I Broke the Rules
The Medium Writing Prompt

Gray Hair Rules

Why do 75% of women dye their hair?
Why do women run for cover when they begin to gray?
Why am I no longer one of these women?

I broke the rules and decided to tell a different hair story.

Like most women who care about looking attractive, for many years I joined the ranks and cared for my hair by dumping chemicals on it to cover the gray. With the hope of “natural-looking” hair to complement my natural lifestyle, I would spend hours and hours, and thousands of dollars a year, at the hair salon.

The tipping point came one day in a meeting with a scientist who specializes in toxic chemicals. We were discussing the health compromises people make “to look young and feel good.” My gut reaction was to grab my long, dark, signature hair and gasp, “My hair is full of chemicals!” I held my tongue, but with my ethics now challenged, I had a nagging notion that my “hair story” was going to shift dramatically. I was also aware that my ego hadn’t quite caught up with my deep-seated environmental health beliefs.

Knowing that ditching the dye would raise troubling and undermining questions that could threaten my self-preservation inside and out, I decide to take the plunge anyway and try to figure out how to transition my hair from darkest brown to shiny silver.

My aim was to embrace gorgeous silver hair as natural, honest and even, refreshingly hip. Although I was fueled by a buried notion that the cost of my health, beauty and identity might come back to bite me, a silver skunk line quickly took up residency on my part, teasing me to hit the dye bottle.

From the moment I served my colorist a cease and desist order, I discover solving the puzzle of my pillaged nest would be no easy task. I found myself riddled with questions about how to pull off the transition without trumping my ego. Looking in the mirror, would I find a way to solve the mystery of the contrasting roots that teasingly shone back? Would my signature hair become so off-kilter that it looked like I’d thrown in the towel and succumbed to yet another menopausal moment of surrender? Would I untangle fast enough to find answers without a color intervention…a fix…a straddling elixir that would find me at the sink with blackened water racing down the drain? And…what the hell was “natural?”

By breaking hard and fast gray hair rules, I found answers to every single one of these questions as I battened down the hatches and ignored the noise that enveloped the urge to shut down the color. After a two-year transition, that included a litany of truths and consequences women face when they challenge the rules, ditch the dye and embrace their natural hair, I learned that not only is my new silver hair strikingly beautiful, it is stunningly healthy.

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and editor. She is the creator of Econesting and the editorial director of Moms Clean Air Force.