I was a slave to the salon. Every four weeks it was time for a touch-up. Whenever I had my hair color applied, I’d ask, “How gray am I?” In 2019 my roots were growing in so fast that the contrast of the white and dark color really bothered me.
I never wanted to dye my hair. My mother was a double process bleached blonde, and I saw the damage all those chemicals did to her hair. But in my forties when I started to gray around my temples a friend advised me to start.
When I contemplated getting color every three weeks, in January 2020, I thought, “Enough!” Around that time, I noticed celebrities who were my age and older going gray. I always admired Diane Keaton and have often been told I remind people of her–must be the “la, di, da.” So I asked a younger friend whom I rely on for fashion advice. She said, “Keep dying your hair until you can’t anymore.” And my former hairdresser was not in favor of my going gray either. But as it turned out, in February 2020 I sat in the chair at the salon for a lighter base coat and highlights. That was the last time. The Pandemic came, and the lockdown happened, and I saw this as a sign to go for it.
Life is a journey and going gray is a natural part. I saw it with my 14-year-old dog Maggie Mae, a black and white toy poodle who has been gradually turning gray. It was slightly painful watching the contrast. French hair clips and ponytails helped me get through it, and fortunately the only people who saw me were on Zoom or socially distanced as I walked Maggie Mae.
I wasn’t alone in this. A friend with whom I had frequently commiserated about this process had taken the leap in November of 2019. She is so happy now that she has gone gray. “I can’t believe I did that all those years. It wasn’t so painful.”
Another friend who stopped coloring her hair a decade ago says, “I was fed up with all the fuss and tired of all the chemicals. I quite like my hair now.”
I have a new hairstylist who is helping me be my best and true self. Her philosophy is that going natural is another process for women. “When you get to a crossroad where you are thinking about it and you feel ready to be your authentic self, then do it!” She says the Pandemic pushed people to act on something they had been contemplating.
Now this is not for everyone. Not all gray is alike. I’ve always had good hair, great texture and was lucky that my gray is silvery. I can thank my maternal grandparents for that. And it’s also about having the confidence to be your genuine self. I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin and feel like I’ve earned these laugh lines along with the gray.
There are lots of ways to transition to gray from cold turkey by letting your hair grow out naturally like I did, to cutting your hair very short or having a colorist blend the gray tones into your hair. And if you need support there are Facebook groups to join to help you through it.
Another friend who is a former actress who had been dying her hair forever got help from a colorist to make the transition. “People see gray and immediately say, ‘old.’” But she has embraced her new look and sees it as an opportunity to refresh her wardrobe and wear colors she never dreamed of wearing.
Going gray has given me the opportunity to sport a hairstyle that is chic and one I wore when I was much younger.
Proverbs 16:31 says, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor. It is attained by living a righteous life.” I’d like to hope that is the case. It’s been two years and all the old color is now gone. I’m walking into 2022 wearing a crown of splendor and loving it.