January 8, 2016

back to my roots

I haven't dyed my hair in 16 months and that is, by far, a record. Coloring my hair started around the tender age of 12 and I can count how many times I allowed my natural color to grow in over the course of my adult life on just one hand. And though I noticed my first grey hair while still in high school, that was never the reason for why I chose to dye my hair. Changing the color of my hair was, for me, like changing my outfit, my persona, my style. I tried everything from bleached blonde to blue black and all the shades that fell in between. It was the crowning part in reinventing myself from time to time. After over two decades, it also most definitely became a habit.

Three years ago I finally started to get fed up with the habit. It started feeling more like a chore and an expense in a fight to keep from looking older. Honestly, on the brink of turning 40 I wasn't sure I was ready to look... old. I blogged about it as a way to hold myself to letting my natural hair grow in which, by the way, did not work. I did manage to make it through most of that year and inspired my own mother to ditch the dye but sometime in the Fall I caved for color and got some pretty dramatic lowlights put in. The habit was real and for me, not easy to kick. The year following, I kept the coloring to a minimum but still was highlighting, ombré-ing, and balayage-ing the greys away. Then in the summer of 2014 I relocated.

Changing my surroundings was a huge shake up for me. For the first time every thing in my life felt different. It became a priority, a mission even, to find out what it meant to be myself, authentically, and my hair was absolutely a part of that. In October of 2014 I colored my hair for the last time. After three months of grow-out, I cut off 10 inches. Around the six month mark I started feeling better, more confident about all the silver hair that was shining through. Currently I am at 16 months and have about 7" of silver grown out. Some days I love my gr-ombré and other days I want to chop all the colored hair that is left off. But I'm enjoying my hair long again and not ready to part with more length.

Full disclosure - it feels a little silly writing a post about my hair but I wanted to because I think this is a challenging experience for a lot of women. It certainly was for me and I'm gaining a great deal of insight along the way. This is really about so much more than hair color. It is about accepting who you are, being true to yourself and choosing health over vanity. Sharing stories is inspirational and helps to get through the tough moments. Doing whatever I want with my hair is a privilege and being alive at this time when ideas are being challenged about what "older" women are expected look like is exciting. I remember looking at photographs of my grandmothers at my parents wedding and thinking they both looked so matronly and mature yet they were only in their thirties! It is amazing how far we have come in 40 years. And cheers to the women who have embraced their natural hair color all along with ease and grace!

This is what I can tell you about getting through the grow-out. It's not for the the undecided or uncommitted. You need to be ready to do it and it may take a few tries before you feel like it's the right time. Do it for yourself and don't let other people talk you out of it, most especially your hairdresser. Unless you cut all of your hair off and start with a pixie, you are looking at 1.5 - 2 years or more before your transformation to a total silver fox is complete. This process is lesson in patience and a journey of discovery, embrace it and embrace yourself throughout it. Prepare yourself for the positive feedback. Surprisingly, I have been getting more compliments on my silver hair than any other style or color I have worn in my life. It feels good. Literally. Since I let my hair go natural, it is much softer, shinier and healthier looking. Even the bottom part that still has color. As for looking older? Well, I am. What can I do about it other than try to be as happy and healthy as I can be. This decision to stop chemically treating my hair is a step in that direction.

December 2015 - 15 months of grow-out

There have been a bevy of ladies that I have looked to for moral support and inspiration throughout this trek so far. To name a few key players... Sarah Harris of British Vogue, author and designer, Annika Von Holdt, grey hair adventurer, Susan Paget, stylist and beauty maven, Linda Rodin, models Cindy Joseph, Kristen McMenamy and Yasmina Rossi. And of course I continue to find inspiration on regular basis on Pinterest and from my own mother. In the spirit of it all I'd like to leave you with some images of ladies young and old in all their silver, grey and snowy white glory...

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Get a shot of my hair on there!!!