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20-40-60 Etiquette---Color me blond!

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YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!

By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: What do you all think the appropriate age for young girls to start coloring their hair? My daughter is 11 and wants to be a blonde. She has brown hair.

CALLIE’S ANSWER: Well, depends if you want to start paying for that. It gets expensive being a girl. Hold off till she’s a teenager at least.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: It seems like many people of all ages want to be something different than they are, and those of us who were teens once remember it is particularly true and more dramatic during adolescence -- we might want to be a better athlete, more popular, more confident, less awkward, thinner, taller, shorter, with curlier hair or straighter hair or anything else we can be to fit in. Hair coloring is expensive, especially since you have to maintain it. I didn't start coloring my hair until the grey hairs started taking over my brown ones when I became an adult. And even then, I didn't want to pay to color my hair regularly. But I also understand that the teen years are a time of figuring out who you are separate from your parents, and this might be one way for her to do that. But 11 sounds really young to me; I don't think I was even wearing lip gloss or blush at 11.

If she really wants to play and experiment with her looks, what about letting your daughter try some of the temporary colors that are popular right now and wash out? There are even tutorials about using challk to color hair in a safe and short-term manner. Several teens I know have done this and are having fun with it; maybe this could be a summer thing for her to do.

Overall, really, this is a good opportunity for you to start a conversation with your daughter about why she wants to be a blonde. Is she unhappy with the way she looks? Is she uncertain of who she is? Does she think becoming a blonde will change her life, and if so, why? Talk to her about how beauty is portrayed in the media, in the movies, on TV and among celebrities these days and the unrealistic expectations people have of beauty. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty commercials are extremely effective and meaningful in opening up this discussion if you need help. Your daughter should know that she is beautiful in the unique way that she is and that coloring hair won't change her from the inside. Yes, women like to wear makeup, fix their hair, pluck their eyebrows and have beauty routines that make them feel good about the way they look, myself included, so this answer isn't designed to say one thing to her and do another. However, at 11, your daughter can be learning about eating healthy, exercising, good hygiene and all the other ways to start building confidence from the inside. The hair-coloring can come later, when she can afford it herself and when she is more mature and knows why she is wanting to do it.

HELEN’S ANSWER: I am not sure that there is a proper time for hair coloring, but 11 years old seems a little young. Temporary colors that wash out are usually safe for children, but the harsher chemicals might damage hair or produce an allergic reaction during a child’s early years.

If you can afford it, try a few highlights when she is a teenager. Then, maybe she can ask for money for Christmas and birthdays or get a babysitting job to pay for what she wants. I would always recommend that you have a professional hair stylist work with her hair as they know what they are doing and the results will be better.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Tanya Brand, hair stylist at House of Design: Hair maintenance, even every six weeks can be costly. Over a year you can easily spend upwards of $1,000.   Kids these days are unaware of how far the dollar goes.

My opinion on this is they should have to pay for it themselves. It isn't a necessity and could be a life lesson on managing money, whether or not they think it's a dollar well spent on vanity.

Why start so young? It's not easy to get it back to their natural color. I have had experience of highlighting a 15-year-old girl that changed her mind on wanting to be blond. I think there is a maturity issue that goes along as well.

Don't get me wrong! I will color any age and take your money any day!

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. Email questions to Helen---hwallace@oklahoman.com

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