The women on my mom’s side of the family go gray early. Really early. My mom tells the story of going to the hairdresser on her wedding day at 19 years old and having the stylist say, “Do you know you have a lot of gray hair?”
My maternal grandmother had beautiful, thick, salt & pepper hair. She had black hair but went gray very early – so early that my mom barely remembers her without gray hair. She famously tried dying it once when my mom was young – and it turned blue. She never dyed her hair again after that.
I personally found my first gray hairs in high school. I started dyeing my hair at that time too, but mostly for fun. I dyed my medium brown hair various shades of red throughout the years and then eventually black in university. Dyeing your hair black is a huge commitment because it’s almost impossible to lighten again, especially if you’ve been dyeing it with hair dye from a box and over-saturating your hair with colour. I had a 3-hour session at the hairdresser once that only managed to lighten my roots to slightly less black. Eventually, I managed to grow it out and now, I’m back to a more natural dark brown.
But it’s a lie. Underneath the box hair dye, I’d say my hair is probably 80-90% gray at this point – and I’m 35. What’s that 50-50-50 stat about gray hair again? 50% of people will be 50% gray by 50? Sorry, I’m really skewing the average.
I try to colour my roots every 3 weeks (honestly, it’s probably more like every 4 weeks). And almost immediately after dyeing my hair, I start to spot gray hairs again (peeking out from hair line, mocking me…) Hair dye just doesn’t stick to my gray. I’ve tried different dyes, leaving the dye on for longer, using colour-preserving shampoos – nada. I’ve used various types of root cover-ups – powders, sprays, crayons – and they all work – until you wash your hair, or it transfers on your pillow, or it runs down your face in the rain…
Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more women rocking their gray hair on Instragram and Pinterest – younger women especially. And not just people following the silver hair trend, but honest to goodness #grayhairdontcare.
And you know what? I’m really starting to consider it. I mentioned it to my husband recently (who’s balding, buzz-cuts his hair, and really doesn’t care about hair) and he said, “Well, it’s your hair, but wouldn’t you have to look like a skunk for a while?” And he’s right – white/gray against dark brown looks quite, well, skunky. That’s one of the main things that’s holding me back right now – the growing out part. And honestly, I’m also afraid that gray hair will age me or that it will wash me out. I’ve always looked young for my age and I love that I still regularly get carded at the liquor store. I’ve got genetics to thank for that too – blessed with good skin but cursed with colour-challenged hair.
Gray haired beauties
Luckily, Pinterest is full of inspiration and pictures of women who still look young and fabulous with their gray hair,
women who look even more gorgeous with hair gray than they did before,
women who’ve gotten creative with highlights to blend the gray in,
women who are dressing up their gray with colour or bold makeup,
and women who’ve just accepted the process and are rocking the #grombre.
There are even women who’ve documented their journey – Lauren at How Bourgeois has a great series of posts about making the transition to gray hair. She also has tons of tips & tricks on getting through the transition process and links to her favourite products for maintaining the health and colour of her gray hair.
How to make the transition to gray hair
- Make a commitment and embrace the journey. Depending on the length of your hair, it might take you months or over a year to grow out. It won’t be an easy journey but it can also be an empowering one.
- Consider getting a hair cut. Have you always wanted to try a pixie cut? A sassy bob? The shorter your hair is, the less time you have to wait for the dyed hair to grow out.
- Get professional help. Go see a hair stylist and ask them what you could do to make the transition easier. Highlights, lowlights, and semi permanent glosses can all help blend your dyed hair with the new hair growth.
- Have fun with other parts of your appearance. Experiment with makeup, update your wardrobe, try some funky new accessories, set some fitness goals.
- Take care of your hair. Gray hair can sometimes get brassy, but you can use shampoos formulated for gray hair to keep the colour vibrant. Gray hair also tends to be more dry and coarse, so it needs lots of extra moisture. Use moisturizing hair masks and leave-in conditioners to keep your hair soft and hydrated.
- Challenge perceptions, especially your own. Why do men get called silver foxes when they turn gray but women are suddenly grandmotherly? Gray hair will only age you if you let it. Being comfortable in your own skin is what’s attractive. Being true to yourself is beautiful. Being confident is downright sexy.
- Own it. Rock that gorgeous silver hair. You’ve earned it.
As for me, although I just recently dyed my roots, I think I’ll let my hair grow out a little bit and see what I think. I’m going to be 36 in February and if by then I haven’t gone back to dying my hair, maybe I can gift myself a trip to the salon to get the roots blended in. Or maybe some funky coloured highlights?
Have you stopped dyeing your hair? Do you have any tips to share? Or are you considering ditching the hair dye as well? Let me know!