Thursday, June 9, 2011

How To (and Not To) Dye Your Hair on a Budget

by Lisa Saunders

Dear Readers,

I just got rid of the grey stripe down the middle of my head with the help of a high school student in the Cosmetology Department of Ella T. Grasso Technical High School.

Why do I go there to get this work done? Because I like to save money! Plus, it can be entertaining to see students shaped into professionals--because sometimes, I get to watch them get scolded! One student who did my hair said to me, "I'm much more mature than a lot of other kids my age because Mrs. Z [Lynn Zakowski, Instructor] makes us behave like professionals." (Being professional can range from changing the radio station to something more client-friendly to positioning their supply cart so it's out of the way.)

Another reason I'm committed to making regular appointments there instead of dying my own roots with over-the-counter products is to avoid sending Lynn Zakowski another e-mail like this:
Subject: Confession about what I did to my hair
Sent: Mon, May 2, 2011 4:58 pm

Dear Lynn,
I need your help with my hair. Can I get an appointment this week? I did something that you especially hate that I do.

I know you always scowl at me for applying "root touch-up" kits between visits (I can't remember why, was it because my head could catch on fire from the metals in it or something like that?).

Anyway, I saw a bunch of root touch-up kits for sale at the grocery store and thought I'd be a smart shopper. They weren't the color I normally use ("medium sunlit brown"), but I thought no one would notice if my roots were to become an auburn reddish brown.

I put the dye in my roots before going to church yesterday. I forgot I was only supposed to leave it there for 15 minutes and got distracted with something else--for a couple of hours. Well, my husband, Jim, was shocked when he got out of bed and saw what I'd done. He said my very obvious purple-red four-inch stripe down the top of my head "Looks like that cheap red women use--doesn't anyone ever tell them how strange it looks?" [See photo above.]

We sat in the back row at church, hoping no one would see me--but I could feel the eyes of those who walked by on the top of my head. Even people at Walmart were staring at me afterwards.

I have to give some presentations soon and wonder if anything can be done?

When I wrote to Lynn again asking why I shouldn’t be dying my hair with over-the-counter products, she responded:


Haircoloring is one of the most difficult skills to learn in theory and application. T.V. commercials make it look like it’s easy street and anyone can achieve beautiful haircoloring with over the counter products. Not so!

Boxed hair coloring contains harmful metals which just coat the hair and do not penetrate the cuticle, cortex, or medulla. They are called Progressive haircoloring because they just build up on the hair, coating the hair so it becomes darker and darker with each application of harsh chemicals that dull the hair in appearance with harmful metals. The color is based on a guess work system and does not take into account the person’s natural hair color, underlying tone (gray, gold, red) or desired shade, as it is based on a white base of haircolor. The results are pure guess work!

Professional haircoloring can’t be applied over this because of the coating action, and harsh metals. (The client’s hair will not take, or worst yet, because of the copper in non-professional haircoloring, could catch on fire if bleach is applied!)

At “Top of The Town” Salon at Ella T. Grasso Technical High School, students are trained in professional hair coloring with ammonia-free professional products that have a molecular weight under 2000 that penetrate the hair with 19 of the essential 22 amino acids in your hair. The end result: healthy, shiny, beautiful haircoloring!

Lynn Zakowski, Dept. Head/Cosmetology
Ella Grasso Technical High School, Groton

"Top of the Town" Salon at Grasso Tech is a full service salon and spa, and also offers services such as: pedicures, manicures, facials, massage, haircutting, relaxers, perms, make-up applications, and nail art—all at a reasonable fee!

P.S. Sorry, Dear Reader, you will have to wait until September to make your appointment as the students are off during the summer. See their website at:

You can watch Lynn Zakowski discuss their services on this YouTube video at: