Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gray Matter



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.

17 comments:

Traci said...

I think you are incredibly lovely with your gray hair and I also think the length you have it (in the pics) is perfect. I love the shade and it looks great with the red lipstick. I think for some, the roller set styled medium/short hairstyle makes them look older, as it does for Barbara Bush. Sleek shorter cuts like the inverted bob (which I think would look fabulous on you) and boyish type cuts do tend to make women look young. I was a hairstylist for 10 years so I guess talking about hair gets me going

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

You are a beauty, and I love that you embraced your gray.)

Mrs. Tuna said...

I'm holding off on going gray. I was a natural strawberry blonde but for some reason it started going darker and darker once I hit my forties. Started doing a weave a few years ago and chopped it off. Everyone swears I look ten years younger but I can't decide if its ten years younger than I am or ten years younger than I was looking.

Mrs. Tuna said...

PS....Thanks for posting on my blog :)

Average Girl said...

Hi!

Thanks for stopping by my blog with your great comment on my Pay it Forward post! I would be happy to include your blog in it, if you would like. There is no strings attached or anything. I just started doing this because, I was stuck at this point of about 30 followers, and then I had all these amazing individuals circulating my blog out in cyber space for me, so I want to return the kind favour. If you would like your blog to be featured, just come back and tell me. It would probably be featured in about 2 or 3 Mondays from now.

As for your grey hair post. Well I am fighting it tooth and nail. Grey is definitely not my colour. If you have a chance or you are bored, here is what I wrote about it last month:

http://goodgirlgoneaverage.blogspot.com/2010/09/thursday-toots-its-case-of-wild-greys.html

Thanks again for stopping by my blog.
Have a great day!

Cheers Tracy

Average Girl said...

By the way, I just looked at your profile pic, and you are model gorgeous, so you probably could shave all your hair off, and still look absolutely spectacular!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

You are so beautiful, you could have purple hair, and it would look good!

I think your hair color and style are lovely, and I love that you've let it go grey. I like my grey hair. Mine is growing in as stripes, but they actually look like highlights, or so my stylist tells me. I have it in my temples, and now it is starting to do that all over. I have dark hair, so I like the flecks of silver. And it is silver. But you're right, it does change what colors you can wear.

I toy with my hair all the time. Sometimes it's shorter, sometimes (when I can't make time to get to my stylist), it's longer. I like it in a bob best.

I have never understood why people don't embrace their age at whatever age they are. Everyone in my family is older so I always wanted to catch up with them. My grandmother always had premature snow white hair, and it was gorgeous. My sister and aunt did, too, but they dyed theirs. My sister finally let hers go white, and it's stunning. My male cousin's hair went salt and pepper at 30, and he is often mistaken for his big brother's big brother. But so what when you are as handsome as he is and very distinguished looking, too. I think it helped in his career.

I'm with you. When it goes grey, I am not going to dye it. I hope and pray that you are not going to have to have more surgery and that you won't be faced with that shaved issue again. But if you do, you will be a gorgeous woman with short hair.

XO,

Sheila :-)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Now, I just said, I don't understand why people don't embrace the age they are, and in the next breath I said, "My family is all older, and I always wanted to catch up with them." LOL! I did in my youth, but now, I am happy in my own skin (uh, hair) and have been for quite some time. :-)

Angie, Catladyland/Katt Food said...

You have gorgeous hair. I started turning grey as well in my 20's and am 40 now. I don't think I'm ready to go grey yet, but will file away your advice!

Ms. Anthropy said...

I absolutely, positively LOVE your hair! When you wrote about cutting it, in the past, I thought you had lost your mind. I would be thrilled to have hair that attractive. (having a face to go with it wouldn't hurt, either) You go, girl!

Mrs4444 said...

You look terrific. That said, not everyone can pull that look off; it also helps to have natural beauty and personality :) This is really a great post; I recommend that you link it up to my Saturday Sampling post (on Friday night at 9pm central time). Of course, if you'd rather link something else up, I could submit this one :)

Average Girl said...

Well Ms. Luddite... you don't have to do a thing with my blog... I do my Pay it Forward every Monday, I am featuring 3 to 4 blogs each monday until I am thru the long list. I will hopefully do a worthy enough write up for your blog and you will probably be feature in about two weeks... that's it! Cheers

meleah rebeccah said...

I think you are absolutely lovely with your gray hair! I have to color my hair, I don't look half as good as you do with gray hair!

Kate (Southern-Belle-Simple) said...

i'm so glad you visited my blog and left me a comment so i could hop over to yours! i have always thought women with gray hair were very elegant....my hair is reddish so i'm not sure when/what color it will turn. i definitely don't want to keep up that fake-looking color as i get older. you wear yours longer, which i love! i never understood the trend for women to go shorter as they get older. i love longer hair and think it is so pretty. i'll never go short!

Angella Lister said...

Well, you do look beautiful with your gray! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving me a comment, which allowed me to find you here. I love this post, and your authenticity. I look forward to coming by again often. Like you, I've been a writer and editor for magazines, with a few abandoned novels in my drawer. You never know. We might get back to them!

nick said...

I think grey hair is just fine, I don't know why so many women (and men) want to conceal it. I can think of many grey-haired women who look fantastic. At school I had a music teacher with a huge mane of grey hair and I thought he looked so wise and distinguished!

Having said that, I'm not grey myself (astonishingly dark-haired at the age of 63!), so how I would feel if I went grey myself I've no idea....

Cottage Tails said...

Hi I've just stumbled onto your blog. Nice to meet you.

I've been growing out my hair this year to let it go natural - one more cut & I'll be back to all natural colour.

Love your long grey hair.

Love Leanne NZ