This article was submitted by Nepheronia Jumalon Ogburn, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Science.


Hair colouring is a concept often relegated as a beautician’s concern for glamorous people and not in my simple scientific upbringing of leaving nature untouched. When twists in life upset well-laid plans and future, struggle for survival can lead anyone to strange places. Enter my new world of hairs and cosmetic colours!

I have never fussed with my hair except to brush it daily, clip it, or have an occasional trim from family. When a few grey hairs appear, options are to ignore them or awkwardly pluck odd ones out in front of the mirror. Later, I asked my sons to check what I can’t see but stopped at their discomfort, particularly when silver gradually enriched the hair. Still, I dread hair colouring. It triggers memories from long time past of bitter medication given to sick children or the smell of injection enforced in primary schools.

My mother tread a different fate in post-child rearing years, with her hair tinted almost strand per strand by a talented artist father, just as he adoringly sketched his muse in a labour of love!

I first considered a makeover while facing an upheaval in life, throwing everyone off tangent and carrying challenges far worse than what the brain was accustomed to. Change seemed the only viable option to survive the onslaught, even just to regain strength.

I decided to work where being alone is not the norm and became a beauty and health networker as an aesthetic diversion, socialising with people whose world is focused on fun, health and enjoyment. Coincidentally, a German company offering excellent products came along the path.

I never imagined selling anything! At a disastrous moment, I drove on impulse to the outback for a scenery change and focused on testing products I would never have bothered with in my old job. Surprisingly, without sales experience, I rose as one of the top networkers in Australia. Raw life experiences and natural sensitivity to relate to people and their challenges drew an increasing number of customers and strangers.

Naturally, beauty and hair artists came by. They harped about presentation, urging me to have a new look parallel to my new direction. If I represented them in a fashionable world, I had to look glamorous or their reputation would be at stake! They enticed me with privileges in return for our products to make them proud. How could I refuse while carrying the slogan of “Feel Good, Look Great”?

I quickly reprogrammed my once scientific viewpoint of thinking that if there is nothing wrong with one’s hair, why change what isn’t damaged? I always had long natural hair. My brothers scowled at the thought of chopping my tresses off because it removed their image of me as their angelic little sister. Unknowingly, the battering of life already brought demons upsetting angels in the night. Compounded by a belief that teachers must be prim and proper, imagine what students would say if I brought the rainbow to my head!

Off with the long tresses, the ageing wardrobe, the set profession persona, I ventured into a new land. In came unimaginable hair colours – Purple Mahogany, Fiery Chestnut, Butterscotch Ginger, Ash Honey, Pecan Chardonnay, and Burgundy Strawberry. Who could believe I would put trees, fruits and wine on my hair? Thankfully, natural alternatives are available these days and modern hair artists know what’s green or not.

Oh, the things people do to withstand the tempest blowing their way! Friends began asking advice about hairs, beauty, health and survival. It highlighted a life metamorphosis that transformed my hair and brought a spectrum of colours and future possibilities. I still wavered at the beautician’s insistence that shorter, tinted loose-flying hair was seductive. How quickly they forgot I was escaping the folly of a crumpled relationship! But thus began a long journey that led me back to nature, literary writing, extemporaneous travels and reprogramming lifetime plans, after brief encounters with celebrities and the lavish life of the privileged.

Hairs and beauty colours are reminders of change, and change can be productive. It gives life in a bleak period when you learn how to stay healthy, feel good and look good! It is an odd experience that still adds a smile and happy memories, now I am back to environmental research to help save our natural resources instead of deciding which tree befits my hair. And a lesson that you have to close a dark chapter in life to write a whole new colourful story…


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