. A colleague asked if she was allowed to go to school with dyed hair. What?! It never occurred to me that it could be an issue and thankfully it isn’t. Phew!

Both of my daughters chose a form of self expression based on their comfort levels. One was subtle and the other dramatic, which matches their personalities. They both took a risk on their appearance despite potential judgement from others.

If changing their hair color helps them stand straighter and boosts their confidence, then I am all for it. As they get older they may be too worried to stand out from their friends but then again, maybe this little bit of freedom will change that. Although next time, I will save myself the time and money and head to Target as the $10 bottle of temporary color will do just the trick!

Thank you to contributor Laura Ettenberg!

Find her Instagram / Facebook / Pinterest / Hang It Up