For every woman out there….there is another way!
I have Grey Hair and Ditched the Dye. I’d love to share with how my journey to grey hair transpired. I’ll tell you it was positive but wasn’t always easy. It was one of the best decisions I have made for myself but rarely does anything good come easily and this was true in my transition story. I do love to encourage other women to explore this option, because it is quite likely, a decision that will not be regretted.
The difficulty is putting into words the personal journey upon making that decision. Quite often, what the decision signals is that a cycle has been broken and freedom from old outdated beliefs ensues! Despite the hesitation, fear and possible internal questioning, it is quite often the catalyst to further change. One of which is self acceptance.
Let me share with you my journey since I made the decision in 2016, now 4 1/2 years later.
Just before my 40th birthday, I had been repairing some fairly horrendous damage I had inflicted on my hair. I had damaged it by way of bleaching! I had dyed my hair all of my adult life. It was just becoming more and more a necessity to chase the roots that were coming in very fast. Hence the decision I made back in 2015 to go completely blonde (I was naturally dark brown.)
My hair was unmistakably going grey underneath the dye. The roots were very white at the temples with a dark streak at the front. I always joked that if I let my hair go grey, then I would look like Cruella De Ville! Not really the look I was into!
Prior to my 40th birthday
Prior to my 40th birthday, I spent time working out how to repair the damage caused by bleaching my hair. Also trying hard to accept and manage my very wavy, thick coarse hair. You see, I had always straightened it! Even before straighteners were ‘a thing’, I would get my friends to iron my hair for me with an iron… yes the type you iron your clothes with. It makes me shudder to this day.
That is the lengths I went to to cover up my hair texture. This was a time when I wanted to be everything that I would never be. How I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self about self love and acceptance. This went on for years and well into my adult life. An intense self loathing that I covered up with keeping busy and distractions!
Progress happened when I embraced the fact that I had Grey Hair..and lead me to Ditch the Dye for good.
After 18 months or so since the bleaching episode, I was now dying my hair dark brown (my natural colour). I was also mostly wearing my hair with its natural texture. Not loving it exactly, but I was accepting it and embracing what I was learning from others online about my hair texture.
Unknowingly, I was making progress on my self development. Beginning to find some self acceptance and kindness towards myself, but I still had a long way to go.
By my 40th birthday, I had my hair sitting at a long bob. I was having it dyed dark brown every month at the hairdressers with weekly box dye ‘touch ups’. Despite the fact that my hair wasn’t in perfect condition, it was now mostly damage free after the bleaching episode.
The weekly ‘touch ups’ inevitably resulted in a severe colour that did nothing for my pale complexion. It is no coincidence that I was suffering from skin disruptions. I had unexplained spots under my skin on one side of my cheek, and severe acne around my jawline. Thankfully my skin is in good condition now that I know longer use hair dye.
Self Loathing to Self Acceptance happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.
At this point in my journey, I actually hated my hair (and myself if I am honest). Even though I was starting to embrace and learning to manage my natural texture!! I just never felt good and I really didn’t think there was any other option. But was there?
Discovering a world beyond the stigma
Over the years, I had coloured my hair, bleached it and highlighted it. Now nothing was covering up my roots for long!!! In fact this cycle had been going on since my 20’s with it progressively getting more and more noticeable. It stands to reason, why, at this point, being completely and utterly fed up with myself, I turned to Pinterest. I searched up ‘Women with Natural grey hair and as I started, a whole new world opened up!
There were no women with ‘granny’ hair colours and styles. On the contrary. There were women beaming with natural beauty of all ages from 20’s to 70’s, happy, healthy and rocking long silver and grey hair in all different tones and styles and they ALL looked beautiful. I loved the authenticity of it. No one had a uniform hair colour…every woman had their own shade of grey and were absolutely owning it!! That was, right there, the beginning of the end of dyeing my hair.
The beginning of the end….
So back to January 2016 when I turned 40, I was still dyeing my hair! However, in the following month- in February- my husband and I went on holiday to Barbados. Of course I bought some box dye with me. We were there for a week and on the last day, I dyed my hair just before we left for the airport.
Due to being hurried and bad lighting, I ended up with a dark rim around my hairline. I told my husband at the airport and said to him that I was going to stop dyeing my hair. He looked at me as if he didn’t believe me. However it was true, I never dyed my hair again. I went to the hairdresser on our return and asked her to help me transition to my natural colour.
A trip to the hairdresser with a difference….
My hairdresser at that time was amazing. She helped me transition by suggesting a series of a full head of highlights to break up the dye. Every month for the next 3 months, I had highlights put in. By the end of that time I had much lighter hair and I transitioned from that point. By Easter 2016, I never went back to the hairdresser again for a ‘colour’. That was over 4 years ago at the time of this writing.
During the transition I did have my ups and downs, especially in the early months. I decided to get a short bob soon after the last lot of highlights and I hated it!! However I got over it, picked myself up and carried on. I did feel self conscious for quite some time. However, what I found was that my ‘going grey’ journey intrigued people. I had people asking questions and I was sharing my decision with not just friends, but also with stangers. I found women and men encouraging and complimentary, which is not something I expected.
Day by day, month by month, and after every hair cut, I got closer to having completely natural hair. It took about 18 months keeping my hair at a bob. I was fully transitioned by the end of 2017 early 2018!
I then just grew it and I became a lot less fixated on my hair. In fact I would forget that my hair colour was ‘different’. Someone would ask me while I was out and about if my hair was natural or dyed and I’d remember that my colour wasn’t typical. This happened A LOT and it was always met with compliments. I still get it often today. It usually starts “Do you mind if I ask you about your hair? Is it natural? Etc etc. I love talking about it, because I know it could be the catalyst for someone else.
Embracing the Grey and Positive Change
If I reflect on my journey from that decision in the year of my 40th birthday to now at 44, I can’t begin to tell you how different I am as a person. No one would probably notice on the ‘outside’, but I am a lot more self accepting and calm.
I’m not argumentative any more because I would always choose peace. I feel positive, motivated and have started writing, blogging and looking at ways to start my own business. I have also invested in training as a makeup artist and taught myself how to do hairstyles, which I use to inspire others.
After years of hoping, wishing and willing for things to happen, I am now relaxed and open minded. That’s because I believe someone bigger and mightier than me is steering my ship. I have faith that I am in good hands. I don’t try and control my life through wishful thinking and ‘attracting’ what I want.…I just stay with what I love.
I concentrate on the simple things in life and stay on top of my physical and mental health. It is a work in progress, but through this journey I am grateful to have found self acceptance and happiness. This makes me excited for my future and I want this for you too.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair. Here are the photos of the physical progress.
So what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair? I started accepting myself warts and all! As a result more opportunities have presented themselves to me. I am living out my life with more authenticity and appreciation instead of self loathing. I am free but I still need to do the work to keep myself on track. It can be difficult in a world trying to pull women in different directions. I’ve learned to anchor in the moment, slow down and stay creative, keep my body and mind healthy and go with the flow.
Do consider joining me as I continue sharing my journey via the links to my socials. You will find hairstyles, grey hair inspo, makeup and more. You can also join the newsletter here.
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