Is letting your hair go grey brave? This is the question, that can come up with some debate in the silver sisters community.
Many will say that deciding to stop with the hair dye or highlights and letting hair grow out to its natural grey colour is brave. However others will say that it’s a choice and bravery is a word to describe those fighting wars, illnesses and other adversity and situations against the odds. In the dictionary the word brave means;
Ready to face and endure pain; showing courage. To endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behaviour) without showing fear.
I’m going with the camp that says that letting your hair go grey is brave. Because lets explore what’s involved. However we must remember to keep it within the context of hair. We are not comparing growing out our greys to fighting a war or battling cancer. It goes without saying that these situations require the ultimate bravery.
When a woman decides to transition to grey hair, it’s undoubtedly a big step. She is unlikely to have any role models around her that demonstrate the beauty of natural hair. It may also look like she has a choice, but oftentimes she hasn’t. The more grey the hair goes, the more expensive and time consuming it may become to cover up. It can often lead to a point in time where progressing with dying hair is no longer an option.
Let me tell you about my story. The image below left is of my hair about 6- 9 months ‘in’. I think the lead up to this stage was by far the most difficult.
Where my grey hair journey started?
My first grey strands were discovered by this really annoying hairdresser that my mum used to go to. I went to see him once and I still remember him declaring he had found a grey hair. He then proceeded to continue searching my hair for more silver flecks, like looking for gold, except this time it was silver, and then declaring “I found another one!!”… Great!! Happy Days…I was only 14!!!
Cut to 20 years later and I had spend all my adult life dying my hair. First it was just for fun! After all, the odd grey hair really didn’t bother me. Then in my 30’s, I had more and more highlights put in, which got me almost to blonde, and I kept that colour for many years. I then got bored of that and then dyed it my ‘natural’ dark brown again..and this is when I realised how grey I had become underneath my dyed hair.
I was finding that I had to dye my hair much more often- maybe every 5-6 weeks and even then I could see the greys slightly peaking through. This annoyed me, so I then went blonde again, but this time I completely ruined my hair. I thought at some point in my late 30’s that it would be a good idea just to get it over with and bleach it completely and as a result, I completely ruined my hair to the point of no return.
It was at this point that I realised that my hair, which I had grown up believing was my crowing glory (only because many of my relatives thought having puffy, coarse, thick frizzy hair was a gift, but I thought otherwise!!), but at least it was healthy.
I guess having thick hair is something to be happy about, but it was the 90’s! Gone were the perms of the 80’s. In the 90’s, the most sought after hair was shiny straight Jennifer Aniston hair, which my hair couldn’t be more opposite to. .
So after I damaged my hair with bleached.. I had to find away to look at what I was doing to my hair and in turn ‘myself’!
My first steps to hair freedom….
The main situation at hand at this point was my damaged hair and I wasn’t so focused on the greys. I wasn’t quite at the point where I was ready to embrace the colour. In fact, at that point, I wouldn’t have a bar of it. I was just so annoyed with myself for damaging it. I even contemplated shaving it all off! Luckily for me, being the avid researcher that I am, I managed to find the Curly Girl Method and this was the turning point to a more nurturing approach to hair styling. The Curly Girl Method is all about embracing your natural hair texture and how to do it.
Thank you Curly Girl Method…
The Curly Girl Method was the beginning of a new way of styling my hair and a more self caring ‘me’. I continued to dye my hair dark brown but I had all my hair cut short and I started using products with no sulphates, silicones and without nasties and I used gels and mousses to actually work with my hair texture instead of using excessive heat to change it. I found as my new hair grew in, that my hair was wavy, thick and was starting to bounce back. You can find this incredible book The Curly Girl Method Handbook here. This is amazing for all hair types, not just for curlies!
Deciding to Go Grey…
I made a decision at 40, that I was going to stop dyeing my hair too. I was now pretty good at keeping with products and techniques I learned through the curly girl community, yet I was doing all that only to douse it with hair dye every week (yes, I dyed my hair line weekly at the point I that I decided to stop.) After all, what was the point in looking after my hair, only to then douse it with chemicals?
So I made a decision to get some highlights put in over a 4 month period in order to keep the integrity of my hair. I had worked hard to keep my hair healthy and by this point had been doing the curly girl method for about a year. Once my hair was light enough to transition without a harsh line, I then I grew it out. It took just under 2 years to get it to the point where I no longer had any dyed ends.
The journey to that point was hard. I felt very self conscious in the early months and I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. My husband and kids freaked out when I told them my plans. I think my little girl thought I would turn into an old lady overnight.
Luckily, in those early days, I was able to work in a space where I didn’t speak to that many people. Soon enough though, I started to get comfortable with it. People started to compliment my hair colour and tell me that I was ‘brave’. And quite honestly, for me, I did feel brave. I faced the fear of going grey straight in the eyes, challenged it and I won!! Just as a side note; my husband and kids are my biggest grey hair advocates. My 13 year old tells me she can’t wait to go grey..lol!
It’s now over 4 years since my last dye job and I absolutely love it. Like conquering any challenge, yes, you do feel brave! Facing up to something that terrifies you does take bravery, but I can tell you, it’s absolutely worth it.
Tell me.. where are you on your journey? Are you thinking about it, starting our or have you completed growing out your silvers? Feel free to comment.
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