Sunday, March 1, 2009

possibly not aging with grace

I started dying my hair the day school let out for the summer in 9th grade. I dyed it blackest black (really, that's what it was called) and boy was that a mistake. Did you know that semi-permanent black hair dye that says it washes out in 30 washes does not, in fact, wash out? At the time I loved my black hair, but looking back on it now I can see how it was not really that awesome. Pale girl + black hair = one super goth looking girl even before she realized that wearing all black clothing was an option.

After I grew out all the black dye, I moved on to reds. I'm fairly certain I have tried every shade of red dye available at your local drugstore, including ones that were in no way natural looking. Eventually I settled on one that really worked for me and rocked that until a few years ago when I realized that I had really fine hair because of my dye jobs. (not that having it professionally dyed would have made it any better) I had what my stylist called a chemical cut, where hair was being burned off around my hairline and the new growth was slowly coming in, causing some nasty cow licks. The only way to deal with this issue was to stop dying my hair and let it heal itself over time, so that's what I did.

Now my hair is healthier and thicker than it has been in 15 years (not that it's thick, just thicker than before) and it's also back to its natural boring brown. I've got to say I was a bit surprised by how brown it is because after dying it for so long I had convinced myself that it had actual red in it. In my defense, I have the coloring for red hair and people always assumed my hair was actually red, so you can see how I managed to trick myself. And while I dislike the brown, what I dislike even more is all the gray hairs that are growing in. Holy hell, I have a lot of gray hair.

My mom has dyed her hair for as long as I can remember causing me to have no idea how much gray she has. For all we know she might be 100% gray at this point. Same thing with my grandmother. And much like making myself think I really had red hair, it was easy to look at them and think "Well they aren't gray, so I'll probably not go gray either." Yet here I am at 29 with more grays than I am comfortable with. And I am feeling rather alone in my gray hairedness because jparks? Not a gray hair on his head. (insert "not a hair on his head at all" joke here)

Seriously, it's time to confess, do you have gray hairs? Are you growing old gracefully and not dying them? Or are you fighting the aging process with regular trips to the salon? Should I start dying my hair again? Is it possible to have gray hairs and still be young and hip, or should I just give up now? Someone help me because today I cut one of my gray hair very close to my scalp because it was too obvious. (cut as opposed to pulling it out because I do not need two to grow back in its place) Never mind the fact that the other gray hairs are just as obvious, this one was a bad seed and was mocking me. It needed to be stopped. But if I continue to cut them out, I will be bald by next weekend and I'm thinking that covering up a bald head is much more difficult than covering up some grays.

Also, if any male out there chimes in about how his gray hairs aren't aging him, but rather turning him distinguished, there is a good chance I will come after you and shave off your eyebrows.


  1. I have a few white hairs (instead of gray) and not only do they stand out but mine are a different texture than the rest of my hair. Have you tried highlights instead of dying your hair? That way not so much of you hair would be exposed to chemical product and if you have a good hairdresser you can slowly let the highlights grow out so it looks natural and you don't have to go back as often. Also, aren't there hair glazes as well? (I only know about them because I have heard Martha Stewart say she gets her hair glazed.) I get mine highlighted every so often (only once or twice a year) b/c I am lazy or cheap or something. I haven't since I got pregnant for multiple reasons (the main one being I just don't feel like leaning over backwards to get my hair washed in those uncomfortable sinks while I am pregnant). If the gray hair is bothering you then you should do something about it so look into other options beyond full head dying. I am not saying I don't like your hair - but that how you feel about your hair and appearance is the most important thing. Still, wait two weeks before you do anything (always a safe bet hair wise).

  2. No hair on my scalp to go gray...but the gray hairs on the beard and in the sideburns only make me look even older. The only way you look distinguished is with a full head of wavy silver hair. A guy with gray hair just looks old. Especially when it's this patchy.

  3. Not that I know of. My mom didn't start going gray until 45, and I think because my hair is relatively light, maybe I'll have the same fate (hopefully!). Then again, I'm just 26 now...

  4. No gray hairs... yet. Both my parents had a good spray of white hair by the time they were 30 so I have a few years. I'm not sure if I plan on coloring them. I'm kind of half-assed about dying my hair now --- I usually just add a tint because it's so dark and you can never notice when it grows out a bit.

    My husband is 31 and has sprouted a few gray hairs. His are hardly noticeable though; his hair is the color of perfectly cooked waffles, a nice golden brown, and he has some silvery blond mixed in. I am jealous.

    My mom dyes her hair. She uses some Korean potato-based dye that's supposedly healthier but I really have no idea what's in it. I also have no idea how much gray hair she has either. Hmm...

    My stepmom used to frost her hair but I think now she just has it dyed her natural brown color.

    Maybe I'll rebel and be the first woman in my family to let my natural grays show.

  5. I started noticing my gray hairs probably when I was 28, and despite the fact that I think they're glaringly obvious, it seems that other people don't really notice them. Any hair dye plans I have are more to just try something different with my hair and not to cover up the gray. Though in a year or two, the gray hairs might be the motivating factor...

  6. I always thought I would "age gracefully" and accept gray hair when it came... until they started showing up when I was 23. And even then, I thought, "I'm being hyper-sensitive, and it's probably not that noticeable..." until twice in one week, two people commented on how gray my hair was getting. So figuring if two people were commenting, probably everybody was noticing, even if I was the only one who was fixating on it. So I dye my hair, because it keeps me from staring at the grays in the mirror. I use "Naturecolor", a brand they sell at Whole Foods, because I like the color, and I think it's less chemical-smelling and less damaging than Ye Olde Clairol.

  7. I think it's possible to be gray at an early age and still be hip, but I also think it helps on the type of gray one is developing. As Jon said, silver is best, but so few people have that. Also, I think it helps to go almost completely gray/silver fairly quickly for it to work well. To just have a few gray hairs intermingled is just boring. Not bad, but boring.

    I've had my hairstylist on alert to tell me when she first sees a gray hair. I still hadn't heard anything from her so I thought I had inherited my Mom's gray hair genes and I was ecstatic. My Mom didn't start going noticeably gray until her 50s sometime (I'm 37). Her friends accused her of dying her hair until the grays finally slowly started to appear.

    But, um, a few weeks ago I noticed 3 gray hairs... elsewhere. I jokingly mentioned to my hairstylist how I freaked out about this and she said, oh yeah, I think I've seen a couple on your head lately. DUDE! I told you to TELL ME. Yeesh. I even told her recently, like a couple appointments ago. She claimed she wasn't sure if they were gray or just naturally really blond because I can have some naturally really blond hairs (in addition to the ones she makes blond for a pretty penny). Also, they weren't the really thick, wiry hairs like some grays can be.

    I think if I went gray "early" in life, I'd probably dye my hair (but how early is early?). At some point, I'd probably aim for just going au naturale. Although, I still haven't figured out when I'm going to stop highlighting my hair, so maybe this whole discussion is moot. So yeah, I guess that's a bonus of highlighting my hair so much that it makes me blond... it's harder to see any gray hairs that may appear. But I swear that's not why I highlight my hair, it's just the bonus.

  8. I spotted my first few greys on my 23rd birthday. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I became obsessed with it. I'd had my hair highlighted but decided it was too much money to spend and then when it grew out I was faced with reality. I have lots of grey. If I had it in a cool single stripe or if I went all grey quickly I'd probably get a hip haircut and live with it, but... no. Neither of those apply. So I get my hair coloured - permanent single-ish colour job - about every 6 weeks (or longer if I can stand it because I am CHEAP). I have enough of it that highlights would be ridiculously expensive. Unfortunately I like my hair dark brown so the growth is pretty obvious since its mostly around my natural part.

    I hate to say it but I think grey hair is just aging. If you have a significant amount of it your other fashion markers need to read young.

  9. I've had gray hairs since forever... I first noticed them when I was 19, and they were full length. But there was just a few so I pulled them out. Now over 10 years later I have so many grays I have to get my hair dyed every other month! :/ So I'm not growing old gracefully, because that would have meant owning up to the grays at 19 which seemed wrong as I was still a virgin. :D

    I agree with Mary-Lynn; if I had a cool streak or more around the temples I'd be fine, but all mine started at the crown.

  10. I have no grey hairs... but I'm blonde, I think that it makes a difference. Also I do highlight my hair, 'but that's cause the sun bleaches me and then I really look like I have a bad dye job. Heh.
    Anyhow I saw you the other day and I didn't notice a gray hair on your head. I think that wrinkled bagged out skin ages someone way faster than a few greys. So slather on the sunscreen!

  11. I don't like to consider hair gray but rather hair that's afraid of color!

  12. No grays, but Mr. A has them o his temples.

  13. My dad went completely gray around 30, so I was pretty terrified that would happen to me, especially since I inherited his straight hair and not my mom's curly hair. My mom didn't start going noticeably gray until she was in her 50's and I think I got her color gene. I don't have any gray hair yet, thank goodness! If you don't want to dye your hair while you're pregnant, I would recommend getting color shampoo and conditioner. I've used the Aveda red ones several times and really like those. Also, they will cling more to the gray hair so it will just look like red highlights, and you won't have to worry about racing to the hairdresser to get your roots done. (note, you have to really wash your hands and the shower tiles to make sure the red doesn't stain the tiles or grout)

  14. As a brunette with totally dull color I get it fixed every 5 weeks (my friend gives me a deal on the price) with a brown low-light and blone high-light. I feel like i just got it done but today I was totally noticing 100% grey roots at my part. I hate the expense but now that I'm committed to the professional color, I'm afraid that switching to a drug-store brand will turn my hair orange (yes, I've been there and done that....something to do with the highlighted hair turning orange from the dye). My mom has been grey for 30-years and was all-grey in her 30's and 40's which I hated and was so embarrased by it. Since her 50's she colors it -- every 3 weeks with a drug-store brand (recommended by her cousin who is a stylist). She also deep conditions once or twice per week with a pricey clairol conditioner that comes in a tiny tube. She now has approx 50% less hair which is possibly due to hormones and arthritis medication and she feels that the color helps her thinning hair to look fuller. Anyway, I think that highlights or a drug-store brand dye with regular conditioning can make hair look brighter and shinier (more "life") and have the benefit of covering up a few greys.

  15. Oh, dear. I did that "snip the gray hairs out by the root" thing, and lemme tell you: in about a month or two, you might have some nice little gray hairs sticking straight out for a few days until they decide to lay down. At least, that is what happened to me.

    I've been dying my hair to cover the gray since I was 26. I am now 43, and get it professionally colored every 4 weeks. I used to go 5 weeks, but the contrast between my roots got so noticeable that I decided to suck it up and go every 4 weeks (but then again, my hair grows really fast.) I think by the time I'm50 I'll probaby be totally gray... except I plan to keep coloring my hair until I'm an old, old lady. :)