Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hair Coloring

It’s 1980-something. I’m standing in my bathroom, in the bright, 100-watt light, looking in the mirror on the medicine cabinet, when a couple gray hairs get my attention.

“So what,” I say to myself, “There are at least a hundred thousand more that are still black.”

It’s actually quite fascinating; a sign of being a real woman in her late twenties. (That feeling does not last, but we’ll get to that later.)

Now in my thirties, I see a few more; though, less than 10. And because I color my hair when the mood strikes, the grays are hardly noticeable.

Three kids are carried and born (not at the same time). I’m now 42. Show Time! It’s the warm up act though, featuring about 20 gray hairs. No need to panic; my look is still somewhat youthful, and there are no major lines or sagging. The emphasis on my hair is more about length and style, as opposed to the gray strands. It’s very short and kind of cute, after having been long and on my back when child number one was born.

The coloring is routine now. I’ve bought into the compliments on my sun-kissed brown hair and what the experts say - that lightening the hair gives a softer look.

The kids are getting older. My identity is gradually becoming “a woman who is a mother,” instead of "a mother.” I’m letting my hair grow… which has a side effect… a part forming on top… signs of a future skunk look… Roots! Ahhhhhh!

This image was found via a Google search on "gray roots."

“Oh no! I can’t count the grays anymore. There must be at least 50.”

(Years later, I will realize that 50 is nothing.)

And as I let the bangs grow out to be able to have a ponytail, little strands of “them” appear on my hairline.

“Why are ‘they’ living around my face instead of at the rear of my head?”

Soooo, it’s time for a trip to Sally’s. My tool of choice - Cover Gray - a tube of crayon-like substance that looks like lipstick. Such a nice little tool.

But what really makes me happy, happy, happy - is Garnier Nutrisse # 63, Brown Sugar. When I have about 3 quarters of an inch of new growth, I break out the box and get busy. Mix, apply, wait a half hour, shower and rinse, step out, face the mirror, pull the wrapped towel from my head, and Voila! I can almost cry. I marvel and think, “This is one of mankind’s greatest inventions.”

So why do I feel this way? Is it because Mom colors her hair and Granny colored hers until she was about 93 years old? Is it in my blood?

Why do so many of us color our hair? Is it simply a matter of not wanting to look old? I was well into my adult years before I realized that all blonde women were not really blonde. Recently, a girlfriend told me that being blonde is preferred because when her grays come in, they blend better.

“Oh yeah,” I replied to this revelation.

Most of my friends are over-45 and started coloring, tinting, highlighting, streaking, etc. before the grays began to appear, as part of their beauty routine. Now they consider it a necessity. A couple of my lucky, over-45 friends are not graying.

My younger, under-45 friends are having fun doing what we used to do; experimenting with color. Enjoy it while it lasts, Girls.

People have colored their hair for centuries; maybe since the beginning of time. Age is surely a reason for doing so. Do occupation, income, personality, residence, culture, and comparison to others also have an influence on the decision to color or not to color?

How do others see us? Based on TV shows and magazine articles featuring makeovers, color gets the sign of approval. However, a friend once mentioned that she doesn’t want too much color because she’d feel that she has “young hair” on an “old face.”

Hmmm… Good point.

Seriously… My experience with hair coloring might appear to have a high priority. Okay… it does… for now.

However, it does not reflect my opinion of what you should do with your hair. I’ve seen the loveliest of gray, white, silver, and salt & pepper hair. When I think back to what I said at the beginning – it really does seem to be more about cut and style that matters. Or is it?

These images were found via a Google search on "gray hair."

So what do you think, Girls? And GUYS, too. The store shelves are filled with Grecian Formula and Just For Men.


Judy Thomas said...

I am hoping my hair turns solid white or a solid gray. I don't color, bleach or style it- I just wash it and get it cropped short (though sometimes that does lead to cashiers saying "Have a nice day, sir!")

Hilary said...

I've never coloured my hair. It has darkened naturally over the years from a very light blonde to a medium brown. I liked it better light, but not enough to get into the dyeing routine. I'm one of the lucky ones who, at 56, has a few stray gray and not more.

Some of the most beautiful women I know have gone white, silver or gray at a fairly young age and look beautiful with their locks. I have no idea if one day I'll opt to colour. But if I do, I'll "dye" a virgin... so to speak. ;)

Abby said...

Thought provoking as always. I have yet to go bottled. I chalk it up to my mom who stayed "mostly" black-haired until her 70's. I do have a few stray greys, but I'm in denial about those.
I used to think I'd just let it go grey naturally, but now that I'm closer to that edge, I'm thinking NOT!

Tabor said...

I did the same as you over the same decades of my life. Then I retired and didn't care about my hair color so much and let it grow out. I got lots of compliments as it was shiny and I sometimes put a glaze on it, but for the most part it is wash and dry.

Sr Crystal Mary said...

Lol.. we are so vain..
I was a blond all my life and my hair changed colour naturally with different ages and events..As a child it was golden blond, then a darker sun streaked blond in my teens. With pregnancy it turned a strawberry blond and gradually went to a nordic blond. It was then I began deepening the colour with hair dye, I felt with my pale skin I looked insipid. Well finally I have stopped colouring at 67yrs. I am completely white..and thats how it can now stay... Many have told me they like it. I look in the mirror and say "Who is that old chook?" Not to worry...maybe it depicts wisdom?? LOL I hope so..

Unknown said...

I think gray is beautiful on women and sexy on men. I figure that with my hair, I'm fighting a losing battle by trying to hide them. This post reminded me of when my twin sis was visiting last week and she reached to touch my hair and then YANK! She pulled out a gray hair! She said that mine were so long that she couldn't resist AND she pulls hers or clips hers automatically. I guess I'll be the twin with the gray hair.

MissKris said...

Genetics gave me almost completely silver hair at 35. At 58 I am silvery white. Totally natural. I have some wispy bangs and I pull it all back in a ponytail or a small bun. I get compliments on it all the time. I like being real and true to myself and my ancestors. I have absolutely no problems with it. In fact, my hubby and grown children have told me they can't even remember what I looked like with darker brown hair, which was my natural color. I have never worn a lick of makeup either...my husband loves my natural look. I'm glad. I'm too lazy to start worrying about it now, haha!

Marilyn Clark Redd said...

Hair coloring is wonderful and oh so necessary. :-)

Rebecca S. said...

Hello Anita, and Anita's new post :) When I was a teenager I really liked to bring out the auburn highlights in my hair by applying henna, an all natural hair colouring herb (?) used by the women of Egypt long ago. Since I stopped that practise, I have never coloured my hair. I came close once. A friend said I should go red again and gave me a box of hair colour. When I decided to try it I read the directions, which of course had to mention any possible dangers in using the dye. One mention of the words 'may be linked to cancer' was enough to prevent me from trying it.
My grays are coming in wavy though slowly, in a salt and pepper way. I don't plan to colour my hair. I have no objections to those who do so, though. It's a personal thing, like the choice of cosmetics. I do think some older women look a bit severe in their extreme dye jobs, though! Remember blue and pink poodle hair on elderly ladies?

Midlife Roadtripper said...

A few years ago, I had to stop doing the highlighting because I was only highlighting the gray. Now, I've made my appointments every five weeks as I'm so upset when the gray roots appear. Perhaps when it goes completely white I will stop the coloring. However, it is really the only money I spend on myself - two hours at the beauty parlor. Might not be such a bad idea.

Just Two Chicks said...

My mother still doesn't have gray hair, so I may escape this for a time... but the wife, oh my she has major gray, and recently had to have her roots done.I told her she should just let it go gray, but with her skin tone, it wouldn't look so good, I guess. She has dark skin, darker in the summer, and the cut of that last picture you posted. If she had the cut of the first picture that would look nice, but the shape of her head makes short hair impossible... oh well... she looks nice when those roots are covered :)
I LOVE that coloring stick!!! How cool is that and easy too!!!!! All I want is for my hair to grow longer, but every tie I go in my hair dresser says she has to cut it because it's unhealthy :( I'm having her put clip ins in this Saturday for a Gala, and can't wait to see what it looks like!! The wife doesn't know... not sure how I'll get away for awhile on Sat... hmmm.

I bet your hair is beautiful!!

Linda Hensley said...

I've given up. I colored my hair just yesterday because I just don't feel old enough to have that much white in my hair. I did go with the dark blonde though because I agree with your friend, it blends better. Not so sure what to do about the wrinkles though. Great write up!

Cathy said...

Hello Anita
My mother used every colour in the book when she was younger - mind you she was white by the time she was 45 and that was her excuse for 'not looking old' as she put it.
I used to have 'tips/streaks' as they were called years ago (oh the thrill of having the strands of hair pulled through that horrible rubber cap lol) then when cash was tight I grew it all out.
Thinking maybe thats the way to go again as there are a few of 'natures' streaks appearing around the face line. Wouldn't have the ocurage to do it myself so may have a word with the hairdresser next visit.
Thought you might like to know that due to posting issues with Blogger I've moved over to Wordpress, had to change the name slightly - now Cathy @ Still Waters (I've put a direct link below) - but apart from that everything else will be the same. Would be good if you dropped in when you have the time
Take care

Cathy @ Still Waters

Unknown said...

I do color my hair. I started because of my natural hair color and texture. Think limp mousy brown! I would love to let it go gray, but it seems my heredity is against me again. It's graying in patches. I'd probably look like a tri colored poodle. Oh well. I'll keep the Clairol around. And yes, it must be hereditary. My mom is 82 and still colors.

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

fsmum said...

I have always coloured my hair, even though I didn't get any grays until I hit 40. Now, as you say, it's something I do less out of choice but more out of necessity. I too, use nutrisse, but in the chestnut colour. Before that, I always went black as my natural hair colour is dark. However, they do say to go lighter as you age and as I am now almost 46...... One of my friends has gone completely white and it really suits her. I don't think I could do that myself though. At least not yet. It think we all influenced by the ads etc whether we like to think we are or not. Subconciously anyway, we feel we must stay as youthful looking as we can. My mother is almost eighty and dyes her hair light blonde every six weeks and it looks good! She looks at least ten years younger than she is.

Monalisa said...

24 now, my hair haven't started greying yet. My mom who's about 50 haven't had any grey hair yet, though my dad has a lot of grey hair and little black. As about coloring, I would never wish to color my hair when they start greying. There are some fully greyed haired ladies I just love gazing at. I believe its all in the face. You keep it lively and you are the most beautiful. I personally just love very old looking very lively smiling grandmas.

Alright, Kill me ! ;-)

Barb said...

My color and cut is Dandelion Gone Wild! I stopped coloring when I hit 50, and it's just so much easier. My husband says he likes my color and style, so who else matters? I do like to spike it with hair product tho - no use looking TOO old!

Buckeroomama said...

The closest I've ever come to have my hair colored was to get highlights done. I'll see how long I can hold off before I resort to having my hair colored. I've only ever had highlights done once and I didn't like how it looked AFTER my hair has grown out and you see the roots. I've never had highlights done again so far.

myletterstoemily said...

i'm a color girl, bu ti have a friend with
almost white hair. it looks beautiful . . .
on her!

Menopausal New Mom said...

What timing you have! I just made an appointment yesterday to get a cut/color which I haven't had since early last Fall. My reason is I have a job interview next week and wanted to clean up my hair with a cut and I add the color for body. I have stick-straight hair with no body at all. For me the color is more about adding texture since at 51 (yes, my birthday is tomorrow and I'm turning 51), I still only have the odd gray hair. Maybe there is an upside to fine hair :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anita! Nice to see your post! I've colored my hair for a while now. I too am getting gray in patches-mostly right around my temples and forehead. I thought about not coloring but I'd probably look ridiculous with gray patches on my head....yeah...vanity-I know. Funny thing though-I was always a golden blond but my hair got darker with age...darker with gray patches...lol.. So I dye it golden blond. At least when people look at my childhood photos they think my color is "natural". Little do they know... Well...I guess I just spilled the beans though.

Unknown said...

Hi there! Can you recommend me the best Katy beauty salon in your opinion? I'm looking it for my girlfriend. Thank you guys!