How to not lie about being a redhead?
June 9, 2010 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Now I'm a red head. How do I answer questions about my hair without lying or telling the truth?

Almost two months ago, I dyed my hair red. It is a bright red, and *just* on this side of natural. I'm fair skinned, so it is reasonable that it could be natural. The main giveaway, in my opinion, is that I don't dye my eyebrows (which are brown).

I get questions about it a few times a week. I am a bit surprised at this; I never had so many comments about my hair before. I don't want to lie and say it is natural, yet I don't want to admit I dye it, either. What are some snappy answers that don't admit anything?
posted by Monday to Human Relations (52 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
'Oh, I eat a lot of carrots'
posted by selton at 5:04 PM on June 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

are they specifically asking you if you dye it, or just complimenting you? if they're just complimenting you, "thanks, i love it!" implies that you dye it without actively lying. if they're specifically asking if you dye it and you don't want to commit to an answer, "that's between me and my hairdresser!" could be a dodge but again carries implications.

as a side question, why not admit you dye it? there's no shame in buying a consumer product available at nearly any grocery store in the country. certainly no more shame in dying your hair than wearing any other makeup.
posted by radiosilents at 5:09 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Wouldn't you like to know?"
posted by The World Famous at 5:13 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hi, I'm a redhead, all natural, and strangers have been questioning this since I was a baby (seriously, who dyes their two-year-old's hair!?)

If your hair really does look natural, the comments you get are probably similar to the ones I get, which are equally split between "your hair is just beautiful!" (to which I respond "thank you") and "is your hair natural?" (to which I grimace and respond "yes").

I am always surprised and a little horrified at how readily people comment on the appearance of strangers. I am also quite tall and regularly field questions and comments about this. I think that there is nothing wrong with calling people out on such comments. I am not usually brave enough, but you could respond with "that's a rude/personal/inappropriate question!" or an equally rude/personal/inappropriate question.

But I'm guessing you were looking for witty responses. Can't help you there.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:23 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Frankly any response that dodges a direct answer implies that you dye it. If you were really a redhead, you'd just answer straight. Given that you aren't answering straight, everybody will assume that you're dyeing it.
posted by Netzapper at 5:23 PM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

Just smile.
posted by HuronBob at 5:25 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can just smile and say "It's mine". It IS yours, you paid for it. :)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:26 PM on June 9, 2010

Just own up to you dying it. It won't kill you.
posted by lakerk at 5:27 PM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

I've been dying my hair red - well, I say 'redder' - ever since an attempt at bleaching to blonde left me a wonderful shade of red. I usually say things like 'Oh, isn't it great what summer does to the color?' or 'You should see it in the sun,' if I'm inside.

People will rarely notice your eyebrows unless they are significantly darker than your hair.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:28 PM on June 9, 2010

I'm a natural redhead. My eyebrows are brown.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:29 PM on June 9, 2010

I had the same experience -- when I went red, I got scads of comments, comments I never got when I was varying shades of honey blonde and brunette.

People most often would say, "I love your hair!" If it stopped there, I'd say "Thanks!"

If they followed up with, "Is it natural?" I'd respond, "Mostly!" (which is sort of true because I am a natural almost-auburn).

If it helps, don't think of "prevaricating" about the source of your color as "lying" so much as avoiding conversations with nosy people.
posted by devinemissk at 5:34 PM on June 9, 2010

my hair is sometimes red, sometimes auburn, sometimes brunette, and naturally blonde. My eyebrows, however are always brown. Even when my hair is not dyed, people have questioned it. If someone comments on my hair color and asks me about it, I say that it changes with my moods.

Really, no one cares if people dye their hair anymore. That's why they sell hair dye in department stores - it's not like it's between you and your hair dresser. ^_^
posted by patheral at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

"If you deserve to find out, you will"
posted by lumpenprole at 5:38 PM on June 9, 2010

God, this entire question is making me feel soooo guilty, because I have red-hair envy and just yesterday I complimented a stranger on her gorgeous red hair. Maybe I was over-the-line!

I'm going to second, "I eat a lot of carrots," as a good response. But I also feel there's no shame at all in saying you color it. Of course, then i'd probably ask you what brand of haircolor you use, and it could lead to an entire conversation which you might find very annoying!
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2010

"I guess we'll know if I have a temper tantrum."
"No, it's a wig." *wiggle scalp with hands*
"Does it seem fake?" *smile coyly*
"No, I don't dye my hair, but I did do my eyebrows."
"Is that your natural skin colour?"
posted by fish tick at 5:42 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

... and my favourite: "can't say!"
posted by fish tick at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Only a ginger can call another ginger 'ginger'!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell them you're a resistance sympathiser.
posted by Beardman at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"OMG! I thought it was black!!"
"You know, I woke up with a strange tattoo this morning and frankly didn't even notice the hair. I'll have to find a mirror."
"Hair? This is a hat."
posted by fish tick at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"I'm thinking about seeing an allergy specialist about it. Can you recommend anyone?"
posted by fish tick at 5:55 PM on June 9, 2010

A natural redhead, sometimes I answer "Would I choose this life??" which only really makes sense to other natural redheads, but if there are any in the room they will laugh.

I guess I am saying allude to a childhood of being teased if you want to seem authentic.

I think a dye job that turns out to be a pretty color is a work of art and I would be proud of that if I were you.
posted by cda at 5:56 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Coming in to say I agree that there is nothing wrong with saying you dye it, if you're complimented on the shade. Just say, "Yeah, I love it," like radiosilents said above. No need to be excessively evasive.

I always wonder why so many people on AskMe seem to feel so strongly against dying hair... it's fun, it's not permanent, and if you get compliments, woot! How different is it from wearing different color eyeshadow or a nice piece of trendy accessory every now and then?
posted by misozaki at 5:58 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

What exactly are the questions you're getting? That would help with coming up with responses. Frankly, when I see anyone over 25 with red hair I always assume there's a good chance they've dyed it. And if they're over 35 they've almost certainly dyed it. I stopped colouring my hair because I looked around my office and almost all the women had some shade of red - from strawberry to mahogany. I stood there thinking "Never again."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:13 PM on June 9, 2010

Just say, "My mother was half German!" and let them look puzzled.
posted by grumblebee at 6:17 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"I can assure you that it's real." (Well, it is, isn't it?)
Disclaimer: I am a redhead who has never had dyed hair.
posted by fish tick at 6:22 PM on June 9, 2010

Now that I think about it, I'll often follow up a compliment with some innocuous question, just because it feels a little odd to leave it hanging ( ie, "I love your skirt!" "Thanks!" "Where did you get it?" etc). I doubt I'd ever ask someone if their hair color is natural, but I can see some people not even thinking twice about it. I would skip the 'witty' rejoinder and just assume that people are asking out of friendliness or making conversation, not looking for an opportunity to judge you.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 6:23 PM on June 9, 2010

"Wouldn't you like to know?"

This exact phrase drives me batshit when people say it to me or even around me if not to me directly.

So, use it if you want to annoy them?
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2010

"Only my accountant knows for sure!"

You know, a play on "only my hairdresser knows for sure" - but if you want to be playful, you could say, "Only my (insert anything) plumber knows for sure.."

This happened to me when I had red hair, too. Actually it happened when I had black hair, even though it was my natural color. When it was long and I jacked it up (via back combing) for a retro look - I had people actually tug on my hair to see if it wasn't a wig. I figure if you've paid for it (either with money or time) it's "really" yours - as far as anyone casually asking should be concerned, anyway :)
posted by marimeko at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2010

"Is it natural?" --"Yes, it's all mine!"

Which is the truth, after all.
posted by Bardolph at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2010

People don't usually ask me if my hair is natural (it's not), but they do ask if I'm Irish. I am.

So that's become my default answer to leading questions about my hair. "I'm Irish."

ymmv (Your Irishness may vary?)
posted by purpleclover at 6:54 PM on June 9, 2010

The older I get, the more fond I am of simply not answering nosy questions. It seems like it would be awkward, but really, just try it. The next time someone asks a nosy question, ask an unrelated question or just move on.

Q: "Do you dye your hair?"
A: "Are you going to eat that?"
"I got fired today."
"Panties? Aisle 5"*

It's surprisingly effective, and if they press the point, it makes them look like an ass, not you.

that said, I love ... and my favourite: "can't say!", from Fish Tick, who obviously has given a morbid amount of thought to the subject.

*this last one only works if they also asked you where the panties are, and assumes you work in retail, and that they're on aisle 5.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:03 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm an enhanced redhead (my hair is naturally reddish-brown, but I make it redder and have done so since I got out of my goth phase in high school). I get complimented on it often (which is great!), but have also gotten the "is it natural" question more often than one might expect. It's one of those questions that people say without thinking about how nosy/borderline rude it is, I guess. I usually say "sort of" and if the person asks what I mean by that, I usually bore them with a nice long story about how my hair was much redder when I was a baby and got darker as I got older and bla bla I took a baby photo to the hairdresser bla. Hey, they asked!

Tons of people dye their hair and it's nothing to be ashamed of. If you really don't want to admit that you dye it you can always just say something like "if I tell you, I'll have to kill you" or point over their shoulder and say "HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT!?!?!" and then walk away when they turn to look.
posted by bedhead at 7:16 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Next you'll be asking if these are tinted contact lenses. Tell me, what are YOU hiding?"
posted by fish tick at 7:16 PM on June 9, 2010

I LOVE redheads, and expect a certain amount of sass from them so here are my thoughts:

Yeah, I'm a firecrotch, wanna see?
Hell no I'm not a ginger, I just play one on TV
I know, I know, I'm a redhead, I have no soul, I'm going straight to hell
posted by TheBones at 7:35 PM on June 9, 2010

Dye your eyebrows.
posted by Flunoid at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2010

"Why do you ask?"
posted by dywypi at 7:43 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Almost two months ago, I dyed my hair red. It is a bright red, and *just* on this side of natural. I'm fair skinned, so it is reasonable that it could be natural. The main giveaway, in my opinion, is that I don't dye my eyebrows (which are brown).

I've been dying my hair a "possibly natural" shade of red for over 10 years. (I'm sort of arguably strawberry blonde.) Bear in mind that there are a few other giveaways that will make it hard for you to keep up the pretense that it's natural.

Those of us who dye our hair red will likely recognize you as a dyed redhead. The color saturation is different than natural hair.

Also, red dye fades. Fast. Especially in sunlight. Your friends will notice when you get re-dyed.

Bear in mind that most women dye their hair at this point, even if it's just a wash or highlights. There's really no stigma. I get asked if my haircolor is natural a lot, and depending on the person, my responses range from "oh, hells no, it's straight from the bottle" to "ohh, I give it a little help."
posted by desuetude at 7:47 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

For your brown eyebrows: I used to dye my hair and eyebrows dark for the specific reason that people constantly, constantly ask redheads if their hair is natural. Now that I'm backtracking--trying to get my fake-brunette hair and eyebrows to match my red roots--I'm stuck with your same hair/eyebrow color combination. I swipe a teeny bit of this color stick on my eyebrows for the few remaining hairs that are still dark.

also, now you have to watch out for boys who harbor a secret redhead fetish!
posted by zoomorphic at 8:09 PM on June 9, 2010

I used to henna my hair regularly and I'd say it was 'visually enhanced.'
posted by lovecrafty at 8:25 PM on June 9, 2010

Q: Is your hair natural?

A: I'm still waiting for the lab results. I'll let you know what they find.
posted by aubilenon at 8:33 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I dye my hair to my natural shade to cover my gray, and I always say that I enjoy "better living through chemistry."
posted by gladly at 8:34 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've been dyeing my hair red since high school (not my eyebrows, which are dark brown/black), and I get this question all the time. I usually just say, "It's totally fake!" Which is fun.
posted by sdn at 8:35 PM on June 9, 2010

If they're asking "Is your hair really red?" you can always answer "How red does it have to be?"
(since it sounds like your hair is really, really red).
posted by Violet Hour at 8:55 PM on June 9, 2010

Q: Are you a natural redhead?

A: Supernatural
posted by ian1977 at 9:13 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just say, "My mother was half German!" and let them look puzzled.

There still are some German gingers in this day and age so it's not the most puzzling option. I'd say probably say something different almost every time I was asked. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes "My mother was from Nigeria." But I'm a wiseass so take that into consideration when evaluating this advice.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:50 PM on June 9, 2010

If you were really a redhead, you'd just answer straight.

Not only that, but you'd answer straight like you'd been answering the same question SINCE YOU WERE 5.

If you really don't want to embrace the dye I think distraction, a la randomkeystrike, or noncommittal answers are your best bet.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:24 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

How about this response: "What a question!" or something like that.
posted by metametababe at 6:59 AM on June 10, 2010

I've been dyeing my hair red for years and have somehow never been asked this question. I think it's obvious -- not in a bad way, but my hair is naturally dark, and people tend to notice when I touch it up because it gets so much brighter.

Even if you don't admit it, some people will know. Some of the people who ask probably know the answer and are just making small talk. But nobody really cares or judges you for it. I've had a few people say they like my natural hair color better than the red, but I take that as their personal aesthetic opinion and not a judgment on the fact that I dye my hair.
posted by spinto at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2010

"Did you just fart?"
posted by Ouisch at 8:20 AM on June 10, 2010

"The curtains match the drapes."
posted by ShadePlant at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2010

I dyed my hair a coppery red (from dark brown) two weeks ago and many people have asked me what's different and I've had to tell them it's my hair. I think they haven't realised WHAT it is because I did my (dark brown) eyebrows to match my new hair.

Dye your eyebrows!
posted by elsietheeel at 9:39 AM on June 10, 2010

If they say, "is it real?".. then your answer can be "yes", because it is really your hair, and if they ask, "do you dye your hair", your answer can be, "why, doesn't it look natural?".. then you don't have to answer anything,.. and those kind of questions don't deserve an answer anyway.
posted by donaldjans at 4:19 PM on September 5, 2010

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