IN MEMORIAM: Wella Shaders and Toners


Writer Rachel Eling remembers the 80s child’s vivid nod to the plum rinse.

It was a stellar year, 1990. The Berlin Wall came down, Thatcher resigned and Tim Berners-Lee published the first page on the World Wide Web. I spent most of it with my friend Steph, in a down-at-heel seaside town in South Wales. Saturday mornings we’d share a bag of chips on the seafront, wondering whether the blond surfer boys would ever notice us and want to kiss our salty lips.


I daydreamed of crimson mouths and sooty eyes, but made do with sticky lipgloss and poorly painted nails. Glamour, then, came in a sachet of hair colour, for under a pound.


Every weekend for months, huddled in Steph’s tiny bathroom, we coated our heads with Wella Shaders and Toners in Rich Mahogany, leaving Marmite-y smears on taps, towels and door frames and listening to Bon Jovi while we waited for the colour to take hold. The transformation complete, identical vivid red hair blazing, we’d head to the vinyl aisle in Woolworths, smiles wide and eyes shining, and waited for someone to notice us. If not this time, then definitely next weekend.

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