At the age of 40, I made a decision, which at the time was incredibly difficult. That was to stop dyeing my hair dark brown. Now for the younger folks out there, this may not seem like a big deal. However, when you know that the colour lurking beneath is grey and only seen as a colour that much older people have, it becomes more of a big deal, especially when you don’t view yourself as ‘old’.
Fast forward 4 years and I couldn’t be happier with my long silver hair, but it didn’t go without its difficulties. Let me share my journey to silvers with you…..
My hair was grey underneath the dye…and I hated it!! I was determined to cover it so no one would notice it. At first, that was once a month, but then it started closing in on me. At the point where I stopped dyeing it, I was feeling the need to do it weekly and even then my roots were already on show. My 30’s and early 40’s were busy times in my life and I had next to no spare time. The time I spent on dyeing, not to mention the money it was costing to keep up with it, was difficult to justify . This is when I started questioning the whole grey hair issue and really digging deep within myself.
While I tell you my grey hair journey started 4 years ago in 2016; in truth, I started contemplating it a couple of years before but it just wasn’t the right time. I was only 38 and my main issue at that time was the condition of my hair.
The condition of my hair……
At 38 (2014) it was in a terrible state. I had made a visit to the hairdresser and had asked her to bleach my hair and while it looked amazing when I left the salon; not long after, it started going from a nice ashy colour to a yellow hay hue and the texture starting feeling similar. Dry, damaged hair was what I was dealing with on top of the roots coming through. It was really getting me down. Many of us appreciate that hair is NOT just hair. It is a big part of who we are physically and how we present ourselves to the world. I was feeling really self conscious and my confidence was low.
Enter the Curly Girl Method….
Discovering the Curly Girl method was a turning point and I will be forever grateful to Lorraine Massey for her book, which you can buy from the link on Amazon, called The Curly Girl Method. My hair had always been a challenge for me. It was very thick, coarse and frizzy. As a teenager, the only thing I could do was wet it down and put in a plait. It was the only way I could feel confident, but what I really wanted was to wear it out and to feel confident about it. The curly girl method of washing and styling really helped, but we’ll come back to it a little later!
How I dealt with thick, frizzy, curly hair for most of my life…..
When I was in my teens and early twenties and I had my own money, I started going to the salon. I just loved how they blowdried my hair smooth and bouncy. Over time I learned to straighten it myself or get my friends to do it for me (yes back in the 90’s we used actual irons- shock horror!! You couldn’t iron your hair yourself- eek!) or pay for blowdries. I basically became addicted to straightening my hair so it looked the complete opposite of what it did naturally.
In the late 90’s, straighteners came on the market and really powerful hairdryers and I managed my hair by using these tools. That was all well and good when I wasn’t having to dye my hair as well and as often. Yet, as time passed and I got older and my hair dyeing episodes became much more frequent and more daring (remember I told you I bleached it!). Fast forward to 2016 and my hair was in such a state that I had to look at what I was doing to my hair and to myself.
Excessive Heat Styling and Dyeing to the point of damage is self sabotaging behaviour and a lack of self love for your authentic self….
Big statement right!!!……These are the types of questions I asked myself?
What is wrong with natural grey hair?
After all, it’s my unique colour, I own it, no one will have exactly the same and I love the colour grey. After all, I ‘wear’ grey all the time and I like it….
Why don’t I look good any more with dark hair?
Going lighter, is nature’s way of softening your complexion as you age. Shouldn’t we follow suit? Dark hair at 18 is not necessarily going to look the same on you in your 40’s. Do you agree?
Is constantly dyeing my hair, hating it, getting frustrated, being negative about myself etc.. a form of self sabotage?
I concluded that yes it absolutely was…. and it was at this point that I started changing my mindset and in turn how I managed my hair.
Where my hair recovery started and my new normal……..
So rewind to my mention of the curly girl method and this is when my hair recovery started. It did have its challenges but this is about my grey hair journey so I’ll leave that for another time. You can read my article link here How I Style My Thick, Coarse Hair to Keep it Manageable to find out how I am styling my hair with its natural wave these days.
What I will tell you though, is that eventually I did settle on a way to wear my hair naturally. I found my hair to have a loose wave. I used sulphate free shampoo, silicone free conditioner, curl cremes and custards to get my hair to be less puffy, defined and frizz free. To this day, I use the method to keep my hair well moisturised and I use heat a lot less often. I have found that I focus less on ingredients lists and more on trial and error and recommendations from others with similar hair online.
My Grey Hair Transition began….
After 2 years of wearing my hair more with its natural texture (which turns out to be a slight wave), I wanted to stop using chemicals and dyes. It seemed counter productive to be doing all this good for my hair, only then to be dousing it with chemicals. It was at this point that I took to Pinterest. (On a side note- interestingly, Lorraine Massey, author of the curly girl method, is also now transitioning to her natural silver hair. I love that!!!)
In my free time I consumed myself with images of women of all ages with grey hair. I started an Instagram page and I found a community of women over there, with similar stories and pain points. I sought solace and encouragement on Instagram and I still to this day love it. Now I am in a position to help others as they transition and embrace what is theirs naturally and it is very much a part of my work and passion to help others who are embarking on this journey.
My Grey Hair transition timeline…..
Bleached my Hair and freaked out at the horrendous treatment I had given myself. All to cover up my natural hair colour, which I knew was getting to be very grey.
April 2014 and beyond–
I found The Curly Girl Method by Lorraine Massey and I remember feeling really excited and inspired. It was a revelation that I was not alone in my battles with my hair!
April 2014- November 2015–
Spent loads of time getting to know my hair texture and learning how to manage it. However I was still dyeing my hair very often- about weekly! I even took hair dye on holiday to Barbados with me!!!!
Bleached my hair and as a result completely damaged it. It was the beginning of the end for the current way I was treating my hair. My skin was also very bad but that’s another story!!!
Dyed my hair myself with dark brown hair dye. It was very harsh. If I had my time again, I would have left it and grown it out from there, but I still wasn’t quite ready to embrace the grey.
I went on a once in a lifetime holiday with my husband for my 40th birthday. Yes, I took hair dye with me. Bad lighting and trying to do it in a hurry meant I was left with a rim around my hairline. Not a good look when travelling back that day on a flight. Eek!!
Images on Pinterest and Instagram were so helpful. I soon came around to the fact that grey hair, can in fact, be beautiful and unique. At that point I decided that enough was enough. I wasn’t going to dye my hair any more. Instead I would let it grow to its natural colour. My husband and kids freaked out at first, but came around to the idea quickly. They are now my biggest advocates. Even my 12 year old says she can’t wait to go grey
I went to the new hairdresser and told her that I wanted to transition to my natural hair. She was supportive and suggested that I have highlights put in to break up the very dark brown. I wanted to keep the integrity of my hair, so I went every month for 4 months to get enough highlights that I could transition without a dark band. It was costly, but I was invested in this for the long term. I knew how much money it would save me, now I had made this decision.
April 2016- April 2018–
Slowly but surely my hair started growing in and was healthy and shiny and I was gradually starting to fall in love with the new ‘me’. It took time, but I was determined to learn to love it and I did! I also had really supportive friends and family, so that helped too. After all, if you can’t love everything about yourself or at least appreciate your imperfect self, how can you love anyone else?
April 2018- now–
My hair is long now, about to bra strap length, and I am a huge advocate of silver and natural hair. A large part of my work is to encourage women to know that going grey is a viable choice and that if they choose to embrace their natural grey hair, then there are so many positives…Healthy Hair, saving money, inspiring others, works with your complexion, better for your skin, less toxins and better for the environment. That is only naming a few. There are so many positives. I am at the point where I would struggle to find any negatives. But then, I realise that I am 4 years down the line.
My work is to inspire women with grey hair to love themselves, experiment with make up and their style to match their hair and to feel their best selves. I call it my beauty pageant speech…but it’s true…that is what I do and what I love. All this, because I chose to embrace the grey!! What will it mean for you? There is only one way to find out.
I have shared a couple of images below for you to see a snapshot of my transition to grey hair.
Please share with me where you are at on this topic? Are you considering uncovering your grey hair? Please share and comment below?
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I hope to see you soon.
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