I’ve been having this feeling, a calling if you will, to begin the journey of going gray naturally. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been wanting to allow my hair to grow gray naturally, but just couldn’t muster enough courage. So, I did what any reasonable, 29 years old and some change, woman would do – I continued coloring my hair.
They say hindsight is 20/20. I’m kicking myself for not beginning this journey sooner during quarantine. But we live and we learn. Instead of taking advantage of the quarantine, I’ve decided for Lent 2021, I will no longer color my hair and let it grow in its natural state.
There’s a lot of reasons why I made this decision, but first, let me back up to the beginning.
Going Gray Naturally
My husband says I’m a jack of all trades. I’m a licensed Doula, a licensed Massage Therapist, and a licensed Cosmetologist. I have been a licensed cosmetologist since I was 21 years old. If I we do the math, that is 22 years now that I have held and maintained a license to do hair, skin, and nails. But like I said earlier, I’m 29 years old and some change. My Aunt is a cosmetologist and still active at 79 years old and she was my inspiration for going to beauty school.
As a child, I would visit my aunt’s beauty shop on the weekends. She is now 79 years old and running her little beauty shop right outside of town. Throughout my adolescent years, I would take advantage of any opportunity to assist in the beauty shop, which meant cleaning up, sweeping hair, and answering phones. I fell in love with it and knew by 6th grade that someday I was going to follow in her footsteps. After attending college and majoring in journalism, I decided to do just that….begin my journey into cosmetology.
My affair with hair color began early on. My Mamaw on my mother’s side turned completely gray very early. As luck or genetics would have it, I began noticing gray hairs in my head in my teens. True story! My husband says that when he turned 30, his entire life flashed before his eyes as if his life was almost over. That’s how I felt when I noticed my first gray hair. I thought to myself, “I am away too young for this to be happening!” That’s when I began my affair with hair color treatments.
First, it was sun in (remember sun in and lounging outside on summer days?!) and highlights. Did you know that stuff even works in that tanning bed?! I was a teen in the 90’s and I can vouch from personal experience! Now you have that bit of useless knowledge to carry you through, just do not do it….ever! Tanning beds are bad for your skin. As your parents may have told you, do as I say and not as I did. 😉
After sun in, I moved onto highlighting. After I grew tired of highlighting, I then progressed towards hair color. During my time in beauty school, I would literally slap on leftover color and hope for the best! One time in particular, I turned my hair carrot orange. It was fun to experiment with different hair colors, but even I knew carrot orange wasn’t exactly a trendsetting color. So, I chopped my hair off and began again.
I did fall in love with the hair coloring process and thoroughly enjoyed coloring my client’s hair! I eventually fell in love with Wella hair color and even worked with them for hair shows! That was so much fun and a wonderful memory!
What I also learned in beauty school is that services like hair color can be very expensive. Obviously, I didn’t rake in the dough as a stylist in a little town, so talking clients into color treatments meant more money in our pockets! It is a business after all. Doing what you love isn’t work, and working as a cosmetologist is something that I loved, and still love to this day.
As I continued to mature, I settled on one color that was closest to my natural color and used it until it was eventually discontinued. Then I had to find another brand that was similar to my natural locks.
I am pretty natural in most all things of life. I like to create my own recipes, which most of you love and enjoy from this little space on the interwebs. I also use natural cleaners. I use all-natural cruelty-free make up. I have nursed my kids, cloth diapered and made my own baby food.
I am a food prepper utilizing our bunker and freezer to preserve to the fullest! I also love and enjoy canning, prepping, and preserving. We like growing our own vegetables, farm fresh eggs, and more.
But I could never get over the mental hump when dealing with hair color. I refused to go natural after finding my first gray hair when I was a teenager. Instead of coloring my hair every 6 weeks, I would color my hair every 4 weeks. Well, as time went on and the gray got worse, I would color my hair every 3 weeks, and that lasted for the past decade. Anything past 3 weeks required the use of big headbands and hats to hide the gray that was getting increasingly worse.
Coloring my hair that often for that long is not healthy, and I KNEW that! Even using hair color treatments that are more ethically made, less harsh, and low on the number of chemicals is so very hard on hair, not to mention, your body! I knew this because of my extensive education but decided to do it anyway because I didn’t want to be a gray-haired woman. As I said, it was a mental hump.
As I have studied, evolved, and grew older, I still love cosmetology! LOVE It! However, I cannot deny there are chemicals involved and that can affect my body negatively. I also realize there is more to the world of cosmetology than hair color and it’s about time I embrace that as well!
As time progressed and I was hitting my 44th year on this earth (er, rather, 29th year and some change) and still coloring my hair, I had to ask myself why? Why am I continuing to color my hair?
How to go grey with dark hair
For years my husband has asked, “Why don’t you just let it go natural?” My answer was always a resounding “NO!” I felt like I might look like an old hag hanging on the arm of this super hot Soldier!
Even though his hair and his beard are turning gray, I still wanted to look and feel young by coloring mine. And the one time I asked him to color his hair, he replied, “This is what God has given me. Why change what is already perfect?” Talk about a punch to the gut! Eventually, I told myself that it’s okay to grow gray together. I finally feel at peace. Honestly, the last few weeks as I have prayed over this decision, I truly felt like God was telling me it was time to just let it go by letting it grow.
I know that I will struggle with this as time goes by. Anything that is a test will come with struggles though. It’s not a physical struggle, it’s a mental struggle. It’s getting over that mental hump.
So what is my plan?
Well, when deciding to go gray it can be accomplished a few ways.
Some decide to buzz their hair off. My friend just did this a couple of years ago! She is brave. She is bold. And for her, this worked! She is amazing and beautiful, and courageous, and she totally rocked it!
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Some decide to color their hair to match their regrowth to make their time a bit less painful. I contemplated this method. However, it is expensive. It can be months of a transition period getting your hair JUST the right shade of platinum. Depending on how dark your hair is and how much color you have on it (I have literally 28 years’ worth!), depends on how long this process can take. Sometimes it will damage your hair and you end up cutting it off anyway.
Letting it grow out on its own. This is the most natural method. There is nothing to do other than let it grow. Most women will let it grow to a certain length and then cut it to where the gray begins. Eventually, as you continue getting your hair trimmed, all the colors will be removed naturally. That is what my friend Elizabeth Byler Younts decided to do.
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So what method will I pick to go gray gracefully?
I had thought I would let my hair grow out for a few months, preferably until Springtime, and then get it cut into a super cute, super short hairdo that still looked feminine. I even had a couple of hairstyles picked out.
I made it through the first month without a hitch. However, as my hair kept growing, it was growing into several different shades. I had the gray regrowth- it is NOT roots, I am not a tree. LOL! Then I had a super light faded red that was from leftover color. Then it got darker. Then I had super dark ends. Color on color goes darker, so every time I pulled my hair color through to the ends, more and more color.
I mentioned to my husband I was going to buzz my hair off. He actually was okay with it but afraid I was making a rash decision. So I thought about it a few more days and told him I was ready to buzz it. But because we had just moved and things are in boxes in the garage, my husband had no idea where his clippers were. Next thing I know we were heading to get my hair buzzed off!
Cutting off hair to go gray
Use the above picture for going gray before and after pictures. A fun difference, right? I was all about cutting off hair to go gray.
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Thoughts on going gray naturally and cutting off my hair
Was it hard to buzz my hair all off? Well, not really. I LOVED my long hair. LOVED my curls. I get them from my daddy. If I’m being totally honest, it was a tiny bit sad to watch them all land in a pile on the floor. But the thing about hair is that it will grow back. Just give it water and it will grow.
Pros and Cons of Going Gray
No matter what option I picked, there will be a transition. So I guess just pick the one you can live with the easiest. That is what I did in the end. Now I will let this buzz cut grow out and I don’t have to worry about hair color anymore. It’s a new beginning.
How do I let grey hair grow out gracefully?
As it grows out, I can do different styles along the way. I can add in headbands and head wraps as well and enjoy each moment of the journey.
Tonight I was talking to my friend Sarah, who I mentioned above that also buzzed off her hair. We believe hair is sacred and this truly is a journey with a fresh start.
So there you have it. This is my journey to going gray naturally. I plan to update THIS post every month or so. So check back often to see the process!