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To Dye or Not to Dye? Mad? Or Brave and Courageous? (Why I Stopped Dyeing My Hair)

By Celine Healy

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It’s a monumental step.

A life-changing experience.

A step towards ageing. A step away from defying this process.

Was I brave or courageous?

No. I was scared out of my wits.

What will people think of me when they see the real me?

Will my career stall? Will I be overlooked? Become invisible as many “old” people are?

Will I be accepted into that glossy, trendy “in” crowd? The group of successful women who look and sound great? I won’t have the looks.

The Agonising Process of the Decision

Why am, I doing this to myself? Now. Of all the decisions in the world, why make this one now?

Interestingly enough, there is a culmination point. A focus of attention. An agreement with self and ego that there was no other choice… for me.

Because, what colour your hair is, what shape and style and length has such import into how we look and feel about ourselves, and how others see and feel about you. Your crowning glory does make an impact, a statement about who we are as women.

It’s only when the decision to change was made that I went through the logical explanations to justify my decision. I wanted to feel different, physically.

As women, we make decisions based on emotions, and then we justify that decision based on logic.

That’s what I found myself trying to do… afterwards.

Why Would a Golden Blonde Want to Change to Another Colour?

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I was naturally blonde.

Did you know that only 13% of women are naturally blonde? It seems we are never satisfied with our own colour. People who are dark want to go blonde. People who are blonde want to go dark.

You know when you are young and alive. Doing whatever you thought was important at the time. Not caring about hair colour, or wrinkles or back fat.

Then suddenly… I don’t know if it’s “suddenly,” but for some reason you start to notice these things. Those things that make you look and feel older.

My hair started to go mousey. I then started on the bleach blonde look. It became dry and brittle. Then I had a brain wave: Why not go a deep red claret and keep the two cream streaks at the front? A Morticia look.

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How I justified this dramatic change was by telling myself and others that I never felt grounded as a blonde. Like I was trapped in the wrong colour.

The new look. My hair was below shoulder length. It looked great for several years. The upkeep was expensive and time-consuming. You had to continually drench your hair in all kinds of expensive product just to keep the colour, texture and bounce.

At some stage I changed to home dyeing kits. It was cheaper. But my hair seemed to grow at a really rapid rate. I had to colour every three weeks. White roots. I had to schedule my life around white roots!

I had that claret colour for a good nine years, unfortunately, gradually eliminating the cream streaks.

+Taking away the cream streaks, which had softened the look, did not work for my colouring. There was such a vast contrast between my face and my hair. It was like a helmet.

It was now too dark. My skin was too pale. There seemed to be a disconnect between my hair and my face. The helmet did not belong. It looked foreign.

Ah — the solution. Let’s go a lighter auburn shade instead!

The hairdresser stripped it back close to my natural colour. I had changed my mind about going auburn and wanted to see what I really looked like once again.

It looked awful. It showed the real me. No — I’m not ready to be seen like that. So, I opted for the lighter auburn shade, my original decision. That foray into au naturel was too scary five years ago.

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The colour was a bit like the opera singer, Joan Sutherland. She had the most amazing red-coloured hair. I learned that she was really a blonde. I wanted to look like her.

Now. To get that colour in home kits I needed to firstly go mango. Yes. It’s a bright orange. Then, put over the top of that a light brown or champagne colour.

Wow! Perfect. I looked young. Felt great. I really am fighting off that ageing process.

People commented. I felt good.

Then, this creeping effect was happening on the top of my head. That patch became lighter and lighter the more I coloured. Every three weeks.

I was trying to ward off that ageing process, but it kept sneaking up on me in different ways. The very fact that I continued to dye my hair was, in and of itself, self-defeating. “Self-defeating” you ask?

Yes. Because the very fact that I felt the need to dye my hair, to make me look good, younger, better, to confound and confuse the world, meant that I was getting older, anyway.

I wasn’t accepting who I was. I was trying to hide behind what we women have been pressurised and socialised to do. We have to continue to try to look younger. To keep up appearances. To defy the ageing process. To feel confident and sexy and accepted.

It was only when I started to question why I kept doing this to myself, perpetrating this lack of self-confidence in my natural appearance, did I start to, as I mentioned previously, justify why I did this to myself.

It Wasn’t Cost or Time. The Decision to Change was More Important

I read women’s magazines. I like to keep up. I like to try the latest cream or serum or lipstick colour.

One day there was a comparison article with pictures that had images of what hair colours and styles suited various age groups: 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, and 60-year olds.

In the 50’s age group the image depicted women who were still colouring their hair, although mostly, the colours were softer, especially around the face.

In the 60’s age group there was this gorgeous woman with her natural hair colour. It was a creamy colour, short and shaped. Admittedly, she was tall, thin and had good bone structure, which obviously enhanced the “natural” look.

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Wow. I thought that looks amazing. People — women — embracing white, cream and grey. Today, many young pop stars and social media influencers are choosing these colours. However, this doesn’t really count as they are not really old. Nor do they have age spots or wrinkles.

Seeing that picture was the first part of my “inspired” action.

The second part was remembering that my mother had the natural colour of spun gold. You cannot buy this colour in a bottle. I thought, “Perhaps mine could be like that.”

These thoughts took a couple of years because I was not brave or courageous, just yet.

The final part of the thought process, the one that got me over the line, was that I was experiencing gut health issues. Pretty severely. Being sick and having your white roots showing through does wonders for your ego. It’s so deflating.

You see, I had been stressing my body with an overload of toxins for years — hair dyes, among other things. So, something had to give. I learned that when your stress barrel is so full that you are impacted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, you have to stop doing what you are doing. Stop what is keeping you in that state. You have to start taking things out of the barrel.

The final straw for me was the health issues. This overrode the appearance and the “trying to keep young” issues.

My vanity was keeping me from being well.

For me, the most obvious place to start getting well again was to eliminate hair dyeing.

Choosing Health Over Appearance

Losing your health is a bit scary.

It took time for me to take action.

The build-up. The fear. The letting go. The holy s____ moment!

Then, one day I went to the hairdresser and had it stripped back, close to my natural colour.

You’d think that making that decision to go au naturel would have erased all of my fears. My insecurities. My thoughts about what people might think of me.

But no. It did not.

I didn’t go out in public for ages.

I wore hats often.

I wore scarves.

It was like buyer’s remorse. You wanted to take it back and get your refund. You wanted to go back and justify why you needed to dye your hair and keep it that way.

What was I thinking?

What will people think of me?

I felt embarrassed. I was scared of looking my age. I was losing self-confidence.

Will people think I’m too old to be hired? I still feel young. Do I look as young as I feel?

There’s no colour around my face. It’s too light. There’s no contrast. No definition. I look bland. I look colourless. I look pale.

I thought that because my hair colour had changed, and I now look older, I will be categorised and not taken seriously. On my last legs. When I go to the movies, they won’t ask me to show my ID. They’ll just assume.

This was the difficult stretch of time — after the decision was made and action taken.

What Happened When I Made an Irreversible Decision About My Future

At some stage, when you become tired of feeling inadequate because L’Oreal has told you “you’re worth it” only if you use that shampoo or conditioner or colour… eventually things do change.

You grow up.

You grow strength.

You grow in courage.

Your self-esteem increases. You start to accept yourself. Accept things as they are. You feel better within yourself. You start to love yourself again.

Changing my hair colour back to its original colour set me on the path of getting my health — both physical and emotional — back on track.

I feel happier within myself. Braver, too. However, there’s still a long way to go because of the stress and neglect I perpetrated upon myself for many years.

Choosing to Get Well Helps You Glow, Naturally

It’s now fourteen months later. The ends haven’t quite grown out. There’s more white and cream at the top. Not quite like my mother’s colour of spun gold — but I think it looks great. That’s the most important part: self-acceptance.

I am now happy with my own natural colour.

I am happy I made the decision and took action. It has saved me time, effort and expense. But most of all, my health has improved because I have eliminated some aspect of those things that were causing my health issues.

Celine Healy - Wellness That Works Author

Even though our hair, how it looks and what it says about us makes a significant statement about our ego — and that’s why we keep ourselves trapped in that cycle of always looking good — I now feel that I have conquered that one aspect of ageing gracefully.

The right hair colour will:

· give you confidence

· enhance your mood

· make you feel sexy

· make you feel more attractive

…and that’s why I have the right colour now, for me.

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