I never normally have a rant on my blog. But I woke up today, washed my now grey bobbed hair and decided it was time.
Two years ago I made the decision to stop my 40 plus years of hair colouring. I was 59. Initially I coloured my hair to enhance my mousy brown but now I was fighting a losing battle against the grey. I’ve always done it myself so cost was not an issue. I just felt trapped. I wanted to finally be myself. And my hair was thinning at the front – noticeably. I asked a couple of hair-savvy acquaintances and they said it was ‘my age’. Rubbish. Years of harsh chemicals – originally I used semis but now I was touching up the roots every two weeks – had to have something to do with it. So I did my research. Not about why I should stop colouring but how to do it without resembling a badger.
There was a lot of stuff on YouTube for instance about the ‘process’ and I even bought a book on Amazon by Anne Kreamer called ‘Going Gray’ (American hence the spelling of gray) which would be my inspiration. I could dip into it every time I almost gave up. But if I really wanted to go grey it said in all the articles and videos I viewed online, it was all about preventing the dreaded ‘harsh line of demarcation’ (isn’t that something to do with setting boundaries to end a war?). Maybe this was my little war so I decided I needed to make an appointment with a proper hairdresser and discuss the process of going grey gracefully.
On recommendation the first hairdresser I visited for ‘help’ wasn’t really interested. Flicking back her obviously out-of-a-bottle bright red mane of hair she told me she had clients who spent £80 a month or so keeping their hair highlighted to disguise the grey. I saw red – literally. My hackles were up. We were not about to build a lasting relationship here. Firstly I don’t have £80 a month going spare and secondly I thought my ‘mane’ – and I use the term loosely – was a bit beyond that. It would take more than a truckload of dye to keep my greys at bay. But I wasn’t giving up on my I’m going grey and be damned plan that easily.
So I went to another hairdresser and had some highlights and low-lights put in to aid the growing out process but after a month or so I just ended up with a load of blended orange hair. This was now even worse. So I went cold turkey. At least the orange/grey demarcation was not as harsh as the otherwise dark brown/grey would have been but it still looked awful. But I could always buy a hat.
Then in July 2012 my husband was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour and had to go to hospital for surgery followed by weeks of recovery so the importance of my hair took a back seat. That’s not to say I didn’t freak out when I looked in the mirror, I just didn’t have time to deal with it. Or to dye it. We had our lives to redress. My hair would have to wait.
The first few months were the worst. My one length bob also made the growing out process harder so when I had about three inches of grey I had some layers put in. Now it didn’t look so bad. Another six months and it was tolerable. Two years down the line and I almost like it. A well-cut fashionable hairstyle is key. People comment. Usually favourably and no-one has said ‘You must be mad. I would never do it’, though I don’t hear what they whisper to each other when my back is turned. Occasionally they say ‘It’s OK for you. You have thick hair.’ Or ‘It suits you but it wouldn’t suit me,’ etc. But I feel liberated. No longer do I have to endure the tyranny of the big boys telling me that my natural hair colour is not good enough and I need to spend a fortune on their over-priced products which are no doubt killing the environment when they get washed down the drain. I can finally embrace the real me. And L’Oreal, Garnier and the rest can stick it.
Then there’s the problem of what to wear. Apart from wearing the ubiquitous monochrome black (because it makes you look slimmer) and white (only ever on the bottom half) I’ve always in reality been a ‘warm’ person steering towards rusts and browns and away from pastels or any ‘cool’ colours. I am still not sure what to do. I am told that red sets off grey hair perfectly but I don’t really like red. Rich purples and metallic colours like gold and slate grey compliment the grey, but stay away from yellow which in sunlight can make your hair look like you smoke 60 a day. My eyes are brown and my skin tone quite olive which can clash with the hair especially when suntanned though my husband likes the ‘contrast’. In photos it can look quite startling – and I don’t necessarily mean in a good way. But hey ho – any excuse to buy new clothes is OK with me.
Yes there are times when I see a thirty year old with gorgeous shiny dark brown hair and think, ‘That was me’. But I am not thirty any more. I don’t have the figure I had back then either or the energy but I am a different me. A wife, a parent to two wonderful sons and now a granny. So yes I am rocking the silver and it’s not that bad. It’s just different. People don’t treat you differently because you are grey. They treat you differently because you are 60. Get over it.