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

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!