I’ve gotten the occasional, puzzling, single gray hair since elementary school — unceremoniously plucked out on discovery — but my mane has retained its black color, at least so far, and I'm in my early 30s. But many of my friends have started struggling with an age-old beauty question: To dye or not to dye?

At Salon.com, one woman tackles the question head on this week by telling her personal story about going gray — finally. Nelle Engoron reveals that for her, this decision to platinum-ize her 'do has been long in the making. “I started going gray in my 20s, and have been coloring my hair for a quarter of a century,” Engoron writes.

Why is she making the change now? Engoron cites some cosmetic reasons — like avoiding the “menopausal red” hairdo that doesn’t really flatter her skin tones. But she also points to environmental reasons as a big impetus behind her decision:

Yes, the research is mostly only suggestive that hair coloring products are bad for your health, but the fact is that they are full of nasty chemicals that I otherwise avoid putting into or onto my body. So how can I justify soaking my scalp with them every four weeks, year after year?
Here at MNN, we’ve often talked about the many harmful chemicals in hair products — and I for one applaud Engoron’s decision to forego the toxic stuff. That said, I did want to point out a third option Engoron doesn’t mention in her article — greener hair dyes. A new generation of green salons that offer safer color jobs have been popping up around the country in recent years, from Evolution in Venice, Calif., to Aviary in Atlanta.

Color treatments at those salons, however, can cost more than treatments at “conventional” salons that employ the cheaper, more dangerous stuff. And embracing your au naturale silver locks is undoubtedly greener — and cheaper — than opting for color treatments, whether done with green dyes or not.

I’m not sure what I’ll do once I start going gray — a time I hope is many, many, many decades away. But for MNN readers who’ve reached that silver time: How do you handle your hair? Do you color conventionally, opt for greener salons, or rock the platinum look?

Going gray to go green
Would you go gray to stop dousing your hair and scalp with harmful chemicals? One woman's made that a health-conscious beauty decision for 2011.