Sunday, October 24, 2010
I went to a high school reunion party two weekends ago featuring classes from 1971 to 1977 (I'm class of '76, perfect since we were the Patriots). I was only the second girl in our class who has 'let her hair go' -- parlance for not coloring it anymore. The other person has lovely salt-and-pepper coloring...
As much as my old classmates and friends, all now in their early 50s to 60s, oohed and awed over my gray, to a one they all said they would not look good with gray hair. In fact, as the night wore on, my girlfriends decided my hair was not gray at all, but 'Platinum' (I don't think so...). I think they just hated calling it gray.
I really am 'Gray Light' like my name, and I have been for many years now. I began turning gray in my late 20s but wasn't ready for it so colored until my mid-40s. My hair was auburn but photographed very dark. Dad's hair was black and by the time he was in his early 30s it was salt-and-pepper. His mother had snow-white hair by the time she was 40. I guess I could deal, but I'm glad mine hasn't gone white on me. I lived in DC during the Bush years (Sr) and keep remembering how First Lady Barbara looked like his mother, although they insisted on calling her the 'silver fox.'
When choosing to grow out your gray, it's a universal fact no one looks good at first. You just have to suck it up for awhile. But there are tips to help the process. The gray begins at the roots, obviously, and your part begins to resemble what I call a 'skunk stripe.' Unless you like looking like Cruella D'Ville or Mortitia Munster, you'll want to add highlights that help blend the shades together, which look rather startling until they transition. Blondes and red heads have an easier time of it. But you also need the transition highlights to avoid looking washed out and dull. Just because you don't want to color doesn't mean you've given up and don't care for appearances.
Being in the pool 3 to 4 times a week, I put a clear gloss on my hair every 3rd month or so to keep it from getting brassy looking. If you don't like your gray or feel it needs to look more glam, you can add silvery highlights that help it along. I haven't done this yet because the reason I stopped coloring in the first place was to get away from the tyranny and expense of coloring, and because I didn't want my hair to look like cotton candy after decades of abuse. Now that I don't color anymore it has grown soft and shiny again on its own. My stylist says if people do add highlights they won't need to do it often.
The length is another thing altogether. As long-time readers know, I toyed with a bob, and my parents think I should cut it, but after considering it I guess the underlying reason I haven't is I've had three brain surgeries that have shorn my hair, and with the possibility of surgery in the future, I've decided to keep it long until I can't. And Excy likes it long. He'd like it longer, but I don't want to get all Pentecostal or anything. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Going gray is a highly personal decision. One of my closest friends hates it. I think it reminds her we're old. I've never been mistaken for a younger person with this color, that's for sure. And you have to watch certain colors and change some makeup if you use it.
But I'm used to it and it's authentically who I am.
I do think it odd younger kids are coloring their hair gray, though. I'd never have willingly done that at their age.