My Mom started going gray at 12. Or 11. Or 13 depending on how she tells the story.
Either way, it was super early.
With fairly light hair though, it looked like she was getting highlights. NBD.
I don’t remember the exact year, but I got my first gray hairs in my teens.
Even though I had a couple of grays, hair color in my teens and early 20s was just for fun. Highlights. Red. Not because I felt like I needed it. Just because I wanted to mix it up.
In my mid 20s, I started dying my hair at home. Not particularly regularly. I’d just pick up a box when I felt like my hair was bugging me. I’d usually try for just a nice, warm brown.
Then I started to feel like I needed it. My grays would bug me. I got pretty good at touching up my roots over the sink. I finally learned NOT to use the white towels when dying my hair.
Later in my 20s, I started getting color done in the salon. I loved the result. Hated how long it took.
Now in Italy, I usually have someone else color my hair. I occasionally reach for a box if I’m feeling desperate.
But here’s the deal. I’m kind of getting sick of it.
My main annoyance has always been the time. I don’t love how much it costs, but I REALLY don’t love how long it takes. I’ve never thought of hair salon time as “spa time” or “me time.” I’ll try to read, but it’s too loud or distracting. I like my hairdressers. A lot. I just don’t like sitting there forever. It feels more like a chore. Just something I have to do. Much better than the dentist, yes. But still a to do.
(I’ve finally realized I’m not a spa girl and not a manicure/pedicure girl. Took me long enough.)
And even though I’ve been avoiding processed foods, this hasn’t made it over to natural skin and household products. Yet. But it is something I’m thinking about more and more. Hair dye has a lot of chemicals.
(I’ll be honest. I secretly hoped the paleo diet might help on my grays. Like maybe there is some nutrient deficiency that I’ve solved now. Haha. NOPE.)
What if I stopped?
Per usual, I turned to the internet. Tsh Oxenreider grew out her grays in her thirties. If you start to look, there are stories of women rocking their natural hair out there. I haven’t ordered Anne Kreamer’s Going Gray yet, but I might.
There are more stories on how to grow out your grays. There don’t seem to be a lot of great options. At the end of the day, you have to grow it out. That could mean months and months of the dreaded “skunk line” and having to worry people just think you’ve let yourself go.
Even though there are stories on the internet, gray hair doesn’t feel like a think I actually encounter in real life. Women in their 70s can have gray hair. 30s, 40s, 50s? I just don’t see it. This feels especially acute in Italy where there is a salon on every corner and women have gorgeous, long manes of hair.
I feel like I’m not old enough to be gray. But honestly, will I ever feel old enough? It’s always nice to feel like you look nice. I tried how-old and got five years younger than my age and was pleased. I use skin cream and sunscreen and makeup. I try. If I think about it, I guess I’m trying to look younger at the end of the day.
I think about being judged. If people look at me, will they make snap judgments? Will they look past the hair color? What if I’m sitting down for a job interview some day . . . will I be as marketable? I don’t like it, but appearances can matter.
I think about styling different hair. Isn’t gray hair a different texture? Coarser? Some days it feels like I can barely deal with my hair now. I don’t want to have to learn something new.
I think about losing a piece of my identity. I’ve had dark hair as long as I can remember. The thought of waking up and seeing someone else feels weird. A little scary. If I did this now, my kids would never really remember me with brown hair. That feels strange.
My neighbor has a head of silver hair and looks amazing. If I was all gray, that would be one thing. After forcing him to access, James guesses I might be 50% gray. But he claims it is hard to estimate because the light hairs stand out so much more. Things have not yet devolved to the level where I made him count the hairs on a patch for my accurate results. Yet.
I’m not saying I’m doing this. I’m just saying I’m thinking about it. I could be thinking about it for quite awhile.
And please know that I mean no offense for anyone else’s choices. If you want to color your hair until you’re 95, rock on. If you’ve never touched a box of hair color, do you. Whatever makes you happy.
I’m just saying that right now I’m not super happy with the status quo, but I’m not super happy about the thought of changing. Just thinking out loud here.
Maybe as a first step, I’ll try growing out my roots as long as I can stand it. Just to see what we’re working with. Maybe I’ll even share a picture.
Have you embraced your grays? Any advice?
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