Friday, March 26, 2010

Going Gray

I have been toying with the idea of going gray for some time now. I am just so tired of coloring it. Not that I don't like how it looks! I love the red and I'm fairly certain I am NOT going to love the gray. What I am going to love is not having to go through the monthly coloring process. Seeing the roots appear and thinking "Didn't I just color it last week?" Having to time the coloring around important events. Forgetting to buy the hair color on several consecutive grocery store trips. Finally plunking down the ten bucks, and thinking how much money have I spent on hair color in the last twenty years? At $10 a month, 12 times a year for twenty years is $2400. Not really THAT bad.

I'm now rereading a book called "Going Gray" by Anne Kreamer. I actually read it about a year ago and found it very interesting, but at that point I wasn't really "ready." Still there was a lot of information provided by Kreamer that stuck with me. She estimated that her salon-dyed hair, done every three weeks, might have cost $65,000 since she began the hair coloring process. Wow! Made me feel pretty smug about my $2400 except when I consider this: If I could afford salon-dyed hair, I would probably not be going gray right now. It's the actual dying process that I hate so much. The fact that I need a block of scheduled time when my husband won't be in the house because he is very sensitive to the fumes, and then I have to open windows and run fans to air out the house. The fact that I know I will get hair dye on the bathmat, or the floor, or a cabinet, and frequently I won't notice until the dye is set and can't be removed. The fact that I know I'm not doing a very good job on the back of my head, and most likely there will be a patch I missed. The fact that the skin around my hairline, and my whole scalp as well, will be as auburn as my hair for a few days. The fact that it will only look good for about a week, and then the color starts to fade and the new roots start showing. The fact that I can't dress warmly for this process, or at all; and in the winter it's damn cold in the bathroom with the window open!

Of course the idea that I have been letting my head soak in toxic chemicals seeping into my brain on a regular basis for twenty+ years is a sobering thought as well.

I had this notion that I could just dye my hair gray, and then as the new gray grew out I would avoid the skunk look. I was dismayed to learn that there is no gray dye, and I would just have to let it grow out, inch by snail-slow inch. Several people have suggested getting highlights, or streaks, but as I know the highlights wouldn't be the same color as my new gray, I don't really see the advantage of having three colors of hair. It's actually getting a little easier now as I pass out of the "doesn't she know it's time to color her hair?!" stage into the "looks like she is going gray!" stage. These pictures, taken this week, show about three months growth since my last pre-Christmas color application.

One thing that I did was tell just about everyone I know that I am going gray. This has not necessarily made the process easier, but made it more of a commitment to me, and less likely that I would change my mind over a few months of painful growing out. It's interesting telling people -- they are pretty much in two predictable camps. The people who have gray hair think it's great -- one more convert to their side! The people who color their hair are appalled, and are quick to tell me that I'm not going to like it; I'm going to look older, etc. Well, I know all that. I'm not expecting to like how it looks, and I know I will look older. However, Anne Kreamer talks about an interesting study she did when researching for her book. I won't go into any detail (read the book!) but her research showed that on average, people look four years older with gray hair. That was a relief to me -- I was imagining looking 10 or 12 years older. I can deal with four. So what if I look 52? ;-D
My husband has been very supportive and that has helped me persevere. It's also nice that the new color seems to be a somewhat pleasant silver that is fairly even over my head. It looks healthy and shiny and I'm hoping to adjust and not hate it. I'll keep you posted!


Jamie Reid said...

I'm in Camp 3: I color my hair but think it's great that you are doing this! You will look SO great in black. I loved that when my hair was platinum.

Amuse said...

Artists can get away with anything, you know--two-toned hair, streaked, butch-cut, shaved. I'd say gray will be a breeze.

paula said...

and since you keep cutting your hair short ...well you are well over 1/3 of the way there. i think its freeing to stop coloring hair. i wouldn't again even if i had all the money in the world. more important things to do than worry about HAIR.
love your post.

Susie Flatau said...

You will look (continue to look ) fantastic ...chic ...pretty ...ever the glam artist. Good call on not doing the highlights...just go for it! Loved this blog; keep us posted (photographs) throughout the "journey"...yowza! :-)

Susie Flatau said...

Hey Cyn - would you be ok with sending me Jamie's e-mail address? I'd love to contact her - to let her know how absolutely fantastic she is looking! Love her "blog" profile pic. hugs, susie

amandala said...

the photo from above of your hair fading from grey to brown is beautiful. love the blog! mandala. read my blog at

Unknown said...

I have been told the same thing: there is no gray dye, that my hair that's been black all my life (except for the fact I'm 100% gray now), must be stripped and dyed PLATINUM until all the gray grows out.

BUT - I see young women online with pictures of gray hair, so there is gray out there somewhere.

Maybe there's just no gray dye in Texas?