Updated: 9/10/2020 | Embracing Gray Hair
One day my aunts gathered around the dining table and talked about their graying hair. They told me that I would also start to go gray around my mid 20’s. Like any invincible young adult, I contested and said “Not me! That could never happen to me!”
And then it happened. I began graying around 26 years old. It started with a few white hairs here and there. My friends would help pluck them out. There’s an old Asian adage that says if you pluck one white hair out, two will grow in its place. I didn’t realize my hairs were actually going to rebel against me and my race against time.
So I began to dye my hair. I remember learning to dye hair as a child. I would blend the hair dye then apply it to my aunt’s roots. It took two boxes to dye her long mane. I was experienced by the time it was my turn. I dyed my hair out of embarrassment of looking old.
Fast forward to 32, I decided to let my grays grow. I looked into natural dye options but I would still be applying it more than I wanted to. I began my gray hair transitioning journey in June of 2017. At first the transition was awful. I looked unkempt and many people stated that “my hair looked too old for my face.” Regardless of all these comments, I decided to embrace my grays 110%. I figure if I did not like it, that I could dye it again.
Take a quick look at my going grey progression.
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New year, more me! Accepting and being me has never been more rewarding. This is my hair at 1.5 years. If you're thinking if transitioning, I highly encourage it. It's liberating! 👵💚 #grayhairdontcare #grayhair #grayhairtransition #grayhairmovement #dyefree #transitioninghair #grombre #grayling
At 18 months!
3 years gray and dye-free! I was also featured on the Grombre’s Instagram Account!!!! Go read my message about going gray!
Why I Dyed My Hair
I dyed my hair to look youthful. I was in a race against time. It was also due to societal pressures about what beauty should look like. As I get older, I have become more concerned with how beauty should feel like. I’ve mostly ditched make up and the only “cosmetic” procedure I’ve done was eyebrow microblading (read about my microblading experience) because the extent of me wearing make up is only if I don’t have to re-apply it over and over.
I’ve also been blessed with living next to an amazing hairdresser who constantly cares for me and my hair. He even colored it with organic, add water only dyes from Thailand. As quick as the dye went on, my hair kept returning to white even quicker. I could see the real me coming out of my hair follicles.
One day I had the epiphany that I should become this person whom I was destined to grow into. Isn’t that novel? My white hairs were getting more aggressive and it was only time before they would win.
It was also around the time that platinum gray hair was becoming a trend. Everyone was doing it. What an opportune time to grow into the real Alex. And the best part? My grey hair would be FREE!
So began my boycott against hair dyes and anything that would change the course of who I was to become. Embracing my grays has been both exhilarating and challenging. It’s been a year now since I decided to ditch the dye. Here’s what I’ve learned through that process:
#1 You’ll Have More Money and Time
I’ve regained so much time and money! It takes 1.5 hours to dye my hair and about $10 (if I self-remedy) or $60 if it’s professionally done. Oftentimes the color doesn’t stick (due to grey hair lacking cuticle that allows for color retention) and I’m stuck with a dark gray tinge. FYI: Dyes will not work well on grey hair.
No matter what dyes I use, the color doesn’t stick as well as when I still had melanin in my hair. After a dye job, no one else sees my white hair trying to fight back unless they’re looking closely. I have often gone in for TWO applications to cover my grays, doubling the cost.
At the rate my grey hair is growing, I’d rather just save my money and time for vacations! So a big THANK YOU to my gray hair!
#2 I’m Not Getting Old, I’m Just Becoming More Me
Growing Into the REAL you is a step towards acceptance of not only yourself but of also many other aspects of your life. This process has really encouraged me to change. It’s helped me realize what’s important in life and what’s trivial.
There’s still a long path to be walked, but this process has encouraged me to accept who I am. As a yogi, I am wholly listening to my body and welcoming me with wide open arms.
#3 Chemical Free is the Way to Be
I am relieved of no longer being drenched in chemicals that dye the floor of my bathtub. I am relieved that my sheets and especially pillows are no longer being stained by the transfer of freshly dyed hair. I am excited that I am no longer allowing these chemicals to enter my body.
When I accepted my body without chemical adornments and enhancements, I felt liberated and 1,000 times happier.
#4 Challenging the Stigma of White Hair
By the time we’re 50 years old, 50% of the population will have noticeably gray hair. Men tend to gray at a younger age than women. For men, they start at 30 on average and women start at 35. I started my premature graying in my mid-20s.
Gray hair immediately causes people to think I’m much older than I really am. I am 33 years old. I receive comments from people saying, “Wow your hair is so grey, but your face looks much younger,” or “White hair makes you look older than you really are.”
I’m hoping that by accepting who I am becoming, I can create a shift other people’s attitudes about growing older and more importantly, growing more natural. Aging is inevitable and we’re all walking the same path.
What to Expect When You Go Gray
Going gray is a gradual process. I’ve learned that it doesn’t happen overnight. My hair has been growing out white about an inch each month. I now have 10-inch streaks of white hair throughout my head. The first few months were embarrassing and that is perfectly fine to feel that way.
People will say things about your hair and it will be both positive and negative. Fortunately for me, I received mostly positive comments from friends, family and mostly from strangers! I also made connections with other go-grayers in public spaces such as airports, bus stations, while I’m running errands around town. It’s great to connect with others through my transition.
Your hair will look unique to you. Did I mention that my grays look like highlights? People are always complimenting how they’re growing in streaks and not sparsely throughout. I am really digging their natural growth into something that I am proud of and find attractive!
How to Go Gray
1. Let it grow! This is the path I took. I let my grays grow and kinda dealt with it as it grew. In the moments that I wanted to cover my grays, I would wear a hat, headband or beanie.
2. Allow your hair stylist to help you go gray. They may advise you to do lowlights (giving a highlight look) or a lift of color from your hair. Beware of the lift as it may cause the dyed hair to turn a tortoise gray color. They may also suggest going for a shorter cut that will allow grays to grow in naturally.
3. Use products that will soften and make dry brittle gray hair manageable. Yes – gray hair lacks cuticle and will look like straw or unkempt if not styled. I was blessed with crazy frizzy hair from birth, so when my grays began to come in, I literally looked like a tumbleweed. To avoid the cotton ball head look, here are some products I highly recommend to help with managing the frizz that comes with grey hair:
- Nexxus Frizz Defy Shampoo – The entire Frizz Defy line is great.
- Redken Frizz Dismiss Shampoo – Works great for taming frizz too!
- Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum – Great for straightening hair. I use it in a my hair as a conditioner more so than styling.
- Viva Coconut Oil – Yes! Use coconut oil for everything! The oils will tame your mane. It’s organic too!
- Garnier Whole Blends Coconut Oil – This is my favorite product. A pump or two will give your hair life and tame it. I apply it after I shower and as soon as my hair is dry.
- Joico Purple Color Balance shampoo and conditioner is great for brightening your gray hairs by neutralizing yellow tones (which can make hair look brassy). It also works with preserving the color for blonde hair as well.
4. Join a going grey support group! I’m in several gray hair transition groups. It’s a great resource for going gray and the opportunity to connect with other silver sisters! In these groups, you can ask questions and filter through tips that will help you go gray. The women in the group are very supportive and inspiring. I believe there are some men in the group as well. I highly recommend joining even if you’re not ready to go grey yet.
Here are groups I recommend joining on Facebook:
I wish I would have just let the process happen much sooner. There are no regrets and only lessons learned.
Are you interested in letting your grays grow? If you’re moving along this similar path please let me know! I’d love to hear about your experience!