Teens and hair dye: A-OK or no way?

My oldest daughter asked to have her hair dyed red for her 13th birthday present. I told her I had to think about and talk to her father but I honestly couldn’t come up with a reason to say no.

I think as long as the dye isn’t permanent and is tastefully done and actually suits her skin tone then I can’t think of how this could be detrimental to her.

I did tell her I would like to have our hair stylist do it because I trust her to pick the right tone and to use a demi-permanent, which will last longer than a wash-in but won’t leave her with roots. Also I told Rose I thought she should do it before we move so her hair will be back to normal to make a first impression on people in the new town. People already know her here and I don’t think she would be judged negatively for dying her hair.

I remember dying my hair in high school and college.  I used to always try to go red and finally figured out it didn’t really suit my skin tone. Red is tough to pull off, and I guess every woman has to experiment and learn what suits her skin tone best.

So other than wanting it tastefully done and not to be done right before we move into a new town, I couldn’t think a reason not to do it.

What is your policy on hair dye? Is there a certain age you allow it? Do you think it’s just completely socially acceptable now? Is there a reason I am missing to say no?

32 comments Add your comment


April 24th, 2014
4:27 am

There are both warm and cool reds now, so it shouldn’t be an issue for either of you to find a dye that would suit your skin tone.

When my mom figured out that non-permanent hair dyes were my “rebellion” of choice in high school and college she used to get me hair dye from Big Lots on sale. Dying hair is a lot easier, safer and easy to recover from than other forms of rebellion/creative expression, etc.


April 24th, 2014
5:33 am

Let her do it. It’s just hair, it grows back!

As long as it is nothing permanent, I say let her explore her image. That’s what the teen years are for.


April 24th, 2014
5:44 am

My take on it is through a teacher’s lens. While it will grow back, I worry about what it “means.” High school or college does not really worry me (15 or up) but 13? I would say no.

I know we are not comparing apples here, but at my school the kids who come in like this are the ones seeking attention any way they can get it. They have parents who can’t or won’t parent and give them appropriate validation.

Take it for what it is worth.

Atlanta Mom

April 24th, 2014
6:55 am

I wouldn’t spend the money taking my child to a hair stylist for coloring. When they can afford it, they can do that themselves. I did give my children red and blue hair coloring. They had fun and then it was gone.


April 24th, 2014
7:13 am

catlady: I wish you were more specific: why is it, exactly, that a 13 year old with dyed hair is seeking the wrong kind of attention?????


April 24th, 2014
7:30 am

Generally, I think teens should have a lot of freedom in their appearance, but 13 does feel a little young to me to encourage this level of focus on appearance. Is she allowed to wear full make-up yet? If not, I think I’d want her to wait on hair dye too. I agree with catlady that high school seems more appropriate. And whenever she is allowed to explore, let HER explore! Food color, Kool-aid, semi-permanent Clairol off the shelf — whatever. Going to Mom’s salon, unless that’s really what she wants to do, so Mom can hover and give instructions to the stylist kind of takes the exploration out of it. She’s going to make some hair and make-up choices that don’t suit her in your opinion (and she’s going to value her peers’ opinion far more than yours) — that’s ok! We all have those photos to look back and laugh at.


April 24th, 2014
7:32 am

I have colored my own hair for years but did not start until I was in my late 20’s. My daughter has never colored hers nor asked to do it. I have joked about it with her and we just laugh.

I do see little girls ( 8-10) with highlights that have certainly been done at a salon. Not just a whim but they wear them all the time. I really wonder why their parents thought this was a good idea. Of course, it is none of my business since:
1. They are not my daughters
2. I am not paying for it.

TWG maybe try a rinse over the summer? Is she looking to make a statement about herself:

I CAN COLOR MY HAIR…so there! ( I think this might be related to what catlady is saying or it could be…look at me …the wow factor of drawing attention to herself).

I have no idea. If she likes it, are you prepared to take her to the salon to manage it …all the time?
That would not be on my agenda but again number 1 and 2 above.


April 24th, 2014
7:37 am

Neither of our daughters ever requested this nor have they dyed their hair as adults. I don’t, however, think we would have said no unless they were wanting it dyed blue, green, yellow, etc. with some wild styling to go with it. A simple “color” I don’t see as being an issue.


April 24th, 2014
7:38 am

Nice thing about a private school — they were very clear in their dress code that “no artificial hair color allowed”. No streaks of pink or purple – yay! One summer when daughter was 17, she used a temporary rinse to try red highlights, but that was it, and it was gone before school started again. I, too, think 13 is a too young to start experimenting with hair color, and might be fostering an obsession with looks and appearance that might turn unhealthy a short way down the road. Or does she want to be different . . . just like everyone else? :-)


April 24th, 2014
7:41 am

Mine of have done the various dyes…they have been blue, green, purple, and pink. They have done kool-aid dyes (elementary school summers only)….but have done a highlight streak of the semi-perm colors I mentioned before. It is a phase they all seem to go through.

My eldest (14) is thinking of highlighting her hair this summer. I am ok with it, sort of. I am hearing more and more about hair dye linked to cancer, and would hate that for my kid. However a bit of innocent “rebellion” in color change is no big.

I disagree that her hair color should be back to “normal” for NJ. Perhaps she is wanting to re-invent herself for her new home. It is a great time to do it and if she wants to stay “red” let her.


April 24th, 2014
7:42 am

OH and I am not sure about the hairdresser…let her test it out with the washout stuff first and make sure she likes it.


April 24th, 2014
8:00 am

So, my mom was anti-makeup and anti-vanity, in general, when I was a teenager. I was lucky in that I had a clear complexion (not anymore, wtf, menopause?) and didn’t need makeup to cover blemishes.

HOWEVER, I went to a boarding school my Junior and Senior years of high school. It was a magnet boarding school for super nerds. We were all social rejects there. Think of the movie “Real Genius” except only a couple of the kids were actual geniuses.

Anyway, one of the first things I did was color my hair. I am naturally strawberry blond so I went full out red. Red suits me. But, I’ve tried brunette, black, platinum blond, and a lot of other crazy colors.

I finally stopped coloring my hair altogether when I turned 38. I was getting tired of keeping up with it and wanted to take a break. I was happy to see I am still strawberry blond and have yet to show gray. Then, again, if I take after my mom, and I do, my “gray” will probably be a wiry yellow. It’s not a pretty “gray” but it’s easy to hide as “blond” with doing highlights and lowlights, which is what my mom does now.

Funny thing about my mom. My niece is 15 and she wants to highlight her hair. My sister is very resistant. My mother, who disallowed dyeing hair and wearing makeup on us as teens, told my sister “Oh, just let her, it’s just highlights…what’s it going to hurt?”

What happened to my mother?

Anyway, I don’t have a daughter. I have a son, who is 13. So, I can’t speak to how I would raise a daughter. But, my son wanted to let his hair grow. My husband was resistant. I was permissive. I persuaded my husband by saying, “Look, it’s just hair. We can always cut it. And I think we should be selective on what things we try to control, otherwise he’ll full-out rebel and become completely stupid.”

So, he’s growing his hair. He wanted a mullet, so he could wear it ironically. But I told him he’s not old enough to wear things ironically…at his age kids will target you for anything that isn’t perfectly inline. I told him to get ironic about his appearance in college. Also, I don’t want to see a mullet on him! Ugh! But now it’s growing into a really pretty curly dark blond mop. Makes him look like a little 1980s Ralph Lauren model. All he needs to do is wear white on the beach and the imagery would be complete.

So, I guess what I’m saying is I would let my daughter color her hair. I would even let her do crazy colors. She’ll likely get bored with it and revert to her natural color. Or maybe she will experiment with it. At her age it’s probably satisfying for her to have some control over something.


April 24th, 2014
8:01 am

OMG, sorry for the long post.


April 24th, 2014
8:05 am

Helicoptering at its finest.


April 24th, 2014
8:13 am

The answer would be “no” for me. Too young. Why does she want this? Is she willing to use her own funds? Yes, it’s just hair, you can choose to pick your battles. Luckily we haven’t dealt with this issue. Living in the land of fleece and flannel folks are pretty plain in our world. People who experiment really stick out. My girls have no interest (at least for now).


April 24th, 2014
8:33 am

13 seems kind of young, but my 14 yr old niece had blue streaks in here hair when she was 12.

i’d say do it over summer. some schools do not allow color treated hair as part of the dress code.

i just don’t understand things. guess i’m glad i don’t have kids as i think society rushes the growing up years.

i remember being 13 and the most outrageous thing i was allowed to do was paint my nails funky colors. of course that was in the 70’s. we were content being kids and not in too much of a hurry to grow up.


April 24th, 2014
9:47 am

I’m not sure what age is appropriate to start getting permanent hair color, but thirteen does seem a little young. On the other hand, I would probably let my kids try temporary colors for fun. Last summer a lot of the elementary age kids at our church had bright streaks of color in their hair — blue, pink, red, etc., especially during the week of Vacation Bible School. The colors looked cute and festive, not freaky and rebellious. I noticed that they were all back to their normal hair colors by the time school started back in August.


April 24th, 2014
10:48 am

Let girls be girls – sure.

Secondary; if you’re a grown woman and coloring your own hair at home with a cheap bottle of Clairol Nice ‘N Easy your hair really looks terrible; I can spot it a mile away. So Mother Jane Goose invest in a good person at a quality salon and spend some bucks. No more Saturday night over a sink with Clairol….


April 24th, 2014
11:13 am

Mom2alexandmax: Where I live, the girls with the self-esteem issues, with the absent father issues, with the weak mother issues, with the will-be-pregnant-before-they-are-16 issues are the ones who do this at such a young age. They are looking for validation/attention from the (Usually) older boys and the “wild kid” peers. Next stop could be other ways of getting attention, such as early sex, poor grades, drug and alcohol use, sneaking around. Now, does the hair dye CAUSE this? No, it might be more of a symptom. But I would want to know what is bothering my daughter, that she feels she needs this at such a precocious age. Has she been teased about being fat or unattractive? Does she need redirection into more wholesome activities? Is she trying to shed her image and get a new, wild one?

I just feel concern when I see a young woman focus on looks so much at an early age–bad things can come from this focus.


April 24th, 2014
11:42 am

That is a HUGE leap from “I am 13 and want to explore my image” to “Pregnant and drug addicted in 3 years”.

The kids you mention are on a path already that definitely won’t be easily changed just by not allowing hair to be dyed. Apples and oranges in this case. Rose has nothing in common with those kids.


April 24th, 2014
12:03 pm

Maybe she just wants to see what she looks like with different colored hair. Upload her picture into some software and cut and paste different colors onto her head. You could have fun together with the blues and greens and have a good moment together.

I would also ask who she knows with dyed hair and why she wants to do it. I do agree that 13 is too young. She might want to draw the attention of a boy, or she might be worried about looking more sophisticated in NYC. I think the why is important here.


April 24th, 2014
12:52 pm

13 would not be too young to do the wash in kind of colors—semi permanent. I did the coloring for them in my home. I did not let them do the whole head perm color from a salon. I did not let them bleach out their natural color to get a more striking color contrast. I think Rose is probably (like the girls here) just trying to find some outlet to express herself (and thus be like the other kids in her class).


April 24th, 2014
1:08 pm

Seriously? We have a couple of elementary school girls in our hood who have streaked their hair. One went with pink, and her twin went with purple. So what? It’s no big deal….and I think it’s cute. My own daughter has been coloring her hair since high school. It’s really not that big of a deal. Remember, Rose is trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in. It ain’t easy being a teenaged girl. Pick your battles, because there will be PLENTY in the next 6 years, trust me.

Rose is turning into a teen. Let her try it. If not, it’s going to make her want to do it that much more and she will sneak behind and do it while at a slumber party. Or are those forbidden also?


April 24th, 2014
2:32 pm

I would say let her do it –it would cheer her up during a stressful time, and so many kids dye their hair these days. Thirteen is young, but she is going through a tough time as well – I would make the exception here. Are you referring to a full dye-job, or just a couple a sections which is the trend now? Ten years ago it was less accepted, but now I see so many young teens with a patch of blue or pink hair and I think it looks pretty cute.
I don’t think you need to be concerned about removing it before you move. This could work in her favor as well. I agree 100% with @Atlanta Mom. You don’t need to go a salon – nor for the splash of color I am thinking of (the pink or blue). There are dozens of do-it-yourself products that work very well and come out easily. That is an industry that has grown leaps and bounds.

Irun – I also had a 100% clear complexion all through my teens, yet developed adult acne in my 20s and 30s. It finally stopped right around the time I turned 40. It was awful and I tried everything. I have always felt that skin issues are the worst thing to have. If someone has cankles, or a fat (or no butt), or too small (or too large) bust, there are ways to camouflage. Bad skin is the first thing people see!


April 24th, 2014
2:54 pm

I don’t see the problem. First, she asked Theresa and did not just show up home from a friend’s house with red hair. Second, she seems like a good little girl who just wants to try new things. Third, 13 is not that young to want to experiment with a look. A little hair dye will not mean she is the next girl on Teen Mom. I would go with the rinse / wash out color first. She may not like it – and even a professional may pick the wrong color – and demi-permanent color lasts a while.


April 24th, 2014
2:55 pm

Does she want to dye all of her hair or just a portion of it? I know the little underlying strips of color seem to be popular with girls right now. Blue, pink and purple but in just little snippets aren’t offensive in my opinion. I’d rather see a strip of colored hair than a piercing (other than ears). I equate this to the hair wraps we used to do when I was in middle school. It’s just a harmless fad.


April 24th, 2014
2:58 pm

Heck yes, I’d let her do wash out color in a heart beat..My 11 year olds (boy and girl) both want color in there hair and as soon as school is out, they can have it..I don’t think it has anything to do with anything other than, they see kids on TV a lot and kids out places and they want to try it..You pic your battles and this (imo) isn’t a battle..To me a battle is nose piercings and other piercings that are out there..ALL hair color will eventually was out..


April 24th, 2014
3:23 pm

Teenage girls are the ultimate Mean Girls. She is already going to be an outsider when she starts a new school in the Fall. I would NOT give teenage girls an opportunity to be nasty to the newbie. She needs to start fresh with a positive attitude and as normal as possible. Different regions of the country can vary greatly. Think of the differences between GA and AZ.

Do it this Summer. If I were you, I would not dream of letting a hair color experiment that might go haywire in a house you are trying to sell and keep in pristine condition.


April 24th, 2014
3:55 pm

mom2: Which is why I said in the first post “I know we are not comparing apples here…”


April 24th, 2014
4:01 pm

T – I went to CVS just now and was perusing the aisles. There was a product called “Hot Huez Hair Chalk” that had pink and purples shades. Aimed at the tween/teen demo for sure. At $9.99, that would be a foolproof way to get the color without the commitment.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 24th, 2014
7:03 pm

She’s tried the hair chalk before but her color is so dark it doesn’t really show up. The color would definitely be semipermanent. There would be no roots. I want the salon so the color is right and also so no chance of coloring my floor or cabinets. I am fine with highlights, strips or full head. I told her to mark stuff in pinterest and then we could discuss with stylist.


April 26th, 2014
8:35 am

If you are intent on doing this, I would go with the highlights. Just a few here and there to give her a lift, and keep it looking natural. Thirteen is a little young for a drastic change of any kind. Where I live, kids with really crazy hair colors are definitely looked at as being attention seekers. I agree with what catlady said.