If you’re anything like me, you tread lightly when it comes to hair experimentation. Maybe you’ll jab a bobby pin or two on one side of your part as some kind of creative gesture, but you’ll invariably return to what is most comfortable. In my case, that means a haphazard middle part and brunette, shoulder-length hair fluffed to perfection with a spritz—or five—of dry shampoo (think Choupette-level fluff except brown and on a human head).

I’ve had this no-frills hairdo since my freshman year of college, when I abruptly grew out my brassy highlights after realizing (far too late of course) that my black eyebrows were 10 shades darker than my hair. In retrospect, I more closely resembled Frida Kahlo in a platinum wig than Caroline who’d spent the summer on the French Riviera. I vowed to never again let a bleach-coated brush or piece of tinfoil near my hair, and I have gone dye-free ever since.

Until one arctic chill of a February morning, I got this itch. Not lice, or anything scalp-related, but this itch to color the ends of my hair an absurdly bright color. Perhaps it was a buildup of one too many gray-black ensembles, which conspired to create the saddest Fifty Shades of Grey possible (along with one too many leaps in gray slush puddles). Or the discovery of this Chanel eyeglasses ad with model Charlotte Free, who gazes aloofly into the distance, her entire head of hair an ethereal shock of French-macaroon pink.

With all the monochrome getups and the instant draw of my new hair inspiration Charlotte Free, I was determined to dye my weatherworn ends the happiest of colors. Not brave enough to color my whole head of hair, and also fearful that a cotton-candy pink might not be as dreamy on a brunette, I decided on aquamarine-green for my ends based on extensive Pinterest research and repetitive googling of the phrase “Is dyeing the ends of your hair cool?”

Thanks to one bowl of bleach, two tubs of silky green and blue dye, and the skillful hands of Elisabeth Lovell of Whiteroom Salon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I was transformed into the mermaid of my childhood dreams and also the present nightmare of my mother and sister.


“Are you trying to join Blue Man Group?” my sister quipped. “This is a highly inappropriate hairstyle for you in the workplace!” my mom warned. “How…fun!” said my step-mom, somewhat more encouragingly. My dad, his mouth agape and brow furrowed, simply uttered: “I am confused.”

But after all the confusion, judgment, and mixed reviews, I decided most reasonably that when it comes to the hair on my own head, the opinion that should matter the most is my own. And so I decided to wear my hair aquamarine for three weeks until much of the dye trickled down the drain after many shampoos, leaving my hair mermaid-like for a week, and then swamp-monster-y for the remainder.

Overall, the longevity of the dip-dye varies according to how often you wash your hair, but with one to two washes per week, it lasts about four to six weeks. If you want to extend your dip-dye without paying another visit to the hair salon, have your colorist mix some spare dye in a tube with conditioner and apply it to the roots in the shower for an instant color boost.

If you’re after a more DIY experience, Manic Panic makes an awesome semipermanent hair color in Siren Song that is really the perfect aquamarine. (Bonus: It glows under black light for that extra mermaid-phosphorescent vibe.) And if you’re after the mermaid without the commitment, Sephora makes hair chalks that wash out instantly with water.