Sometime in the last year I was looking at the white roots under my flaming red hair and wondered what it looked like all over with no color on it. Was it all white a la Paula Deen or was it salt and pepper, a la Jamie Lee Curtis? Maybe it was just white and silver on top and still light brown everywhere else, which would not be pretty to me.
I mentioned it to my husband and for the first time in our 20yrs together he looked at me and said he would love to see it. If you know my husband, then you know red hair is his all time favorite. Hands down. No other color mattered. If you know my husband, then you also know he says what he means and means what he says.
At first I thought he was joking. Or eying the budget, as he is very thrifty with the wallet and maintaining such a gorgeous red color without a white skunk streak of gray going straight up the middle is not cheap or time efficient. He was neither. He was serious, and not only supportive but encouraging me to look into what it would take to gracefully navigate such a big transition in my appearance while maintaining 3 jobs that put me working with the public and needing to look my best. So began our discussions about it. It was our son's senior year in high school and I really wanted to maintain the red until after graduation pictures in case I did not like the gray or was in some hideous mid-transition phase. [Vain, I know, but it's the truth.] As we would watch TV or be out and about, we would notice beautiful gray, silver and white hair more and more often and wonder if that was what was waiting for me under all this red.
I began to research it and found out that gray, or "Granny Hair" was a trend right now and that many women, old and young, were flocking to salons to get it done or taking matters into their own hands and doing it at home. If the time was ever right to do it, it was now. So I began to mention it to others. Here is a sampling of the feedback I got.
"You're going to look old."
"It won't look good."
"You're going to hate looking old."
"Why would you do that and age yourself?"
"You don't want to do that! You will look so much older!"
"Your husband won't like it because you will look so much older."
"Your husband is actually ok with it?"
"I wish I had the guts to do that."
"Aren't you afraid you will look old?"
"If I knew it would look good, I would do it too."
"I've thought about it a lot but never done it."
"I've wanted to do it for years but just can't bring myself to do it."
"Go for it!"
"OMG you are going to do it? Can't wait to see it!"
I am not hating on the guys. Honestly, I can only recall positive feedback from my husband and not another single man I spoke of it to. [Including my stylist] And I did get a couple of negative comments from women but they directed those at themselves, not me. The feedback, while some of it hurt my feelings, helped me get a better handle on my own feelings about more than just my hair.
I AM getting older. I'm not 32 anymore, or 25, or 18. I live in a world which values, at the very least, the appearance of youth and does not seem to have much regard for the appearance of gray hair, wrinkles, or age. I am in transition as my son finishes a huge chapter in his life [high school] and begins the next [college, locally] so he needs me less. My daughter is working on "moving out," strategies. I left my job of over 15yrs less than a year ago. I have recently started a new job that is unlike any other job that I have had as I am not already good at what they want me to do upon hiring me. I am having to learn the ropes in a long distance, hands-off fashion and it is scary, nerve wracking and exciting. My husband has a new schedule which has doubled his time home, something we have wanted for years. We are happier than we have ever been together and it keeps getting better all of the time. We are beginning to down size both financially and materially to plan towards his retirement. After much God-seeking and prayer, we have finally put down roots in a new church and I am gearing up to start at least 2 new ministries. My childhood/lifelong best friend has moved literally into my neighborhood after living apart in different states for 30 years. So much change. So much transition. I have never been one to freak out over aging, so I don't think about botox, plastic surgery or lipo, although I do want to be healthy and a lot smaller. So far, no mid-life crisis, here.
In reality, Granny hair being a trend is not why now is the best time to do it. It is because I am in a serious transition stage and embracing the aging process feels like the right thing to do. I've decided to EMBRACE IT ALL. I am fast approaching 50 and I am excited, embracing what I look like and loving what I feel like. The hair color was the tip of the iceberg, the first indicator of what is going on internally. I will most likely look older, because guess what? I AM older. I'm ok with that. I have aches, pains and stiffness that I didn't have 10 years ago. I am not happy about that but I am happy I have the life experience, wisdom, compassion, and grace for others that comes from living life into the late 40s. I am not allowing the negatives of aging to be my focal point in life, primary topic of conversation and my banner flying over my head everywhere I go. Instead, starting with my hair, I am embracing life, including aging and valuing others, in a way that I did not before. As for my hair? The nuts and bolts are below.
It took me several months and lots of inquiries to find a stylist who specialized in going gray. Her name is Joyce and she owns the Colorbar in Panama City Beach. After a consultation she feels my hair is gray along the lines of what Jamie Lee Curtis has. We will go gray in several stages.
The first stage was to go from this:
All in one day.
Joyce began the process at 10:30am and we finished at 5:00pm. She did two 90 minute bleachings and one toner session using two different toner colors. This is stage one.
After 6 weeks I will go back and she will look at my gray growth and begin highlighting. I will go back every so often and she will decrease the number of highlights each time until my gray has completely grown out. In between I am using a blue/purple toned shampoo.
My husband really likes stage one, which is funny as he has always been very anti-blonde hair. As for me? I love it and can't wait to be done to see the final result! My new growth is already showing and it is fairly white. I am wondering if it will end up being more like Emmy Lou Harris? We'll see. In the meantime, I will be posting progress here!
The Colorbar Facebook Page