Dying for a Change

By: Faith Pearce

(5 min read)

Last month was self-care month, and if you can relate, it’s an area most of us struggle with. It’s so much easier to put others first than to look inside and say what do I need to do for myself? So every day in February, I picked one item to do. Until I got in the swing of things (especially self-care) and embed a habit, it sometimes takes a “To Do” list.

I had three sheets of images to pick from tacked up on my refrigerator to remind me of my February commitment. Right out of the gate, I overloaded myself with too many choices. That in and of itself is a sign of lacking self-care. After a week of looking at the images, I started randomly picking something off the “To Do” list. Each time, I would close my eyes, wiggle my finger, and touch the paper. You get the idea. The routine was actually been quite fun, and I tried several things I’d never done before. But…

I’ve went off track only mid-way through the month. What happened? I am good at “To Do’s” – that should have at least kept me moving along. No!

I have been going gray since my late 20s. I even have one eyebrow that’s completely white. I heard it’s called the Mallen Streak where the hair loses its pigment. If I don’t dye my hair, it quickly becomes obvious and makes me feel like I’m in my 60s. Did I look at this as a “To Do” or should I have considered it self-care?

If I’m honest, I don’t like the current color it is anyway. I guess that means it was a “To Do.” It certainly didn’t look at it as making me feel better at the time. And, I wasn’t looking forward to it. After many, many, many years, I plucked up the courage to strip my hair. You’re maybe thinking, “What’s all the fuss about? Strip your hair. Color it. Quit your moaning.” There isn’t much you could say that I haven’t already questioned myself about. Why was this task such a big deal? I needed to do it! This wasn’t the first time in my life I have needed to do this, AND it wasn’t the first time I have had a ton of conversations in my head vacillating to do so.

The back story goes a little like this…About 10 years ago, I decided I was going back to being blonde. I bought a home lighting kit. This was years before I mastered how to apply hair dye. But in my youth, I felt invincible; I’ve got this. How difficult can it be to go from dark brown to a beautiful, natural blonde? After briefly reading the instructions, I felt confident and applied the solution to my head.

Let’s just say the rest is history. Once the solution was washed off, I was so mortified at the patchy orange, blonde and brown mess. I wrapped my hair in a scarf and scurried off to the hairdresser praying I wouldn’t see anyone along the way. I sheepishly begged them to fix it. They did a fantastic job with all the multi-colored patches tossed about. What was I thinking: “natural blonde?!”

For years, I’ve continued to color my own hair. NOT blonde. I’ve mastered applying hair dye, and I am pretty good at it. An issue that arises after years of dying with at-home products is the build-up you get, and the color gets darker and darker until it’s almost black. I needed another plan.

I began having an inspirational image floating in my head. I could see my new look…“caramel with a blonde balayage.” In hindsight, I think I had been watching too many movie stars with their beautiful locks. But oh, how I fancied getting my hair that color. Off I went again to the supermarket. I knew I needed to color my greys, but without stripping it back, it would remain black. I picked up a hair color remover, and plastered all over the front of the box were large, bold words, ”Number one bestseller, extra strength…No ammonia or bleach.” I had no idea what this product was going to do, but surely those claims meant business. I prayed it would work. After all, I had a decade of color to scrape off. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic; not quite a decade, but A LOT of buildup.

I headed back home for yet another to-“dye”-for the experience. As I began applying the solution, the smell took me back in time to a memory of when I received my one and only perm which was yet another, at-home salon experience. I was about six years old and sitting in the kitchen on a wooden chair. I had super tight rollers woven around my little scalp, and they were tugging at every single tiny strand on my head. Sitting still for that long felt like pure torture. Lol God, I hated that perm. I had a fringe at that time because I remember looking like a toilet brush ***shudder. Isn’t it weird how smells can trigger the funniest and most vivid of memories?

There I sat years later with the same lovely, perm-smelling solution on my head, wrapped in clingfilm, and a massive towel strapping it all together. Such an attractive look.

As the minutes ticked, I worried about the result. Will my hair fall out, and look patchy yet again, will I go full ginger (I’ve got a lot of red in my hair) or would something new happen? I sat there for an hour, stinking to high heaven, and had another thought, what if it did absolutely nothing? This inner talk, reminded of how much I really overthink things when I’m restricted to one spot.

I forced myself to be positive, I hopped on my goddamn unicorn and hoped for the fecking best. If it all went Pete Tong, I always have my back-up stash of hair dye in the kitchen or I thought I could just go for a skinhead look. I’ve always said I’ll try anything once.

The moment of truth came. After I’d rinsed the solution multiple times with the buffer solution, I cautiously peeked in the mirror and shuddered as I saw absolutely no difference. I suffered that torturous smell, and there was no difference. By now I was tired, and it was too late to go through the whole process again. The mission would have to continue the following day. 

The next day, I looked at myself in the mirror again. I accepted the fact if I ever wanted a caramel color, I needed to let the professionals do it. It was at this time, I decided, I was never experiencing another at-home bleach treatment again.

Guess where I went? Back to my comfort zone. I knew how to apply color. I did switch up the shade a bit choosing golden brown. I added it to my eyebrows, too. It was still dark but evened out the color giving it some vibrancy. It felt so soft. I felt so much more confident.

The whole hair-dying experience was quite traumatic. But this trip around I was finally able to move it from my “To Do” list to my self-care list. Dying my hair is important to me. It gives me confidence and needs to be more of a priority. If from the beginning, I had been looking at this task as self-care, would I have kept putting it off? That is the magic question. I need to figure out why when I know things make me feel better, I still drag my feet. I should be excited to do the things that lift my mood. Why do I wait for a reason or ‘authorization’ to care for myself in this way?

I have now added ‘color hair’ to my self-care images which will remain hanging on my refrigerator door. I am going to leave them up all year round. After all, won’t this month be a self-care month as well?

Faith Pearce
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
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