Aging Gray-cefully

I made a huge decision this summer: I, Holliday, at the age of 27, am going to stop dying my hair to cover up the grays.

I’m excited and nervous and have a lot of other emotions about it, but I’m doing it.

A hair over 3 years ago, I wrote a post about how much I hated dying my hair for root coverage purposes as I’ve been genetically gifted with early onset graying. Dying is expensive, time-consuming, unhealthy in many ways, and just overall a pain in the ass.

At the age of 15, a stylist at SuperCuts found my first full-blown gray/silver/white hair while giving me a cut. It was traumatizing and I had her pull it out because GET IT AWAY!!! I started dying my hair soon after and the frustrating cycle of frequent coloring began. I was hyper-aware of any shimmery non-brown hairs; I distinctly remember being alone in the bathroom at my community college a few times, close to the mirror, pulling out any visible gray hairs. I was, quite frankly, embarrassed and ashamed of them.

For the past few years, it’s gotten to the point of dying my roots every 4 weeks. I’ll usually visit a hair salon 2-3 times per year and use box dye during the weeks in between. As much as I love going to the salon (scalp massages are my ASMR, for real), a piece of me dies every time I give my credit card and hear the price of my color, wash, dry, and style. During the in-between, I get a box dye that is on sale, usually in medium brown, and spend an hour applying the dye, waiting for it to process, and washing it out.

Tom knows how annoyed I am at this process and has been telling me for awhile now that I should just let the gray grow. As a guy, he doesn’t care about gray hair as much as losing hair or finding that his hairline is receding.

I pushed the idea away until recently when I actually started researching going gray – I found a bunch of good blog posts, articles, videos, and super supportive social media accounts celebrating women going gray. Now, the majority of women within these groups and posts are at least 40, but there have been a few younger women like myself.

Two of the main things women have mentioned in their reasoning for waiting so long to let their natural color show are:

  1. I didn’t want to look old.
  2. I didn’t want to look haggard.

Why are both of these the first characteristics we think of when we are thinking of women with gray hair? When men have gray hair (George Clooney is the #1 example), we think of them as wise and powerful. We often call them “Silver Foxes” (go and Google “silver fox person”…notice what the top results are? men. no women). I don’t want to make this whole post about gender equality…I just had a whole discussion with Tom and our friend Tony about that, so that’s enough for me for one day, thanks.

So I’ve decided that I want to crush these stereotypes that we humans  (men and women alike) have given for graying females. I’m not going to fear looking old or haggard; I’m going to own looking different. I commented on a video I watched of a woman’s progression photos while growing her gray out (see list of resources below). She replied with a really sweet comment; I especially liked, “Today pretty young brunettes are two a penny…but beautiful girls with natural silver streaks in their hair are much more outstanding and rare!”

Youtube Comment

Besides that, young girls have started paying a fortune and ruining their hair to obtain a grayish silver color. That could be me for free AND with healthier hair! I’ve also found that most women who finally stop dying look younger than they did while they were dying! Maybe it’s the unnatural color, maybe they are generally happier and freer!

I’m only 4 weeks in which is when I would usually be putting on the gloves and applying dye to my hair. I catch myself thinking about how people will judge me and how weird my roots will look after a couple months and how easy it would be to go back to my “comfortable” zone of dying every month…but, instead, I’m going to take this one day at a time and continue to look to the positive people on the social media forums and groups for emotional support. I’ve bought a couple plain baseball caps as emergency cover-ups and I plan on getting some headbands to help when the roots are really bad.

These first few months will be the hardest (I’ve gathered from my research) but I’m excited when I think about the end result; I think I have some nice natural coloring underneath all the dye. Even just dying my hair one flat brown color has resulted in highlights, and I’m sure those are where the lightest whites are.

I hope to inspire other women to join in the “ditch the dye” movement like so many women have inspired me; if I’ve at least peaked your interest, check out these great resources that have eased my anxiety about diving in:

To conclude: I’m going to be a young, silver fox, dammit. Join me!