Going Grey – Not A Black Or White Issue

Pony Wears Prada

When I got up this morning, I put some water on my face to help me wake up completely as I do each day and noted to myself that for the second day in a row, my hair looked really good. On my way to make the coffee, I mumbled out loud that I’d better call Lisa to get on her books for an appointment knowing that my hair looks its best two days before it begins to scream, “Cut me” to anyone within viewing distance.

Most people I know tend to plan better than I do when it comes to scheduling a haircut. I’ve always been more of a wait and see kind of person when it comes to personal grooming which can sometimes leave me with scraggly looking hair.

This is not to say I never book in advance. I had a stylist when I lived in Atlanta that I think the world of and evidently quite a few other folks do too because you must always book your next appointment when you pay if you want to be sure you can get in to see Pat when it suits you.

I dislike making appointments too far in advance and for about five or six years, I had my hair cut in a barber shop where I could walk in with no appointment and have a seat on the couch until the next chair became available. I’d wait for the one guy whose skills matched what I was looking for and grab his chair when it was my turn. In all the years I had my haircut there, I never saw another woman in the shop unless she was waiting for her son or husband and I used to smile when they looked surprised to see me pop into an open barber’s chair.

Gone are the days when my hair was easy. In my 20s, I had a hairdresser in California who described my natural hair color as soft-golden-brown with red highlights. I used to say that it was California speak for brown with a little red and blonde courtesy of too much time in the sun. My natural color was nice though, and I only played with it twice during my pre-color years both with disastrous results.

Except for those two lapses in judgement, I never colored my hair until my early 40s and only then because I thought my shade had become lacking in oomph. My natural California color had fizzled completely to brown by the time I began coloring my hair myself and I did okay with the color bottle for a while, but after eventually ending up with a shade of orange-red to rival Ronald McDonald’s clownish coiffure, I sought professional help.

By then it was less about brightening and more about covering as my once vibrant color began to turn grey. Some people prefer to say silver and I’d have to say that silver may be a good descriptive fit for many, but I think aside from some interesting silver streaks around my face, the rest of my head is quickly going a bit more salt and pepperish and it’s not a look I’m sure I like at least not yet. I may feel differently about it when I’m older, but I’m not sure I want to give up my fondness for the high/low light system of blending that my hairstylist, Lisa uses to camouflage my changing locks.

I find it amusing now and slightly ironic that after years of struggling to be someone who could see a little grey in what I’d normally think of as a black or white issue, grey is the first thing I see now.

Unable to decide what to do with my hair, I have not colored it since December and while I might still change my mind, I think when I slip into the chair for my next cut I may feel like I often do when it has been a while, indecisive and unsure, and a bit apologetic for the state it’s in … sort of like I imagine the confession booth in church.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s really like church, I mean there’s no “Bless me father … ” involved, but I am aware that I do always say the same thing to my stylist when I first sit in her chair and it begins with the words “It’s been a long time since my last … ”

I know I’m not alone in the color dilemma and I would love to hear your thoughts and where you land on the color spectrum if you’d care to comment.

PS. I have to add that I soon as I saw the image I took the other day of a pony with wild hair, I knew it would be perfect for this post. I think it’s gorgeous and reflects the way I hope to come to see my two toned tresses one day.


16 thoughts on “Going Grey – Not A Black Or White Issue

  1. I have to admit, I am one of those people who get my hair cut every 5 weeks and make appts at least 3 appts out (I live in the Washington DC area and a good stylist is like a good politician…hard to find). I have colored my hair since my 30’s. The shades have varied over the years from light brown to very dark. Nothing wild, just varied to add some spice. I think with coloring, as with getting a style, you have to do what works best for you and what makes you happy. You seem like a no-nonsense kind of person. So color your hair something that matches your skintone and doesn’t scream “I just got my hair colored”. I always feel young and vibrant when leaving the salon (picture one of those commercials where the woman is shaking her head around and strutting her stuff), so even though I don’t like how long it can sometimes take to get the look I want, it is worth it in the end.

    • I’d say no-nonsense is a good way to describe me, Wendy and it made me smile to think other people might see me that way too. I don’t go too wild with color especially since the two times I stretched a bit, it turned orange, but I have been going back and forth over whether to continue as I have in the past. I think I’m leaning towards a bit of color.

  2. I have stopped coloring my hair. The grey that I have, I’m actually kind of grateful for because I made it far enough out of my destructive past to get them. However, I’m having a bit more trouble being grateful for the fine lines that are deepening…

    • Audrey, I can’t see a bit of grey in your hair yet and your lines look like smile lines to me. Those are the best kind. People who have a little crinkle around their eyes are my favorite kind of folks. 😉

  3. My hair used to be brown but I colored it for many many years (all shades from chestnut to blonde). When I decided to go natural seven years ago I was shocked at how much grey there was! Mine is salt & pepper with a white streak at the front that I actually love. Funnily enough I get a lot of compliments about my hair which never happened when I was a fake blond. My husband loves it, too. The texture of my hair feels a lot healthier and smoother than when it was colored. And not having the hassle and expense of coloring is something I value a lot these days. Nonetheless, it can make you look old, too, it certainly doesn’t make you look younger. We’ll see how I feel about it once I move back to Germany where people are big on coloring.

    • Kerstin, you were one of the women I was thinking of as I wrote this post. You have gorgeous hair and if I could go straight to something like yours the decision would be easy, but it may take a few more years before mine is more than just salt and pepper.

  4. When I decided to go gray, the outcry was from a couple of women friends. I did it anyway and love it. People (both men and women) often comment on the gray and say it looks great on me, but it would look bad on them. Going grey is not a mainstream choice here it L.A.–we’re supposed to be nipped and tucked and forever young.
    Do what makes you feel good. But maybe give the gray a chance? See if you like it. Going gray saves time and money.

    • Denise, you were the other woman I was thinking of along with Kerstin when I wrote this post. I remember when I first saw your picture, I liked your hair and thought how brave you must be to live in LA and go grey. I’m still not sure, but my method of high/low lights doesn’t cover all of it so it may be time to save my money.

  5. To color or not to color. This is the question.
    I can relate! I recently had highlights added to “HIDE” the greying.and think it will be for the last time. I first colored my hair as a teen during the 60’s by going auburn as I was a brunette with reddish highlights .On occasion I continued to do such, seeing a professional for highlights & frosts and doing self coloring . A few years ago the color I selected was called, Sangria. It tickled me very much when I attended a reception where the beverage served was Sangria-matching my locks! And later when I attended a milestone birthday party with my newly selected Burgundy tresses–of course they were serving Burgundy!
    Well wishes to you, Elizabeth, and her friends and give my regards to your colorists!

    • I’m with you K. Sue, this may be the last time (if I go ahead with it) fpr me to do color. I may have crossed over into too much grey for highlights to even help. I’d love to see a picture of your Sangria colored hair.

  6. I find exactly the same, about 2 days before my hair looks a mess and bnadly needs a cut, it looks its very best. I swore I’d never dye my hair and then i did ..and when the roots grow out man, I look ahout 10 years older at least. For now, it’s staying, but i hate my lack of courage….

    • Mariellen, I can’t do the root thing and my hair grows so fast that within a week of adding all over color, I would have a grey stripe down the middle. It’s unfortunate too that the corporate world doesn’t care for silver haired female employees. it’s not fair, but it’s still a problem.

  7. Go grey , it’s terrific. I did it this year after having coloured for ages. I went really short, and I love the cut and the colour. Its liberating, and funnily it makes me look younger, and more ‘me’.

  8. I was ill recently (for quite a few months) and my hair was growing greyier by the day, It was to me horrendous, as I normally have it coloured. I did not have it for coloured for 6 months, and that to me was soooooo long. I had it done recently and it was so lovely to look in the mirror without any grey showing .. I don’t think I am ready to go grey yet!1 🙂

  9. I’ve been getting highlights for years, just once or twice a year. My natural color is ‘dishwater blonde’ and just looks a bit flat without some dimension added through color. I’ve noticed that my ‘highlights’ seem to last much longer these days! I think I’m starting to get some gray in there. At the moment, I’ve had highlights a bit too often and the dry, hot Texas weather isn’t helping my hair. I’m leaning towards waiting a while before doing anymore with the color.

    That said, it’s been almost a year and I still haven’t found a hairdresser I love. I’ve gone to two hairdressers 3x each. They both started with perfect haircuts for me, and then it fell apart the next couple times. Sigh. That’s the worst part about moving, finding someone who gets me and my hair.

    I think you’d look good with silver highlights!

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