Dye Hard: What to Know Before You Color Your Hair for a Pageant


When asked to describe the amazing and incredible Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella, the very first words out of my mouth would be “gorgeous redhead.” As we all found out during the Miss USA telecast, Alyssa is a natural born blonde, but she loves what her salon-induced red hair embodies. So, is taking the plunge and dying your hair a completely different color hard? If you stick with a professional and reputable stylist, changing your hair color can be a lot of fun and give your self-esteem a nice little pick me-up.

Before taking the plunge, it is important to trust your stylist. I used to ask strangers with impeccable hair for referrals. It is a great way to find a wonderful stylist, and it is also a nice compliment to the person who you are asking. Schedule a one on one consultation. Ask any questions you have about the process now and share your hair history so they can best assess how to work with your locks.

When choosing a color, look through magazines and try out makeover software or websites that allow you to insert your photo into different hair styles. If you have a beauty supply store or a wig store near you, go try on different wigs and have a friend take photos.

Before dying your hair, it is important to consider your skin tone and eye color. Alyssa looks fantastic as a redhead because she has beautiful green eyes and fair skin. “It’s really brought out the true Alyssa Campanella, I feel, and that’s why I really enjoy being a redhead” -Miss USA 2011

It is also highly beneficial to show your stylist the exact hair color that you like instead of relying on salon speak or someone’s subjective definition of “strawberry blonde.” Flip through magazines and tear out celebs. Some of my favorite hair celebs include Jenny McCarthy for blondes, Alyssa Campanella for reds, Oliva Wilde for brunettes, and Megan Fox for deep dark brown or black. Ask yourself what kind of look you are trying to achieve. For flirty and fun go blonde, for serious and studious go brunette, for fiery and feisty go red, and for mysterious and sultry go black.

Remember that your natural eyebrows with a bit of powder or pencil should be able to match your new do.

Coveting a certain shade? Here are some quick things to remember when picking a hair color:

Going Brown:

  • The first time going brown, use a semi-permanent dye and don’t go too dark. Highlights can also help you from looking too harsh and add dimension and movement that make it look natural.

Going Red:

  • With red, you can make the change in one coloring session, but it will fade faster so it will require more upkeep.
  • You may want to start with a colored mousse or shampoo to make sure it suits you.

Going Blonde:

  • Unless you’ve gone blonde before, start gradually. Get highlights that look “sun-kissed”. If you like how that looks then either continue with the gradual build or proceed to full on blonde.

With all colors let your skin tone guide you to the right shade for you!

Best of luck on your hair color endeavors for those itching for change. Remember, it’s just hair. You can always switch it, change it, rearrange it…the important thing is you take care of it, keep it healthy, and rely on professionals for any major changes. Such changes should be tested, tried, and true at least six months before a pageant or major event.

Have you ever done a major hair change? Have a favorite hair color that you think stands out on stage? Sound off below in the comment section below!

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  • Mary Madeline

    I’m thirteen and I have dirty blonde hair. In the summer my hair lightens up
    and I get quite a few highlights, but I want a little more to give my hair more definition. What highlight colors would you recommend for younger girls with dirty blonde hair?

    • Megan Smith

      I just got highlights a few months ago. I have dirty blonde hair, and I suggest platinum highlights, or sandy brown lowlights.

  • Mary

    Great advice. I would of liked to see the blonde to red and the blonde to black pictures …. I am a very visual person. Thanks

  • Twiggy Marie

    Do you have to have natural hair color to compete? No such unnatural colors? Like pink..?

    • Hi Marie,

      We wouldn’t recommend non-natural hair colors like pink or blue. Judges tend to have strong opinions about that style choice (either strongly opposed or strongly in favor) and it usually isn’t worth the risk to have 3 out of 5 of your judges hating your hair!

      • Melissa Kurtz

        I have a step daughter who competed with Purple hair in a prelim pageant and won age division queen however she she is now competing in the national pageant for this system and i finally convinced her to have normal human hair color. She is a Sr in High school and i would say when you get to the top its easy to be what you want but getting there is hard work and normal color hair is a sacrifice you will most likely have to make to be successful in the work world. I have this argument daily.