This year I decided to stop dying my hair. It was the one thing I thought I would never give up. Come see why I am going gray at 39!
By: Lisa Fennessy
If you suggested to me, even a year ago, that I should consider going gray, I would have laughed out loud and said something like, There’s not a snowballs chance in h*ll or Save the drama for your mama or Do you even know me!? I mean I even remember saying at one point, No matter how green I go, I will never go gray. My hair is kind of my thing.
I started going premature gray at 19 and since then I have been dying my roots every 8 weeks. Then 8 weeks turned into every 6 weeks and most recently It’s been every 3 to 4 weeks. And NOW, at 39, almost 10 weeks have passed and I have’t dyed my roots. So now I have about 2″ of gray/silver showing and I gotta say, I’M EXCITED!
Okay maybe “excited” is a small overstatement. I should say I am actually bothered by how its is currently looking because it just looks sloppy like I skipped my last two hair appointments. Like when you are three months pregnant and you just want a belly already because you are sick of feeling fat.
Anyways – I am
excited encouraged by what I am seeing and I think it is going to look really good once I can grow it out to a substantial length. I’m thinking past my chin and then I can chop it.
Reasons for Going Gray
So here I am going from a staunch heck no to a 100% all-in attitude over the past year. I wanted to share why and talk about what changed for me.
1. Owning silver instead of it owning me
Okay my first point is a little in vain but here we go. Maybe you can remember when your mom finally went gray? I don’t know why it’s such a shocking experience but it is. Maybe because it’s your mom and you know her as you do and then all of a sudden she looks so different.
But anyways my mom stopped dying her hair in her mid 50s and then my dad wasn’t feeling it so she went back to dying it. Then went to just to low-lighting in some color and then finally all gray again 5 years later. And I can remember thinking I wish my mom would keep dying her hair. I didn’t want her to look different than how I knew her.
My point is at 50 or 60, going gray makes a huge impact on your look. Like when people dye their hair for so long it’s hard to stop. To say I’m not doing this anymore later in life takes a lot of courage – it’s almost like an identity change at that point. Like saying out loud, Okay, now I’m old. But it should’t be like that. Hair color and spryness are not inversely proportional.
So this is my view. With every birthday comes more signs of aging. Like wrinkles, hyper pigmentation, sagging skin – I mean it’s inevitable. So anyways my point is, if I wait until all these others signs set up shop and then the last thing I do is let my hair go gray then all of a sudden I will look old.
So why not change my hair first. I mean at this point I’m about 85% gray so I don’t have to do much – just embrace it. (And wait for it to grow out). So if I have gray hair while I am still in my 30s (39! I’m hanging on!) then as I age – I’m thinking there will never be a point where all of a sudden I look old. It will just be my look.
RELATED: Read my 101 Ways to Respond to Rude Comments About Gray Hair.
Oh my gosh you guys – dying hair is such a time suck! So if you’ve been following me you know I switched from conventional dyes to Hairprint and I used Hairprint exclusively for 14 months. I love Hairprint. It works, it’s nontoxic. Frankly, it’s like the 8th Wonder of the World in my book. You can follow my experience including before and afters if you search my website using keyword “Hairprint”.
So I finally jumped ship with Hairprint because of one factor. TIME. Hairprint is a DIY at home treatment that on average took me 3 hours to apply from start to finish including a blow-dry. This usually happened at night when I was exhausted from the day and the last thing I want to do is give up my whole night to coloring my hair. Mama ain’t got time for that! I kept telling myself to man-up, suck-it-up, and just get over myself because one 3 hour night would give me 30 days of satisfaction.
But the truth is it’s not 30 days because my hair is growing out so thick with silver that within a week I could see the shimmer breaking though. So it’s like I’m coloring my hair and it looks good for a week and then I’m counting down the days until my next application. It’s just not right! And while we’re at it, let’s do the math. Three hours a week for a year = 36 hours. A legit work week. Do you know how much I could do with 36 hours?!
3. Toxic Chemicals
So after I stopped D.I.Y-ing with Hairprint I went back to the salon and used an “organic” hair dye. Which is anything but organic by the way. There have been no new chemical breakthroughs with hair dye in over a hundred years – meaning that no new chemicals or processes have been discovered or invented. MEANING that if your hair dye is working (regardless of what it says on the label like organic, or natural or nontoxic) it’s employing the same chemicals as conventional dye. Sure there may be some organic shea butter thrown in there, maybe a sprig of mint or maybe even the chemicals are used in less % than conventional but the point is IT’S THE SAME TOXIC CHEMICALS. It’s PPD or it’s substitute PTD. It’s resorcinol and aminophenols. And that’s it. Check any “organic hair dye” and you will come up with a combo of these active ingredients. I rounded up a bunch of popular ones here and listed out their (not so organic) ingredients:
So after going back to “organic dye” for two months I was just grossed out with myself. I knew what I was doing and I didn’t like it. So it was either back to DIYing with Hairprint or embracing my grays. So I did. Gray all the way.
4. Taking back gray – It’s a style not the scarlet letter
Platinum is hot right now. People are bleaching their hair out and going platinum as a thing so it’s kind of like the perfect time to go gray. Maybe I will seem cool instead of desperate!?
Okay so this brings up another point. Like I am okay with being gray but I want it to be cute gray. Not mousy wirey gray. You know what I mean?
So point being I am okay with getting help. I asked around town and found #bestcoloristatlanta Jen Jones. She has her own studio called Creature and word on the street is if it can be done, Jen can do it. So I got her first available which was 2 months out. I booked a cut only with her so she can take a look at my hair to see if she can help add some platinum/silver around my face to kind of help ease the pain of the grow-out stage. Just so it looks intentional instead of sloppy. By the way, here is my grow-out progression over the past two months:
So looking forward to this color consult and also a cut because it will be my first cut in almost a year! I haven’t gotten my hair cut since MeCHE, Santa Monica! And I’m always up for a new style, new length, new color – I love changing my hair. Bring it Jen!
5. A new paradigm
Okay so lastly, I want to create change. It’s not right that deciding to go gray comes with such a stigma, it’s counter culture, outsider, against the grain, looked down on – all of those things. I want going gray to be the norm. Like having brown eyes v. blue. No biggie. I want aging naturally to be regarded as a respected choice. Like first place gold, not an honorable mention. In my heart of hearts I think aging naturally is truly beautiful and I want to step on that side of that scale, add weight to it and be another example for others who are considering doing the same.
So I’m doing this for myself but I am also doing it because you have to be different to make a difference. (Love these wise words from Upbeet).
Have you considered going gray/platinum early like me? What gave you the courage or what changed your mind?
For more check out my latest Going Gray posts: