We keep on looking for inspirations that we can relate to. When I started my journey to go grey and created an Instagram documentation account, my first concern was to follow women I could relate to in terms of age and hair colour. Amber was one of them. Her neat pictures and encouraging words were a great help to me during the whole process. My pleasure to share with you all her beautiful journey.
“38 yo, married, and grey! How about instead of hiding it, let’s start celebrating!”
Those two simple lines are the bio on my Instagram account named “@celebratethegrey”. And it was exactly what I intended to do. As a whole, women are conditioned from a young age to hate anything that shows ageing. Somewhere along the line, grey hair was included in those signs of ageing that women were taught to be ashamed of. I bought into it for many years.
I first spotted my first grey hair somewhere around the age of 17. Since I had several family members grey prematurely, I knew to expect them at a young age.
As the years went by, more greys appeared. At the age of 25, while getting a routine haircut, the stylist commented that I seemed pretty young to have as much grey hair as I had. I told her that most of my family was the same way and that if I were to stop dying my hair, I’d probably be about 50% grey. She replied that I would have been around 75-80%. Ouch! But on the bright side, it looks like it will be the pretty colour that all the older women come in to try to achieve.
Being a young 25-year-old, what I heard from that was that I’d be the envy of the nursing home. Thankfully as I’ve matured, my outlook on that has changed.
Fast forward to 2017. I was 36 years old and had been dying my grey roots for just around 19 years by then. It had gotten to needing to dye my hair every two weeks to conceal the stark white contrast against my black hair.
I remember January 20th, 2017, the last time I dyed my hair. We met some friends of a friend and wanted to make a good first impression.
Roughly two weeks later, I looked in the mirror and saw that it yet again was time to cover my roots. But, already having had one of those days where nothing seems to be going your way, I discovered that I didn’t have any hair dye at home.
The last thing I wanted to do was run out to the store. Let alone go through the gruelling process of dying my hair myself.
That’s when my first thoughts of ditching the dye came about.
For the next week or so, I tossed the idea around. I asked my husband and daughter what they would think if I just let my hair grow. Both of them told me to do whatever made me happy.
I consulted with some hairdresser friends, asking questions and for advice. I searched the internet for how women before me had transitioned to their natural grey hair. While I found many examples, I was hard pressed to find any examples of women with dark black hair and snow-white roots.
Around this time, I decided to create an Instagram account to share my story. But, if I was looking for other examples of dark-haired women going through this process, there had to be more, right?
Once I had mulled over all the options, the only one that I could stomach was indeed the cold turkey long grow out. It ended up being the best thing I could have done! As early as two months into the process, a stranger complimented my hair. I thought she must have been out of her mind. How in the world could anyone like my overgrown roots?
As my roots grew, so did the number of compliments from strangers. At the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, everywhere. As someone that was not accustomed to receiving compliments, it was a little overwhelming, to be honest. I had walked around practically invisible up until this point.
Let me be clear. I am a humble person. I grew up hating to have any attention on me. Therefore having people stop me wherever I went to ask about my hair was physically taxing. I found that trying to discredit their kind words just made it worse for me. So I accepted them with a simple and heartfelt “Thank you.” Over time it got easier. And I felt a significant shift in my confidence.
In June of 2017, I was five months into the process and started to become bored. I desperately needed a change. It felt as if my hair stopped growing as fast as it did in the beginning. That’s when I chose to go for a shorter haircut.
I had worn a stacked bob hairstyle several years before, so it was an easy decision. The cut served two purposes. First was a much-needed distraction. Distracted by the shorter style took my mind off the seemingly slow-growing process. And secondly, the style was much more modern and younger-looking.
I kept that same hairstyle for the remainder of my transition to becoming fully grey. Without really thinking about it, getting regular trims helped trim away more and more of the leftover dye at the ends of my hair.
And slowly, I saw the demarcation line I once dreaded move farther from the crown of my head. It took a long 20 months from beginning to end. And my only regret was not doing it sooner!
Now being completely natural, I feel like I’ve finally found myself. The confidence I gained through this process gave me the boost to work on my health. Knowing that I had the patience to grow out my hair gave me the confidence that I had the endurance to be patient with weight loss as well.
Along with those changes, I started noticing small changes in my choice of clothing and makeup. Where I once leaned toward black clothing to match my hair, I found myself reaching for greys. As for makeup, the only real change I’ve noticed has been wearing lipstick more often. With fair skin and white around my hairline, bold colour on my lips helps bring needed colour to my face.
My advice to anyone mulling over the choice to go grey is that you never know if you’ll like it until you try it. It is scary at first. There is absolute uncertainty in the beginning. Give yourself some time to weigh your options until you’ve found the way you think will work best for you. And then stick with it. You have nothing to lose but absolute freedom from dye to gain. Most importantly, do whatever makes YOU happy, whether ditch the dye or continue dying your hair. Your happiness is above all else!