I got my first gray hair in high school. It was somewhere in the back, because I don’t remember seeing it, but I remember beauticians gasping when they found it as they were giving me a trim. I was scrolling through photos trying to figure out when I ended up with so much gray, and I think we can safely blame it on my last and most difficult pregnancy, and the health problems that followed B’s birth (it’s okay, B, I really don’t mind).
This post has a lot of silly pictures of me, and that always feels weird, so I’m going to hide it beneath the fold. Click to read more…
Here’s my natural hair color in 2007, Miss K was 2, turning 3. Look ma, no grays. Or at least, no noticeable ones; they’re all hiding at my temples, mostly.
Before I got pregnant with B, I somewhat rashly hacked all the hair off my head in 2008. I had always been curious about a pixie cut, and now I know. I hate it on me. Still, it shows how much gray I had before I had little B. It’s scattered throughout, with some more concentrated at the temples, but there isn’t a ton.
Well, I got pregnant soon after, and hey, being sick in bed for 9 months straight is a great way to grow out a horrible haircut. Most of my neighbors don’t even remember that I had such short hair. WIN! Here’s a photo I took when B was just a month old in 2009. Woah. I’d say the gray doubled. I was pretty ill (anemia, hemorrhage etc), so uh, forgive that lovely barrette, it was probably a miracle I was out of bed.
By 2010 I was talked into a semi-permanent hair rinse that would gradually fade out, so I could just “see” what coloring would be like. I was pretty happy because I could finally fit my hair in a ponytail. I was also finally finished with my 10 month bout with giant urticaria and angioedema. Huzzah! So cheerful and brunette-looking.
However! There was nothing ‘semi’ about that rinse. When it started to grow out, I had a sharp line between the dye and the grays. I was stuck. I liked my colorist and she did a good job, it just cost an arm and a leg. In 2012, I decided I’d had enough of the tedious maintenance and expense. I thought braiding into polygamist styles would help disguise the gray to dye transition. It didn’t help.
When I posted the above photo, my aunt had a conniption fit. Okay not really, but she insisted I should try the DIY box dye if the frillion dollars at the salon every handful of weeks was too much. “Just shampoo it in!” Aunt Dawnie mimed scrubbing the dye in to her hair. “It’s so easy!” Okay fine. (Spoiler, it’s not that easy, I always ended up with dye all over my neck and ears and spattered all over the bathroom). It certainly was cheaper, though. And with coupons it felt like a steal sometimes. But then this started happening:
I ended up looking really patchy. Even if I consistently used the same box of dye, my hormones seemed to cause issues, and it wasn’t pretty. My friend Tracy’s sister tried to work her magic, but I still ended up with stripes. My thyroid was a mess, so I was losing hair like gangbusters as well. I’m sure the chemicals in the dye didn’t exactly help the situation.
After a while, I went back to the salon, and my colorist did a pretty good job of evening things up. My once-straight hair now has some weird bumps and curls in it, so she put on some kind of smoothing cream, trimmed me up and this is what it looked like when I just let it dry (excuse my husband’s tee-shirt) (photo taken in May of this year):
I usually wore it curled though, here’s an old instagram from before I deleted my account (sorry if you followed me there, I always forgot it existed. I think instagram is only fun for people with fancy phones).
It had kind of a burgundy glow though, which really bugged me. As someone who really liked her natural hair color, I felt like I looked radioactive in the sun.
Soooo, I decided to do something fairly stupid. I read on the interwebs that I could strip out / fade hair color by mixing up dandruff shampoo and baking soda. I figured it was long enough I could sacrifice some inches if I fried my hair.
My husband swears everything blended better, but I can still see a lot of that unnatural purplish reddish color. And it definitely fried my hair. Witness:
Yikes. It felt as bad as it looked, like straw. And when I washed it, it felt like wet rope. I didn’t have any split ends before, but they erupted everywhere after this, so I popped in to get a trim from a local woman instead of my normal gal one city over. I don’t have a photo of it because I’m still weeping. She really hacked the crap out of the ends and it’s really choppy and awful.
Incredibly, and because I don’t learn, I’m still tempted to do this:
Kat picked two boxes up for me at Walgreens, but I’m nervous. My dye is pretty old and it’s just now recovering from my baking soda mixture. Youtube also tells me that this stuff leaves your hair smelling like rotten eggs for days.
Well, stripping or not, I think I’m in it to win it this time. I know I look a little younger with it dyed, and when it’s a good dye job, it’s pretty, but I just can’t stand the maintenance, the expense, and the crappy results when I try to do it more cheaply.
I’ve been pinning gray hair inspiration on my hair board at Pinterest, though most are way more gray than I am. The other night at my grandpa’s birthday party, my grandma’s good friend said, “Oh, don’t ever dye your hair, Jessie, it’s going to be a beautiful silver.” I explained that I was growing it out and she said all the right things. She was probably just being nice, but I am heartened somewhat. I won’t lie, this (giant) skunk stripe stage is HARD. Pixie cutting it again is NOT an option. I told my sisters I might dare to try the Color Oops stuff, and then bob my hair and let it all grow out at once; my ends are so dark from all the dye. But they thought that would be a shame as its so long, and though people tell me a bob is MY haircut, I really like it longer.
Well, after all of that I suppose you deserve a photo of what it looks like today. Here you go. Note, this collage might self destruct at some point.
There you go. What say ye? Color for life? Or embrace the future of an early silver fox?