NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.
It’s been two months since I last gave an update on how I’m doing with my gray hair transition, so I thought it’s high time that I chime in on how that project is going for me. As a reminder and for those who are new to the blog, I colored my hair for the last time on April 20th. I initially wrote about my issues with my hair back in May, at which time I had not yet made the commitment to transition to my natural color. A price increase at my salon and a friend who had taken the plunge to go gray led me to consider my options and it wasn’t long before I put both feet firmly in the camp of baring my silver roots.
I decided to stop coloring my hair for several reasons. For one, I was getting my roots touched up every four weeks and they really needed it after just two weeks. I was only happy with my hair color about half the time, and even then I didn’t love the way it looked. It was expensive and time-consuming, plus I had become increasingly chemically sensitive and worried about the impact such frequent hair coloring was having on my health. As time went on, there were more factors in favor of stopping the hair dyeing than there were on the side of continuing it. It was primarily my vanity and sheer habit that were keeping it going for me.
I didn’t know much about how to transition to gray when I first pondered the idea, so I purchased a book written by someone who had walked that road and joined a few Facebook groups devoted to that topic (including this one and this one). I soon learned that it’s not really possible to just dye one’s hair gray and that coloring hair on the road to stopping coloring doesn’t work for everyone. I saw lots of photos of women during their journeys and after their transition was over. I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, sometimes feeling empowered and brave and other times feeling like there was no way I’d ever be able to deal with going gray. I continue to have these ups and downs, but I take it day by day and avail myself of whatever tools and knowledge can make things easier for me.
Where I Am in the Journey…
It has now been 3.5 months since I last colored my hair! I have a roughly two inch outgrowth of gray roots, as you can see in the close-up photos below (the top one is from two days ago and the bottom one from 3 weeks ago – included because it’s a bit clearer). I’ve found it difficult to truly capture the color of my gray outgrowth accurately in photos. It actually looks quite a bit whiter in person, so there must be reflection issues with the camera, although my husband has tried taking the photos both indoors and outdoors and in multiple locations. This is the best we can do, at least for now…
Fortunately, I’m able to cover up the “skunk stripe” pretty well – or at least tone it down – by means of a great product I found back in June. It’s called Madison Reed Root Touch-up Make-up and it’s available at Sephora, as well as via the manufacturer’s website. It’s non-toxic (no parabens, titanium dioxide, or other harmful ingredients), it covers well, and one container lasts a long time. I’m not an affiliate for this product, but I would be if that opportunity were available, as I have been very pleased with it. Here’s how I look like after I have put the root touch-up on my hair:
Although the website indicates “incredible coverage that stays put until your next shampoo,” I’ve found that I have to touch up my roots at least somewhat every day. However, in fairness to the product, I don’t think it was intended for two-inch roots! But I do recommend it to those of you who would like to go a week or two longer between hair color appointments or coloring your hair at home.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to use the root touch-up successfully, but I’m using it for as long as I can to continue wearing my hair down. Soon I will move on to ponytails, headbands, headscarves, and hats as a matter of course. I recently purchased two new hats that I really like, including the one in the photo below (the other one is a black fedora). My husband took the photo as a candid shot, but I liked it so much that it’s now my Facebook profile picture. I can’t see myself wearing a hat every day because it’s just too hot, but I like the way I look in them and they do cover the “stripe” (although stripes are my signature style, I’m not really a fan of a skunk stripe on my head!).
Not for the Faint of Heart
I have to be honest and say that transitioning to gray hair is not for the faint of heart. Of course, there are many different ways to approach it, including buzzing your hair off, cutting it short, or bleaching it blond. But since I’m not a big fan of short hair on me and my hair would never withstand being bleached (let alone the fact that it would be a problem given my chemical sensitivity), I’m pretty much faced with the prospect of letting the “skunk stripe” progress its way down my head. Yes, some women do lowlights or use temporary color to ease the line of demarcation, but I have read horror stories about those processes staining the hair and ultimately lengthening the transition time.
I feel that this is an opportunity for me to both learn patience and detach myself from being so preoccupied with my appearance. I do believe that I can look good with gray hair, but it will take a total of two years for me to fully transition given my current hair length since hair only grows an average of half an inch per month. It will take quite a bit of fortitude to stay the course and not succumb to the bottle once again, but I feel that within a couple of months I will reach the point at which I will be “over the hump” and far more willing to see the transition through to its conclusion. It is freeing not to be “chasing roots” all the time and to have to spend several hours and over $100 at the salon every month. I just have to remind myself of all of the positives whenever I look in the mirror and see my two-tone hair.
I’m sure I will be writing more about my gray hair transition as the months progress, but now I’d like to hear from you. If you’ve successfully transitioned to gray hair, I invite you to share any tips or suggestions you have for those of us who are in the process or thinking about taking the plunge. I already published some readers’ thoughts back in May in a follow-up to my original post when I was first pondering the idea. A wealth of knowledge is offered in that article, but there’s always room for more!
Have a wonderful weekend! The next time you hear from me, I will be 50! My birthday is on Monday and if all goes well, I’ll be out enjoying the day. But I hope to have a post ready to go live for you that day in which I give an update on how I’m doing with my balance goal for 2016 (see my last update HERE). Until then, I hope those who say that 50 is the new 40 are right!