For the past 17 years, I’ve been dying my hair.
It started innocently enough back in grade 7 when my mom let me try the temporary wash-out hair dyes, but before I knew it, I had gone more than half my life covering up my naturally blonde locks. Over the years, I’ve been a brunette, a red head, and every shade of blonde. I’ve bleached my hair, highlighted it, dyed the underside dark and the outside light, and at one point had blue, red and purple streaks in it.
The mission to get back to being au naturel started back in the summer of 2011 by – of course – dyeing my hair. I had tried a few times to dye it back to it’s natural colour, but failed pretty miserably every time. Thankfully the whole “ombre” trend came along and made my otherwise awkward looking grown-out-roots look intentional and swanky. (Yes, swanky.) Many months and several hair-cuts later, the last of the chemicals were finally swept away from the salon floor, and another goal of mine is complete.
While I’m a little on the fence regarding the true dangers of hair dye, I do agree that the less chemicals used in or around the body, the better. But my real motivation behind this goal came from crunching the numbers.
Since my hair is shoulder length and pretty thin, it usually took me about half hour to dye my hair. (This included picking out the right shade in the store, reading the directions, mixing the chemicals, applying it, waiting, and rinsing it out.) So, if I dyed my hair an average of once every 2 months:
I’ve spent 51 hours of my life dying my hair.
(6 times a year x 17 years x 30 minutes = 3060 minutes)
Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? That’s almost equivalent to a week and half of working full time hours. That’s a weeks worth of sleep (assuming one sleeps 7-8 hours a night). That’s how many hours on the road it would take to drive from Montreal to Vancouver (taking the Canadian route). Or for the Americans in the house, how long it would take to drive from New York City to Guatemala. Better yet, it’s longer than a return flight from Toronto to Australia and back again. Sure 51 hours isn’t much when you consider I’ve been alive for over 16,387,500 hours, but I can’t help but think of all those naps I could have taken instead.
As for money? Let’s be cheap (because I am) and say each box of hair dye costs $10. That means:
I’ve spent $1,020 dying my hair.
(6 times a year x 17 years x $10 per box = $1020)
Yup… instead of taking a little vacation, buying 100 subs from Subway, (almost) training to be a fighter pilot for a day, or paying down my debt, I spent $1020 on hair dye. Hair dye!!
I can understand and appreciate that dying one’s hair is a way to express individuality and/or to boost confidence and self esteem – especially for younger people. Personally, I hated how dark and “ashy” my natural blonde roots had become over the years, but half hour and $10 later I felt like “me” again. So I don’t regret it. I just grew tired of commitment it took and decided it was time to embrace what my DNA gave me.
What are your thoughts on dying hair? Do you regulatory “dye” or have you out-grown that phase of your life?
Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.