$1000 & 50 Hours Worth “Dyeing” For

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.

…and Money

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.

15 thoughts on “$1000 & 50 Hours Worth “Dyeing” For”

  1. I also decided in the fall of 2011 that I would no longer dye my hair. I’ve been going strong for 2.5 years and I actually really like my natural color. I might get a few highlights put in for graduation pictures but since I’m headed to Hawaii in february and my hair usually goes light in the sun, I will see if it’s actually necessary. My hair is super long and thick so I used to spend 2 hours in a salon dying it or getting highlights usually at a cost of $200 – $300, looking back that was so incredibly dumb and I wish I had better spent the money. I think going back to your natural colour is wise, it’s hard at first and there is that point (4-6 month mark) where you want to give up, pull out all your hair and what not but it does get easier, and I honestly think people’s natural hair colours look much better! Good luck =)

  2. I have Chinese hair so I’ve always been reluctant to do anything with it – it’s pretty hard to work with black, let’s be honest. I’ve made it to 25 without ever dyeing it and plan to keep it that way!

  3. Hooray for getting back to your roots!! I went through a phase where I was into highlights then quit because I realized I could potentially be damaging my hair so that by the time I go gray and HAVE to die it then it will be shot. So I’m saving my money, keeping my hair as healthy as possible and when the greys take over I’ll do it then.

  4. I’ve never colored my hair, nor do I plan on doing so. My hair is black so I can only imagine the nightmare of bleaching and maintenance it’d require if I ever dyed it any other color!

  5. I like you, have dyed my hair a lot! I was naturally a blonde, and started to get darker when I was a teenager. I had a terrible incident with Sun In and my hair nearly turned green. Then I tried to dye it blonde. For a long time I had my hair auburn and burgundy. I loved it! I also briefly did blonde again, but I think I look better with darker hair. After so much money, time and damage to my hair I decided to stop dyeing it and grow it out. That was 2.5 years ago. I’m starting to get that itch again and want to dye it burgundy. I might just get the semi-permanent kind. I really just want something different, but can’t commit to damaging my hair, and spending all that money.

  6. I’ve been dying my hair on and off since high school too, except I’ve always used the wash out kind (except once). I almost always go red and the color winds up sort of sticking to my hair anyway until it grows out, but my natural hair color is such a weird mix of red, brunette and blonde, that as long as I pick one of those colors, it just winds up looking like a highlight by the time it fades. Except the time I went really blonde – conveniently timed with the ombre phase, so I’ve been in the process of growing it back out to it’s natural muddled non-color for the last year.

    I’d hate to think of how much all that dye cost now that I’ve seen your calculations :O/

  7. I dyed my hair for a long long time. I was well before the ombre trend, and only did it when those roots got way too long. I finally had it dyed back to the original color, and have not touched it since. I have tossed around the idea of starting up again, I went red frequently and it brought a lot of color to my face, but the cheap in me keeps me from doing it. Too much maintenance. I remember working with a woman who cut/colored her hair every three weeks, spending $175 each visit. This was way before we were interested in early retirement, but I still thought that was astonishing.

  8. I stopped coloring my hair a few years ago. I love my natural hair color now, but back in the day, I went black and multiple shades of brown. Whatever, red is where it’s at (for me!).

  9. oh, yes…i’ve been coloring my hair for ages. after all, i used to work in a salon and we’d experiment. i’ve had almost every color imaginable! i finally wen’t back to natural when i had kids since you shouldn’t color when you’re pregnant. plus, i’m horrible at making appts and upkeeping. every once in a while i’ll do a lighter brown, tho…

  10. I’ve gone through phases of dyeing my hair. lately I’ve started getting it dyed at a salon though since I have greys to cover up arrggh!
    — jackie – jade and oak

  11. I’ve only dyed my hair twice in my life. I got highlights, which looked real nice, but then it looked weird when they grew out and I didn’t bother touching up the roots. The second time I dyed all of my hair a lighter colour. It didn’t look very natural. I guess I didn’t choose the right shade. Since then, I’ve been kind of turned off from dyeing my hair.

  12. Oh I dyed my hair for years then I decided enough was enough and I was going to stop , it last until I could no longer look at my roots because I saw tiny grey hairs coming which scared the hell out of me because I just dont think im old enough for that lol … welcome back nice n easy

  13. I’ve dyed my hair a few times but I’m lucky in that I generally really like my natural colour – I just get a little bored sometimes. Last year I went for the whole ombre thing as I wanted to have some blonde but didn’t want to go all the way – loved the look but it really dried my hair and was of course expensive. I think I’ll be sticking to the natural colour for the foreseeable future!

  14. I’ve dyed my hair for probably 15 years I think. I started in high school with the Sun In spray and then went to buying the do it your self boxes from the grocery / drug store. It was really damaging to my hair, which is very fine, so I then started going to a hair dresser. I was paying $100 each time I went but now I have moved and am paying between $150 and $200 each time (my hair dresser back home I had been going to for years so I think she was giving me a lower price).

    I just started my own 101 things in 1001 days list a few days ago. Looking forward to seeing how I do! 🙂

  15. I have dyed my hair a few times when I was younger, at home ,dye it yourself. I have been wanting to go to a salon to have my hair dyed or highlights.


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