What Was Your Biggest Beauty Disaster?

Real Simple readers reveal highlights and lowlights from their Beauty Hall of Shame.

Photo by Kana Okada

The Red (Haired) Menace

I have naturally curly strawberry-blond hair, and for some strange reason I decided to get a perm and dye my hair bright red. The outcome was awful. Little did I know that my mother had told my brother about the fiasco. When he got home, he greeted me with a robust “Luuucee, I’m home!”
Juliana Clarkson
Golden Valley, Minnesota

Superbad Cuts

It was the 1980s, the Mohawk was in, and my hairdresser had just returned from a hair show in New York City, overly inspired for our typical suburban Pennsylvania town. I asked him to try something new on my already short hair. The result? A haircut with shaved sides and back and little wisps of hair on top. I called my folks from the salon, warning them of the fright they would receive when I got home. As I walked into the living room, there my parents sat, with paper bags over their heads. Needless to say, they taught me to always laugh at myself―and that hair grows back. I would love to say that I never made another salon mistake, but after poodle perms and Madonna platinum blond, I’ve finally come to accept my fine brown hair just the way it is.
Judie Schultz
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
High school hair in the late 80s―on a daily basis. Bad perms, teased bangs, Sun In brassiness, AquaNet fog. Just flip through a 1986 yearbook for proof.
Meghan Mackay
New York, New York
When I was six, I had a bow that kept falling out, so to fix it, I used my dad’s duct tape. It stayed put all right―my mom had to cut it out. I was nicknamed “Whiskers” due to the hair that stood straight up until it grew out months later.
Kelly Ashbaugh
Meadowlakes, Texas
My mother always told me that my widow’s peak was a symbol of Irish beauty, but I hated it and wanted a straight hairline. So when I was 14, I took the electric clippers we used on the dog and shaved off my widow’s peak, which resulted in a disastrous triangle of stubble on my forehead. Fifteen years later, my family still has a good laugh when we go through old albums revealing my “five o’clock shadow.”
Caroline Grill
Brooklyn, New York
I once told a new hairstylist, “Don’t worry. You can’t cut it too short.” More untrue words were never spoken. I love short hair, but you know you’ve gone too far when your husband says that he feels as if he should salute you.
Susan Credden
Malvern, Pennsylvania

To Dye For

I went for highlights, and my hair came out pink. I left the salon for a lunch date with my best friend and our husbands, thinking I would go back afterward to fix it. At the restaurant, my husband saw me and said, “You have My Little Pony hair.” My best friend told me I looked like “a Liddle Kiddle doll.” Her husband wisely said, “I’m not saying a word.”
Molly Collie Irvin
Lubbock, Texas
I once did three consecutive dye jobs trying to get the perfect color and got green hair instead. But my new boyfriend didn’t flinch. He was a keeper. I ended up with a new do, a new color―and a husband.
Regan Poston
Ladera Ranch, California
I decided to go to a hair salon on my work break because I was having a bad hair day. The stylist put color on my hair but forgot about me. When she returned, the highlights were white. To “even things out,” she made me a blond as a temporary solution. Not only was I really late getting back to work but also the receptionist stopped me because she didn’t know who I was. Then she screamed. At that point, others came to the reception area to see their work associate who had gone to lunch a brunet and returned looking like Marilyn Monroe. I bought do-it-yourself hair coloring on my way home and dyed it brunet myself that night.
DeLaine Klar
Grand Rapids, Michigan