I Have Gray Hair

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I have gray hair  

This post may totally torpedo anybody wanting to read my blog again. Gray hair does that. It makes certain people turn away. Yet, just yesterday, a stranger told me, “I like your hair color.” A MAN, very validating. So if you don’t already know, I have gray hair. Grey. Silver. Salt and Pepper. Gunmetal. Pewter. Naked hair.

And this is my story about giving up hair color.

I’d been coloring since “Sun-In” in high school. My first gray hair, I remember discovering at age 26. My dad has been a “silver fox” pretty much my entire life, so it was inevitable.

Some people aren’t cool about gray. Gray hair makes you invisible to certain populations of people. Teens don’t move out of my way passing on sidewalks, for one thing. So, I bump them, just to mess with them.

Strangers aside, some friends aren’t comfortable seeing me gray, either (yo, Phyllis).

But too bad. Last year, I threw in the towel. The flashpoint was the Portland IACP conference, chatting with cookbook author Mollie Katzen and writer Barbara Snow. That night, in the hotel bathroom mirror via horrid fluorescence: roots! Un-f-ing-believable, I hadn’t timed my color for one of my top “be seen” events.

Seriously, that was happening a LOT. Frugal me, always stretching an extra week or two (or three) before hitting the salon. Worse, with solid white-gray areas, color wasn’t sticking very long. Also being cheap, I don’t color before vacations. Environs like India, Vietnam, Egypt, Africa just strip out color due to smoke, saltwater, wind, fire, fog, seriously hard water (or muddy water for that matter). So, while saving pennies until back home, vacation pix of me were often…. DELETE DELETE.

Over the years, my hair colors progressed through red tones, some blonde years, and most recently settled into a complicated highlight / lowlight financial trap that, after a few weeks, still would reveal an unattractive skunk streak.

Mollie and Barbara convinced me I could do this (or were they saying I SHOULD do it?).

Larry’s reaction? Nervous but (probably because he looks at me more than I see myself) saw no other option anyway. More time in a salon throwing more money at my hair wasn’t “me.”

Growing out color is not for the vain. The color I’d been using was “semi permanent” – it theoretically fades faster to make roots less noticeable. But that is a lie. It just loses color.

The only way to get to virgin hair is cuts. For about six months, evolving from a warm tone to a cool color, every glance in the mirror was, “This is NOT going well.” It was just not an attractive new color. But I was in deep, and kept going.

collage with captionsOne day at about 90% grown out, chatting with a woman whose color I was aiming for, she offered, “Oh honey, you’re going to have to wear a WHOLE LOT MORE makeup.” Bullseye, THAT made total sense. Gray makes your face fade. Eyes, brows, lips need to be more visible. I hit Nordstrom for a fresh wheelbarrow of product and vowed to color-up more. And I do, sporadically.

Now, I’m officially Silver. It’s EMPOWERING. Salon visits are 2/3 cheaper.  No more “roots.” I feel more ME. My eyes are a steely blue and when I wear certain clothing colors – gray, blue, pink – people say nice things about my peepers.

And my hair, lots of people talk to me about it.

Just last week, Larry was commenting on how he doesn’t understand some hair colors (faded orange on grannies, for example). “I’m OK with your gray hair,” he said. Thank you, Larry.  And thank you FRIENDS who told me — within earshot of him — that you love the gray hair.

 

 

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk September 6, 2011 at 8:53 am

Judyd – hang in there, it’s frustrating but once you get the last colored stuff snipped off, aaaah.

2 Judyd September 6, 2011 at 8:09 am

Love your hair!!!! Use to color every three weeks. Have been transitioning since February. Reading all these posts gives me the courage to continue. Thanks ladies!

3 Susan September 6, 2011 at 5:00 am

I got to your blog through Rock the Silver and
I am a fellow “silver sister” who finally got off the coloring crack about a year and a half ago myself. I decided to blaaahhhgg about the experience and post photos of my progress on the journey. You look terrific and I appreciate you posting about it. Enjoy the freedom and the empowerment. I think those are my favorite things about this whole process!!!
Susan
http://www.almostsilversue.blogspot.com

4 Worth The Whisk September 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Lisa, YES! Colors are unbelievable. And being a frugal gal, I totally love the savings each salon visit.

5 Lisa September 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm

You look fantastic. I’m here from Rock the Silver, and I’m growing my gray in too. Here’s the thing. Whole new color families are now open to me in terms of what to wear. To say nothing of the $$$ cut free from their former indentured servitude to the salon.

6 Worth The Whisk September 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thanks so much Colleen. Donna’s blog is GREAT inspiration, too.

7 Colleen September 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I’m visiting your blog through Donna’s “Rock The Silver”. I’m so glad she said to take a peak 🙂 I love Donna’s blog and she’s been such an inspiration, as well as GGLG because I’ve been “transitioning” to be me since February. It’s not for the faint-of-heart, is it?? But it’s so worth it! You look great 🙂

I’ll be back for some more blog reading 🙂

8 Donna September 5, 2011 at 6:51 am

How lovely to see you so stylishly rocking the silver! Congratulations — you look great.

9 sippitysup September 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

You look fabulous! GREG

10 Worth The Whisk September 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

Thanks, Kelly. I certainly HOPE nature gave me a complimentary color because it’s already too convenient to consider changing anytime in the near future. LOL

11 Kelly September 1, 2011 at 8:24 am

I think regardless of age, it’s easy to think that whatever our natural hair color is isn’t good enough and that we need highlights or a complete dye job to make it beautiful. I love that you are rocking the gray hair. You look radiant and confident and you know what, it looks gorgeous on you, shiny and full of life. I think sometimes (whether we like it or not) nature gives us the hair color that most perfectly compliments us.

12 Worth The Whisk September 1, 2011 at 8:12 am

Carrie, thank you so much. My stylist is still hoping I have regrets, lost her 2/3 of my salon charges!

13 Carrie C. September 1, 2011 at 6:19 am

That is such a flattering hair color on you!

14 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 9:30 am

Cathy, you’re a good pal. Thanks for the nice comments.

15 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 9:29 am

Tonya, will be interested to learn your experiences when (or if) you give it up, sister!

16 Tonya @happybodynlife August 31, 2011 at 9:15 am

Your gray hair is beautiful and I can see how that must be empowering. I love your good humored post and will refer back to it when I give up on the highlights and coloring as well 🙂

17 Cathy/ShowFoodChef August 31, 2011 at 9:12 am

Fabulous natural color! Honestly, you are so beautiful and have such nice hair – I think you’d look amazing no matter what you did or didn’t do. I loved the post and your spirit of fun and authenticity came shining through, as always.

18 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:13 am

Sharon – Emmylou is FAB. Agree with you there.

19 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:13 am

oooh, Judy, now I have to get that book. My mother never says a PEEP about this color, she is in your mom’s camp, too. Now that I think of it, my four sisters aren’t piping up much, either. Ha ha. Hello back to you in lovely Adelaide! We had some GREAT times with fellow Silver Aussies in Egypt. Another motivator, new friend Brenda was a stunning Silver Sister.

20 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:11 am

Kerrie – the “Jamie Lee Curtis” cut is usually ADORABLE with the silver. Excited for your Kerriest!

21 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:10 am

Sherry, the makeup part is still a struggle for me. California Hippie that I am, I could go weeks without it. Of course, same with a bra. Poor UPS delivery guy, feel bad for him when I open the door. AAAAAAAAAA

22 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:08 am

Mary Beth – love the white blaze, too. We are lucky for that extra bonus.

23 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:07 am

Kieren – welcome to my blog! That’s interesting about the skin tone, took a while for me to “see” it. Thanks for this.

24 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

Miss Virginia, you are my Silver Tresses role model, along with the glorious red lipstick. Your mama pulled a good one on you, however.

25 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:05 am

Yes, ma’am Misty!

26 Worth The Whisk August 31, 2011 at 8:04 am

Diane, isn’t that the truth? Thanks for this.

27 Kath August 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

Patti, your hair looks fabulous! I want to be done with coloring my hair! The idea of seeing me with grey hair, however, freaks out my husband. Maybe he’ll just have to get used to it! Thanks for the inspiration!

28 Dianne August 31, 2011 at 6:12 am

I had grey hair once, now it’s almost all white!! And I like it, that’s all that matters. 🙂

29 Misty August 31, 2011 at 5:38 am

I’m a hairdresser & I’m pro gray. What you don’t mention is the allergic reactions and other potential health issues associated with steeping in chemicals & heavy metals less than 1″ from your brain every 4-6 weeks. (Probably because the public is uneducated about these risks.) When your life revolves around gray roots, something is wrong. Life should revolve around friends & family. Seems like you suffered in ways you shouldn’t have through the growing out process. A better stylist could have helped you through the “ugly duckling” phase with more grace.
Now, take all that money you now save and go buy art. Every 4-6 weeks. I insist.

30 Virginia willis August 31, 2011 at 4:09 am

Found my first grey hair at 18 while in college. Freaking out, I called mama. She deadpanned, “it’s all those bad checks you’ve been writing.”
I’ve never died it to hide the color and I love the freedom. You look fantastic. Glad you’ve gone grey. Best, VA

31 Kieren Dutcher August 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I’ve never read your blog before today, but I think your silver locks look fantastic. And the thing about natural hair color is, that it always goes with your skin tones. Kinda like choosing your house colors to go with the roof color (which many folks don’t do, and their houses never look quite right).

32 Mary Beth August 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Great post! I LOVE women who sport silver proudly. It takes some sass and feeling comfortable with who you are to wear it, plus it’s gorgeous! I have a white blaze in the front that began in my 30s and gets bigger each year. I love it and it’s part of my persona. I’ve even been asked if I bleach it…
Here’s to beautiful silver, gray and white haired ladies!

33 Sherry Smyth August 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I went for the real me a year ago as well…I always knew I would at some point and it just hit me..this is it. I love my hair the way it is, I love the cuts I get and I always put a flash of something brilliant right in the front — to remind me that I’m still me, still hip, still cool, still artsy and still vibrant. My stylist and I choose what it will be from cut to cut and I always leave there with a bounce in my step. And you are bang on with the make up — we need more. That was one of the reasons I decided to stop colouring — my skin was changing and the colour wasn’t keeping up. There is something freeing about letting yourself be who you are.

34 Kerrie Blazek August 30, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Found your blog via Patti Digh’s fb post…another gray haired beauty. Turns out, I just decided a few weeks ago to go to my natural color, which I haven’t seen in over 12 years. I also went drastically short! And just like you, I feel more ME than ever. I tell all my friends, it’s me at my Kerriest.

Thanks for sharing your story. You look beautiful!

35 Judy August 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Patti, I found this post via Mollie and I wholeheartedly agree with you and with the people who have commented. I love my ‘silverness’ and wish I’d done it years earlier. I read Anne Kreamer’s book, Going Gray and realised that I was just trying too hard to keep a hair colour that I hadn’t had for a long time. It wasn’t worth the time, effort and expense of staying a brunette. And the person who was most opposed to me going silver was … my mother! My partner and kids were fine with it. Thanks for a great post, and best wishes from Adelaide, Australia!

36 Sharon Sanders August 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Patti,
You look gorjus! I’m not all silver yet but I’ve been trying for years.
Since I am totally lazy and really cheap, the idea of coloring never appealed to me.
Gray hair not sexy?
Take one look at Emmylou Harris.
I rest my case.

37 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm

MOLLIE, my silver mentor! Thanks for the great comment. Will see you at next IACP.

38 Mollie Katzen August 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Go, silver sister – you look glorious! And isn’t it a relief? I haven’t looked back. Love, Mollie K PS – People ask me what I did to my hair to get this color. My response: I lived.

39 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Erika, you are smart. And will be rich from the savings, too.

40 Erika - In Erika's Kitchen August 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I am never ever ever going to color my hair. At this point I’ve earned every single gray hair. If I’m really lucky I’ll end up looking like you!

41 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Jean – Thank you. Steel yourself. Takes some getting used to, and then BOOM, you made it.

42 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Sharon, you are so kind. Thank you.

43 Jean Layton August 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Thank You so much for your honesty. Your hair looks amazing, vibrant, alive.
Love how it makes you glow.
I’m in the process of stopping the henna shenanigans as well. It is just too much work for too little return.
I figure I’ve earned every one of my grey hairs and the world can see my badges.

44 Sharon August 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Envious of your beautiful hair.

45 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Damon, a girl ALWAYS appreciates a compliment from a gay guy. Many thanks for this. It’s the hetero’s that shock us when they notice, LOL.

46 Damon Lee Fowler August 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Honey, you are GORGEOUS. I’m actually envious of that wonderful silver. And yes, I’m gay . . . but I still think you look more beautiful than ever!

47 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Diane, we’ve talked hair before and I appreciate your professional two-cents about this subject. Near and dear to my head… I mean, heart!

48 Worth The Whisk August 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Dorothy, thank you for that. 😀

49 Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious August 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

You are wise!

50 Diane {Created by Diane} August 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Great post, I mentioned when I saw you last how pretty your hair is. You really wear it well!
I’ve been a hairstylist for over 20 years and sympathize for anyone growing it out. It’s a battle, but one with a win in the end. (coloring for years is so much more of a battle every month, than the year of growing it out I think) Anyone I’ve seen grow it out, I think looks great and most often they say they wished they’d done it sooner.

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