I have been following Lauren’s blog How Bourgeois since I decided to go grey, and found her posts really inspiring so I was thrilled when she let me interview her. Her blog is well worth following – it’s not just about her (gorgeous) grey hair, it’s about her life in general and is a very interesting read. Here goes:
How old are you (if you don’t mind disclosing that!)? Sure! I’m 39.
When did you first start going grey? I remember to my surprise, my first gray hairs growing in during my early 20s! This shouldn’t have been a big surprise though, my family is known for going gray quite early. Around the same time I began regularly coloring my hair, not so much for the stray gray or two, but to play with color. By my mid-20s though, I was coloring every 3-4 weeks, just to keep up with my ever-graying hair.
What made you decide to stop dyeing your hair and go fully grey? Was it a difficult decision? How did it work logistically? How have people responded? I decided to stop coloring my hair in my early 30s for a number of reasons. At first it was my concern about the chemicals in the hair dyes, even the more “natural” dyes that I was putting on my head each month. I don’t know for sure how harmful or not many of the ingredients are, but it worried me and I was aiming for a more natural, less synthetic beauty routine in all areas. The second reason that I stopped coloring my hair was because of the time and money that it took to color each month and the mess! I would cover my grays with semi-permanent dye at home and over time it just felt like a hassle to purchase the products, do my hair and try not to drip!
Finally, and probably the biggest reason that really gave me the extra push to stop coloring was that in my mid-30s, I began to develop worsening allergic reactions to all kinds of hair dyes. I knew this was a warning sign and that my reactions could become dangerous. After researching about the common allergy to the hair dye chemical PPD [Paraphenylenediamine, present in most hair dyes], I went to a salon and tried many coloring products at home without PPD in them. Still, most times the strong scents would bother my eyes and give me a headache. After this point I called around to several salons that specialized in natural-based, organic hair dyes that claimed to not irritate. I thought it sounded great, but my only problem was, (beyond the high price) the honest stylist told me that because I had so much gray hair, about 70% gray at that point, the natural dyes were unlikely to work as well on my hair. Next I went to coloring with henna. I did that for about two years. Henna is an amazing product, but truthfully, I tired of the application process, which was much more involved than hair dye, and the “wet grass” smell it left my hair with for a day or so. Eventually, I had so much henna built up from trying to keep up with my gray hair, that my hair was left a super bright red color, a color that I personally was not going for.
I realized that it all had to stop when one day a man asked me why I had “three color hair.” Not the greatest thing to be asked, but it was true, and I credit him for helping me to be brave enough to take the leap! I was done having gray hair growing in, mixed with some of my natural dark brown and a shock of bright red henna.
Logistically, I just took the leap! (I have kept a Flickr Album with photos all along my journey. You can find it HERE!) I didn’t want to further damage any of my hair’s texture by putting in highlights or lowlights. I wanted to focus on making my hair as healthy as can be and to try to embrace the real color, whatever that may be. At first I had my hair cut into a bob, just above my shoulders. Then a few weeks later, I went in for a long-ish pixie cut. I still can’t believe that I did that as I’m generally more comfortable with myself when I have long hair, but it felt great! I loved getting so much of the old hair color off and the fun versatility of the pixie. After that, I just grew my hair and within about a year and a half, I felt like I had done it! 🙂
People’s reactions varied at first. Some were my cheerleaders and others questioned why I would do something like this. I remember getting a lot of surprised stares, especially during the initial grow-out. Eventually though, some of my biggest nay-sayers became my biggest supporters!!! Honestly, most people come around. It’s like getting a new pair of glasses, sometimes it just takes time for people to become used to your new look!
How do you think that having grey hair will change your makeup/wardrobe, if at all? This is a fun question! Well, for me, oddly, most of my make up colors have stayed the same. I expected for them to really change! I still wear a lot of rose colors that seem to do a good job of tying in my gray hair, blue eyes and sometimes pale skin. I thought I would need more vibrant colors with my gray hair, but I found that they make me look too done up at this point and I feel like I should look as youthful as I can in some ways to balance the gray.
Going gray has made me much more aware as to whether certain hair cuts or hairstyles age me, along with my clothing choices. I tend to lean towards more youthful and feminine styles anyway, but I make sure that I don’t wear anything too harsh or serious. This is just a rule that I follow for myself, other women might like the look on themselves. It’s all about feeling good in your own skin and being you!
What do you think that going grey means to women vs. men? Interesting! I think for women, going gray equals freedom. It means that we’re in a place that feels empowering enough to take the risk of going gray. I had a sense of acceptance of myself and being at peace with my differences when I went gray. For me, I’m not as sure as to what it means to men. My guess is taken from a lot of our media. I think for men, going gray is about growing into yourself as an established, distinguished man.
If you mean how do I think men view women who are going gray….? Well, I think that a wonderful handful of men must be supportive and open to it. I’ve had men say that my color was “cool” and “different!” Then there are others who I would guess see gray hair as only a sign of aging.
The only thing I would add is my Facebook page for How Bourgeois. You can find it HERE! What I like about it is that for some reason, many more women visit it and they often start good discussions. It’s just fun. Thank you!