embracing that grey hair

The ageing process kind of snuck up on me. There I was a footloose, fancy free kinda gal. Got married, had a baby, got my first grey hair. Hang on, grey hair? Hmm, I thought that only started to happen when you got older, much older. Well it did for everyone else in my family. So childbirth= grey hair? Oh ok. It’s just a couple, they are kind of cute. We’ll just ignore them. Second baby, and hang on a second what’s going on up top there? Those three or four strands have turned into a bushal. Baby turns into a toddler and what the hell…it’s a grey forest up there.

With a disgusted fascination I part my hair in the middle. WHAT’S going on up there? My family are slow greyers. My Nana still has a lot of natural colour and she is 80 this year, my mum seems to be paddling in the same gene pool, so naturally I supposed that I would follow that lineage right? No. It seems not. I’m rowing off to the land of grey. Uncharted waters with no one to guide me.

What to do? What to do?

It doesn’t seem particularly socially acceptable for a woman in her 30’s to be actively grey. (Now there’s a term…”actively grey”.) Do I embrace it and get a funky hair cut, showing that I can still be relatively young looking with grey hair?

Do I deny it ever existed and dye the hell out of it? Grey hair?… Not for me!…Oh you have some, you poor thing.

Do I swap all my silver jewellery for gold and try to coerce it to look blonde?

What to do, what to do?

Grey hair seems to be a lot more acceptable once you hit a certain age benchmark. The graceful age of 50? 60?…that means I have a little while to ponder about going grey disgracefully. Looking in the mirror again. It’s still there, silently doubling the troops. Each look in the bathroom mirror, show that those frizzy grey strands have fortified themselves and are working their way towards complete take over. How could this be?

Looking closely at other peoples heads, I try and glean which approach to go for.

George Clooney, the salt and peppered look is quite becoming. Women swoon over him. That guy from The Gruen Transfer, Todd Sampson does grey in a funky I’m still young and with it way…except I’m not a man, so darn it, that’s not going to work for me.

At an ayurvedic seminar recently the crowd was a sea of grey hair, dangly earrings and sweeping shawls. It was a looking that was working for many of them, but was it me? Could I work it?

I’m not being inundated with floods of younger women embracing their grey hair. Does that mean there are very few of us out there? Judie Dench is a gorgeous woman sporting a head of grey hair. However, she has quite a head start on years to me.

I’m not in the least bothered by grey hair on other people. Old, young or otherwise. So why is it bothering me?

Because there was no warning. No ease into transition period.

It was, ah, there are a few up there… to DEAR god whats going on!

Tricia from little eco footprints recently posted about using henna on her hair. I love the idea of using something natural instead of chemicals, but is that the colour for me? Gorgeous dark locks with hints of red….My skin colouring is hard to match at the best of times. How do I stop myself from looking like Richmond from the IT Crowd?

Richmond works it. Todd Sampson works it. Judie Dench works it. Now I just have to work it.

So until I work out HOW to work it, will you excuse me while I go and have another disgusted but totally fascinated look in the bathroom mirror?

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43 thoughts on “embracing that grey hair

  1. You are too young for gery hair – go to a hairdresser. I was blond until my 30s, then it went mouse, but not for long. I have some white hair in the front, but not enough, so it is the hairdresser for me until it is all white.

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  2. It bothers you.
    And taking care of it is easy and not too expensive.
    Although once you start, it is hard to stop.
    I’d get it colored and not worry about it.
    Or not… it is such a personal decision.
    I get mine colored because my husband thinks that if I have grey hair, He looks older.
    He IS older.
    And very Grey.
    But I haven’t seen 30 in over 20 yearsl
    and he hasn’t seen it for over 30.
    Sorry, Brydie- I don’t seem to have any clear advise.
    But I do commiserate with you.

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  3. Great post – very deep! I went the colouring route (roots?) and yes, you do get stuck in that groove, but what the hell?

    I like the subtle changes you can get in different seasons and so many people do it…

    Trouble with my hair is it is going grey from the crown and I don’t see that – all I see is the front, which is very slow grey so its always a surprise when I catch a glimpse of the crown and see how grey its getting – I make an appointment with the hairdresser immediately.

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  4. I discovered my first grey hairs a couple of weeks ago. Mr Bee says they’ve been there for ages and I was oblivious. I plucked them out. It’s um, well I’m not quite sure what I think about it yet. As aging goes, I mind grey hairs less than crows feet and…um…growing hair in places I previously didn’t have hair. 😉

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  5. My sister once said to me, “how much does your hairdresser charge you for that fantastic salt and pepper look?”. Cow. 😉

    To date, I’ve been a no-colour girl, because I suspect it’s a trap. Colour once and go completely crazy when the roots start showing up and then you’re locked into perpetual touch-ups. Then again, I’m starting to look more grey than my mother, so who knows how long that stance will last? 😉

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  6. Oh, yes, we glean at other people’s hair together! Todd Sampson, now there’s an admirable journey towards grey. Why does it always add a ‘distinguished’ look to men? I’ll never forget the time after one of my babies was born when the first grey was spotted. Long, hard, wiry, GREY!! (LONG – how did it get that long, UNdetected?).

    I thought they had slowed down until recently I was at a friends house and was in her bathroom with really strong sunlight hitting the mirror and NO, there was a whole colony of them up top!! Yikes!! It would’ve been nice for someone to mention it, obviously the light in our bathroom isn’t up to spotting greys. But meh, I refuse to colour (yet!), and with blond hair, brainwash myself that silver (note: not grey) streaks will allow one to age gracefully (not happening I’m sure, but it’s good to have a positive outlook, yes?). In the meantime, I continue to pluck. Hope your path becomes clear to you soon 🙂

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    • Ah, you see I have one of those sunlit bathrooms…maybe that’s the problem? Might go buy some blinds, then problem solved!
      As for Todd Sampson, he works it doesn’t he. Perfectly acceptable for men to look grey and wear it proudly.

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  7. Ha ha! I like Dixiebelle’s suggestion.

    I can so relate to your indecision. I want to be comfortable with my grey hair….but am not yet. Maybe one day.

    Grey hair looks lovely one some.

    I reckon give henna a go. You can control how dark it is by the amount of time you leave it in. leave it in for only a short amount of time the first go and if you don’t like it atleast it will wear off within a month or to 😉

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  8. I am in the colour company, though I have relatively little grey hair as yet. I have your mother’s genes, not my mother’s. !

    If you have great hair that looks good short then the grey look is lovely in my view. Long grey hair isn’t partiuclarly youthful. The texture of the hair changes too, have you found any of those interesting corkscrew ones that stick out at 90 degrees, (this is assuming you have straight hair of course, which is a bit of an assumption on my part). If you use henna, so my old pro hairdressing flatmate told me, you cannot use any other hair colour product on top till it has grown out, as the henna molecules are different. be warned. I see there are a lot of hairdressers doing ‘natural/eco colouring’ out there. But it is expensive to have it done and you find you read Hello magazine far more frequently than you would think possilble. I would suggest those wash in,wash out colours if dipping toe in colouring waters. My toyboy husband is quite grey, and looks good with it, but he keeps it short. Good luck. It’s not the same as plastic surgery, hair grows and you can always change it 🙂

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    • Good reminder Joanna, it is only hair and it does grow. (Although not in straight direction for me 🙂 )
      I have noticed those interesting corkscrew ones though, thick and wirey…looks like I’m headed down the Irish Wolfhound style of hairdressing.

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  9. Grey hair is beautiful on women.

    My husband who is 48 is completely grey. I on the other hand have no greys. He has been asked if he is our son’s grandfather. We laugh about it a lot.

    I have always said I will be a natural grey when they come in, but since I am late to grey go with how you feel.

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  10. I think whether you colour or go grey is a personal choice. I love a bit of grey on women … if the hair is cut to a nice style. But it does age people a few years.

    I am jealous of your conundrum. My hair is falling out and going grey all at the same time. I think it’s a race to see whether I am bald or grey by 35 (am currently 31). I suspect the bald is going to win on top. 😉

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  11. bet ive got more than u B! im going with the odd bit of coconut oil / coco oil based cream thing or usually just ignoring it and smiling when i get the odd comment. if its stress for me its got a serious time lag cos lifes pretty happy in recent years !

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  12. Mmm, I can relate Brydie. My hairdresser advised me to perhaps try foils in two colours, which in turn gave me three colours including the grey, and I’ve never looked back really. Because I have quite a lot of grey, the re-growth doesn’t tend to look as obvious as it would if you did your whole head in one shade. I too held out for years because I didn’t want to go the chemical track, but I ended up with a sort of a compromise. My hairdresser uses apparently bleach free colours, and I get it foiled only every second or third cut. But I do tend to stretch each cut to more than the obligatory 6 weeks.
    I have seen some very stunning women with the all grey look, but they did have a very short cut and dressed to the look. Would love to try it myself but think I don’t actually have enough grey, even though I normally wear it rather short anyway.
    Suppose all you can do is try a couple of different things and see what sits well with you. As you say, it’s only hair and will grown back.
    Good luck! x

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  13. I have really dark brown hair – almost black. It is quite a process to colour so I don’t bother. I sometimes look forward to the time when I start going grey to start experimenting in going lighter then my natural colouring. A luscious light brown? A firer red? A fun blonde? There are so many options! I say have some fun! Experiment with new looks!

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  14. I am also in my 30’s and while I don’t see many greys I am thining at the forehead so I would take greys over that any day. I used to color my hair because I had, ready for it… dark brown roots and eyebrows and lighter hair. My hair naturally bleaches in the sun and I used to spend a lot of time in the sun. People would tell me if I was going to dye my hair, I should keep up with it, and this was before I started dying it. So I got into the dye cycle and I hated it. I would rather deal with dark roots and possibly greys than coloring it. BUT THEN AGAIN I AM CHEAP AND HATE TO SIT AROUND IN A SALON!
    I would like to think I will go grey gracefully, but I am beginning to think I won’t have hair left to go grey 🙂

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  15. This is so interesting to read, as my family (both sides) has really slow greyers too. Grandma still has mucho brunette hair at 84, and my parents just have bits of grey. I thought I had it made, but hmmm, now I wonder!

    Honestly, from a personal perspective – I have never, ever dyed my hair, so I always say when I do go grey, that will be my time to experiment. Just me though 🙂 I certainly don’t think grey hair looks bad at all, it would just be my excuse to finally let go a bit!

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  16. Brydie – it’s a very tricky decision to make.
    I found my first grey hairs at 29 (?!) and, once I started breeding several years later, they just spread like hair lice in a primary school!
    I used henna for about 10 years and was very satisfied with it. You can get slightly different colours so you don’t have to look like Lucille Ball. Sadly, there seems to be a tipping point where henna just won’t cope any more and so I started on the big guns. I am now committed to a strict routine with my hairdresser which I resent, but I am sooo not ready to embrace the grey and I’m just not sure when I will be.
    Sigh.

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  17. Oh Lord, you do go in for some deep posts – it’s a good one though. My dear mother was the one to point out my first grey hair with a rather smug look on her face I seem to remember! Personally, I don’t go with colouring – it’s a faff if you do it yourself and it’s expensive if you get someone else to do it. I’ve seen some really attractive young women with grey hair. I’m far more worried about wrinkles – those are what age you I reckon. But ultimately, it’s your decision and what you feel comfortable with. I have fair hair so my grey hairs aren’t as obvious as they would otherwise be.

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  18. I know how you are feeling, my husband is calling me grey goose these days and I have been pondering this very thought. Still thinking about it though.

    I grew up in a South Asian family, where the women of all ages used henna on their hair. My grandma hair ended up being fiery red, I don’t think I want my hair to look that dramatic. It suited her with her foxy brown eyes, but me not so sure, so I am still pondering. To dye or to be called grey goose for the rest of my dear life : )

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  19. You are too funny, I really had a good laugh at your post,, because that is exactly how I’ve felt. I have been through hundreds of boxes of henna (fun, lots of work and what a mess) and the natural dies which only last for 2 weeks until the grey starts showing again and to get the right colors,, well I had to mix two or three different shades. During our travels I saw a woman sitting in a restaurant with the most beautiful salt and pepper hair, she looked amazing, her locks draped down her back, and she seemed confident about how good she looked. I’m now 39 and have quite a bit of grey now. I just decided a month ago that I was going to just let it grow out,, it does look funny and you can see this shiny grey in photos at the top of my hairline. Thankfully I am living on a farm so it’s easier for me, if I was back in Miami with all those beautiful babes eyeing out my wrinkles – I’m not sure I would be as confident about it. Let me know what you decide. Why can’t we just all be natural. Oh and my little boy told me that he wanted grey hair that it was beautiful who DECIDED that grey was not beautiful and who DECIDED that blue was for boys and pink for girls.. my little boys just love pink….xxx

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  20. Was surfing old posts on your blog (I’m a newish reader) and found this post! Awesome. I imagine that I do have grey hair–I just haven’t had the luck of finding it. I made the decision in 2006 (right after I got married and decided to quit dying my hair) to embrace grey when it came, but now staring 35 in the face (in 7 months), I’m wondering what I’m going to do when my hubby starts looking a whole lot younger than I–he’s 7 years younger. I hope I stay strong, but if I cave, ah, well. That said, more power to you, whatever you decide to do. Maybe you’ve decided already since you wrote this in November. 😉

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