In my life, I have made a few quirky choices. I decided I hated fish from a very young age because the smell grossed me out. I told myself that I couldn’t stand country music because it didn’t fit in with my version of what was “cool.” Interestingly enough, I also decided that I hated red hair because it was rare and looked different from what I thought was the ideal form of beauty. Then, I grew up, tried oysters, listened to Johnny Cash, took one look at Christina Hendricks on the red carpet, and realized that I, in fact, do not know everything.
This realization came at a key point in my life: I was stuck in a rut, New York-style — in terms of my job, my apartment, and my love life. Eventually, I blamed my frustrations on the tangible, the physical — my long, brown hair, my security blanket since high school. It was no longer cutting it, to put it one way. My life needed a change — so my hair did, too.
“You should go red,” was the first thing my best friend, roommate — and, for full disclosure, senior beauty editor of Refinery29 — suggested. I had barely consented before I was booked for an appointment at the elusive Hairstory Studio, the home of the cult-classic Purely Perfect Cleansing Cream. One very short week later, I entered the “salon” (it’s more like the most glamorous apartment I’d ever seen), removed my shoes (shoes and discomfort are frowned upon at Hairstory), and sat down for a
group-therapy session conversation with Wes Sharpton and Roxie Darling, my spirit guides and stylists for the day.
After discussing my low-maintenance attitude toward beauty (it’s a struggle for me to shampoo), we came to the conclusion that the look we were going for was “groupie from the late '60s/early '70s.” I was told to brace myself for a very long day.
The transformation to red, as expected, was a slow and methodical one. Because of my no-fuss lifestyle and tight budget (hello, retail employee salary), Roxie decided that hair-painting would be the way to go. This would allow my strands to grow out in a way that appeared natural, instead of having to deal with the disaster of unsightly dark roots. First, she “lifted” (read: bleached) me to a golden blonde, and then I was treated to numerous coats of varying shades of red gloss.
Before I could even brace myself for my first look in the mirror as an official ginger, I was whisked off to Wes, who was about to revamp me into “one of Penny Lane’s Band Aids.” He had told me, against my protests, that I should consider bangs. But, by the time I saw my fiery new 'do, I was totally invigorated: “Go for it,” I instructed.
The sensation of seeing myself as a redhead with bangs for the first time after 23 years of long, brunette locks parted down the middle was unbelievable. I could not refrain from touching and looking down at my hair to check that it was actually mine. More importantly, I couldn't help smiling from ear to ear. The look was different — very different — but it was beautiful. The cut and color had given my appearance the new life it was desperately seeking. My skin was brighter, my eyes were bluer, and my lips were pinker.
However, I was still plagued by various voices: What would people think? Will my wardrobe and makeup have to change? Would guys still find me attractive? How on earth am I going to style my bangs every day? (I still haven’t quite figured out that last part.) Luckily, my nearest and dearest said this could be “the new Molly." Not to mention, on my first evening as a redhead, I had a very successful, impromptu date — something about that fiery hair spurred a little bit of a fiery spirit, I guess.
Beyond all that, the new 'do has improved my style, motivating me to take more chances with richer, bolder colors that complement my hair, rather than sticking to my typical black-on-black situation. I’ve added some flair (and flare) to my wardrobe, inspired by the '70s aesthetic we were aiming for. I've enhanced my closet — full of high-waisted jeans, fur jackets, and crop tops — with fedoras and wide-leg trousers. I’ve even pared down my makeup routine, sometimes just swiping on a coat of mascara and running out the door.
This change has emboldened me in a way that I desperately needed. I am constantly excited for how my hair will make me feel every morning. It may sound crazy because, hey, it’s just hair, but this transformation has given me the confidence and courage to take more risks. I can now consider myself officially out of my rut: I’ve got a great new hairstyle, I'm moving apartments next month, and I got to share my story on Refinery29. I’m ready to set 2015 ablaze.
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