Gray Hair Update

Hello! It’s been awhile!I haven’t posted in about 9 months because my account got taken over by a bot or something. Oops.

As mentioned in this post back in September, I’ve stopped dying my hair and have been growing my gray hair out. I wanted to update about this because I am still going strong and want to encourage others who are dabbling with the idea or are struggling through the first couple months.

Month 1-2:

Returning to school was okay – the grays hadn’t grown “that much” in those 3 weeks. Funny how, as those days and weeks went on, the typical feeling of stress and embarrassment for someone potentially spotting my roots wasn’t there. Typically, after those couple weeks post-dye, I would be starting to consider the next dye because I noticed some silver showing. Instead, after those 3 weeks, although some growth had started to show, I was more bummed that it wasn’t growing faster, not embarrassed that my roots were showing again.

It was so freeing. I knew I was a slave to dying my hair and playing into the whole vanity and young-age stuff. But how amazing I felt letting that go and embracing my natural hair!

I did use this L’oreal root spray for a couple weeks during the first and second months. However, I realized it made my hair smell bad (not terrible, but it wasn’t a nice smell) and anytime I touched my head, colored residue would be on my fingers. I’m pretty sure I had it in my hair for the top two pictures below. As a temporary fix, it was okay, but I’m glad I stopped using it.

Months 2-3:

Mid-late September 2016 [6-8 weeks no dye]
People started noticing a bit more after 2 or 3 months. A student made a comment in October or November about my having gray hair. The rest of the students told him how rude it was, but I embraced the comment and explained my motive for doing it. I told him about my past with dying and expressed my frustration with the double-standard in society about men and women with gray hair.

I think it’s important, especially when we decide to do something that isn’t “normal” by societal standards, we keep our composure and express our reasoning so as to highlight its positive aspects, not get angry or embarrassed and turn away from our decision.

Months 4-6:

Late November 2016 [4 months dye free]
I think these were the harder months because I was seeing more friends and family during the holiday season that hadn’t seen me since my decision, so I was worried about what they would say. Everyone was either supportive and said something, or they didn’t say anything. Whatever.

Late December 2016 [4.5 months dye free]
I really started to see the different shades of silver and could really start appreciating the variations. It was during this time that I started getting more compliments and people started speaking up about it.

January 2017 [5 months dye free]
Some comments have been a bit awkward, like when one of my adult co-workers said, “Your hair is gray!” Wait, what? I hadn’t noticed… However, most of them have been positive; one of my more respectable co-workers said, “I just want you to know I think your hair looks great and you’re a badass for growing it out.”

Months 6-8:

These were some rough months personally and professionally – a lot of crappy things have hit my school community, so there hasn’t been much time or reason to think about my hair. I guess I’ve enjoyed having one less thing (dying my roots) to worry about.

I am now 9 months without dye and I wish it would grow faster. I chopped a whole lot of hair off over spring break about 6 weeks ago which suits my face better and has helped get rid of old brassy highlights.

Late March [about 8 months dye free]
I love the way my natural hair is growing in; I have some kickass natural highlights! People pay hundreds of dollars to get hair like what I’ve got growing on.

It makes me happy and a bit surprised when someone brings it up now because I’ve gotten to the point where it’s just part of me. I don’t fret everytime I look in the mirror, worrying that a gray hair is popping up. I don’t waste money on harmful box dyes or expensive salon visits. Although, I do really miss the head massages when they wash my hair!

There were times when I thought about going to a salon and asking them to blend the ends of my hair to match my roots – AKA dye my ends silver. However, the bleaching alone would probably cause my hair to break off. And my wallet would seriously cry for the amount of money it would cost.

So I’ve decided to just do it the natural way. There were times when I felt self-conscious because of the way my roots looked growing out. I felt like I looked awful in pictures because of the two-tones that was my natural and dyed hair. I was worried about the potential rude or hurtful comments. I was worried about looking old (although I’ve always been told I look 5-10 years younger than I actually am).

But deep down, none of those things were big enough to deter me from my mission of growing my gray hair out. Those nudges of self-doubt were overcome by my feelings of empowerment. Those rude or not-totally-tasteful comments were outweighed by the massive positive and uplifting comments.

I don’t feel old because I’m not old. Just because I have gray hair doesn’t mean I am less silly or upbeat or hip (well, okay, maybe don’t ask my high school students about that one). I choose to be who I am. Maybe it’s because I’ve entered my mid-to-late twenties and am feeling more at peace with myself, but I am loving this feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I still have those days where my hair doesn’t style the way I want or I feel a little more jiggly than I’d like, but overall I’m happy with how things are at this age.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you’re thinking of joining the gray hair movement, here are some resources I found and still find extremely helpful:

  1. Gray and Proud Facebook Group – There are some amazing women (and men!) in this group that post progress photos, positive [and negative] comments they receive from people, and words of encouragement for those just starting or still in the grow-out phase.
  2. How Bourgeois Blog – Lauren has a whole section dedicated to her posts about growing her gray hair out. She also has tips on how to manage the growing out phase (AKA skunk stripe) and is overall encouraging.
  3. Grombre Instagram

50 Shades of Gray. And Brown.

I wish I could stop dying my hair. I really do. I mean, sometimes, it’s fun to change things up and add highlights for spring/summer or go a bit darker for fall/winter. But for me, I just go for a boring, natural brown color. Because I really only dye my hair to cover my gray roots.

It’s so disheartening when I look in the mirror and all I see are bright white hairs shimmering at the part of my hair. I know shimmering sounds fabulous, but it’s not. They only look shimmery to call attention to themselves. Attention whores.

I’m not 100% gray – maybe about 25-30% at this point. At (almost) 24 years of age, I have been dying my hair to cover grays for about 9 years. And it’s only downhill for here. Gee willikers!

It’s not just me being up close and personal with my hair, nitpicking every single strand with a magnifying mirror. Those whom I have talked to about it always tell me, “Oh, it’s not that noticeable. You probably notice it more because you know it’s there so you focus on it. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

But then, when you are talking with people, and you notice that they keep glancing at your head, you realize that it’s not just you. Or (and this one’s my favorite) when they actually point it out with an astonished, “Wow, you have white hairs!”

Yes, thank you for making my day. But I digress. Kind of. For now.

I know coloring is terrible for my hair.

I know my hair has gotten so fried and over-processed with all the colorings over the years.

I’ve tried embracing it. There are times when I’ve considered going au naturel just to save my hair from the damage. My hair is dry and pretty fine (diameter-wise, not like “damn, she’s fine!”) as it is, so all this coloring is doing nothing to help grow it out and make it healthy.

I mean, back in the 16th-18th centuries, gray powder wigs were a sign of high social rank. Although these were worn originally to cover loss of hair from disease, from shaving the head to rid oneself of lice, or to cover grays, eventually a couple kings made them cool. Here’s an interesting article about the history of donning wigs. It has no references though, so I wouldn’t use it as a source for a research paper. Go to Wikipedia instead.

Look at these studs. Dudes got some locks! And Stacy London rocks her piece of gray (yes it’s real), and she’s a celebrity!

But I hate the way I look with gray hairs. It makes me look dull and drab. And older. Not in a flattering “Hey you don’t look twelve anymore” way, either. More like “Hey, you look like a 12-year old with a 40 year old’s hair.”

And don’t even get me started on all the different hair dyes I’ve tried. I’ve used almost any brand of hair color you could imagine. Walk down the hair color aisle and I’ve probably used most of what you see. Seriously. I’ve used Clairol (Perfect 10, Natural Instincts, Nice ‘n Easy, Nice ‘n Easy root touch-up), Garnier Nutrisse Herbashine, L’Oreal (Feria, Superior Preference).

I’ve tried color depositing conditioner by Aveda – expensive, not the greatest coverage, and not nourishing at all. I use Batiste dry shampoo for dark hair – better than regular dry shampoo, which leaves white residue. I’ve gone to the salon for colorings before too – all over color as well as highlights. Blonde-ish highlights sometimes make gray hair less noticeable…until my dark brown roots grow in with gray mixed in. Gah. I. can’t. win.

This time I wanted to try something different so I used John Frieda’s Precision Foam, and I like it. I read a bunch of great reviews and wanted to try something new, so I spent the extra $3 at Target to get it. I have to say, it was so easy to apply and I made no mess whatsoever. For those that color their hair often, you know that this is amazing. I have stained plenty a floor, wall, door, and under-the-sink cupboard with those liquidy squeeze bottle dyes.

The only thing I will say against this product (for now) is the color. I did read in many of the reviews that the resulting color was much darker than the box indicated. I am so glad I got Lightest Natural Brown because it did come out on the darker side. Anything darker would have made me look gothic. It’s only day two, so I’m sure it will lighten and fade a bit once I wash my hair.

But hopefully not enough to reveal gray hairs before they grow out. Someday I’ll be able to embrace my grays. Until then, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they find a legitimate cure for gray hairs. Maybe I’ll bring back periwigs. And corsets. Fight age and obesity all at once.