The Should-You-Make-a-Really-Big-Hair-Change Checklist

Ready or not?

Green, Hairstyle, Sweater, Long hair, Surfer hair, Turquoise, Brown hair, Knitting, Facial hair, Wool,
(Image credit: Getty, design by Betsy Farrell)

In the past month, exactly one-third of Team Marie Claire has dyed their hair a hue not found in nature: fairy-floss pink for beauty editor Lauren Valenti, and teal/bottle/neon green balayage pour moi. (Someone go white-blonde soon so we can do a Neopolitan theme, yeah?)

Neither of us regrets going strawberry/pistachio—my life is the better for it, in fact—but we understand that not everyone is so prudent or lucky to have a stylist like Kat Zemtsova at her disposal. That's why we've come up with the following self-quiz for those contemplating a step toward her Life Cut or a fun detour on the way there.

Sleeve, Shoulder, Joint, Human leg, Style, Fashion accessory, Black hair, Fashion model, Fashion, Neck,

My hair on Helena Christiansen\'s body

(Image credit: Getty)

Have you thought it through—like, *really* thought about it?

A drastic cut or color is as psychological as it is physical—it changes both your self-image and how other people relate to you. So consider your motivation: What's it driven by? Who are you doing this for? (The answer better be "Me, duh.") Can you deal with seeing something new and maybe uncomfortable in the mirror, at least for the next few weeks? There are people who can be like, "It's just hair" in a genuinely flippant way; then there are people who cry in the chair, then in the shower, then under various hats.

Have you found the right man or woman for the job?

Mercilessness: That's what separates a good stylist from an excellent one. You need someone who cares enough about you, and not just making a sale, to give it to you straight. When I showed Zemtsova a photo of Abbey Lee Kershaw, first she said "No, we haven't got 22 hours." But then she went "But we can get you there eventually (!!!)." Also important: Bring pics. So many pics.

Are you ready to take cold showers (amongst other sacrifices)?

Not turning the shower knob far past tepid in the interest of color preservation. Planning ahead, meaning getting up early or staying up late so you can air-dry so the dye doesn't transfer onto your pale pink Slip silk pillowcase. Learning that your new, drier texture has the lifespan of a Hass avocado, going from Fran Lebowitz to perfect to Mr. Filch every four to five days. Going on a hot-tool ban. Scheduling touch-ups and trims and other such maintenance.

Are you prepared for the worst-case scenario?

Due to chemistry or mechanical failure, it turns out...not well. Have you got a contingency plan involving loads of bobby pins and headwear and maybe even assuming a new identity? Can you muster enough inner strength to go on with daily life, no matter how much you're *not* feeling yourself?

Can you handle people expressing their opinions about your new hair, unprompted?

People are opinionated, and inevitably, the most garbage ones will sidle up to you and whisper in your ear that your hair looks like [insert something not *at all* nice here]. They might even try to touch it. If you would rather not attract such attention, you might want to rethink your dye job.

Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.

Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.