|I'd always fancied wildly coloured locks and with
my mum being so fascinated with hairdressing, I soon discovered that
extensions were the way to go. I hesitantly stood back from the crowd
and watched as a friend took the plunge with synthetic streaks of
lime green and electric blue in her already technicolor locks. I used
to wander past the hair dressing salons in Kensington Market during
my youth, whilst gazing admirably at the neo-punks and uber-Goths
handing out flyers to unsuspecting passers by. Their gravity-defying,
anime-painted tresses put to shame the salon blonde streaks of the
Hollywood starlet. Why go natural when you could go pillarbox red?
My own experimentation came about after an accident with some permanent
black hair dye, resulting in clumps of my own hair falling out. I
started off with a few clip-in streaks and before long I had a hairstyle
that could only be described as The Bird of Paradise. I remember going
clubbing and a male friend of mine becoming most startled when a clump
of purple synthetic hair landed by his feet... a clump of canary yellow
Of course, the great thing about hair extensions is that they last
as long as you like. From the clip-in ponytails in the high street
stores to heat-sealed, professional extensions, it can literally be
a case of hair today and gone tomorrow.
I always preferred the temporary method, which saved me from expulsion
at school and disciplinary meetings at work. But then I'd heard enough
horror stories to put me off professional extensions. A woman I used
to know had fabulous neon red locks with white streaks at the front.
One day, I saw her walking along Camden Market in tears. She had come
to remove her extensions (you're meant to do this every few weeks
to prevent dreadlocks from forming and unnecessary pressure building
on the hair line) and found a mass of tangles that had to be shaved
off. It didn't put her off extensions but it did put her off using
that particular salon.
Now I have several bags of hair pieces (or falls as they're referred
to in the US) suitable for any occasion. Synthetic ponytails in vibrant
shades of red, blue and purple blended with black for those low-key
moments nestle alongside neon bundles of woollen dreadlocks for when
I'm feeling a little more bold. It's the best and safest way to change
your 'do' as your mood dictates. Unless someone stands near you with
a lighter that is...
Goths can't live without their coloured mops, be they black or day-glo
pink. Dye-hard Goth, Natasha Scharf speaks candidly about her relationship
with the bottle.
Ok, I lied about the yellow but my barnet's
been all the other shades. My fascination began young. Memories of
my mother wandering around the house, plastic bag on head, dye dripping
down her face and ears. I wanted to join in some of the fun.
I remember her telling me that if I dyed my hair,
I'd be grounded. I challenged her authority with coloured sprays,
gels and hair mascaras. The result was lurid, chalky, lumpy streaks:
it wasn't quite right but it looked kinda punky and would wash out
in time for school.
Then one day, I went for the plunge. I must have
been about 14. Scouring the chemist shelves, I found what I was
looking for. Vegetable colour, it said on the box, promising to
turn my mousy brown hair a luscious shade of auburn. In retrospect,
I realise all teenage girls go through a stage of dying their hair
red and I was no exception. So anyway, on it went and out it was
washed. Secretly, I snuck out of the house with my hair a gorgeous
deep red colour. Everyone noticed and complimented it. My initial
foray of dying was complete all I had to do now was face the wraith
of my mother! I lied, telling her it was a coloured spray and would
wash out. She made no comment when it stayed put for several weeks.
And that was the beginning of my adolescent fixation
with dying. Since then, it's been nearly every colour under the
sun - well what's the point in dying natural before you're grey?
I can recall countless disasters of course. When
I first tried to go black still remains at the top though. My hair
was indeed the deepest raven black, until I washed it: then it went
green. Over the course of a month, those once black locks went through
every shade of the green spectrum ending with the kind of khaki
shade you see in army surplus stores. You should see the hat collection
I accumulated. Not one to be deterred, I worked my way through an
impressive catalogue of black dyes until I plumped for one with
"no ammonia, low peroxide" and that was another disaster.
As before, on it went and out came the watch and
thirty minutes later, I was washing it out. I pulled on a few strands
of hair and noticed, to my horror that said hair came away in my
hands. A friend had always expressed wonderment that I wasn't bald
from all my dying. Maybe this was D-Day? I had visions of waking
up with hair all over the pillow. It was shortly afterwards that
I discovered hair extensions.
But that's another story!
Natasha Scharf currently has a full head of burgundy