Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

April 7, 2016

Two Years of Turquoise Dip Dyed Hair, Rainbow Hair FAQ, Plus My Short New Haircut (!)

I get a lot of questions about my teal hair:

Is your hair real?
How did you get your hair this colour?
Do you have to bleach hair to dye it bright blue?
Does the bleach and dye fry your hair?
Why did you dye it teal? 
How long does the bright hair colour last?
Will you try another colour? 
What shade and brand of hair dye do you use?
Does bright hair dye rub off on clothes and bedding?

Brunette hair dip dyed aqua

The question I'm not asked is: "can I touch it?" - instead, people just reach over and pick up a lock of my hair, suddenly realize what they're doing, and stumble away, wide eyed and muttering apologies.  My hair draws people to me like a moth to a flame.

It's been exactly two years since I first dyed my hair teal and I just recently chopped it all off (!) - see photos of my new 'do at the end of this post - so I thought it would be fun to look back at how it's changed over the years and answer some of the teal hair dyeing FAQs I field.

In April of 2014 (on April Fool's Day, actually), I marched into a salon with a crazy idea: bleach the bottom half of my hair and dye it aqua.  I had actually planned on a peachy-pink colour but, at the last minute, decided that aqua was more me (no surprise there).  The stylist was really excited and went to town creating an ombre look that faded from blue to teal, with some purple tossed in.  It was her idea to create the ombre look, and I loved it.

How Do You Dye Hair a Bright Colour?

Getting teal hair took a long time: first the stylist back combed my hair a bit (to avoid a harsh bleached line) and then applied bleach to the ends, lightening my brunette hair to a very pale, yellow blond.  Then she applied the colours, layering in the different hues.  It was an expensive, butt-numbing experience (three hours!) and she was so flustered when the dye didn't take perfectly that she actually forgot to cut my hair (she had chopped it haphazardly before the dye job, but hadn't gone back in to fix it up).  When it was over, I decided that my turquoise hair would be short-lived.

(Rebecca, from A Clothes Horse, has a great post about how she changed her dyed hair from bright red to bright blue and she also wrote a thorough post for A Beautiful Mess about how to get the perfect rainbow hair.)

Blue ombre dyed rainbow hair
Teal and blue ombre rainbow hair on brunette

Hair needs to be bleached very light for bright colour to take, otherwise it can look sort of muddied - which you can see where the blue hair dye was overlapped with my naturally brown hair.
  
How Long Does Bright Hair Dye Last?

Afterward, the salon colour faded really quickly (it was pretty pale and splotchy after a week) and, although the stylist offered to touch it up for free, I just couldn't fathom spending another minute in a salon chair.  I wasn't ready to let it go, though, so I ordered a bottle of Manic Panic Amplified Turquoise and painted some aqua on the ends myself.  I used tinfoil and a soft artist's paint brush - it was so easy! 

Aqua dyed hair

I couldn't achieve the same ombre look on my own, but it turned out that I loved the solid teal.  Dyeing my hair blue at home was a thriftier alternative to going back to the salon and I found that the Manic Panic dye didn't fade very quickly, either; I only needed to touch it up every month or two, so aqua dye for me really wasn't a lot of maintenance (although it might help that I only wash my hair every two or three days).  Plus I didn't mind if it faded to a more pastel hue - I loved every shade of aqua my hair became! 

Whenever it came time for a trim, I'd whimper because each snip meant a little less aqua.  At some point, though, I grew to love just having the very bottom ends bright aqua - like I'd dipped my hair in paint.

Teal dip dyed hair

The colour varied a lot, starting out a deeper, more muted teal:

Brunette hair with teal ends
Teal hair dye FAQ // Manic Panic Turquoise

But then the Manic Panic Turquoise hair dye would fade to a lighter, brighter aqua.  My hair naturally created a sort of gradient where the dye overlapped the bleached and natural strands of my hair. 

Manic Panic Turquoise Dye on Bleached Ends with Brunette Hair

With each hair cut (my Mom was trimming my hair for awhile to save money), I decided the days of my aqua ends were numbered because I'd have to endure the time and cost of having the ends bleached again - something I was way too scared to try at home.  

But I couldn't go back to being a boring brunette!

On impulse, I ended up at a salon on April 1st 2015 - exactly one year after I first dyed it aqua.  I didn't even plan it, I just phoned a Chatters Salon because it seemed like an affordable place, and that's the appointment date they gave me (clearly the Universe has a sense of humor).  The stylist I got was new there (fresh out of beauty school) and she was so thrilled about my aqua-loving ways.  She gave me a trim and bleached the ends again.  When she applied the teal-green hair dye (Joico Peacock), she also painted some colour onto my brown hair, which I didn't love, but it faded and washed out pretty quickly, anyway (dye just doesn't grab unbleached hair with the same vim and vigor):

Do You Need to Bleach Hair to Dye it Bright Color? // Aqua Hair Joico Peacock

My new stylist recommended Joico's Peacock and although I loved the original hue (which was a bit more green than my old turquoise), it faded to a really bright green so I once again turned to my Manic Panic Turquoise when I needed a touch up.  She was cool with me doing my own colour in between salon visits (although she would have preferred I used Joico - but I just found it more difficult to apply and it faded more quickly).

Dyeing Hair Teal / Rainbow Hair FAQ

Does Bright Dye Harm Hair?

My hair is so thin and weak and I do notice that from the bleaching, my hair gets a bit drier on the ends.  I have been trying to be generous with the conditioner and have started using a leave-in conditioner, but I really should be doing more regular treatments to condition the bleached ends.  Otherwise, I can't say the hair is that much different in texture on the ends than where my natural brown hair is.  But because I dye my hair on the ends, once it's bleached I just keep adding colour until it grows out and we start again - I don't have to re-bleach it regularly to hide roots, which I think is much harsher on hair and scalp.  So if you're looking for low commitment brightly coloured hair, just bleaching and dyeing the ends is an easy way to try rainbow hair!  It's very difficult to go back from bright hair, so being able to get rid of the aqua with a single haircut was a major plus for me - even though I love the look of a whole head of bright colour (like Rachel's awesome, allover hot pink hair!)

While I was in Toronto dealing with my family emergency, I stayed on a rural property for several months and the well water there did a number on my bleached hair.  All of my hair felt gross, but the bleached part fared the worst.  It just felt like straw, so I started wearing it in a bun all the time and gave up on touching up the dye, so it faded to a mint green:

How Does Joico Peacock Look Faded? / Mint green pastel hair in bun

When I finally came home, I had to chop a lot of length to get it feeling healthy again and I lost all of the colour, so I asked my hair stylist to bleach a fresh chunk and go nuts.  My hair ended up two thirds Joico Peacock - the colour started a few inches from my roots.  This snapshot from Instagram is the only photo I have of the colour from that salon visit:

Joico Peacock // Teal Green Hair // Rainbow Hair // Mermaid Hair

It was beautiful when fresh but, again, the Joico Peacock dye faded to a really bright, yellowy green.  Here's another Instagram photo once it had grown out - one thing about my hair is that although it's thin and lifeless, it sure does grow quickly (thank you, hair)! 

Joico Peacock Hair Dye Faded to Light Green // Green Hair

I think the bleached part wasn't bleached white enough and the yellowy, brassy blond beneath the colour was turning any shade yellower.  I decided to counteract the yellowy green by dyeing the ends with Manic Panic Amplified Voodoo Blue, which is supposedly more of a dark teal but over my original dye and bleach, it just ended up a richer turquoise with more blue and less green - which was fine by me!  I loved the aqua shade!  And you can see that although you should bleach hair to dye it a bright colour, the Manic Panic brand of dye definitely did stick a bit to my brown hair a little (better than the salon brands, which turned muddy over brunette hair). There's an inch of dye on my natural hair where the brown and turquoise meet:

Manic Panic Amplified VooDoo Blue Color // Turquoise Dip Dyed Hair // Mermaid Hair

This is the colour I had been rocking lately: Manic Panic Voodoo Blue layered over the original Joico Peacock.

Low Commitment Mermaid Rainbow Hair: Dye Just the Ends!
Rainbow Hair FAQ: Does it Fade? Will it Rub off on Clothes?

Recently I wanted a change, though: something shorter for summer so I can spend less time blow drying and styling my hair, and more time on the lake (or not doing anything)!  So I asked my stylist to chop it all off into a layered, angled bob with a twist: my hair stylist bleach the bottom half and dyed the lower layers Joico Cobalt Blue mixed with a little Joico Titanium, and the top layers Joico Mermaid Blue.  She was ecstatic throughout the whole process because I'm so laid back with my hair - I just let her do her thing and default to her advice when it comes to the cut and colour.  I have never before trusted a hair stylist as much as I trust her, and it's making salon visits fun!   After a series of terrible stylists and hair blunders, I had become a bundle of nerves but now I've relaxed.

Shot Bob with Joico Mermaid and Joico Cobalt Hair Dye
Short Haircut with Aqua Hair Dye // Mermaid Hair

Here's a peak at the bright turquoise and cobalt layers that peak out.  It was the first time I'd ever had bleach applied right to my roots (whoa, that was itchy!):

How to Dye Hair Bright Blue
Short Cut with Bright Aqua Underneath // Mermaid Hair Short

I'm in love with my new hair!  It feels so light and it's easy to get some volume in my flat hair now.  Even my bedhead looks good - my hair stylist is amazing at understanding fine hair.

Why Do I Dye My Hair Teal?

I really didn't think I would ever end up this smitten with aqua hair.  It was a lark: something fun and frivolous to mark the end of my twenties and the completion of my PhD.  I had spent so long trying to be taken seriously as an academic and I felt liberated when I finally got my doctorate.

But darn it, this aqua hair makes me smile!  I've always hated my hair because it's fine and flat and mousy brown.  I've used hot rollers, crimped it, slept in a damp french braid for some waves, flat ironed, and back combed the life out of my poor (stubborn) hair.  Over the years I've dyed it jet black, red, and streaked it blond.  I've used henna, home dyes, and spent hours in salon chairs.  I've had a pixie cut, short retro bangs, an angled bob, long sweeping bangs, I've grown it down to my waist and have spent a good chunk of time sporting only Mad Men-inspired updos.  I've wasted a lot of my life trying to make peace with my hair, but I've never been happy with my hair until now.  Even on my worst hair days, I still love my hair.  It's aqua, how could I not love it?!?

So I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep the aqua.  I guess until it stops making me smile...

Does the Bright Hair Dye Rub Off on Things?

Yes and no.  When it's freshly dyed, it will rub off on my hair towel after a wash and also on my pillow if my hair is slightly damp at night after my bath or shower (I've only just started using a shower cap and it's made such a difference).  It has never rubbed off on clothes or scarves once it's dry.

Will I Ever Try Another Bright Colour?

I would say yes!  Now that I've started to experiment with the colour a little, I am tempted to try new hues.  I'd love to first get my hair to a greyed out shade of teal or steel blue hair (as opposed to such a bright, bold hue), but then maybe try an icy pale blue or something similar to this gorgeous lavender hued bob!  I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to hair and fashion where I've been pinning haircuts for fine hair and colourful hairdos.  Baby steps out of the blues!
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33 comments

  1. Awww! I have blue hair and I love it too! Your new haircut is gorgeous! Go Team Blue Hair! Have you tried Ion hair color?

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    1. Thanks! You have blue hair too? That's awesome! I haven't tried the Ion hair color - I hadn't even heard of it! People have suggested Overtone but I just haven't gotten around to trying it. I just Googled it and the Ion color choices look gorgeous!! Maybe I'll give it a whirl once this starts to fade. I love the shark blue...

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  2. Your new cut and colour are gorgeous, just right for spring and summer!

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    1. Thanks! I am really enjoying spending less time under the blow dryer. Short hair always takes a little more work to make it look nice, but overall I'm hogging the bathroom much less these days, lol.

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  3. I really liked your long hair with the teal ends, but I LOVE it short and I don't like short hair. I've probably been every color, black, strawberry blonde, ash blonde because I too have thin baby fine hair.
    Last year my daughter who has been a red head for years had her hair bleached platinum blonde with a deep red put in about like yours. Her hair cut is similar to yours too. I think I like it better than any color she's ever been. I showed her your picture and suggest teal for her, but she lives in Japan and says her hairdresser won't do unnatural colors.

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    1. Thanks so much! Awww, baby fine hair gives us such a headache, doesn't it? It's funny to hear you've been every hair color too. Your daughter's hair sounds gorgeous! That's so interesting that her hairdresser won't do unnatural colors. Why do I have this idea that in Japan the fashion is more playful?

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  4. Love it, love it, love it! Blue is the hardest color to keep fresh, it fades quicker than any other and like you, .my hair grows quickly but the bleaching got to be too expensive and time consuming. I switched to extensions to add color. They are fun and I can clip them in and remove quickly if I'm feeling less blue and more purple say. :) The new style is completely adorable. Bravo! ღ

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    1. Thank you!!

      Extensions sound like a fun way to add color on a whim (and also some fullness - which I, for one, will never turn down!). I can totally see how to the bleaching became too much. I have had it bleached four times now, if my math serves me. The first salon was SO expensive but it's been much more affordable at my new salon. My stylist gave me a bunch of coupons right away and that helped a lot!

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  5. So cute! Loved reading about all the steps and process. So cool. I really want to see a front view of the new bob!? Maybe instagram it when you're feeling it? i follow you there so should see it :)

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    1. Thank you! I was hoping this would be a fun read for some folks - I know I'm always enthralled by how much time/effort people put into their appearance. I don't know why, but it's always fascinated me.
      Okay, the next time I look presentable, I will definitely snap a photo of the front!

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  6. Your new haircut is gorgeous !!!!! I hope u will show us the front view sometime, I would really love to see it!

    And I was very good about not scrolling to the end first, so it was a nice surprise ! I'm too chicken to try a bright color on my hair, but having only the ends done is a pretty cool idea actually !

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    1. Thanks so much! Sure, I will definitely post a pic from the front.
      Haha, I wondered how many people would scroll right away! I applaud your restraint, lol. Good willpower! I tried to include all of the photos in mostly chronological order, because I've had a lot of questions about how it fades and I wanted to try to chronicle that. This made me realize how few photos I took of myself the last couple of years - this is pretty much it! I need to start taking more photos with people in them, and not just blog stuff.

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  7. Oooh the short blue hair is super cool! The colour seems to be in just the right places. (Can you tell I'm not north American? :D ) Just going by the back view I would guess that it makes you look a lot younger?

    Also, lol at waiting to be taken seriously in academia! I feel like a lot of academics are constantly 'critically evaluating' everything around them and it becomes part of their personality too. This is one reason why I'm still undecided about doing a PhD.

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    1. Awww, thanks! I love where she dyed it. It's mostly hidden from the front, although you can see peeks of it, especially if I tuck my hair behind my ear. I will take some more photos and share on Instagram next week :) People already think I'm a lot younger than I am - my hairstylist originally thought I was her age (early twenties and I'm 31), so I'm not sure if this haircut has shaved off any more years. I will see if I get asked for ID at the liquor store, lol.

      You know, I couldn't tell you weren't North American! Where are you writing from?

      I think I judged myself the harshest when I was in school. I was always trying to be taken seriously and to convince everyone I deserved to be there. Now I feel completely liberated. I have NO regrets about doing my PhD, even though sometimes it was very sou crushing work. It has not yielded the cornucopia of jobs I thought it would, and someone once told me it's like hitting the snooze button on life - which is SO true - but I did it for myself and it's an accomplishment no one can ever take away. I encourage everyone I meet to do it, if they're thinking about it. You won't regret the experience and afterwards, you can make everyone call you Dr. (which never gets old).

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    2. I'll make sure to check Instagram for the pictures! I thought it may be a bit rude to ask for them! You don't look 31 at all! I'd say you'd probably look 20ish now with the shorter hair? It's going to be fun if you get IDed!

      Oh I'm writing from Europe, but it just made me smile that I spelled colour with a U.

      It's interesting what you say about the PhD and jobs. Someone just told me that last week, and I tend to think it's true that people outside of academia don't seem to value a PhD. Have you tried UN jobs? There are several in gender issues and a lot of them are consultant positions allowing you to work from home. I could send you a link if you like. But I would really like to read a post on your whole 'PhD experience' if you don't mind writing about it some time, even if it's got nothing to do with home decor or turquoise! I'm starting to think the Dr part may be the only good thing about it lol

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    3. Definitely not rude to ask at all!

      We spell colour with a U in Canada too! It's how the Americans can spot us, lol. I was wondering what clue I missed. My family is from Europe (Hungary and Finland).

      I hadn't even considered the UN - I didn't know there were work from home consultant jobs! Thanks for the tip, I will definitely look into that. I have thought about writing a bit about my schooling and my career trajectory. I have a couple of posts written as drafts, but I'm nervous about publishing them. Maybe this will be the push I needed!

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  8. WOW! The new hair looks fantastic! As I was scrolling thru the post, I was thinking to myself how nice the longer aqua ends looked and then saw the end result, what a huge difference!

    I also have fine hair and its cut in a similar short layered bob. However, mine has funky waves so I am a growing it out a bit I attempts to get the ends to weigh the waves down.

    An errant flash of pinky orangey yellow up front to the side or the slightest under layer at the nape might be a nice compliment to those gorgeous blues. Think a parrot or similar tropical tropical plumage. Not that you want to look like a bird, just thinking about those striking colors and how they work together.

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    1. Thanks Heather! I definitely preferred the plain dipped ends to the more complicated ombre effect but THIS I really love!

      It's so funny what hair does without the weight. Mine is mostly straight but when it's short there are a couple of areas that wing out so I smooth them with a flat iron. I washed and let my hair air dry yesterday - whoa, that looked weird! I have to be grateful for ANY volume I get, haha.

      I agree, a little bit of a coral/orange hue would be fun! I'm getting a little braver - I pinned a haircut with pink mixed with teals and I'm tempted. My hairdresser will be thrilled - she gets to have fun when I make an appointment, lol.

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  9. Love the short and love the teal. I gave into my prematurely gray hair a little bit ago, and then recently did a mermaidesque blue-green streak. My conservative sister did not approve, but everyone else does. I get comments all the time. I'd attach a photo, but the comment field won't let me. :-)

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    1. Thank you! I'd love to see your mermaid streak! I looked on your blog quickly but didn't see any photos. Are you on Instagram? Or is there a photo on your blog you could link to? I'm SO curious now! I'm just imagining how fabulous it looks - especially with silver hair, which is what all the young gals are dying their hair these days! It's a bummer your sister isn't on board, maybe she'll come around? My family got used to my hair!

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    2. I'm not on Instagram, my blog is woefully out of date, and my Twitter account is even sadder. But I just put this up so you could see: https://twitter.com/mknoonburg/status/718507105850826752
      Funny thing is, I read your post more carefully after I commented. My color is Manic Panic Voodoo blue. And I have an aqua front door. (You can see here: http://www.marianisima.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/LumaGothic.jpg) Clearly, we're kindred spirits. ;-) Have a great weekend.

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    3. Oh my gosh your hair looks SO GORGEOUS!! You totally made my day - thanks so much for taking the time to post a pic. I think your conservative sister might just be jealous, because you seriously look amazing.

      And now I am jealous because your house exterior looks so modern. I love your front door, but the whole thing is to die for. I would love to see more (see, you give me an inch, I take a mile). I hopped on your blog, but didn't any more exterior photos.

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  10. Oh my goodness! I love your short style- it is super cute. I love short hair but sometimes it's a pain to keep- more frequent cuts and mine can't go without styling. So I vacillate between short and long. Mine is actually easier to keep long in summer- it's curly, (well, loose curls) so doesnt need much beyond a little shake after swimming. But my short hair looks weird after I get out of the water. But your new style is so nice, I'm getting the urge to cute mine off.

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    1. Thank you! I'm a little leery about the more frequent cuts. I grew my hair out for that reason: I hated going back to the salon so regularly with my last short cut. But the blow drying got to be too much! It was taking forever to dry my hair and blow drying is a must for any kind of volume. If my hair was curly and didn't need the kind of fluffy and back combing I do, I'd keep it long too! It's nice in the summer to just throw it in a messy bun and go :)

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  11. I swear we are always on the same page. There has been multiple time I have been thinking about something and then you go post on it, that mirror with the saying on it, the felted ring, and now your hair. I just commented on it and now poof, here is a post on it. We must be separated at birth, which isn't a far fetch since we do both have the same thin, no volume, brown hair lol. I thought if I ever did venture into colored hair I would do it on the ends like you because it doesn't need to be fried over and over again by bleach and it could just grow out and cut it off without too much trauma. I have been dying my hair since I was 13, but only went with blondes, reddish browns and brown.... well and one time a horrible orange but that wasn't on purpose lol. Now I dye my hair to cover grey (thanks mom) and have been doing that since I was like 22 ish. It's the hardest thing to dye and keep the dye on, it drives me bonkers. I love the short hair on you and the dye job, it looks great!! Totally suits you. I could never! I am a long hair for life kinda girl, shortest it's ever been it to my shoulders, now it's middle of my back, and longest it's been is to my butt. Maybe one day I will get up the courage to color it blue like this, but I am also too cheap to spend that kind of money at a salon lol

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    1. Thanks! I'm so jazzed with the cut. It's been taking me so much less time to get ready, too. More fussing with the flat iron, but so much less time blow drying so overall I'm done faster - which has been a nice break. My primping time was getting embarrassingly long.

      You know, if you are going grey that will take a vibrant dye like blue really well...Just sayin'

      ;)

      It is fun how many similarities there are between us! I always feel like you're so much more productive than me though, lol. Once you commit to an idea or craft, you can really make things happen. I often admire your stamina.

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    2. How funny would that look, blue patches randomly in my hair where the grey is lol.

      Oh gosh no, I am far from productive, I am a true procrastinator. And the stamina only become necessary because I put things off and then only have a short time to do them and sit up all night doing it lol. Not to mention with my back issues it harder to do many things which in turn makes it easier to put off. Trust and believe you are wayyyyyyy more productive than I am.

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  12. I love the shorter, layered bob and the colors!!! Awesome:)


    Amy

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  13. I think you should win the award for most dedication to the colour blue! Your hair looks amazing and I especially love your new short do!! x

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! I WISH there was an award for the person most committed to aqua. It would give me the push I need to paint a few more things, lol.

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    1. Thank you!! I feel really great with this shorter cut. The aqua doesn't hurt, either, lol...

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