In my early forties, I made the decision to go gray. This decision was not taken lightly. Ask someone to visualize a gray haired woman, and chances are they will conjure up their grandmother or great auntie. Not the image I had of myself.
However, one day I looked in the mirror and realized the silver in my roots looked pretty nice. As well, I was getting increasingly concerned about the effects of chemicals on my head and the environment.
When I look in the mirror now, I don’t see gray hair. I simply see me. My hair is healthy, soft, and beautiful, and the woman smiling back at me is sexy and full of self-confidence.
Why does hair go gray?
Our hair colour comes from melanin. As we age, the body produces less melanin, and our hair starts to gray.
The age at which this occurs is based
- Heredity – my children have a double whammy; both their father and I started graying in our early twenties!
- Stress – the expression ‘this is enough to turn my hair gray’ is true. Stress hormones can negatively impact hair pigments.
What’s the best way to go gray?
- Partner with your hairdresser – I had to convince my hairdresser that I really did want to go gray. However, once he knew I was serious, we worked on a plan to avoid that horrible skunk line.
- Get some low-lights – my hairdresser suggested weaving in a couple of colours. At each session he applied less colouring until my hair was all gray.
- Layer your hair – first of all, a funky new haircut will keep you feeling sexy. Second, the layers, like the low-lights, help avoid the obvious difference between the incoming gray and your coloured hair.
- Go really short – this option is not for everyone. I waited until I was almost completely gray, then cut all the colour off. If you have the patience to wait it out, keeping your hair your normal length is quite fine.
How long will this take?
Hair grows about half an inch a month, so anticipate about six months to make a complete transition.
Does gray hair require different treatment?
Yes, the cuticle on gray hair is thinner making it more prone to drying and breakage. It also absorbs pollutants, and can look yellow.
- Use a shampoo formulated for gray hair – I just use baking soda, and wash my hair less often, making my hair extremely healthy and shiny. However, I realize this is not for everyone, so use silver-specific shampoos. But go easy to avoid giving your hair a blue tinge.
- Use a good conditioner – again, I opt for the natural solution of apple cider vinegar, but there are really good silver-specific conditioners available.
- Straighten you hair – gray hair reflects light, so keeping it smooth adds that extra zing.
Are there other changes to make?
- Update your wardrobe – once I was completely gray, my daughters forbid me to wear cream or oatmeal coloured clothing. They said it made me looked tired and washed out. “Think jewel tones, Mummers!” Now I wear black, rich browns, and beautiful greens, blues and reds.
- Add colour to your face – update your makeup as well. I really play up my eyes now, making them pop. You can also get away with a bit more blush.
I have received more compliments about my hair, now that I’m gray, than I have in my entire life. And rather than making me look older, I have been told that I look younger. I would say this is a combination of shiny, healthy hair and the confidence I feel of working with my body’s natural aging process.