I Was a Hair Color Virgin
By Gwen Flamberg
Flamberg's new look.
Photo Credit: Ashley Macknica
The morning of my process, I'm filled with anxiety. What if this is like the great spray-tan debacle of last summer, when I spent the better part of a perfect- weather weekend scrubbing off jigsaw-like patches of bronze? What if I like the bleached ends too much and become one of those blondorexic redheads, like Marilyn Monroe, losing my fire altogether? I suppose I'll never know unless I just give it a shot.
Inside the Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, I sit patiently amid his revolving A-list clients Ellen Barkin, Famke Janssen, Miranda Kerr (all happily dyeing, it appears) while Josh applies bleach to my ends, eventually cycling through three rounds of foil and glaze, wash and blowdry. Three hours (an eternity for a beauty control freak) and a roll and a half of Saran Wrap later, my hair is magically lighter, brighter, redder just as Josh had said it would be. I love it instantly.
A close friend agrees: "This is the bombshell hair you rocked eight years ago." While the physical change is fairly subtle, it represents a huge shift. Instead of throwing my hair into a ponytail, I actually look forward to the hour-long chore of shampooing and styling it. (As Josh promised, the texture is still soft and silky.) I find myself open to new things, to adventure: I buy a bike, I paddleboard in the ocean. The beloved Manhattan apartment I've rented for 10 years has been sold to a new owner. Instead of mourning the loss, I find a sexy new loft in a youthful, artsy Brooklyn neighborhood.
I've surprised myself. There hasn't been one agonizing, stomach-dropping moment of "what did I do?" I marvel at the beautiful gradation of my strands from terra-cotta to crimson and obsess over the cool dimension that my same-old haircut has suddenly gained. Do I look younger? Not especially. But I feel that exquisite excitement that comes only from doing something you were once afraid of. And that's when it hits me: My return to red isn't at all about turning back the clock on the outside. It's helped me reclaim the best part of youth, that delicious feeling of infinite possibility.