Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shades of grey

Last week, I went to get my hair cut. I get my hair cut (trimmed -- my style hasn't changed a lot in recent years) every 6-7 weeks or so, and have colour & highlights added two or three times a year -- coincidentally (or perhaps not, lol) just before I head out to visit my parents, summer and Christmastime. And sometimes tying it in just before a special occasion, like a family wedding.

My mother, like many women of her generation, has visited a hairdresser once a week to have her hair washed & styled for as long as I can remember. She has been colouring her hair for years, and has often muttered her disapproval to me about my sister's decision, a few years back, not to colour her hair anymore, after going through a phase of experimenting with various colours (including henna) around the time she turned 40. (My sister is almost two years younger than me but, for the record, far greyer.)  I've always been the more compliant child, my sister more the rebellious one.

I started adding highlights to my hair about 15-20 years ago, at the urging of my then-hairdresser, who was clearly bored with doing the same-old-same-old with me & itching to unleash her creativity. While I intensely disliked having my head covered with a rubber cap & the hairs yanked through tiny holes one bunch at a time with a crochet hook, I did like the results. I continued to have highlights done a couple times a year after our hairdresser moved and left us in the hands of her friend at a local salon (who turned out to be the wife of an old friend of dh's!!), 10-15 years ago.

I did start to notice that the golden highlights were becoming mixed with some silver. My hairdresser began to hint that perhaps something more was needed, that I needed to start colouring my hair to cover the grey. I resisted for a long time, until one day, perhaps 5-10 years ago, when I came to the salon, intending to have some highlights done -- and my hairdresser sat there pouting and glaring at me until I caved and agreed to let her try the colour, in addition to the highlights. She did the highlights first, painting them on sections of my hair & then wrapping the sections in tin foil, and then painting on the colour on the hair that was left. My hair has inexplicably turned darker in recent years;  she made it a warmer shade of brown with golden highlights.

I did like it -- a lot (and I especially liked abandoning the rubber cap, lol) -- so I've continued -- but, as I've said, only two or three times a year. (I did try just the colour without the highlights once, but I missed the highlights.) It's outrageously expensive to colour & highlight your hair, for one thing;  it takes time (particularly when your hair is as thick as mine is);  and I really didn't feel my hair was THAT grey that I really needed to do it more often.

Since I've stopped working, the pressure to keep up a youthful appearance (in an office where the 20-somethings increasingly outnumbered those of us in our 40s and 50s) has lessened somewhat. (Being on a reduced income also makes you a little more careful where you spend your money.)  A couple of times now, I've reached the stage where most of the colour & highlights had been cut off and thought, "This really doesn't look THAT bad..." 

I was at that stage this past week. Our hairdresser asked me if we were doing colour today, and I said no, just a trim, but probably next time, before I went on vacation. As she was finishing, she said, "You know, Lori, it almost looks like you have highlights anyway! I think it looks great! You should just leave it the way it is!" 

"You think so??" I said (remembering that this was the same woman who pouted and scowled at me until I let her colour my hair just a few years ago) -- adding (only half in jest), "Will you tell my mother that??"

As I paid my bill, the receptionist said, "That looks really good!  Are you going to let it stay gray?" 

"I don't know, we'll see," I said.

Dh, of course, thinks it looks fine.

My hair is still more brown than grey... but there's a lot more grey there than there used to be. :p  My aunt (whom I resemble) had gorgeous grey hair (now white);  I figure being grey won't be so bad, if my hair turns out like hers. It's the in-between stage, the getting there, that's the tough part (kind of like growing your hair out, I guess).

I know that other bloggers (Kathy, Mel and, most recently, Lori) have struggled with this issue.

Do you colour your hair, or do you let the grey show?


  1. I've found that not coloring my hair caused issues with teaching. But, I'm also 36 yrs old and struggle with people accepting gray hair on someone my age. That said, I think gray hair is lovely and can be very stylish. I knew someone once who had a beautiful mane of gray hair she maintained with lavender shampoo. If it looks great, which it sounds like it does, my vote is go with it.

  2. It's funny....I've been thinking about the same thing. I've colored my hair for 10 or so years because it's a relatively harmless way to get my impulsivity out. Sometimes just highlights, sometimes a full color, sometimes professionally, sometimes from a box in the drugstore. I haven't dyed it since (American) Thanksgiving after an epic disaster with going really dark and hating it. As it's growing back in I can see grey. I've had a few grey hairs here and there for a few years, but now It's starting to become noticeable, and I'm not coping well. I think I'll probably continue growing it out for the summer, get a bunch chopped off, and get it professionally fixed. Ugh.

    Apparently having your hair colored grey is a thing now so you're very fashion forward. :)

  3. I had to start coloring my grey when I was 17. Yes, 17. I plucked my first grey hair at 13. Premature grey runs in my family, so it was more of a shock than a surprise. I've been considering transitioning to grey (I'm 34 now), but I can't do it. I feel like my hair makes me look so much older than I am, and I just want to have my hair and face "match" like you said. It's a little easier now that M has started to grey - I'll probably try to just stay in step with him and phase out the color as he looks a little older.

  4. I actually do blonde highlights that help blend the grey. I went completely grey a few years ago, but it did make me look old. I think at some point, when the grey is more prevalent, I'll probably do a very light blonde tint maybe, just to take the grey to the next level. We do not color the grey between the highlights though! It's awesome to hear your stylist thought it looked good!!! That must help you feel good about the decision to not :)

  5. Yep - gorgeous twentysomethings dying their hair gray is totally a thing. It even has its own #grannyhair hashtag on Instagram, And the other day I did a double take after I noticed a young woman with gray hair. It does look very striking.

  6. I've never dared colour my hair. In the past I couldn't do it until we go to university because our schools wouldn't let us do such a thing. Plus I was afraid of ruining my hair by colouring and highlighting it too often. Second reason was the price and the maintenance. Third reason: I've seen some friends with similar hair colour try on some hair colour on their own and the result wasn't really clear. My hair is really dark that if I want to colour it and have the colour really show nicely, it probably needs several layers of colourings instead of just one. Plus if I want it highlighted, that would add the work and the cost, I assume?

    Now that I live in a small village in Finland, going to a hairdresser is expensive (I can afford it if I want to, but I'm afraid they can't do it the way I want it to). As a result I've never gone to a hairdresser here at all. Sometimes during my travels when I find a cheaper place to have a haircut, then I'd do it and whenever we go back to Indo, I always make sure I treat myself to have a haircut. Thus ever since I moved to Finland, my haircut has been kinda weird/sometimes wonky because I do it myself.

    My dad's eldest sister has a head full of silver hair and I think it's lovely, too. Some relatives have started calling her "Snow White" HA HA HA HA HA...

  7. I love gray hair. I have friends in the 30s who are going gray already (I listened to an interesting podcast and found out going gray is genetic, so while there can be a stress component involved, it is mainly about our lovely genes) and don't color their hair and I think it looks awesome. Neither of my parents went gray early, but my sister started getting gray hairs in her 20s. She only sparse amount now in her late 30s. But, in my mid-30s, I have zero still. So, I think it will be a while until I face the gray. But, I think I'll be embracing it.