I spent most of my teenage years disliking my red hair. I mean, really disliking it.

If you’ve read the “How to be a Redhead” book, you might know this little secret about me: I dyed my hair blonde for (about) seven years.

I wanted to cover up every strand of red that showed through. I failed most of the time because red hair is the hardest color to cover up. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling redheads they should never color their hair? For those thinking of changing your natural red locks, you won’t be successful at it if you try. It’s a constant headache to cover the red, and countless dollars. The color red is relentless and does not want to be changed.

When I tell people about my story, I always get the “What were you thinking?” reaction. I tell myself the same thing. My mother let me experiment with my hair at a young age and I don’t blame her, I blame myself. I lacked confidence at a young age and thought hiding my true identity would help me blend in with the crowd, and give me the courage to stand up to the bullies.

Well, I was all wrong. Today, I am more confident than ever. It’s because of my red hair that I am who I am. And, I wouldn’t change that for anything. Thank you, mom & dad, for giving me my red hair. Thank you to my younger self who taught me the importance of loving yourself. Thank you, red hair, for never giving up on me.

Here are my five things I would have told my “younger (blonde) self.”

1. Red hair is cool.

Yes, it most certainly is cool. It’s also awesome, extraordinary, amazing, remarkable, special and uncommon.

2. It’s okay to be the token redhead.

I had the hardest time with this, especially since all my friends were brunette with tan skin. I’m here to tell you it’s okay. Being the ‘token redhead’ means you stand out and that’s a beautiful thing.

3. Go light on the sunless tanner and foundation.

First, I wanted to be tan so badly as a young girl. Second, I wanted to hide my freckles. Now, I’m telling you to love your fair skin and embrace your freckles. If you must use sunless tanner for a natural glow, stick to ‘redhead friendly’ sunless tanners and make sure you are following through with the correct application.

[Bonus: We highlight this on page 158 of the “How to be a Redhead” book!]

4. Treat your red hair with care.

I loved (okay, obsessed with) my hair straighter in middle/high school. I wanted to cover up every curl that twirled. I still use heat styling tools on my hair but have toned down on how often I use them. I’ve begun to experiment with curling products right when I get out of the shower and am loving every minute of it.

5. Laugh.

I don’t know about you, but I did get picked on by bullies for having red hair. I look back and think to myself, “I should have listened to my mother and just laughed at them.” So, my advice to you is to laugh. Laugh because those bullies are jealous. Laugh because your red hair is amazing. Laugh because you have the best hair color in the world.

Rock it like a Redhead!