Monday, January 31, 2011

Gray - It’s Just a Different Hair Color

It’s really interesting when you find a topic that has a definite “line drawn in the sand”.  A topic so emotionally laden that everyone has a strong opinion about it.  It’s even more interesting when it’s a topic that you didn’t realize was or never imagined would be – a hot button.

All of you have friends who over the course of your lifetime have chosen not to tell you things that they thought you should hear and know.  Friends, who –in your best interests – have chosen not to say something about a certain topic or person in your life.  Maybe it’s a boyfriend that’s not right, a dress that doesn’t look the best on you, or a new hair style that is something different for you.  Sometimes friends just don’t give you their opinion.  This is pretty common – we’re use to it.

Well I found a topic that almost every friend has an opinion on.  The topic is really “a process” which takes time – and during that time almost everyone will probably have an opinion about it.  It surprised me what a “hot topic” this process/topic was.

A couple of months ago, I went out for the evening with a friend and her 24 year old daughter - a “girl’s night out”.  My friend is 8 years younger than me.  Her daughter told friends that she was going out with her Mom and her Mom’s “older” friend.  Do I care? Was I hurt? –Nah – I am the older friend.  It’s a necessary story that I will come back later in this entry.

I have been coloring my hair since I was 27.  My Mom was pure white by the time she was 25, my older sister was totally platinum by the time she was 32 and I was completely sterling silver mixed with pewter by the time I was 27.  Great hair genes.  My Mom colored her hair until she couldn’t anymore, my sister still colors her hair.  All of my friends (except one) close to my age – color their hair to hide the silvery gray hair.  I’ve decided to let my hair go silver.

For over 30 years, I have been putting chemicals on top of my head.  I’ve been sitting in the hair salon with chemicals soaking into my hair and head, for almost an hour – 4 to 5 times a year.  Chemicals soaking into my hair, my skin and traveling through my body.  Chemicals that I could smell for days, even after showering and (excuse me) would be present in my bodily excretions (I could smell the chemicals).  Well, no more hair coloring chemicals on my head or going through my body.  Lesson – hair coloring doesn’t just sit on your hair – it goes through your body (take a serious sniff sometime).

Over the course of the last 10 – 15 years, I have asked my stylists if the silver and pewter were coming in nice enough that I could quit coloring my hair and their response was always “You’re too young for gray hair.”  Why wouldn’t they say that?  Coloring hair is bringing megabucks into their salon every day.  Is a stylist going tell you that you have beautiful platinum, pewter or silver hair?  Is a stylist ever going to suggest that you let your amazing silver or snow white hair grow out?  NO.  Suggesting that people quit coloring their hair would be a major loss of revenue for hair salons.  Lesson - this is a decision you have to make on your own.

I finally found a stylist willing to work with me and I am on my way to gray.  Half-inch by half-inch I am cutting off the honey blonde and moving toward silver / pewter.  It’s a process and it takes time.  Ninety percent of my friends are against the change.  Why? Because “gray hair will make me look old”.  That statement in itself is a paradox, because according to my friend’s 24 year old daughter – I am “older” – even though she has only known me with honey blonde hair.  So the lesson to me was – it doesn’t matter what color your hair is – when you get older, you are older and honey blonde hair doesn’t fool anyone.

My major lessons through this decision process have been:
  • Why am I spending all that time in the salon and all that money on coloring my hair? 
  • What real purpose does coloring my hair serve at this point in my life?
  • Do I have better uses for the time and money I spend coloring my hair?

Am I advocating that all women quit coloring their hair?  No, because I’ve seen the reaction – the reaction is immediate and definitive (it’s a hot issue).  I’ve heard too many women - with extremely strong emotion and conviction - say “I could NEVER let my hair go gray.”  It appears that gray hair is a demon of some type.  To many people gray hair is really disgusting (you can see it in their face when they talk about gray hair).  Generally, the majority of people seem to really hate gray hair and the “age” issue that they associate with gray hair - it’s just too distressing for them, and that’s okay.  Whereas for me, it’s just a different hair color.

So why the post?
For those of you sitting on the edge of the platinum, silver, pewter, or snow white hair volcano – ready to jump in - do I or don’t I?
  • Take a second and question whether you really want those chemicals seeping into your head and through your body every six – eight weeks.
  • Do you really, honestly think your hair color is fooling people and making them think you are substantially younger than you are?
  • How much time and money are you really spending on hair coloring?
  • And remember, you’re not alone.  There are a few of us (very few under age 90, but a few) out here who are on our way to gray and looking forward to it every day and we support you in your decision when others cannot – it’s just too distressing for some, and that’s okay.

I stopped coloring my hair.
I now get a cut / trim every 4 – 6 weeks that costs me $40 and takes less than 40 minutes.

If I do not color my hair for the next 25 years,
without factoring in inflation or price increases,
I will not spend
  an additional 220 hours at the salon,
  and over $18,000 - on hair coloring alone.

I definitely have better uses for that time and money.

UPDATE 8/31/2011
My hair is the most gorgeous shade of silver - I couldn't be happier about the way that my hair looks. 

The other day I ran into a woman in the grocery store whose hair was almost the exact same color as mine.  I told her - our hair color matches almost perfectly and I must say your hair is beautiful.  She came up to me in the grocery store about ten minutes later and told me her story.  She quit coloring her hair because she had to - the chemicals were making her go bald in the back and the crown of her head.  She quit coloring her hair - her hair grew back in and she now has this beautiful mane of silver hair - - - - - and her daughters want her to go back to blonde, to start coloring her hair again. 

Think about it - her daughters don't care about her health.  They don't care that coloring her hair almost made their mother go bald.  All they care about is themselves and the fact that - they don't want a mom with gray hair.  How sad it is that our society has come to a point where outward appearance is more important than the health and well-being of those we are suppose to love.

That's my update - I love my hair - it's gorgeous!

UPDATE 10/31/2011
I went to a new stylist last week to have my hair cut.  She commented more than once on what beautiful color I had.  In all the years I was putting dye on my head - no one ever told me I had beautiful hair color.

That's my update - I love my hair - it's gorgeous!  and a trained professional agrees.

UPDATE 09\18\2014
I went to a new stylist last night to have my hair cut.  She commented more than once on what beautiful hair color I have. No one ever told me I had beautiful hair color, while I was coloring my hair.

That's my update - I still love my silver hair - it's gorgeous!  and a trained professional agrees.

And I found a site called - Silver Sisters that has branches across the US and is holding the national Silver Sisters conference in San Diego in 2014.

People do not grow old no matter how long we live.
We never cease to stand like curious children
before the great Mystery into which we were born.   Albert Einstein
Tags:  Going gray, going grey, grey hair, gray hair

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