I’ve decided to stop fighting. I surrender. I give up.
My hair wants to be gray, or it would have succumbed to the barrage of hair dye I’ve injected over the years. Secretly, I pray that hair coloring doesn’t cause cancer, otherwise, I’m a pretty good candidate. I’ve helped to support the hair color industry for over 2 decades. I think I’ve done my time.
Genetics have relentlessly dictated this situation since my late 20s. My mother and grandmother were both prematurely gray. My mother fought it forcefully; my grandmother, Jewell, never tried. She had a glorious platinum white head of hair for most of her life and she wore it proudly.
I never thought having a kid wouldn’t make such a mark, but becoming a mommy just stripped the color right out of my hair. The next thing I knew I was spending hours and dinero each month to retain my youthful pigment. By my calculations, I spend at least 60 hours and $1200 each year keeping up this charade. Let’s face it, I’m a junkie.
To be honest, I started thinking about it 10 years ago, but as my mid-life crisis raged, I wasn’t able to let go of my dark locks. Suddenly, while basking in my after-50 glow, I’ve started to realize how much time I’m wasting, and time has become even more precious than ever. I slowly started to see how my hair has run my life. As I see it, anything with that much power must be silenced.
I’d been procrastinating for some time, continuing to color my hair, letting it grow past my boiling point. It was my daughter who lovingly pointed out that I was beginning to resemble a bag lady. She told me firmly with a loving edge, and just a hint of impatience that I needed to do something about my hair.
And so it began yesterday. My journey was kicked off with a consultation with Gabrielle Dente. Even though I’ve known Gaby for many years, I was impressed that her training was as arduous as that of a nursing professional. I knew I was in good hands. Together we made a plan, after both of us had spent several days imagining how to make the process as painless as possible. She convinced me to slow down and take it one step at a time.
Stage One – Make the Cut
In a matter of minutes, 10 inches of hair were unceremoniously snipped. This was necessary not only to reduce the amount of hair being colored, but with severely damaged ends and summer approaching, it was time for a major trim.
Now sitting lightly on top of my shoulders, it’s the perfect length. Since my hair grows rather fast, getting a trim every 6 weeks will move the color out quickly.
Step Two – Color Correction
My goal was to create a better overall transition. I don’t want to look like a skunk as my hair grows out. In addition, harsh brassy tones were clashing with my natural Irish coloring. As the white grows in, we will add brighter highlights to pull them in and blend together, inviting the gray to take over.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve researched the concept of blending graying hair to skin tones. Sticking with blue undertones, lifting out the brassiness is important to help with the transition. As my gray hair grows out, the highlighted blondes tones will begin to blend with the platinum white. We can also bring in lowlights later as my natural hair grows out with tiny streaks of brown.
Step Three – Patience and Time
My approach to beauty has been more in line with divide and conquer — blast the little buggers into submission. As I’ve explored the idea of transition, I realized that I needed to make my hair more welcoming to the gray. Changing my focus from holding back the tide to allowing the flow will help make this less difficult.
One blogger created several beautiful knitted hats and hair bands. Keeping an eye on the color hues of my clothing will also help liven up the shifting strands of white. Stay away from ivory, they warn, sticking to black, white, and bold colors.
Another blogger suggested that going gray was a sign of confidence. For me it’s a sign of being fed up. Maybe that’s what confidence is built upon. I’ve noticed that this last year, being 50 has shown me many things that I have suddenly chosen to leave behind, like shedding skin. Suddenly, I don’t care as much as I used to. I don’t worry about those things I used to worry about.
Maybe as I approach 51, I’m finally growing up, accepting myself au naturale. I say bring it on! I’m going to have 60 extra hours this year to fill.