Going gray: First post

dye hairThe little space on my calendar for yesterday, May 18, 2016, reads “Dye hair.” I make this calendar up every year in a spreadsheet on the computer and populate it with the due dates of bills, birthdays, holidays, and recurring events like garbage day and hair dye day. But in yesterday’s space there’s a penciled-in question mark after the laser-printed admonition.

I didn’t dye my hair yesterday. And I’m not going to dye it today. In fact, I didn’t even buy dye at the grocery store on Tuesday. I’m finally going to go gray.

I tried to ease into turning 30. When I turned 29 I started telling everyone I was 30. No one seemed shocked, no one seemed disbelieving. I guess I looked 30. And when I really did turn 30 the next year it was a lot easier to say. But during my year of faking 30 I had also decided to stop faking espresso brown hair and vowed that I would stop dyeing my gray away when I turned 30 “for reals.” But when the day came (or rather, about a week after I would normally have colored my hair) I couldn’t do it. I was appalled at the amount of gray in my hair. I wasn’t ready to be 30, after all, not if it meant being that gray.

But now I’m 35 and I’ve been inundating myself with pro-gray reading. (Most recently, Anne Kreamer’s Going Gray: How to Embrace Your Authentic Self with Grace and Style, which I recommend highly.) I’ve even started a Pinterest board about it. I feel closer to 40 than 30, even though I feel the best I’ve felt in ages and I still feel like a kid pretending to be an adult. My skin, exercise, and diet are all about the best they’ve ever been. I have finally gotten my curls back after a decade of neglect. I have no issue with me or anyone else coloring their hair – to cover gray or for any other reason – so perhaps the reason for the sudden focus on my natural color is from my another recent passion: minimalism. It’s one less thing to buy, one less thing to take up my time and money, one less worry.

(Or it could be the fabulous Diane from the IGA in town who has been rocking almost completely white hair with a youthful face and sassy attitude and charming me half to death since we moved here 10 years ago. Who wouldn’t want to be like Diane?)

Whatever the reason, I know, thanks to the first week of being 30 years old (and the two tried is took for me to quit smoking) that going cold turkey without a plan is not a great route. (It’s short, steep, and ends at a hell of a cliff.) My plan isn’t set in stone, though, because I need to see what my hair is going to do first. If it grows out into the infamous skunk-stripe then we have plan A) demi-permanent color. I have been using permanent color all my adult life. It penetrates to the core of your hair shaft and is, as it says on the tin, permanent. You can strip it, to some extent, but some will still be left in the core, leaving a brassy color, so usually you don’t strip unless you’re changing color – not abandoning it. Demi-permanent color contains no ammonia or other cuticle-lifting agent to allow the dye to reach the core of your follicles, so they simple deposit color on the surface of the hair, like paint. After about 28 washes it fades away. If I have an unsightly skunk stripe I will probably continue to dye my hair, but I will switch to a demi-permanent dye (Clairol Natural Instincts is the most widely available kind in my area) as the gray grows out. I don’t want to chop my hair so it may take fucking forever a long time to grow out the gray. But when it’s done I can just stop dyeing and the color will fade out and in a month or so I will “magically” be gray all over.

If I am the luckiest little shit alive and my hair goes grayer in the front than elsewhere, giving me badass stripes like Rogue or Bonnie Raitt (or Lily Munster) then we have plan B) I may not dye at all or I will just use a little demi-permanent color at the back to cover up the skunk stripe behind the cool front.


Right now it’s probably too early to tell but if I had to bet I’d put my money on all-over gray. Ah, well. Still, I love me a project! (And maybe my “About the Author” photo will be cooler. That’s an acceptable form of vanity, right?)

gray hair 05-19-16

This was a surprisingly hard shot to get. Despite having parted my hair down the center my entire life, the skin there remains so white that it freaks out my camera and throws off the white balance of the whole photo.

Anyone else out there going or considering or recently gone gray? How’d it go? How’s it going? How’s you do it? Tips? Tricks? Snazzy scarf turban tutorials? Recommended resources? Let me know below!

— Amanda


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