Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Going Grey?

At my last hair appointment I was bemoaning, once again, my grey hairs and how hard it was to keep on top of dyeing my roots. My hairdresser said, "You could just go grey." I shook my head and said while I have no problem looking my age (40) I feel like letting my hair go au natural would instantly add another 10 years. "I don't think so," he said. He then went on to say he's helped about 15 clients to go grey or salt and pepper and not one of them has gone back to dyeing their hair. (Also, it's worth noting that my hair dresser is a hip, rock n' roll kind of guy in his early 30's.) We kept talking and I realized that in my head I had a certain stereotype of a woman who lets her hair go grey--a sort of 80's, mother-earth type reminiscent of Stockard Channing's character from the movie Where the Heart Is. And not that there's anything wrong with that look! It's just not me. But the more we talked, the more I started realizing that maybe I could have grey hair and still look like me.

I was super intrigued and have been giving it serious thought ever since. In fact, I haven't dyed my hair since before that appointment and my roots are a good inch+ out right now and I'm not sure what I'm going to do! I thought I'd do a quick pro/con list about going grey and get your two cents as well. (And if you go to my IG account today I show my hair on my stories so you can get a good look.)
PRO's
Low Maintenance. This by far is the biggest pro. I'm so tired of dyeing my hair every 4-6 weeks and spraying my roots with a color spray in between touch ups. I would love not to worry about my hair color anymore!

Less Chemicals in my life. Admittedly this isn't a huge concern for me, but still...less unnecessary chemicals is never a bad thing right?

Healthier hair. Less hair dye and chemicals surely means healthier hair overall right? Again not a huge issue, but I'm sure it will help.

Grey is in! OK, so this one doesn't totally work as my grey (which will be very salt and peppery) will be quite a bit different from the 20 something crowd with glossy, evenly dyed shiny grey locks. Of course I could dye it grey to sort of help with the transition and the overall look and tone, but that would be completely besides the point! Either way a quick look around the web tells me there are a lot of women embracing grey at younger and younger ages.
CONS
Looking older. Even though my stylists says differently, I still think going grey will add about 10 years. Or perhaps it's just the stigma of looking less put together. I think that's part of the image I have in my head.

I'll miss my dark hair. I have always loving having really dark hair. When my blond friends in high school were using lemon juice and sun in to lighten their locks, I was making concoctions of coffee grounds and molasses (real recipe from Sassy magazine) as a natural way to darken my hair. Having dark hair has been one of my more distinguishing features as well over the years as people have often asked about my ethnicity (especially when I have a tan) and are frequently shocked when I tell them I'm Asian...CACasian. Ha! Even amonst my family, I have the darkest hair and I've always liked that.

My husband and kids. While my husband is supportive, my kids are less so. They want me to keep dying my hair! Ha! I think part of this is kids not liking to see their parents change so drastically and I  think they also don't like the idea of me "aging." And while my husband is supportive, I have a sneaking suspicion that deep down he really prefers my darker hair. ;)

I might not like it. It could take a while to get my hair totally grown out and natural and what if I get there and I don't like it? Of course I just dye it back, but it will feel a little silly to give it all this time to grow out, only to end up dying it dark again.

Outside perception. I don't usually care what other people think in reference to my overall style, but in this case as I've said above I don't want grey hair to make me look older and part of that is how other people perceive me. Also, are there certain assumptions that come from letting yourself go grey too young? Will it say I've given up? I don't care about "looking good?" I mean I really don't know, but I am curious to know what having grey hair could convey to other people and if it would be positive, negative or neutral.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! I know some people who have had some grey or even streaks of grey in their hair from a very young age--a girl I went to middle school with had grey streaks on both sides of her head. Another girl from college had a prominent white-ish blonde streak up front which I assumed she had bleached out--I found out later it was completely natural! A lot of my friends have been dyeing their hair since their 20's, I didn't start dying my hair until my mid or late 30's. So what are your thoughts? Are you someone who thinks hair dye is the greatest invention of all time like Oprah? Or do you believe in embracing your authentic, natural self. Salt and pepper hair and all? What do you think when you see young-ish women (under 50) with grey hair? Do you have certain stereotypes in your head about women with grey hair who aren't yet grandmothers? Also, if you dye your hair do you ever think about going grey? What holds you back? 

Images and accompanying article from RealSimple

26 comments:

  1. I'm on the no-grey train. Mainly for the looking older aspect! I'm 39 and still able to highlight my brown hair to disguise the grey, but I feel like I should still look 25! :P I'll begin coloring my hair when I need to so that I don't add on those 10 years.

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    1. "I feel like I should still look 25!" Ha! I totally get this. In my mind I'm still in my early to mid 20's.

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  2. I've had grey hair since I was a teenager. My hair is black, with grey mostly around my face. It's definitely gotten more prominent in the past few years (I'm 37) with a couple of face framing streaks that are almost white, but I've never colored it. I like that it's different, and catches people off guard sometimes when they look at my face and realize I'm not that old. I get a lot of people asking if I colored it to be salt/peppery, which I find funny but my stylist said it's beginning to be more common to intentionally add grey streaks. I chose not to color it because my mom spent soooooo much time and energy coloring her hair, before deciding to go grey when I was in college. Recently I cut all my hair off into a cute pixie cut because I was SO tired of ponytails/buns all the time. Now that I don't pull it back away from my face so all you see is the grey, people are asking if I colored it because the back is still so dark. Finally, I don't think it will make you look older. Maybe more mature, but it won't add years. You have great skin which I think will keep it from making you look older. Good luck!

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    1. See, I would love it if I had some face framing streaks that were almost white, but I think mine will be an all over salt and pepper...which doesn't look as cool/good in my mind. BUT, like your mom I'm getting tired of the maintence. BUT also, it's not that bad either. I mean it's a little dye I do at home every few weeks. Big whoop.

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  3. My friend and I were just having a conversation about this. I have mixed feelings. I am not dealing with gray hair yet, but I wonder what I would do if I started to gray now (I'm 34). I am very low maintenance with my hair and makeup in general and I think it would feel against my personality to dye my hair. However, even though I hardly spend any time on my hair and makeup, I do pay a lot for a good cut because it makes a huge difference in my mood and confidence to have my hair look good (without much effort in between cuts). A bad cut can instantly make me feel frumpy, and if I'm feeling frumpy, it's not good for me. When I was talking to my friend I came to the conclusion that I would like to say that I would just embrace it and go natural, but if it were really affecting my perception of myself or my confidence, I would totally give myself license to dye it. So I guess I would say, give it a decent trial period, but if you're really not adjusting to the idea well, go ahead and dye it.

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    1. I agree...I think I need to see how it makes me feel. However the "trial" period would actually take years to get it to the point where it was grown out enough for me to really see. But I totally agree that if it's getting me down for some reason I should just dye it. No biggie.

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  4. I have a grey streak in front & I've stopped dying it. Mine was really resistant to pigment, so it would start to show through in ONE week! The time & expense just wasn't worth it...

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    1. I think a grey streak would be so cool.

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  5. Oh man this is a tricky one! I don't have any grey to contend with yet (I'm 32) and I have no idea what I'll do when I do start to go grey. The maintenance sounds like such a nightmare...but I presumably won't have really little children then so I guess it should be easier to schedule than it is now! I am savouring these years pre-grey by intentionally never colouring my hair - just because I think the maintenance is so annoying! I'm sure you will look fabulous no matter which way you decide to go. Good luck!

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    1. Like you I never colored my hair before--except for having some pink highlights in college. Other than that, I NEVER colored or highlighted my hair--so maybe that's also why it feels like such a pain. But I didn't mention above that I do it at home...I don't do the salon for this, it's easy to match my hair color and the expense just wouldn't be worth it.

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  6. ooh, you should definitely go gray. I love seeing women embrace their gray hair. My mom started turning gray a couple years ago and she has been debating dyeing it... I'm always telling her not to because I love it. I will definitely let my hair go gray, but I have dishwater blonde hair so it may be less noticeable. I say go for it!!!

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    1. Interesting perspective! I feel like I would have liked to see my mom dye her hair as a kid, and the fact that my girls sorta seem uncomfortable with my grey hair as well is part of what makes me want to keep dying. But maybe the older they get the more they'd appreciate it.

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  7. Elisa F3:10 PM

    I live in Seattle, which has the distinction of being the city with the highest percentage of women who embrace the grey. Weird stat, right? But my perception of women who go grey - I have tons of friends in the midst of that right now - is not that they have somehow let themselves go, but rather they have their $#!t together. Not buying into the patriarchy, embracing authenticity, concerned with matters of more import, not remotely concerned with others' perceptions, whatever.

    I'm not quite that evolved yet so my concern is more superficial; grey hair has a different texture - generally dull and coarser - so it takes dye differently than non-grey hair. I remember in my 20s knowing a woman in her late 40s who dyed her completely grey hair very dark and how fake it looked - flat, dull and no dimension - and thought ooohhh, never! Grey hair would look so much better. My hair is naturally blond and so far the grey looks like highlights - I'm kind of digging it.

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  8. Hey my dear Miggy! I just wanted to chime in on this very current topic! I only have a handful of grey hairs (34 years old), and they don't really show (dark blonde hair), but I am purposely not coloring my hair in general, to not buy into the idea that aging is a negative and that we need to throw money and energy after the pursuit of youth! I love running and eating healthy, but I hate the idea that people (especially women!) shouldn't live their current age with authenticity and grace! This seems like it would make people so much happier:) I live in Santa Monica, where many people are choosing a more "hippie" style, and letting hair go grey, but the surrounding parts of LA have many ladies getting plastic surgery and dying their hair. I think that hair dye isn't really fooling anyone:)

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  9. I'm with Oprah! I think I would feel like a pioneer from 1847 if I let all my greys grow wild!

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  10. There's frumpy gray and there's young and sophisticated gray. You'd definitely be in the young and sophisticated camp. It's just hair! Give it a whirl. If not now, maybe when you're 45!!

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  11. Gray! I was just talking about this in the attorneys room at court. How come men look "distinguished" with gray and we just look matronly..old....frumpy? Not fair!
    I started going gray at 35. I am 48. If not for dyeing..I would be gray...all gray.
    I can't do it yet. My girls are 11 and 8. They are afraid I would be grandma at school, not mom.
    Honestly though, I don't think I am ready to let it happen yet. My time and money at the salon will continue for awhile. I catch up on all the rag mags there...so it is productive!
    Good luck with your decision!

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  12. Haven't read the comments but I'm 36 and have had grey heart since I was 18 and I LOVE it! I have A LOT too! I care about a lot of things with my looks (though I don't wear make up) but I'll NEVER cover the grey!

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  13. Anonymous1:29 AM

    Okay, this is totally off topic, but I saw your IG story about hiring a housecleaner, and it's a PITA for me to type a long comment on my phone. I have a once-a-month housecleaner. It's important to me to pay her a living wage, so I pay $15/hour. I do pay her directly (not through a service). She's worked for us for years now, and she is amazing and totally worth it. I really trust her, which is super important to me as well, since she is often alone in our house. I feel lucky that we can afford it and consider it money very well spent.

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  14. Hi Miggy, I think you should do whatever you like and whatever you feel best with. That said, I definitely don't think grey hair ages you (and, of course, age is not a bad thing, but that's another topic). I think grey hair combined with a 'young' face (which you have!) actually makes for a nice surprise and makes the woman look younger rather than older - just look at the pictures in your post!

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  15. With your face and your bangs and your kick-ass sense of style, grey would work for you! Maybe it's not as mysterious and intriguing as having super dark hair, but some strands of salt-and-pepper with your sassy personality would definitely keep people guessing.

    A couple weeks ago, I took Z along to check out a new daycare. The worker showing us around asked how old Z is, and then she asked me, "Are you the grandma?" I calmly replied, "I'm the mom," while a number of expletives ran through my brain. In almost a year of dyeing my hair silver/grey, that's the first time something like that has ever happened. Reconsidering growing my hair back to dark again, though.

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  16. I just sent you a PM on Instagram. Much like your friend who had streaks in high school, I also did. I accepted early on my hair would be gray and I would either dye or not. I chose the not dye route as I'm 99% lazy and my hair grows quickly. For me, it only was an "issue" when I didn't see it and other people were. I'm not oblivious that my hair is gray but I don't see it as much as others do, since I'm seeing it from my perspective. So I take a lot of selfies and my husband calls me vain.
    But, I get a lot of compliments and people asking what color I use. I haven't come up with a witty answer. It's never been the wrong choice for me, but I understand why a lot of people color their hair.
    The only down side I have found is not being able to find many resources as to how to care for it, if your under a certain age. The texture of my hair changed and I have yet to find a way to let my hair dry without using a blowdryer. My hairdresser told me that it I'm not damaging my hair that much, since I only dry it 2-3 times a week and I'm not using a lot of chemicals, etc.
    All of this to say - I'm all on board the gray train. But your choice is what's right for you. P.S. I recently turned 38 and I'm instantly drawn to white, gray and salt and pepper hair in the crowds. I'm seeing more and more of them and I love it!

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  17. I already commented on Instagram, but I have a few more thoughts. #1 Do whatever you like #2 I grew up in a small art community where women were revered for their age and wisdom. It wasn't like no one wore makeup or dyed their hair, but when they did, it wasn't to try to look younger than they were. There is something very comfortable about being your best current self. My scars, some darkening on my face I have thought about treating, wrinkles, etc all reflect my years, my childbearing, my time in the sun, in short - the life I have chosen to live. I usually don't comment, but these things have been on my mind too. We've just moved away from an area where there is so much focus on image (an unhealthy amount) to a place where I feel really secure being me. Good luck. I'll stay tuned for the results :) PS Recently went to a focus group on style and kids apparel, and I referenced your blog as an inspirational source for design and fashion!

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  18. I'm 52 and while I don't have a lot of gray I don't desire to have any so I will keep dyeing..I think it would add some years and I like you would miss my dark hair. I think some people do look good in gray hair. If I did go gray I'd only like a silver shade.

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  19. Anonymous11:25 AM

    GREY!!! I'm almost 39 and I'm starting to get a few. . . I've plucked them out, but I'll only do that for so long. Once they really start comin', I won't stop 'em!

    Also, I agree with others, you are stylish enough to not "look old." I especially love grey hair on a dark brunette. You'll look cool. I do hear you about feeling like you're in your 20s. I feel 18. My husband works at a college and we interact with students. Sometimes I think "we're all the same age" and then someone says something or does something and I'm internally thinking "Oh. I'm a lot older, huh??" Ha-ha! :)

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  20. I am 38 years old and about 75% gray. I haven't GONE gray for many of the same reasons as you. Mostly because I'm afraid I'll look 15 years older overnight! Also I'm afraid of the growing out process. Can you pretty please post a picture of yourself as it looks now? I'm dying to see what the process will be like! But soooo tempted to do it.

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