Today begins a new segment on “Living in a Van Down By the River,” called “Trailer Trash Observations” (or “TTO” for short). Observation the first proceeds thusly:

I have friends who are hairdressers and, once again, I apologize in advance for the fact that I’m such a garbage-sifting cheapskate, but you have to understand both the margins within which I am operating and, well, the undeniable fact that I *am* just super cheap. (Although, if I were independently wealthy, I probably would get my hair professionally “did” because I want vibrant, colorful streaks, and I’ve found that that is both messy and ineffective to try at home.)

This confession out of the way, I have purchased any number of at-home color potions. In order of expense (not accounting for coupons or sales), from most expensive to least, I’ve used: John Frieda Foam, Clairol Perfect 10, L’Oreal Couleur Experte, Garnier Nutrisse, Samy Fat Foam, other “standard” L’Oreal and Clairol dyes, and ColorSilk.

Each of these has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some (Garnier, for example) have additions to keep them from smelling so terrible (I think it’s supposed to make it smell good, but that’s a stretch). Others (the obnoxiously-named Couleur Euxupueurutue) have a two-step process that involves bleaching streaks so you end up with highlights. Some leave my hair soft and polished-looking.

However, regardless of the deep magentas or bright auburns or popping blonde highlights, regardless of the waxy silk feel or the floral/chemical aroma of my mane immediately after coloring, a week later, the result of all of these is the same: my roots got touched up and my hair is a medium red. The only time this was different was after I bleached and dyed my hair pink, and coloring on top of that made my hair a coppery Dr. Pepper-can color for some time. It also killed my fragile ends and has resulted in my having to get layers cut into my once-uniform-length hair.

But I digress.

So what gives? Why is ColorSilk often sold for under $3 while the others top $13? Why the disparity? I think I’ve figured it out.

The biggest difference in the dye packages, reflective of the price paid for the box, is: gloves.

ColorSilkWith ColorSilk, you get gloves that are like the one-size-fits-all-including-Shaquille-O’Neill clear plastic manhands that come 500 for $.25 in a box at the grocery store.

These things aren’t great for precision work, but I suppose they keep your hands dye-free. (Why is it okay to touch the dye in the shower? Because it rinses right off?)

When you price up a bit, the gloves start fitting more closely and becoming more malleable. They move with you and aren’t at risk of falling off if you hold your hand down by your side. You can see this type of form-fitting glove on my hand for the two-tone dye review whose name I shall never mention in full again because it makes me want to slap someone.

High endFinally, when you get the most expensive brand of dye, you receive elbow-length kid gloves, and also inside the box is a disposable homunculus who  actually applies the dye for you. The gloves are just so he doesn’t bite you when you’re trying to flush him down the toilet.

So, there you go… pick your folliclear poison. The only real difference is going to be the quality of handwear you utilize for a few minutes. Choose wisely, Trashies.