‘Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our real selves be seen’. Breńe Brown
I started out dyeing my hair for fun. I tried highlights, blonde and all different shades of dark. However over time, it became something I did so that I could cover my hair that was going grey. Six weekly hairdresser visits became monthly and I would also dye my hair at home every week at the hairline. With so many potential risks of using hair dye, together with the frequency of which I was applying them and the amount of money I was spending, I realised I had to look at what was going on for me. I was also highly suspicious that hair dye may have been the trigger of adult acne and other skin conditions I was suffereing from.
For the most part, I coloured my hair dark brown and being a perfectionist, I hated even the slightest peep of grey coming through at the roots and it would annoy me until I covered it. However after many years of this cycle, I became so bored and tired with it all, that I had to find another way.
Over the years as the greys grew in, I tried highlights and bleach blonde and then back to dark brown ( my ‘natural’ colour) to see which colour would blend best with the salt and pepper coming through, but I could always see my roots after about a week, no matter what colour I chose. It’s really confronting, when you realise that the only real alternative is to stop dyeing, which meant revealing the grey.
It was during a holiday with my husband when I finally made my mind up that the time had come to quit hair dye. Being away for a week, my roots were coming through after 7 days, so I coloured it there. Through lack of good lighting, I ended up with an ugly dark dye stain at my hairline. I scrubbed and scrubbed but it wouldn’t budge. I spent the last few days of the holiday feeling really self -conscious. This was not what I wanted any more.
When I got home, I spent a lot of my spare time looking on pinterest for women of all ages- younger and older, with grey hair. I was searching for inspiration and I found it. There were so many women with grey hair and they were all beautiful. All different ages, shapes and sizes. It was lovely to see and I didn’t think their grey hair made any of them look older. Each hair was unique to that woman. Some women and young girls were even bleaching it and then toning it grey which looked nice too. I was so surprised and inspired that grey hair could be great.
At this time, I was sporting a head of very dark brown brown hair (see above picture). I knew I wouldn’t be able to just let it grow out, because the contrast would be way too shocking for me and I knew that there was a risk I would give in. With this in mind, I decided to have it heavily highlighted. It took three rounds of full head of highlights- one month apart to get my hair to a light enough shade to transition without a ‘hard’ contrast line. I also had a really good hair cut to above my shoulders (see above left).
It is 6 months since my last set of highlights and it has been the best decision for me. I have about 3 inches of my natural grey hair now and it is coming through really nicely and so healthy, not course or wiry at all. Also, my adult acne and skin complaints have all but disappeared.
Through this decision, I have found happiness, which has run deeper than just the hair on my head. I feel empowered and free from what I’ve been afraid of. I was scared of the transition to grey and that I would look and feel old but I don’t at all. I’ve realised that grey hair is JUST another hair colour and it is nothing to be ashamed of- on the contrary, it is something to be proud of. It’s you, and whatever your hair colour is, you don’t need to hide it. Through this adventure, I am much more mindful about how I treat myself and what I put in and on my body. I am also more accepting of ‘what is’.
It’s a great feeling to be free. Perhaps some may think that grey hair can make a person look older (although I disagree) but that same person can look so much better. I now always strive to look and feel the absolute best I can for my age, with what I have. I love that my hair colour is unique to me.
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