Lucky Blue Smith
Credit: Kevin Tachman/Getty

We’re all familiar with what happens after a breakup: You cry, eat, mope, cry, eat (over and over) until you finally look yourself in the mirror and begin to pick up the pieces. And when you see your reflection, you think, “I need a change.” Or at least I did.

I recently broke up with my first serious boyfriend. Being 22 years old, I felt that the only way to cope would be to completely redo something in my life. I looked around: Should I repaint my bedroom? (Finished that project last summer.) What about de-cluttering my book collection? (No, I could never!) I settled on the one constant in my life: My hair.

I am blessed with a very thick, dark head of Italian hair (thank you, dad) and with that comes constant maintenance. Every week, I’d make my way to my favorite barber shop and receive the same undercut touch-up: tight fade on the sides, slight trim on top and a slight thinning from the shears.

But after my breakup, the same wasn’t cutting it. I have occasionally dreamed of going blonde (who hasn’t?), but I knew could never pull off the So-Cal look with my fair skin. Then I thought of Lucky Blue Smith and his shock of white hair and decided then and there: I was going platinum.

I began to do some research on what I would need to do to my hair. Being that I have incredibly dark hair, it will take about two to three rounds of bleaching and toners just to get my hair to a blonde level. The articles suggested I go to a salon (but that would have meant shelling out tons of cash). I decided to go the DIY-route, but there was no way I could do this on my own. Thankfully, I have an agreeable (and creatively inclined) roommate who agreed to help.

I bought all the necessary dyes and toners and returned home. My roommate strapped on black latex gloves. (For any of those attempting to do this in your own life, a stern warning: It is painful—you are essentially ripping the proteins and color from your hair—and you must have patience.)

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Nearly three hours after we began, and a lot of pep-talks from my roommate to remain optimistic, we were finally finished. With the product washed out of my hair, I looked in the mirror and was, to my great surprise, transformed.

Dyeing my hair was a choice I made to throw myself headlong into the breakup healing process. It may only appear surface-deep, but my new look helped ease the transition into the next chapter of my life. As they say, we grow the most when there is change in life–and with the help of a little magic, and a considerable amount of hair research, anything is possible.