Orange Crush

Lauren copy

Redhead Lauren Oakey has thought of every ginge joke already, so don’t bother. She explains why she remains a proud member of the Red Army.


“The future’s bright, the future’s orange…” THANK YOU late 90s advertising for almost ruining my life. Despite having that shouted at me almost hourly when I was a teenager, I managed to continue to love having hair that’s brighter than a bonfire. It’s bold and quite rare and has always made me stand out, especially on St Patrick’s Day when I invariably get a free pint of Guinness in a pub for being ‘Irish’. When I was a kid and old ladies would stop and coo over my Queenie from Blackadder auburn ringlets, I swear to God I thought I was famous. I watched Annie on a loop and felt a bit special.


Unfortunately, having a hair colour to which you could never add clip-in extensions and skin that burned on a warmish April day while sitting indoors under a blanket wasn’t the ideal combination in a school where you were shunned for wearing the wrong denim jacket or hadn’t yet embraced ‘shag bands’.  But I styled it out and soon became the person to loudly crack out the ginge gags before anyone else could, even if it meant being punished by spending most of a Welsh lesson stood in a cold and bleach-fumed corridor scratching the initials of my latest crush into the back of my hand with a compass. I discovered that the Ancient Greeks believed that people with red hair turned into vampires when they died, so I dined out on that for a while, and that Lilith, the red-headed supposed first wife of Adam was thrown out of the Garden of Eden for refusing to be subordinate to him. I was all over that. And according to the font of all knowledge, Playboy magazine, “Redheads are like women, only more so”.


Despite being unmistakably red, my hair looks best when I wash it with a shampoo and conditioner for blonde hair. Yes, really. Umberto Giannini Billionaire Blonde, although a terrifying violet in the bottle is my favourite because it makes my hair shine like J-Lo on Oscars night, wrapped in kitchen foil. Anything hemp-y that smells like a damp field is a no from me. I’m also never without Batiste in Vibrant Red as the regular white sort makes it go the colour of a rusty puddle of water when I can’t brush it out properly.


Despite my protestations, my mother’s seemingly ridiculous notion that people in the future would really want to dye their hair this colour and not quite achieve it sort of came true; natural gingers make up about 3% of the world but it seems like everyone and their nan has gotten busy with the crazy colours at some point in the past decade. But apart from an ill-advised dyeing session at university, when I dipped the ends in black like a really shit, half-arsed goth, I’ve left it in all its bright, could-guide-a-ship-to-shore glory. And I love it. Although to be honest, I still take issue with “Fanta pants”.


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