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Published January 07 2012

Swift: It’s another case of blonde leading the bland

Some things are better left to the professionals.

Ice dam removal. Heart surgery. And hair coloring.

It’s true. It used to take a team of trained experts, hours of skilled labor and a series of complex chemical reactions to make my hair sport the same naturally golden sheen it did when I was 3.

It was time-consuming and expensive – giving a whole new meaning to the term “Gold”-ilocks.

But at some point, my standards started to slip. The Great Root Touchup Marathon grew tiresome. I was too busy to make hair appointments. My budget was blown on Christmas gifts.

Suddenly, my mother’s habit of keeping a can of Ooh-La-Lady Ash-Blond Mousse under her sink made sense.

In my desperation, I conveniently forgot my last home-hair coloring experiment, which gave my tresses a brassy, tangerine hue.

So I found myself cruising the hair-color aisle, looking for an $11 solution to those graying temples.

The choices were dizzying. Clairol, Loreal or Garnier? Roots only or whole head? Sun-grazed highlights or something in a flirty skunk pattern?

Then there were the color choices. A blinding array of blondes, ranging from Young Hayley Mills to Divorced Jennifer Lopez.

And the names. If I could make a new career choice, it would be to pick the names for hair color. Gilded Honey. Creamy Caramel. Rich Golden Flax. Baby Girl Blonde. Grasping Cougar.

The photos on the box made it look like any of these colors would instantly transform me into Gwen Stefani. If I bought this box, I, too, would suddenly have long, shining, multi-toned tresses, 24-year-old skin and Lauren Bacall’s bone structure.

I finally settled on a color that looked pretty on the box but had a fairly conservative name: Medium Natural Blonde. At home, I slipped into the kit’s disposable gloves, then mixed and poured like a budding chemist.

The color looked a little dark. Still, I figured I couldn’t have chosen badly. The girl on the box was so pretty and happy, right?

So I rinsed the goo out and towel dried. It continued to look suspiciously dark. Still steeped in denial, I rationalized that my hair always looks darker when wet.

So I blowdried it. That didn’t help either. It looked drab, bleak and monochromatic – like I’d dunked my head in light brown shoe polish. Even worse, it had an ashy tone, which didn’t really jibe with my warm skin tones.

Now I understood why the geniuses at John Frieda called it Medium Natural Blonde. The focus group obviously liked that name much better than Dusty Field-Mouse, Forgettable Beige or Downtrodden Dickensian Villager.

I wound up washing my hair three more times over the next 24 hours, all in hopes of rediscovering some blonde beneath the blah.

How could this have gone so terribly wrong?

Surely any hair-color choice that was made in 35 seconds based on a picture on a box under fluorescent lights in a big box store would be a winner, right?


That’s what I get for having blonde faith.

Instead, I wound up with bland ambition.

Readers can reach Forum columnist Tammy Swift at tswift@forumcomm.com