The Gray Area - The Agony and the Ecstasy of Going Natural

Before I begin, you will have noticed that the look of the site has lightened considerably. Yes, it has. The message I am sending here, is happy spring.  As much as tartan has become a part of the Highland Fashionista brand, there is a time and a place for its deep colour and wooly coziness. And that time, generally speaking, is winter.  Unless you're talking about Madras, which I lurrrve.  That is a different story, for a different post.  In fact, I'm making a note of that right now, before I forget...

So the hair thing. It has become quite a popular topic indeed. I have gotten many enquiries and comments from women all different parts of the world who are either jumping on the gray hair bandwagon, thinking about joining our ranks, or at the very least, are talking about it.

One of the most frequent emails I get is from those of you in the early stages of growing out the dye. And believe me,  I feel you, ladies...oh yes.... I feel you. Those first three months can be the most difficult months to bear, in my opinion. Those first few inches of growth make you feel as if the world is looking at you and thinking "what's going on there", or "she really needs to get herself to the hairdresser".  After three months or so, your regrowth looks intentional, like you meant to do that.  In today's post I will share some of the ways I have soldiered-on with hairstyling during my transition back to my natural state, which, I should add, is still an ongoing process. I've been at it now since October of 2010. Here, look.




My hair is not that straight naturally. I feel I should point that out. This is day two without a shampoo. I mention this only because, if your gray is like mine, it is drier and frizzier than the other hairs on your head, and therefore needs a little more TLC. I try to wash every other day, although workouts, high winds, and just life in general ultimately dictates how frequently my follicles are acquainted with the shampoo bottle.

There is also the matter of distribution. My gray seems to be concentrated at the front of my head and at the inner temples. see?

The wind never lets up here in Scotland.
I can assure you, I normally don't eat my hair like in this photo.
So because of this distribution, when I pull it straight back off the forehead, there is still a lot of dark, natural colour underneath. That is how I got through the first three or four months of no dye. With a hairstyle like this.


Blends in better like this as my natural dark hair is still there.
Very Bride of Frankenstein.

I like to use a smaller headband with teeth now that I have grown out well beyond a few inches. But if you are just starting out, you might want to experiment with wide headbands or scarves. I find scarves too fiddly, personally, but they look fabulous on the right person. Also beware of too-tight headbands. I have been out and about more times than I care to remember and suddenly thought I had been stricken by a migraine. I don't get migraines. What I do get, as it turns out, is a headache induced by a too-tight plastic headband. So try before you buy ladies.

Another permutation on this style, something I still use when I need to look more professional and pulled together, is the pinned-back crown half-updo.


Again, the Bride of Frankenstein stripe persists, but the overall effect is more blended.

If you are struggling with length or perhaps are just starting out, you can always go for the zigzag or messy part look. I used that when I had about two inches of growth. It creates a wee bit of visual chaos right where that telling line is between nature and dye. I would mess up my part, then pin it so it would hold.



Probably not for the boardroom, but
perfect for the weekend.

Lastly, as you get more and more gray nearer to your face, you will find that you will have to shift your makeup palette. There is a lot written all over the net about what colours are appropriate for women with gray hair and how orange is to be avoided and bronzing powder is evil...blah, blah, blah.

What looks good on you and your gray hair is something that nobody else can really tell you without seeing you. Kind of like a doctor diagnosing you over the internet....it can't be done. This is especially true if you, like me, still have a lot of your natural colour. Yes, I have had to rethink some of my lipsticks, but I still use my bronzing powder (sparingly), and do not have a problem wearing warm colours or even oatmeal or beige, colours that are supposedly verboten for women with gray hair (whatever).

So these are the things that have worked, are still working, for me. Really you will have to experiment. I am still doing it too. And if you happen upon a product that actually tames frizz effectively and lasts all day without having to heat style, email me immediately. I want in on that action! (Seriously)

And so, dear readers, I will leave you with just one last happy discovery I have made during this process.


Bright fuchsia lipstick is your friend. 
How awesome is that!?
Pucker up!

Comments

  1. I get far more comments telling me I ought to dye my hair than unfavorable comments about what I wear. And I love the grey so far. Can't wait for the next haircut when I will be majority grey. I'm glad you are giving tips to help people do this if they want to.

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  2. It is actually a whole lot easier than I thought it would be. Basically, you just do nothing. How easy is THAT!? ANnd yours looks great BTW...naysayers be damned.

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  3. I am shocked at how many people go grey so young! I have a friend 10 years younger than me with lots of grey hair...I wonder if it's people with dark hair who go grey sooner? I have blonde hair so even if there's a stray grey in there, it's not noticeable. Good for you for going au natural and giving everyone tips!

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    1. Yeah, I think that it is a dark-haired thing. My dad and both of his parents were pure silver, and they were all dark like me. Its the kind of silver that doesn't take colour well either. It kind of turns pink in the sun. Much better to make peace with it, I think.

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  4. hi! (I found you through Pinterest.) :-)
    I just wanted to say it's nice to see someone talking up their NATURAL hair color, especially when it's going gray. I stopped coloring my hair about 10 years ago (in my early 30's) and I am now 43 with a head full of dark brown and a LOT of gray hair.
    My hair color is something I think about every. single. day. I am bothered by the fact that in today's society you can't 'age'. The thing is, is everyone stopped coloring their hair us girls brave enough to show our true color would be AMAZED, I am sure, at how many women actually look just like us without help from a bottle.
    To each her own.... but, it's nice to stand up and say, yes, I am young and gray. (Plus we save $$$ on hair coloring!!!)
    You are beautiful with your natural hair color, just so you know. I love that color lipstick (that's one thing I try to add to my color palette - a fun lip color). Oh - and when you find some great frizz control product - let me know!!!!! Those darn wiry grays! LOL

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    1. Hi Patty,
      You're right, it is funny how much of a big deal people make over letting your hair go natural. It's not as if you are deciding to gain a huge amount of weight or start chain-smoking, self-harming, or something that is actually destructive to your body. It is a colour, and that is all. And I think that a lot of people (mistakenly) think that by dyeing their hair that are somehow staving-off the ageing process. There is nothing more ageing than bad colour...or even semi-bad colour. That really darker than dark, yellowy-yellow, or eggplant colour that you see so often.... not so good. Thanks for your support. As for the anti-frizz, I just got a bottle of product from the salon this week, along with a new haircut that pretty much leaves me with no more dye. That post is forthcoming...

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    2. Hi! Try coconut oil for the frizzy hair. Coat hair, wrap and then wash it out. Also I have started rubbing a little bit on clean hair. It really works. You have to
      the amount right. I stopped dying my hair 2 years ago. White at front and salt and pepper every where else. Naturally dark brown and curly. One of the best things I've ever done is not dying my hair.

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  5. you are absolutely stunning! I think the gray looks awesome. I only hope mine grows out as pretty :)

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  6. You look kinda cool... There's a genuine something that shines through that makes you more

    complete.. A young and beautiful person.. It's odd for now but if you stay the course and

    find your hidden self.. You'll not only like it you'll love it.. Daniel

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  7. I love seeing the transition from dark brown to gray/silver. The silver is striking with the dark brown lowlights. A graybe (gray babe)!

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  8. You and your hair look lovely. I am nearing 50 and want to grow out my color. You have given me the courage to do so!

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  9. Awsome!!! I need to keep going with my gray journey.... I cut almost all my hair 3 months ago.. to let them regrow natural!!!! Some days I want to dye them....so badly...I 'm sure I wont regret my decision...You look fantastic with your gray!!! And I have to say I never had that much compliments since I let my hair gray....

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  10. I woke up last Sunday and I was due for my hair appointment, mm I said to my self no more I'm done I locked my self in my bathroom And slowly shaved it all off like a new born baby , I even booked my self a chemical peel ,, the next morning so I could just start fresh,, with my new Look grey hair fresh skin ,, and im going to enjoy the money that i save and the long hours of small talk in the salons , :-) and you look so beautiful with your hair :-) anTh than

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    1. Wow! Not THAT takes some guts! Welcome to the club! That chem peel sounds might good right now....

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  11. I would love to see more photos of the wind blowing your hair in your face.

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    1. Well, wow. That's a really specific request. Lucky for you I live in Scotland.

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  12. I decided to go grey about two months ago and haven't looked back. My hair artist is doing a great job at blending everything and I couldn't have be happier. I have been on this earth nearly 60 years and plan on embracing every last silver strand as a badge of honor! All I can say to those of you who are contemplating on taking this step is go for it and enjoy the ride! I can't tell you how liberated I feel right now. The joy of not having to pay out hundreds of dollars a year to color my hair every two to six weeks is all worth it. Good luck with your journey!

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  14. Thank you for the inspiration. I first posted last week then deleted it in order to change the profile picture to show my grey coming in. I got back from vacation a few weeks ago and cancelled my color appt because I liked the way the grey was coming and and blending with the hi and low lights i'd been getting every 6-7 weeks. Now I'm 11 weeks out and hope I keep liking it!

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  15. People tell me how do you expect to get a man if your hair is gray. Been a bottle blonde for many years and that didn't help. So now I am just gokng to be myself and see if that helps. Save money too. I have naturally wavy curly hair that I have been flat ironing everyday. I have decided to stop fighting that too. And to add to this I am going to let my hair grow long. You should see all the strange looks I am getting at work.

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  16. You look fantastic! What an inspiring post. Love the fuchsia lipstick too. I've been debating growing out my hennaed hair ,I think now that I will. :-)

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  17. Thanks for posting and keeping this out there. I've just started growing in my gray and am at the 8 week mark. For something I started so I could think about my hair less, I am now obsessed with it! Mostly around what everyone else is thinking... very aggravating! I visit your posts at least once a week for a pep talk -- my mid-40s friends wouldn't DREAM of going gray -- so I appreciate your lighthearted commentary very much. Thanks. :)

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  18. You look amazing. Be yourself. Love it!

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  19. How I transitioned: my beautician softened the demarcation line by coloring, only once, about half of the out-growing grey hair. Thereafter, while nature slowly took its course, I had regular cuts. After a few months, a friend observed, "You seem to have a new look: have you done something to your eyes?" After six months, my radiant appearance was a topic of widespread wonder; queries if I had had surgery on my eyes continued. Not one of my friends identified correctly what had changed! On the other hand, those friends who had not laid eyes on me for at year were initially startled, soon delighted. "Your hair looks like a silver Christmas tree ornament!" Truly, I look better and feel better too.

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  20. I am 6 months into growing out my grays. I've been having my hair girl blend it with high/low lights - more expensive than all over color but it looks pretty and I know I would have given up without it! My hair grows fast so I'm about half way there. I'm also growing out a lot of layers so I've resigned myself to my hair being a mess for awhile longer. Can't wait to see what I look like when I'm done!

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  21. I'm just turned 39 and I want to stop coloring my hair so bad! I have naturally dark brown hair and have kept it mostly dark auburn over the years. I have been thinking about going to whatever my natural hair is now for the past few months. I started noticing silvery gray and white hairs in my early 20s. I truly wish my hair would just go all silver or white! My aunt has the prettiest silver hair and my grandfather had a full head of beautiful white hair. I know my hair currently is still a mixture of brown and gray/white. I'm just going to let it go and see what it turns out to be!

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    1. Do it Megan, I am just starting out too. I am 40 and have really dark brown hair. I am a month and a half in and have the dreaded skunk look :)

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  22. Fantastic blog. You are speaking about what I am going through by myself here. No other ladies around me dare to be grey it seems.

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  23. I would just cut off the last 5 inches if I were you....would look great then and it will only take 6 months. Hate the two-tone look.

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  24. I will be 50 next month and have been colouring my hair for 30 years. About 4 months ago I stopped cold turkey. I have a long way to go but seeing other people's success stories really helps to keep me on track. I also take a new picture every month so I can see that I am progressing.

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  25. sorry I just do not like gray hair!

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  26. Have been toying with the idea of stopping the dye for a couple years. Finally went cold turkey August 2016.All the hair dye plus being low thyroid means I've been shedding for a long time! I've noticed less hair breakage & lots of short new grey hair growing (I will take more hair right now at any color!) I also try not to wash it every day; switched to Carol's Daughter black vanilla shampoo & conditioner. Helps to tame my hair a bit. :)

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