I had an unsettling moment looking in the mirror this weekend and not recognizing the woman I saw.
For the first time since my freshman year in college, I’m a brunette.
I started coloring my hair red in 1988 and I’ve been everything from burgundy to auburn since. That means my adult friends have never seen me with my natural hair color. My husband, John, only knew me as a fake redhead.
As part of my decision to give up coloring my hair and let my gray come in, my first step was choosing a dye that would get me back to my natural color. That way as my roots come in, the contrast between what’s natural and not will only be because of my gray, not because there’s a skunk line of red versus brown.
It was amusing trying to pick the right brown, since I haven’t seen more than my roots in approaching 30 years. Rather than assume my hair will match my eyebrows, I let my dye job grow out longer than I’d like so I could really see what’s under there.
When I first looked in the mirror after going back to brown, it was shocking. I’ve been a lighter auburn for years and the brown that matches my roots is much darker than I’m used to.
To compound the change, I got soft bangs after many years of having long layers. With the new color and new cut, there’s a woman in the mirror I don’t recognize yet.
The last time I remember this kind of disconnect was shortly before I went red.
When I was 16, I was in a car crash that busted up my face. Massive reconstructive surgery gave me a new nose after I pulverized mine on the steering wheel.
A few days after leaving the hospital, I defied my doctor’s orders and pried the plastic brace from my nose to see what was under there. I stared into the mirror and didn’t recognize the girl I saw. My new nose was shorter and more upturned, and though I’ve come to like it, at the time, it was jarring.
Thankfully this time didn’t come with bruises or stitches. But I’m sort of glad to have that previous experience, because I know every time I look in the mirror, I’ll get more and more used to that woman looking back.
At least as the gray comes in, it’ll be gradual so I’ll have time to get used to that change.
Related post: Considering giving up being a redhead to go gray