Monday, July 30, 2007

Do I fight against going gray?

I was stopped at a red light when I lowered my visor to tease a stray lash out of my eye. As I started to raise the visor back up, I did a double take.

Where did all that gray hair come from?

I was staring so hard at my head, I almost missed it when the light turned green. I knew the gray hairs were coming in, but damn! I had hoped to go gray starting with a dramatic, Bonnie Raitt-type streak in the front, not a hairline riddled with white, seemingly overnight.

It didn't help that over the weekend I rented a movie called "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone." It's an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams novel -- and really, one shouldn't have anything to do with Tennessee Williams without popping a Valium, washing it down with scotch and then moping around in a silk peignoir. I had none of those things. Watching a movie about a woman who's so deep in mourning for her lost beauty and youth that she takes up with a gorgeous, expensive Italian gigolo (with disastrous results, of course), did nothing to improve my mood. I dragged off to bed, fingering my white-tinged hairline and wishing for that scotch. I was supposed to go out with friends that night, but I was suddenly glad our plans had been postponed. Logically, I know that a smattering of gray hair isn't going to keep men from chatting me up (and if I did, I wouldn't want to be chatted up by them anyway), but emotionally ... I was bummed.

So I'm seeing my hairstylist tomorrow and I've got to make a decision. Do I talk to her about covering the gray? Or do I just get that trim?

In a marvel of timing, the Observer's Style section devoted a cover story to this very topic on Friday. But the chick they featured in the main photo -- she's decided to go gray -- looks great. Her silver strands blend so perfectly with her ashy, reddish brown ones, it almost looks like an artsy dye job. Meanwhile, my hair looks like white polish on brown dress shoes. Like Halloween ghost paint that refuses to wash out.

I come from a family of women who change their hair colors with their moods. And while I dabbled with dye in high school (I went honey blonde when Salt-N-Pepa did it, then I was a redhead for awhile), I really like my natural hair color. It's a medium brown that gets blonde highlights when I spend lots of time in the sun. Women used to come up and ask how I got the color. No woman has asked me lately. Must be the gray.

Sigh.

Readers, I need your advice. I always said I would let my hair go gray when it was ready, but that was before it really started going gray! Have any of you faced the same predicament? If so, what did you decide to do?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hide the gray. I think women have the right to have any hair color they like. So don't go gray -- even though I personally think gray can look pretty cool. It makes a statement -- I am who I am. But who you are may not be gray, so be who you are.

Anonymous said...

i've been dying my hair consistently since my early 20s: it's been everything from blue to red to brown. i have no idea anymore what my 'natural' hair color is, let alone if i have any grays (i'm 30 now).

dying your hair is not lying, it's being creative. i'm personally a fan of dye jobs that don't try to look 'natural'. do what makes you happy.

Anonymous said...

I'd color that gray! I started going gray when I was 27 (thanks Mom)! She was totally gray but she had the type of silver gray hair that looked beautiful. Still, I can't see myself going gray, I'm too young for that! So color it, and you will feel much, much better.

Rachel said...

Tough decision, but, you're the only one that can make it. I always said I was going to let my hair gray naturally too. But, when it started it made me feel so old!!
I hated the way it looked, so I started having it "enhanced" my natural hair color is black, so black that it looks blue. So the gray was really showing. It took my stylist a couple times to come up with the right formula that didn't look like shoe polish on my head, but she did and as I have aged we have lightened up some with high lights and low lights, it has helped to mask the gray beautifully. Bottom line, you have to be comfortable with whatever you choose. Good luck and remember you are not alone in this pursuit.

Anonymous said...

The bad part of dying hair is when you decide you have had enough dying you look like you aged 20 years over night. I am 30 year old male and I love women with gray hair! It's sexy!!!

Heather said...

I've had grey hair since I was 16!! Needless to say I wasn't ready to deal with it at that age and started dying it. Now I stick super close to my natural color so it isn't a lie - just a fib :-)
Do it if it makes you feel better (I'm 26 now and just don't feel like I should be grey yet). If you're cool with the grey then rock out with it - I plan on doing that, hmm maybe in my 40s.

Anonymous said...

I would say that you obviously don't find yourself attractive with gray hair- and that's what it's about. How do YOU feel? We women today have so many tools available to us to give us confidence and our OWN ideal of beauty. Why not use them? Whatever makes you feel beautiful- whether it is changing your hair color or lip color- as long as it is for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Shave your head. It's much easier to maintain, and it's certainly not going to hurt your appearance!

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon at 3:09, SHUT UP!

Anonymous said...

since when did this become dirdres therapy sesssion?

Anonymous said...

I am 40 years young and have been fighting the gray hair since age 15! Over the years I have been just about every color you can imagine... mostly on the wild side...but just this month I have decided to stop the madness and finally let it be natural, which at this point is about 85% to 90% gray. My biggest factor in making the decision is that it is just so difficult to keep up. My natural color is very dark brown, and I mostly color it on the darker side. My hair grows so fast that I have to touch up at least every 3 weeks to keep from having a very noticible line of demarcation between the dark hair and the silver.
So...here I go, dealing with the line for a few more weeks, then cutting it short, short, short and hoping I don't look a million years old! Here's to no longer worrying about how old I look, and making the most of what I was given!
Wish me luck!!!

Anonymous said...

Deirdre, we're the same age, and I have been coloring my hair faithfully since my mid-20s! I have seen beautiful gray hair on women, but you can go for that look maybe 15-20 years from now...for now, just love the bottle! Side note: if you use a relaxer, use a semi-permanent haircolor...that way you can relax and color your hair the same day!

Anonymous said...

My wife is going gray around the temples, and I think she looks just great. She doesn't need to color it. Actually, I'm the one fighting the gray, but I absolutely refuse to color it. I pluck it.

Anonymous said...

I have been coloring my hair to its natural shade for a few years. I find that grey hair with my fair complexion is not attractive and as a working professional, competing in the business world, it is important for me to look my best.Coloring my hair also gives it a bit of body.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the late post...

I have had gray hair since 15 (a paternal family trait) and have not bothered to touch it. It's pretty predominant in the front, and people ask me all the time how old I am - the gray conflicts with my apparent 'baby face'.
I say leave it... I tend to like the look on both men & women. But, in the end, it's all about how you look and feel with it. If it really bothers you, then color it. Just be prepared to maintain the dying of your gray.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre, I don't understand why you're asking for advice from perfect strangers about a very personal choice. Don't you feel comfortable making a decision on your own? It's just HAIR.

Anonymous said...

I just turned 30 and have had to dye my hair for about the last 4 years! I remember picking greys out when I was in college since age 19. Luckily then, they were all underneath. I am good friends with my hairdresser, so that helps for hair coloring deals! Plus if you use an 'ash' color in between on your roots it blends nicely. Also I have used in between coloring tools, such as 'Colormark'. That helps with roots, when they start coming in. My problem is... I am single and am afraid a guy will see my grey roots and run for the hills! I get really paranoid in between colorings. I am always told I am a pretty girl... but in my mind, I feel old with the greys. Mine is definitely a heredity thing. That along with puffy eyes. Fun stuff! both AGING! I just never thought I'd be dealing with feeling so OLD at 30?!

Anonymous said...

I am 52 and have been dying my hair since my early 30's. My hair is now totally gray, but no one knows. My natural color was dark brown, and when the gray strands started really being noticeable, I didn't like the way I looked, so I started coloring it. Since my hair is very fine, the color helps with thickness and body, so it's been good for me. I am fortunate to have good skin and a young appearance so, for me, the decision to color has been the right one. I know one day I will go natural, but for now, I say it's about what makes you feel good about yourself.