seriously frivolous but nagging question
December 10, 2005 9:52 PM   Subscribe

In a picture of me in first grade, I have loosely-curly red hair and freckles. Now, in my twenties, I have dark brown, medium-curly hair and a mostly-clear complexion. I can grow quite the fierce afro if I want to (and I have), but my hair laid down and flowed when I was a kid. I don't remember when the change happened (it was probably gradual, I guess), but I do remember that I had brown hair already when I was 12. Is this common? Or am I a freak? Is there a scientific explanation? My mom was a fair freckled redhead with and my dad had black tight-curly (nappy) hair and a dark (but not black) complexion. My hair is still really soft, just a different, darker color and with somewhat tighter curls. Has your hair changed as dramatically as mine since childhood?
posted by evariste to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I was a little girl, I had long, rolling curls and the cutest haircut I have ever seen on me. I'm not kidding when I say I am jealous of 5 year old me - my hair was awesome. Pictures from middle school show fairly straight hair...and in high school, poofy/wavy hair that I didn't know how to control. Now it's back to curlyish, but not the same curls as I had when I was a kid - but it's shorter too, so that could make a difference. The color hasn't changed, except when I started dying it.

So basically, I don't think this is abnormal. I always want to blame my hair shifts on puberty and hormones and whatnot, but I really have no idea.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 10:11 PM on December 10, 2005

As a kid I was white-haired with locks so straight even a curling iron couldn't curl them. Now I have dark brown hair that is so curly even a straightening iron can't tame them.
posted by Brittanie at 10:14 PM on December 10, 2005

When I knew him, my dad had wavy dark brown hair. But in his few childhood pictures he looks blond, and he said his hair had been reddish-blond and curly. I don't know when it changed.
posted by zadcat at 10:15 PM on December 10, 2005

Well, I used to have hair. But no longer.

My brother, actually, was born with straight white hair. Now he's got crazy curly brown hair. I was born with almost black hair, and it's gotten lighter and thinner every day since then.

My stepbrother's hair grew back completely different after he lost it during chemotherapy.
posted by luriete at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2005

Everyone in my family started out with straight or wavy hair that turned very curly at puberty so i don't think it's that unusual. Mine has straightened with age but I think that's probably because I color it. Most blonds and redheads in my family darken with age too, especially the ones that don't have the super light freckled skin. Two of my nieces are red headed with darker coloring and I imagine they'll end up auburn or dark brown as adults.
posted by fshgrl at 10:25 PM on December 10, 2005

my hair went wavy during puberty, and a little darker (used to be more auburn).
posted by amberglow at 10:26 PM on December 10, 2005

Until I was about three or four, I had a platinum 'lil honky-fro.
Now the only blonde hair I have is an albino soul-patch that's so incongruous people ask if I bleach it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:26 PM on December 10, 2005

My hair has gone from straight to wavy/curly in the last few years, although I usually blow dry it straight. I have always wondered if the change was a result of the hormones in birth control pills.
posted by amro at 10:32 PM on December 10, 2005

It went from brilliant carrot orange when I was a baby to almost blond when I was a pre-teen to dark brown as a teen and adult. Now I'm slowly losing it, if that counts.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:40 PM on December 10, 2005

As a kid my hair was brown, fine and dead straight. It went from wavy to wavier to curly - like, corkscrew curls when I wear it long -by college, and got much coarser. Now (10+ years along) it is still very curly but not as much as it was, it peaked in college. Maybe it will be straight again by the time I sink into senility. Also, my hair always had reddish highlights that became more distinct with exposure to sun. Likewise, this peaked just prior to college (I have pictures of my late teens where it seriously looks like I had something expensive done at the salon, and has gotten less so ever since, now it hardly responds to sun at all (more's the pity).

I also was heavily freckled; the facial freckles are pretty much gone, arms and legs quite visible but much faded. My mom's hair was seriously blond and straight when she was a little girl: wavy and dark, almost black in adulthood. I believe hair and skin changes with age are pretty common. I think the major hormonal changes in life are common triggers (I've also read women describing hair changes with menopause).
posted by nanojath at 10:42 PM on December 10, 2005

As a kid I had dirty blonde hair. It was long ringlets. As a teen I had kinky, brown hair that was absolutely out of control. As an adult, I have brown, slightly wavy hair. It's got "shape" to it, but isn't really curly, I've been told.

On a side note: my mother's eyes were brown when she was a young adult, and they've changed to blue as she's gotten older, with a ring of brown on the inside, fading quickly through green to light-ish blue, and finally a thin dark ring of gray around the outside. I think it's gorgeous and hope that one day my eyes are as pretty. As of now mine are a dark brown/red that I also think is neat.
posted by lorrer at 10:54 PM on December 10, 2005

My hair was stick straight until about a year ago. It was the strangest thing. Unless I blow dry it straight now, it does this out-of-control wavy thing that makes no sense. I'm going on 25 here, so I'm not sure what changed for me. I was heavily freckled as a kid and still am, even though the freckles are a little lighter than they used to be. My hair was darker red as a child, and is now a strawberry-blonde.
posted by Zosia Blue at 11:35 PM on December 10, 2005

I was born with a mop of dark brown hair. Then it all fell out. Then blond hair grew in. Sometime in early grade school it became brown again. My parents both have dark hair.
posted by lampoil at 11:44 PM on December 10, 2005

When I was a little kid in NYC, I had smooth platinum blonde curls and deep brown eyes.
We moved to Florida when I was 9. Shortly after, my hair turned dark brown (isn't the sun supposed to -lighten- your hair?) and I developed green flecks in my eyes.

20+ years later, I have dark brown frizzy-curly hair (what's left of it, anyway), but my beard is half blonde (not gray - those look different).

So, if you're a freak, I'm a proud! I am :)
posted by zerokey at 11:52 PM on December 10, 2005

When I was a wee boy I had beautiful red-blonde ringlets leading to many a Shirley Temple comment. 30+ years later its dark brown and like lorrer, slightly wavy.
posted by nenequesadilla at 12:08 AM on December 11, 2005

My hair's been almost exactly the same since I was born...pretty straight and brown. It may have gotten a little darker, but it's hard to tell if that's just because I'm a hermit and never see the light of day...
posted by johnsmith415 at 12:23 AM on December 11, 2005

I was born with fine, straight black hair. It all inexplicably fell out one day, and when it grew back it was wavy and strawberry blond. It gradually became curlier and darker as I got older. Now it's a reddish brunette by nature, though I enhance it chemically.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:36 AM on December 11, 2005

As a toddler, I -- like many others here -- had ringlets. My hair grew straighter and darker (actually going from black to platinum to dark blond). I had chemo, my hair fell out, and when it grew back, it was just like baby's hair. Very soft. It grew back kind of curly -- but not so curly that it couldn't dry straight or wavy. It also grew back slightly darker which has been noticed more by other people than by myself.

Currently my hair is pretty straight (two years after it grew back). I think, though, that part of it has to do with the climate I am in -- I moved, and my hair was fairly curly until winter hit my new home -- and partly to do with my hair cut.

Both my parents were platinum blonds as children who grew into dark brunettes. I have also heard of people's hair changing with puberty/BCP (for the women, obviously).
posted by Felicity Rilke at 12:53 AM on December 11, 2005

When I was born, my hair was whitely blonde, my eyes were bright blue, and I sunburned so easily I wore long sleeves and hats everywhere. I didn't look like the poster child for the Aryan Nation... I was that poster child's albino cave-dwelling sister.

Now my hair is mousy brown, my eyes are muddy grey, and I still sunburn within twenty minutes. Can't win.
posted by cmyk at 12:59 AM on December 11, 2005

My eyes fade if I spend a lot of time in the sun. From green to silver-gray.
posted by fshgrl at 1:09 AM on December 11, 2005

Hair gets darker with age, until it goes white. Speculation is, blonde hair is a form of Zahavi handicap signal of youthfulness (and thus fertility).

True blonde hair rarely survives past age thirty. which fits the handicap hypothesis (as fertility begins to decline at about the same age).
posted by orthogonality at 1:15 AM on December 11, 2005

My eyes change from blue to green, depending on mood.
posted by orthogonality at 1:39 AM on December 11, 2005

I was born bald, developed wavy hair, then at puberty - Afro. Only person in my (extended) family with really curly hair.
posted by singingfish at 3:18 AM on December 11, 2005

I was blonde until I was 2 or so, been a brunette ever since.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:43 AM on December 11, 2005

Among me, my brother and my two vividly red-haired cousins, only two of us kept our red hair through adulthood. One cousin and my brother turned into a sandy-ish brown. The other cousin went from the most incrediblly firey, firey orange hair I've ever seen to a more subdued tone, and mine went from brick red to something a little closer to auburn.

As Orthogonality said, the fact that few people remain naturally blonde through adulthood may be the very reason why blonde hair is found attractive by so many. There are far fewer adult redheads than you might think, too... It's difficult to tell these days now that everyone's dying their hair.
posted by FortyT-wo at 6:25 AM on December 11, 2005

Same thing happened to me. My hair stylist told me that hair texture changes every 6-8 years because of changing hormones. I don't know if this is true or not but it sounded reasonable to me.
posted by necessitas at 6:26 AM on December 11, 2005

Every kid in my family (as in, my cousins and whatnot) was born blonde and turned brown by the time they were 13 or 14, except me. I'm still blonde, and my aunts all accuse me of dying it. (I assume this is b/c of genetics -- my mom has red hair, so I got the recessive luck.) My dad, however, is a most extreme case of what you describe. He inherited a lot of very American Indian features from his parents -- he shaves about once a month, for example, and his facial features look more A.I. than Anglo -- but he was blond up until he got back from Vietnam (he was 24 or so). Once he'd been back for awhile, his hair started growing in just as black as you please, and it's taken him until now (he's about 60) to even so much as begin to deveop gray hair.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:04 AM on December 11, 2005

My hair was black and very curly. It started to gray when I was @16, and is now more salt than pepper. The gray hair is much more wiry and coarse.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 AM on December 11, 2005

I was born a poor black child.
posted by malp at 8:21 AM on December 11, 2005

i went from super blond to darg brown. i think it happened between 5 and 9
posted by markovitch at 9:31 AM on December 11, 2005

My mother had sallow skin, auburn hair and mossy green eyes with no visible blue or hazel, and my dad had a ruddy complexion, blue-grey eyes and dark hair, although he was white-blond as a child.

All five kids started with blue grey eyes, with a few flecks of hazel, but by our teens our eyes were blue-green, and as adults they're almost completely green (dark blue outer ring, sea-green middle ring, and hazel ring around the pupil).

I was the only blonde among the brunettes (no red hair, damn it!) but finally went over to the dark side in my late twenties. My naturally sallow skin has lightened and gotten a more pink tone, and my bone straight hair now has an irrepressable wave. The yellow haired, yellow skinned, grey-eyed kid in my school photos looks like the Simpsons version of myself.
posted by maudlin at 9:43 AM on December 11, 2005

Wow, I'm normal. I had straight strawberry/dirty blonde hair until my mid teens, when it became wavy and boring dark mouse brown. Then one day in my 30s it mysteriously turned reddish purple after the application of certain chemicals! Go figure! And it's staying that way until they pry the Lady Clairol from my cold, dead fingers.

What I want to know is why, despite a blazingly red headed common grandfather, no one in my generation (brothers, cousins) had red hair (except me as a child, and it wasn't that red.) Then, all my cousins had at least one blazingly red headed kid, yet neither of my kids inherited the red headed gene, which is strange and unfair.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2005

neither of my kids inherited the red headed gene

They might have, since it's recessive.
posted by kindall at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2005

Red hair is like that, I guess. My mom had mohogany auburn hair, but her dad didn't; his brother did. Likewise, my aunt inherited basically dark brown/black hair, and her son had reddish hair. Presumably, if I had kids, at least one of them would be red-haired based on the pattern in my family. I think the red gene is part of why I'm still blonde and no one else is --- my dad's the only one who married a red-head.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2005

I recently came upon a childhood (inadvertant) photo of a friend of mine. He used to have fine, light red-ish hair and freckles - now, it's very dark and quite course.

A former supervisor of mine used to have golden hair when she was a child, it darkened during her thirties, and ended up salt & pepper during her fourties.

I'm under the impression that colouration changes are not uncommon.

A bit of a tangent - I'm Chinese but increasing parts of my beard whiskers come in red so I'm the freak here.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:05 AM on December 11, 2005

Just to add to the pile:

I had straight red hair until the age of 8 or so, upon which it started to change to being dark brown, very thick and curly.
posted by jtron at 11:35 AM on December 11, 2005

I had platinum blond hair as a kid up until about eight grade when it turned dark brown.
posted by xammerboy at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2005

malp: I was born a poor black child.


As for me, I've been dying my hair for years, but I think it was a slightly lighter brown when I was wee, based on pictures. And it's always been pretty fine (but ample) and stick straight.

My younger brother had wispy white-blond hair as a toddler, but by the time he was say, in grade three, it had gradually darkened to a sort-of medium brown. My maternal grandfather was apparently the same. I think it's pretty normal.

At least you're not like my boyfriend, who's been greying since he was, like, thirteen.
posted by SoftRain at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2005

I think this is totally fascinating. My hair and eye color have remained fairly stable, outside of chemical intervention. (brown/brown)

My daughter, however, was born with purple eyes and black hair. At about six months the black hair fell out and was replaced by straight golden hair and her eyes turned into a shade of brown even darker than mine.

She's been dying her hair dark as soon as she could get away with it and I still miss the golden blonde. It may have gone a little darker but it's been years since we've seen the roots...
posted by Space Kitty at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2005

I was born with the lightest-blonde curliest hair ever seen in my family. I also had piercing blue eyes, and super-pale skin, so I did kind of have the Hitler Youth look going for me. That persisted until I was about sevenish, I think.

Then I went through a phase when my (still curly) hair turned reddish-brown -- auburny, I guess -- although my eyes stayed super-blue. That ended at about fifteen.

Now my hair is so dark brown it's almost black (and it is black when it's wet), and it's slightly wavy, but not really curly anymore. My eyes are mostly blue, but are also sometimes green or gray. I also grew a mega-nose. (My teenage brother, I need hardly say, is still rocking the Aryan look. He also has even longer eyelashes than I do.)

Anyway, depending on how you interpret it, my looks have gone from Jugend to Juden.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:27 PM on December 11, 2005

I was born with a full head of black hair. It fell out a few months later and I was fairly bald until two-ish. It came back in strawberry blonde, fine and straight. It darkened to sandy blonde and darkened to medium brown with red tones at puberty. It was/is thick, coarse and lots of it. Now - brown/grey/silver and as frizzy as straight hair can be.
posted by deborah at 5:20 PM on December 11, 2005

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