Grey Play. Silver Sisters. Grey Hair Don’t Care. Grey Pride. Grombre (combining grey with the hair color ombre trend). Silver Style. Vogue’s top hair color for the past three years. The trend for women to let their hair go grey naturally is growing exponentially. How do you feel about the “new” silver styles? From white blonde to blue, I’ve experienced many hair colors. Funny how having blue hair empowered me the most to embrace my own progression towards accepting my greys.
Years ago, right around the time I turned 50, my hair stylist said my sparkles were starting to come in and that we could deal with it when they became more prominent. Sparkles. Her word for saying I was going grey. Instead of accepting it, I went full blonde with extensions.
When my stylist mentioned sparkles, I flashed to my grandmother, who dyed her hair until her late 70s. I remember my Uncle once saying we never knew her natural color because she had always dyed it blonde. My grandmother started allowing her white hair to come through in stages – first with side “accents” until she finally decided enough was enough. She may have been in her 80s by then. Grammy didn’t have “sparkles,” she went straight to white. My mom didn’t start turning “salt and pepper” until her 70s. She never dyed her hair (except that one time she experimented with a bright magenta). Genetically speaking, I thought I was too young for grey hair.
A friend I had known well during high school had started greying early. We didn’t hang out after high school, so it was a few years before I saw her again. Emily, at our 10th high school reunion, rocked long, flowing white hair. She had moved from the East coast to the Midwest, and lived on a ranch. Out there, dying hair wasn’t important. Looks didn’t matter, inner faith did. I’m glad we reconnected as she became a source of strength for me when I went through a big rough patch. Because of Emily, I associate grey hair with empowerment. Do you have a friend like this?
It’s only hair
Over the years I’ve played with my hair color. The first time I went blonde was during a college semester abroad. I was in Cannes, armed with mediocre French, I asked for my hair to be “comme le soleil.” I thought I was asking for blonde highlights “like the sun.” What I got was white blonde, very a la Major Houlihan from M*A*S*H! Yikes! However, it was the beginnings of my blonde ambitions.
Back in the 90s, when grunge was the rebel style and hair colors were wild, I was a mom of two young boys. A good friend and I were discussing our sons’ futures, and we debated how we would handle if any of them came home with brightly dyed hair. We decided “it’s only hair” and we’d be okay with it. (Turns out a mom’s love is strong; we both knew we’d love them no matter what!)
I had returned, briefly during my early mommyhood days, to my natural brunette. But it never quite suited my personality. Looking back, I realize now that the darker hair lacked a certain brightness that my face needed to look more cheerful. As soon as I could, I went back to the hair stylist seeking a natural blonde look. I have distinct memories of my sons being brought to the hair salon to see me. I wonder if they have memories of me with all those hair foils, looking like an alien?
Blue to Grey Pride
Four years ago, I went “natural blue” as the bright hair color trends became more accepted (and I had left corporate America). It was quite a process, and the upkeep is a challenge. At one point my hair faded into this interesting grey. But that was also hard to keep up, as my hair was not growing in fully silver.
The Nomad finds a salon
About a year ago I knew that I was beginning my journey to becoming a digital nomad. I wanted to slowly embrace the expanding grey, but still wanted the fun blue. I attempted to go full salt & pepper, but having part of the “pepper” be blue. I’ve learned silver is harder to maintain than blue! After that experiment, I started to try the “grombre” and let my hair grow out. After about eight months, six inches of growth, and lots of Overtone color conditioners in silver and blue, I decided it was time to get back to the salon. I needed that brightness around my face again, but not from blonde highlights.
Since I’m in a new area, where could I go that would do a decent job? Through connections I discovered a new salon, The Shop, in the small town where I’m living. The recommended colorist’s Instagram account @TheFredwardian showed wonderful examples of all sorts of bright colors (mermaid! rainbow!), so I knew I found someone who’d understand. He gave me the silver colors that I could highlight blue myself when I wanted.
I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to call myself empowered by having a full head of grey. The cultural “norms” of looking young is still strong. Although I like to think that I am beyond wanting compliments from strangers, it feels like my silver head may seem natural not intentional. I do like how my hair coordinates with my silver airstream. And this color is helping me adjust to my stage of life. However, I believe once I reach #greyhairdontcare, I will probably go back to adding some blue…and being once again a #bluehairedoldlady
Are you part of the grey pride hair trend? What are your thoughts and feelings about all of this? Let me know in the comments here, or on Instagram (on Fred’s photo of me! )