“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31 NIV
Well, not according to my granddaughter. Here is the conversation we had recently:
HER: “Nan, I’ve noticed you have more and more white and silver hair, why?”
ME: (Trying to get her on my side) “Well, if you’re blessed to live long enough, God kisses your head and covers it with silver like a princess crown, it’s a very special gift.”
She sat quietly and took in everything I said. It was silent for a few moments and then she said:
“Yeah, I don’t like it, make it brown again.”
My mom dyed her hair her entire adult life. She went to the beauty school once a month and had it done. One of the last things I did for her was to color her hair when she was too ill to go out. As she sat her weakened body, naked and shivering on a stool in the tub I couldn’t help thinking, “This is so ridiculous!” But, after I got her settled back into bed, she had the sweetest little smile on her face and I could tell that just for that moment she felt beautiful. And, that made it all worthwhile.
I started going gray in my 20’s. At first, I thought it was kind of unique and I kept my hair natural. But, as the gray threatened to take over, I just didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror. I was too young!
So, I went to a beauty supply store and bought my first batch of hair dye. I tried to match my natural hair color but I had no idea what I was doing and ended up with bright red hair. Again, I thought it was kind of fun and I kept it that way until my husband said, “Do you know that your hair glows in the dark?”
After years of experimenting, I ended up finding a color that suited me. And, let me tell you, that feeling of newly colored hair is amazing. It’s like the hands of time have been turned back and you’re young again! But, then the clock starts ticking and after only a few weeks the skunk stripe reappears.
Because I had to use permanent dye to cover my stubborn grays, I always ended up with splotches on my counters and floor (and trust me, they do not come off!). When we moved a few years ago, I was determined to keep my new bathroom nice. So, every time I colored my hair I put newsprint on the floor, over the counter and taped it to the walls. I was tired before I even started the coloring process! And, then came the mixing, the applying, the waiting and the showering. It was all so exhausting.
A few years ago I began researching “How to go Gray Gracefully” and I found some beautiful ladies with whole blogs on the subject. Around that same time young girls were having their hair massively processed to look gray. If they were spending hundreds of dollars and countless hours at the salon for their hair to look like mine then why was I going to all the work of covering it up?
My first attempt at “growing out the gray gracefully” ended in disaster. A young hairstylist who promised to walk me through the process gave me highlights: dark ones, light ones and medium ones. These were supposed to hide my gray roots. Instead, I ended up looking like a calico cat. After a few months (and tons of money spent at the salon) I gave up and began dyeing again.
A year went by and I faced my 60th birthday. It was time to try again and this time I quit coloring cold turkey.
Sure, I got some weird looks as the white roots grew wider. And, I’m sure people wondered if I was aware that I resembled an unkempt hobo. But, I just ignored the looks, made no excuses, and let it grow.
At first my goal was to see if I could last until all the color was out of my bangs. Then, I rewarded myself with a shorter haircut which helped to get rid of more of the brown ends (some women get pixie cuts at this point – I wasn’t that brave).
And, pretty much exactly a year from when I started, the last of my brown ends were cut off.
I’m sure not everyone agrees with my decision to go silver (my granddaughter certainly doesn’t!). And, yes, sometimes I miss my brown hair. But, what I don’t miss are the worries over my roots showing, the chemicals on my head, the time it took away from my life to color my thick hair, and the splotches!
Still, I would never go so far as to tell other women that they need to quit coloring their hair. It’s such a personal decision. And, I still remember that little smile on my mom’s face after we dyed her hair for the last time.