For a really long time I have been considering giving up dying my hair. I don’t have a super long hair dye story. I dyed it for fun when I was young. I was more concerned with straightening out these beautiful curls that I now love. I spent money on chemical straighteners and a hundred bad haircuts that I imagined would bring me sleek and beautiful ringlets instead of these wacky curls. It NEVER happened. So color was somewhere in the background. Honestly, I’m not even sure gray hairs bothered me. There was just so much else going on that seemed problematic.
In 1999 (at 38), I decided to wack off my hair because I had moved to Seattle. It rained all the time, and even with chemically-straightened hair and a lot of time spent cooking my hair with heat, the minute I walked out the door I got a weird frizzy afro. One day I walked into a salon and said “Cut it off”. I want it all cut off.” As much as I hated the thought of having very little hair I just couldn’t focus so much on it anymore.
After a few haircuts and tweaks to get it right I fell in love with my new short hairstyle. Yes, my face was front and center, but I got so many compliments it was overwhelming. Whether I thought it looked good or not, it obviously did. I wore that short haircut for 13 years. I always had a little gray at the temples, but my hair was so short it just looked more like a highlight. I started dying it after every haircut for fun the last 2-3 years or so. I liked it red. And it got cut off every hair cut so it truly didn’t matter.
I ran into problems when I started to let the curls grow out in 2013. I was curl-curious and wanted to see if I’d like them more now. I was starting to see curls come into fashion. But as they grew I noticed how gray my temples were. I kept up with the home hair dye but it was becoming harder to do with more hair growth, and I got a lot of splotchiness. By the time I got my Devacut, my hair color was crazy. The stylist was adamant we fix the hair color. That was when I started dying my hair regularly at the salon to cover gray. So, I’ve been dying my hair like that for about 6 years. And, to be honest, I never cared for that salon routine.
I don’t like the salon time. I don’t like the cost. I’m not even sure I like the look. I’m kind of a natural girl anyway, so I don’t really care if anyone sees my roots. With all the curl going on and the length of my hair, you don’t really see it unless I pull my hair back. My temples are really gray. The rest of my hair is salt and pepper in varying mixes. I started becoming gray-curious years ago when I saw this picture of Jane Fonda in a wig for one of her movies. It made me wonder how my curls would look with my natural gray.
I started the process of growing out my gray a couple of years ago but one of my girlfriends just shook her head and said, “no”. I put the genie back in the bottle and went back to dying it without question. But I’ve been in and out of “going gray” facebook groups and have been fantasizing about it for years. I watched my friend Ann with envy as she chopped off her hair and embraced her gray after she retired from Whirlpool. I told myself I’d do it when I turned 60. Or maybe I’d do it when I retired. I kept putting it off until the future. I thought about it last summer but I knew I’d need to look for another job, and age discrimination is a real thing. I tabled it again.
But now I’m in a good workplace where naturalness is embraced. I have also been growing tired of the amount of hair on my head and how hair dye is damaging it. It’s been hard to keep down the frizz and to keep the color looking good. I had an appointment yesterday for highlights and a root touchup. Two weeks ago I started reading some going gray blogs and watching This Organic Girl’s YouTube videos on her “going gray” journey. I began to imagine canceling the appointment, or using it to cut my hair off. It felt so liberating the last time I told the stylist to cut it all off. And it was liberating to embrace my natural curl. Could I do this?
I DID IT!! Day one of the “going gray” journey is in the books…….
I have no idea what my natural hair looks like. I’m going to give myself some grace and set a deadline. I’m not dying my hair before Thanksgiving (unless it’s a streak of purple or pink). That’ll give me 6 months to decide what I want to do. But I am a natural girl. I like natural things. I like low-maintenance in general. I have a feeling I’ll like my natural hair. After all I have all of that curl for interest. So, I went in yesterday and had Abby give me a pixie cut. I have plenty of hair dye left in the curls in front, but she lopped off a good bit on the sides and front. I can already see it peeking out. There’s a lot of white at my temples. It’s going to be a shock at my next hair cut to have that right by my face.
So I’m officially gray-curious at least until Thanksgiving. I’ll keep you posted on my journey. I’m also going to enjoy wearing hats again. I missed all of the great hats I used to wear when my hair was short. I looked like Bozo the clown in a hat with all of those thick curls bursting out. And it’ll be a relief to run or hike and sweat and not have all of that hair to air-dry afterwards. If nothing else, my hair routine will be much easier for the next 6 months.