Don’t Dye Alone

Maybe it’s not a dye job but the outfit you bought or the new lipstick you tried or the new recipe you cooked. If you don’t relate to this 100% mom moment by Kristen Brakeman (and the “supportive” words from her hubby and kids!) you need to check that degree from Mom University hanging on your wall. I think it might be a fake. And you’re definitely not approaching middle age! ENJOY this excerpt from Kristen’s book IS THAT THE SHIRT YOU’RE WEARING? From Los Angeles and the TV industry to The MOM Journey, welcome this Ermba Bombeck humorist of the month!

“Oh no. Oh no,” I said as I gazed in the mirror. Again and again, I repeated those same two words: “Oh no.”

Somehow the quiet maniacal repetition kept me from screaming in horror at the sight of my hair – my newly colored hair.

My now much-regretted decision to dye my own hair was prompted by economic reasons. Since my last paycheck came and was spent months ago, I couldn’t justify an expensive highlight job from a fancy salon.

I needed a touch-up because soon I would be starting a new job in an office populated by the young and hip. My dark roots and hints of grey would be a dead giveaway that I was no longer one of the cool kids. My youthful co-workers would surely struggle to find common ground, prompting them to inevitably offer up comparisons to their parents. “Oh, my mom has a phone like yours. She can’t program it either.”

I couldn’t let that happen. Off to CVS for the best highlighting kit my ten dollars could buy. Frankly, if they had an affordable “Home Botox-in-a-Box” I would have sprung for that as well.

I was not at all worried about the outcome. Anything had to be better than my current graying haggard hair, I thought. Oh, how wrong I was.


I skimmed the instructions, “Paint on highlights . . . yeah, yeah, yeah . . . leave in for a maximum of 90 minutes.”  Seemed longer then I ever waited in the salon, but maybe the home kits are slower acting?

After painting gobs of the magic age-removing formula on my head I lounged about the living room for a full twenty minutes and fantasized about how impressed my new co-workers would be, “Really, you have three children? But, you look so young!”

Confidently, I walked into the bathroom, eager to see the new me.

When I saw my reflection I was paralyzed with disbelief. My hair had become a hideous patchwork mess of platinum blonde, with orange clumps on the top of my head and giant white streaks above my ears and dark brown chunks at the ends. What had I done?

I quickly washed it, hoping to prevent further damage and praying that it might fix the outcome.

Shampoo complete, I searched the mirror, looking for improvement. This is when the “Oh, no” mantra began in earnest.

By this time I had an audience. “Oh my God! What did you do?” Samantha screamed, clearly shocked.

“Mommy made a little mistake with the hair dye,” I said, trying to stay calm and in control.

“A little mistake! It looks awful. You can’t go out like that!” she said, expressing the hysteria I was feeling. Also it’s likely she was worried that I would embarrass her at her school drop next week.

Within seconds, my other two daughters, the cat and the dog came to investigate.

Peyton was quick to express her shock. “Oh my God! What did you do? You look like a clown! Is Mommy joining the circus?”

Finally, my husband joined the party in the bathroom. “Oh my God! What did you do?” he asked.

“Will everyone stop asking me that? I’ll tell you what I did. I dyed my own hair because I was . . . trying to save money!” my words gradually escalating to a yell.

The family kept their distance from me the rest of the evening. A couple times I caught them stifling their giggles, pretending to hold back a cough. I think one of them whispered something about buying me a wig.

In the morning light, my spirits brightened as I thought my hair looked a bit better. I remarked to Samantha, “Maybe it’s not that bad after all?”

“No. It’s bad . . . really bad,” she said, snapping me back into reality.

A few hours and a couple hundred dollars later, my bad dye job was fixed. The stylists at the salon enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. “You left it on how long again? Maybe you need some reading glasses, eh? Sometimes the eyes start to go at your age. Ha ha.”

Fortunately, with my hair restored to its natural youthful blonde in time for my new job I made fast friends with my youthful co-workers. In fact, we even went out to lunch on my first day. After placing my order for my favorite combo, a Chinese Chicken Salad and an Iced Tea, one of them laughed, “Oh wow, that’s exactly what my Mom always gets!”


Kristen Hansen Brakeman’s comedic essays have appeared in the New York Times Motherlode, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Working Mother Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop where she was recently named HUMOR WRITER OF THE MONTH

She has appeared on Huff Post Live to endlessly debate the use of the word “Ma’am,” and is a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books. Real humans have compared her writing style to both Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron, but possibly they were intoxicated at the time.

Brakeman works behind-the-scenes on television variety shows and lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with her husband, and three daughters. Visit Kristen’s WEBSITE or follow her on Twitter @kristenbrakeman.

If you enjoyed Kristen’s post, please let her know with a comment or a share. Thanks for checking out The MOM Journey today!



  1. Rebekah says:

    I once had a high school friend who wanted to be a hairdresser and I let her dye my hair. Big mistake! I ended up really fake looking bleached blonde hair. I remember my shame when I went to high school the next day.

  2. Janice says:

    One time I let my sister dye my hair to save money and when she started rinsing it out she started laughing. I am bent over the sink and I kept asking her “What???”. When I got to a mirror, I knew why she was laughing. I had orange hair. The dye had pulled the red out of my hair. Not a good way to save money!!! LOL I had to go to a salon and get it fixed, which did not save me ANY money!

  3. Love that your sister was laughing – that’s what sisters are for, huh!

  4. Sandy says:

    I once did the same thing…..for the same reason….trying to save money! I ended up with a rusty reddish/orange mess. It took a few hundred bucks and a few hours in the beautician’s chair to get that mess somewhat straightened out. Thank goodness I was off work the next day and my beautician could squeeze me in to her very busy day. I had to promise her that I would not EVER try that again. And she told me if I did she wouldn’t work me in, and I’d just have to wear it that way until she could get me in. She was smiling when she said it. I hope she was joking, but I never tested her to find out.

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