That Time I Learned About Stripping

(I wrote this post for Finish the Sentence Friday. This week's sentence is "One time, when I was bored out of my mind, I…")

I am pretty sure the terms "cabin fever" and "stir crazy" were invented in Northern New England during a winter like the one we are having. It has been snowing for months. And it just. Won't. Stop. I don't even check the weather anymore. That way, if the sunshine makes an appearance it is a really lovely surprise.
It is March. It is officially spring, says the calendar. A quick look outside affirms that we are actually stuck in some bizarre Groundhog Day in mid-January. Snow, ice, COLD. Repeat.
We have done snowmen, and snow angels, snow balls, sledding and snow shoeing ad nauseum. We are tired of hot chocolate. We hate snow pants, hats, mittens, boots – the whole thing. We want to go outside and play, and we'd prefer it if we could throw on just a light jacket to do so. We want to open the windows and air out the lingering winter cold germs without risking hypothermia.
To say we are bored would be an understatement. Which may or may not excuse what I did a month or so ago. It went a little something like this.
Me, on the phone with my best girlfriend: "I'm so bored. I need a change. I think I should cut my hair or dye it or something. Maybe I should dye it red." (My natural color is dark blonde, but it hasn't been without highlights since I turned fifteen. So – blonde hair to red.)
K, best girlfriend: "Ooooh, do it. I just dyed mine black. Don't be a weenie." (She actually said weenie, I am totally not making that up.)
Me: "Okay but I think I'm going to get a box dye. So Ry will know I'm committed to our New Year's budget resolution." 
K: "You can do this. Call me when you're at the store." 
I did it. I changed my blonde hair to red. But not quite the Marcia Cross red I was going for. More punk rock Manic Panic red. I group texted out a photo, and God love my girlfriends, they were supportive(ish). My kids insisted that I looked sort of like Merida and sort of like Ariel. My husband just shook his head and said, "that's going to wash out, right?", then"why would you try to do something like that yourself?"  
The longer the color was on, the worse it got. I sent an SOS to my friend Deanna, who is a hair stylist turned stay-at-home mom. She has saved me when I desperately needed highlights and again when A gave me lice. She is also the most stylish mama I know, so I do what she says. This time, she said "I can fix it, but you've got to strip it. You need to get as much of that color out as you can so I can correct it and get it back to normal."  
So I spent 24 hours with Google learning how to strip…my hair. Here's what I learned. You can strip almost anything out of your hair using any or all of the following methods:

blonde hair to red

  • Baking soda mixed with clarifying shampoo. I shampooed with this somewhere between 12 and 20 times. Not kidding.
  • Dish soap. 
  • Hot oil treatment. I used olive oil on the stove but Deanna says that avacado oil would have worked even better.
  • White vinegar. Something about restoring the ph level after the other stuff. 
At this point it was pink (photo, bottom right). I looked like Strawberry Shortcake. Deanna let me hijack her Sunday morning with her family (including her in-laws) and spent FIVE HOURS fixing my hair, reversing the process by which my blonde hair turned red. During which I was definitely not bored. Now I know:
  • Box Dye is Not for Beginners. Or for people who are trying to migrate to an entirely different color family. Or for women in their thirties who are bored and/or trying to prove a commitment to a budget.
  • I Am An Excellent Stripper. Of hair. In fact, because I was so maniacal efficient at getting most of the red out, we saved several hours of chemical stripper that Dea says smells like rotten garbage. 
  • Best Girlfriends are the BEST. I love K for talking me into taking a risk. I now know that I will try red again, with professional help from Deanna. I love Deanna for talking me off the ledge and getting me back to blonde. 
  • Dramatic Change is Not a Cure for Winter Boredom. Winter makes people do crazy things. Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining. 
  • There Are Better Ways to Budget. Like clipping coupons. Or less online shopping – I'm looking at you Zulily and Gap Friends and Family. Or eating out less. Just not dyeing blonde hair to red using a $10 box solution. 

Finish the Sentence Friday


  1. Oh I stripped my hair once to try to go from medium brown to light blonde.  I went to a salon for this, but the mucked it up so bad that I ended up having to also have it reversed but cut all my hair off from too much use of bleach.  Not my fondest hair memory, but this is what you reminded me of as I was reading your post.  Great post seriously and I thank you a ton for linking up with us again!! 🙂

    • Happy to link up! 🙂 Glad I am not alone with the hair debacle. I think a serious trim is coming next – my hair keeps falling out from being dyed so many times in such a short period of time!

  2. You were meant to be blonde, but the red looked pretty badass! Although I understand why badass doesn't jive with Mom in her 30's:). My favorite part of this post is the attire. I see you, 90210 shirt (where did you get that??) and Bruins game night staff sweatshirt. 

    Love your blog!


    • Aw, thanks Maris! I love that you read it! 🙂 

      90210 shirt is from Katharine via Old Navy I think? And yes, I still rock the GNS sweatshirt. Just not in public.

  3. I'm impressed that you fixed it yourself. The only time I ever dyed hair was when I put highlights in my teenager's hair. It looked horrible and we had to go to the salon to fix my screw up. Never. Again.

  4. Made me think of the first time I colored my hair.  I couldn't wait for it to fade!!  My hair is on the dark side of brown, so I picked a medium brown afraid to go too dark.  It came out very Goth!  Then after coloring several times using a brown and a red because there was naturally a lot of red in my hair, I noticed it getting very coppery – not a good look on me!  I think I've got it down now though LOL.  Never trust the swatches on the side of the box!!

  5. I'm not in northern New England, but I'm suffering just as much in southern New England! I'm glad you were able to fix your hair. It looks very pretty both ways!

  6. Wow. I really loved that you had the photos to go along with the story! And I had no idea about those tips for stripping dye- I will have to file them away should I ever need them. I am oftten a redhead myself, but it has been awhile since I did it at home and not at a salon. Still- good to know! Thanks for linking up with us!

    • Thanks! The other good thing about these "home remedies" is that my hair was in decent condition after, all things considered. Thanks for providing the linking up opportunity. 🙂 

  7. Holy crap! We wrote about the same thing. Well, except you were far more clever than I and figured out how to fix it. Man, I wish I had a stylist for a friend! So glad I saw you on #FTSF!

  8. At least now you know what you look like as a redhead.  It's good to try things sometimes.  I think it looked good on you!  I am visiting from FTSF blog hop.  I subscribed to your blog.  I am excited to hear about all your adventures.  We are getting 6-9 inches of snow on Sunday so we are right there with you.  I am going to Florida in another week, so I hope it doesn't just decide to snow when I get there.  I just don't feel like I can get away from it this year.



  9. I've never been brave with my hair at all.  I wish I had the guts to see what I look like as a redhead.  But, I don't.  However, if I'm ever bored enough to try it and hate it, I know where to come to learn to strip the color out!  

    • I bet theres a website somewhere where you can upload a photo and it'll show you with red hair. Or a wig shop. Both significantly less permanent ways to try on a new look. See all the things I thought of AFTER THE FACT? 

  10. LOVE this post! Oh my Lord, never go with a home hair solution…I still have nightmares of the home perm circa 1986! 😉 Seriously, though, thank God for good girlfriends!-The Dose Girls


  1. […] It's head lice. Yep. HEAD LICE. I know all about how to treat head lice. (I am killing it with hair emergencies.) […]

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