Back to my Roots

There was a time when I wouldn’t leave the house without my black eyeliner and mascara.  My hair was highlighted, blow-dried and sprayed, and I was as tan as an English/German/Irish/Swiss gal can be (which is not much) thanks to tanning beds or lotion.  My nails were done, red or pink on my toes and a light color or french manicure on my fingers.  I did everything myself, with the exception of the highlights.

Fast forward through my environmental enlightenment and I look different.  Less fake; more natural.  The black eyeliner has toned down to gray, and since replacing my eye makeup with Honeybee Gardens’ natural makeup, my allergies have gotten much better and my eyes are not nearly as itchy or irritated as they used to be.  And after building our house, running around town in my dirty, paint-covered clothes, without makeup and looking like a big mess, I have no problem running to the store without makeup.

I quit tanning a long time ago.  I always knew it was no good for my skin, especially since I’m so fair, but I did it anyway because I liked the results.  In my opinion, the lotions are no better, since rubbing chemicals on my skin was not something I wanted to do.  And who knows what kind of problems they could be linked to in the future.

I no longer paint my fingernails.  Teaching botany and working in the garden pretty much made that a waste of time.  I hated the smell of nail polish and remover, so to skip that is great.  I do still paint my toenails in sandal weather, but I only use Honeybee Gardens’ no-odor polish.  It’s so wonderful to paint my nails without the smell.

I made all of those changes, and yet I continued to highlight my hair.  I grew up with blond hair, and as I got older it started to turn a darker dirty blond.  I started getting highlights in high school and really liked the results.  It looked so “natural.”  I hated the smell of the dye, and sometimes the fumes made my eyes sting as I sat there under the dryer waiting for my hair to lighten.  But I loved the blond.  Looking into the environmental impact, I discovered that highlights were better than other dye, since the dye was contained in foil and wasn’t applied directly to my scalp.  So it was better for me, but not necessarily better for the environment.  So I kept making excuses and I kept getting my hair highlighted.


Me (in second grade) with my brother Jonathan and our pet deer Bambi

Until… I stopped getting it dyed.  It’s now been over a year since I last had it done.  (Embarrasingly, it had been a year since I got it cut, too.  Last month, I had Ed trim it for me.)  I stopped going to the hairdresser, and in the spring, summer and fall, you could hardly tell.  Since my hair gets lighter in the sun anyway, nobody knew I hadn’t gotten it dyed recently.  Now that it’s winter and I’m spending much more time indoors, I can see those inches of my natural color.  But really, it’s not that bad.  In fact, it’s fine.  My hair is dark blonde, not light blonde.  And nobody has noticed, until I point it out.  Of course I tell people I’m growing out the dye, going back to my natural color.  Everybody that knows me is not surprised, although some were surprised that I dyed it in the first place.  Ed’s opinon is the only one that really matters to me, and he thinks my hair is beautiful.


I’m content to just let it grow out, but at this length, it could take years.

Do you have changes that you struggled to make? How does it feel to finally make them?


Filed under Sustainable Living

14 responses to “Back to my Roots

  1. I have to say that I LOVE nail polish. In general I am not a girly girl, but I’ve been painting my nails since I can remember! However, my nails in fact, have not been painted (nor do I own any nail polish) since I became pregnant over two years ago. If the stuff was not environmentally damaging I would do it in a minute…not painting my nails is not satisfying. And yes, as you mentioned, they do make more eco friendly polish, but just as I find with food dye, the colors just aren’t as brilliant…

    Other than the nails, I’ve pretty much always been a tree hugger and although I occasionally wish I looked like Audrey Hepburn (or more likely Kathryn) and so I haven’t had to give up much. At the same time, I am embarrassed to admit, that doesn’t prevent me from occasionally envying the perfect made up ladies you see around town in matching velor jumpsuits.

  2. Rob

    What a dissapointment- I thought you were going to say you had a “flock of Seagulls” period with your hair. YOu have nice normal hair. I sould let mine grow out too, but then a comb over to cover my bald head

  3. Wow, sometimes it is weird how blog posts just appear that perfectly fit what you’ve been thinking about lately. Yesterday a co-worker and I had a conversation about whether or not we were going to continue to get our hair highlighted. We’re both leaning towards no. She told me a hilarious story about how she snagged a piece of hair out with her brush and noticed how incredibly thick the root end was compared to the other end that had been highlighted so many times. I haven’t had my hair highlighted since early August and it is really bugging me. My hair is similar to yours but maybe a little darker, I can really notice my roots. I just don’t think spending $100 every few months to have that done is very sustainable for my wallet or the environment. Plus, like Brian says, I’m married, so who do I have to impress!? 😉 Thanks for the great post, it just might be the little extra nudge I needed to take the plunge!

  4. I finally gave up on the whole makeup thing too. Every once in a while I’ll fill in my eye brows (which are too light to notice w/o making) and put a little mascara on but it’s rare anymore. Now that I bike everywhere, I always look a bit of a mess, but I’ve gotten over caring. It helps that my hubby is from California where “natural” is a good thing.

    So what is it like to give something like that up? LIBERATING!!!!

  5. Interestingly enough, I have been thinking about how I used the “natural beauty” line be an excuse to let myself go! I have never been a real big wearer of makeup, other than some concealer and mascara. Both of those are for me. After doing chemo, my eyelashes came back in blonde and you can’t really see them, which bothers me. I’m vain. 😀 I haven’t been doing nail polish much since it is the winter and no one sees my toes. My fingernails are growing far to quickly to make painting them worth my time. So I’ve been fairly content with my appearance. Pregnancy has evened out my skin, so that’s been nice. I haven’t dyed my hair since September, so I’m not sure what to do about that. You couldn’t tell, because I just dyed to cover up the grays, but now it would seem that my hair is getting closer to black/brown than the general dark brown.
    And then the husband complained that since I am growing my hair out, I’m doing nothing with it. This is true. So now, I am back to wearing eyeliner and putting forth a tad bit more effort into my hair. I found some hair creams at the health food store that I am experimenting with to see which ones play up the curl and down the frizz. The nice bit about them is that they don’t smell. I hate when people come into my office and I can tell what brand of hair product they use everytime I breathe.

  6. Green Me- Funny, I thought of myself as low-maintenance then, compared to a lot of my friends.

    Rob- In the 80’s, I was way to young to be into that hairdo.

    Jena- Saving the money is a nice part of it, too!

    Heather- I still wear makeup to work. I still feel like I look sleepy without eyeliner. But it’s liberating to be able to get up and leave the house in 30 minutes instead of a hour.

    Laura- I hear you about blond eyelashes. I feel like they’re invisible! It’s the perfume smell that really bothers me!

  7. Good for you, Abbie! It is hard, isn’t it, to give up certain things? I still wear contact lens even though there is plastic waste involved in terms of bottles for cleaners and the plastic contacts themselves. My compromise has been to wear glasses 2 or so days a week. At least it lessens the plastic thrown out/recycled a month. I just can’t give them up completely. Vanity, I guess.

  8. Abbie,

    You are a NATURAL beauty and always have been. I’ll never forget the comment that the mother of your best friend made when you were in high school and we were driving to pick you and your friend up from basketball camp. She told me, “What I love about Abbie so much is that she acts like she doesn’t know how beautiful she is.” I admire you!


  9. GB- My mom wears one lens, so she can see near and far. Maybe that would work for you? (Confession: I know nothing about glasses/contacts…)

    Mom- You’re making me blush.

  10. I used to highlight my hair too, and I have to be honest, I really, really want to do it again. I loved the way it looked, kind of punky, and I know I’m soon getting close to the age where you can’t have punk hair.

    But, I have black hair, so highlighting involves bleach. Yipes! And it’s expensive. So I haven’t done it.

    I tend to go in stages of caring about what I look like and not. I just got out of a four year relationship in Nov, and all of a sudden my looks became way more important to me.

  11. Arduous- I was just reading online yesterday about homemade hair lightener. It had to do with chamomile tea… Not sure if it would work on dark hair, though. I just can’t justify away all the chemicals anymore, but maybe I’ll start experimenting with homemade stuff. I’ll be sure to post about it if I do.

  12. Aunt Sara

    I have always heard that lemon juice would help to lighten your hair. I think it only works in the summer, but it is inexpensive and contains only the juice of the lemon.

    I had noticed your hair, but hadn’t really thought much about. You would look great no matter what color it was!

    Take care,
    Aunt Sara

  13. Giving up makeup completely was no effort since I rarely wore it anyway. Giving up dying my hair? Well, that one is still a struggle. I look in the mirror and see all the gray in my brown hair. It looks so much nicer when it’s dyed a nice auburn reddish shade, and I look younger without the gray. However, now that I have obvious bifocals, it seems pointless to even consider dyeing it to cover the gray! (My brain couldn’t deal with progressives so I’ve got the very visible line in my glasses…)

    PS: I was also quite blond as a child, enhanced by swimming outdoors in chlorinated pools.

  14. Aunt Sara- I’ve been looking into recipes for natural lightening. One used chamomile tea, but I was also thinking of lemon. I’ll have to give them a try this summer (just in case something strange happens, I don’t need to explain that to my students!)

    Chile- I think that’s something that many of us struggle with. But I’ve done so much to get rid of other chemicals, I just figured it was time for this one.

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