Aging Graycefully

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!

“Permanent” False Lashes: Story + Pros & Cons

I’ve noticed the false lash craze has really picked up over the past couple of years; lash companies have been creating more and different types of false lashes, so “normal” girls have started to wear them on a more regular basis. YouTube beauty gurus have integrated them into all of their tutorials and everyday makeup routines.

The only times I’ve ever worn falsies were 2 consecutive days – the night of my rehearsal dinner and on my wedding day. And even then they weren’t full sets of lashes; I figured I would start small and bought a pair of Ardell Lash Accents #315 which are only half-strips to create a fuller look of the outer lashes. These paired with the Duo Clear Lash Adhesive (it dries clear instead of brown, black, or white which works great for thinner lash strips or makeup looks that don’t include thick lines of eyeliner) worked really well for the look I was going for. Even my hair & makeup stylist preferred to use the accent lashes instead of a full set on my wedding day. He said that the full sets looked much too perfect and wouldn’t look as natural as I wanted.

lashes

Even with these half-lashes, I felt like I had huge flaps on my eyes. I honestly pictured myself as the huge elephant thing from Sesame Street (Google it if you don’t know what I mean). I couldn’t wait to take them off so I couldn’t understand how women could wear full sets every single day without being driven nuts?

I knew that salons had started offering a more permanent (three to six weeks) set of false lashes because of the higher demand, but I also knew it was a pricey procedure. One of my co-workers has gotten them a couple times and they look AMAZING! She said she didn’t wear mascara when she got them, so it made mornings easy. At Christmas, one of my cousins-in-law had a set and, again, they looked FANTASTIC!

That was it; I was determined to try it out. Fast-forward a couple months and my mother-in-law found out that a local salon near her house in Long Island offered the service. So of course we made two appointments and were both super excited. She went first, so I got my nails done while she was in there. We were told that it takes about an hour because individual lashes are being glued onto the lash line. My MIL came out about 45 minutes later and they looked great! Her eyes were watering and looked a little red and irritated, but she was smiling and looked okay so I proceeded to the room to start the process.

My technician, Christine, first asked what size I wanted. I didn’t know what that meant, so I just told her I wanted a bit more fullness while still looking natural. I laid on the table and she started by applying gel patches under my eyes, putting them over my lower lashes. This ensured that my lower lashes wouldn’t get glued to the top lashes, plus the coolness also soothed my undereye area. She then brushed my lashes and told me that my natural lashes were really nice and were about a size 12, so she was going to use 11s on the inner lash line and 12s everywhere else.

I felt her stick something to my forehead and I quickly realized that they were small tracks of the individual lashes – I’m sure that was super attractive. I forgot my phone at home so I couldn’t even try to get a picture of it. I kept my eyes closed the entire time and I’m pretty sure I started to doze off a few times. They had a great music playlist and the process wasn’t painful, so I just zoned out and tried not to move my eyes too much. The gel patches were keeping my eyes from 100% closing, so they were feeling a bit irritated, especially if I were to move my eyeballs around or try to open my eyes.

I tried counting how many lashes she used on each eye, but because I kept dozing off, I lost track a few times. I asked her afterwards and she said she didn’t even know – she just puts them on for aesthetic purposes, so she doesn’t count them. I want to say she used around 80 individual lashes on each eye.

Finally, the process was done, so she brushed my lashes again and told me to open my eyes. This was uncomfortable but then she peeled off the gel patch and I was fine! I looked in the mirror and was so happy with the result – it looked like I had long lashes without looking so incredibly fake. My eyes were a bit irritated and watery, so I now understood why my MIL’s looked that way before.

Here’s a before-and-after collage; no makeup in any of the pictures!

IMG_3919

The ladies told us that they should last anywhere from 3 weeks to over a month, but they recommend a “refill” appointment after three weeks if we plan on keeping up with them regularly. Now that we’ve had a couple days with them, I wanted to give some pros and cons:

Pro: Unlike the strips of lashes, you forget you have them on until you touch them.

Con: It’s hard to wash your face, rub your eyes, and remove makeup without being a bit rough with them.

Pro: They could potentially last for up to 6 weeks.

Con: They are a bit expensive (mine were $90), especially depending on where you go, how many and what size lashes you get, etc.

Pro: They save time in the morning – no curling or mascara necessary!

Con: Sleeping on your side or stomach is uncomfortable when they poke and/or pull on your eyelid.

I’ve already had a few casualties at the edges of my eyes, but they still look great! I’ll update as the weeks go on and show the progress. What do you think? Have you tried these before? If so, what was your experience and do you have any tips? If not, would you consider it?

1 week update: It’s been a week now and I will be honest and say it’s been quite frustrating when washing my face this week. I am not one to take time and be super careful when washing my face. I usually just slather the face wash in my hands and massage it all over, including my eye area. Can’t do that, can’t rub water out of my eyes, and can’t dry off my eyes as easily.

There’s been a lot of fall-out and I feel like they’ve started clumping together. It’s just a pain but it kind of makes them look less “perfect” and more real. I’ve continued to get compliments from co-workers and students, so that’s a plus, but as of right now I don’t think I want to splurge on them again. At least not anytime soon. Here are a couple pictures after eight days of wear:

False lashes one week

2 week update: The majority of the false lashes have either fallen or been tugged out by yours truly. Honestly, they were so annoying by the end of the first week that I started purposefully (and gently!) pulling on them to promote their removal. The only bad thing with this is that when they come out, they usually bring one or two of your natural lashes with them. Not so good when they’re all out and your natural lashes are looking a bit wonky and sparse. They grew back within the first week, so I didn’t look lashless, but for those first 7 days without the fake lashes, the natural ones weren’t as long and thick as they were before the false lashes were applied. Here’s a picture after almost 2 weeks; you can see how sparse the middle of my eye is with the false lashes mostly on the inner and outer corners.

2 week lashes