The highlights of my mousey-brown life

I knew it was only a matter of time before I succumbed. As a recovering peroxide junkie, I had successfully kept off the stuff for the last five years and accepted, philosophically, my natural attributes: a head of mediocre, mousey brown.

It was a struggle holding out for so long; constantly bombarded with images of blonde babes in various states of radiant whiteness - Patricia Arquette, Kylie, Pamela. What finally convinced me was last year's supermodel look: heavily mascaraed eyes, dripping in lip gloss and drenched in bleach.

It's not that blondes have more fun or even that gentlemen prefer them (that's not the point, of course) but the alternative seems so dull. Friends warned me against it. "You'll look like a Sharon," they warned snobbishly. As long as my hair didn't resemble Peter Stringfellow's I'd feel happy. Courtney Love and Nadja Aurman wouldn't suffer the sheer mediocrity of brown hair - so why should I? It would be, I decided, the first of many changes for 1995. I booked an appointment with the hairdresser.

My salon of choice was upmarket, prime Chelsea, a slick affair full of impossibly trendy-looking stylists. Most of the clientele appeared to be sporting brown hair a la Elizabeth Hurley. Perhaps blonde hair was too vulgar for Chelsea?

Dressed in a black nylon robe, I was led downstairs to the "colour laboratory", where my spirits rose. Here were a handful of other brunettes who, like myself, were prepared to suffer for such a frivolous cause.

One woman, with a great swathe of platinum hair, kept flicking her mane from one shoulder to the other. She'dspent three hours roasting in bleach and still had the scars to show - angry red heatbumps around her forehead. It had been worth it, though.

"It's so white. It's so, so ..." Words failed her as she marvelled at her own reflection.

Down here, blondes didn't appear to have more fun, or if they did this is where they paid for their hedonism. The women look bored, flicking through Tatler and trying not to stare at one another ("God, I hope I don't turn that shade of marmalade"). They resembled a strange tribe from Star Trek: wearing polythene overalls, hair wrapped in Bacofoil and purple liquid oozing from their scalps.

Sabrina, the "colour director", advised me to choose a combination of peroxide and dark-golden colourant. "No, it's got to be bleach," I found myself insisting. "I want lots of it, - nothing subtle." Compliantly, she ladled on the purple powder mixed with ammonia and left me to simmer for three hours.

The result was shocking - wet strands of orange hair stuck to my face. Palms sweating, I dared not look in the mirror while it was drying. "I like the way they've given you all different colours," observed my neighbour cheerfully. But I only wanted blonde. Instead, my hair colour had become a medley of orange, silver and dark brown. This certainly wasn't the colour that launched Nadja's career.

I left the hairdresser with a nagging feeling that I'd spent £75 on a hairstyle akin to a nylon textured multi-coloured wig. The fact that I failed to turn heads or receive preferential treatment in the Italian sandwich shop wasn't so shocking. Catching my reflection in their window was. I looked less like Peter Stringfellow than Steve Coogan's Pauline Calf.

Reactions from friends were less than flattering. They looked at me with a mixture of amusement and pity. One of them informed me that I'd aged dramatically and resembled his mother. The truth is going blonde will never improve your life. What's sad is you genuinely believe going blonder can. "If only I could get my fringe white rather than yellow," moaned my flatmate, another bleach junkie who invests eternal hope in her hairdresser. She has already spent enough money on highlights to support a hefty c ocaine habit and a hair transplant.

And for what? To be perceived as bouncy, fun-loving and youthful? Or just to enjoy a sense of superiority when you stand next to a drab brunette? Not convincing reasons but nevertheless I've already booked my next hair appointment. And yes, I'm still convinced that my life will change when I achieve that perfect shade of white.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Medical Copywriter / Account Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

    Recruitment Genius: Transport Clerk / Debriefer

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading temperature contro...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ideal candidates for the role m...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific