Every four weeks, I go to my lovely hairdresser, Katrina, and get my grey hair cut and coloured. I walk away feeling a million dollars with super sleek and shiny tresses. The greying temples and roots are successfully hidden once again and for a week or so can be completely forgotten. While thankfully, it does not cost me a million to feel like a million – it is still a hefty commitment of money and time. For me, hairdressing is an essential service and my monthly trips have survived the budget cuts imposed by my Year of Zero.
I am not really sure what my natural colour is. Neither can I remember when I began dying my hair. It’s something I have been doing in the salon or at home for, it seems, forever. I think the first time I changed my hair colour was back in high school, perhaps in Year 9? At that time, we used a product called Magic Silver Rose or Magic Silver White undiluted. My bestie, Annette and I used to dip our fringes straight into the bottle to make it bright pink or purple. These products were initially designed for older women (“the blue rinse set“) to cover up the grey.
The bright hair trend is being repeated now. I giggle when I see young people with their hair dyed brilliant blue, green and pink thinking they are all original and rebellious. We did that – back in the ’70s.
I take my hat off to those women, like Helen Mirren, who wear their grey locks with style and elegance. Of course, being a celebrity and having a stylist on hand helps a little too! Some of my friends also have spectacular white or grey hair that looks very funky and they wear it with class. Perhaps it’s time for me to embrace the grey and stop dying my hair.
The question is, how do you go cold turkey on the dyeing front? Nothing says tacky quite like regrowth!
Step number one would be to move to a deserted island and come back in a year when your hair has grown enough so you can just cut it off in a cute little pixie style.
I chatted with Katrina about how to go about it. It is a long process, and once you start, you need to be committed. It combines cutting and colouring. Cutting off the previously dyed hair and re-colouring the new growth to match the grey coming through. After a year or so, voila – you have stunning grey hair that requires less maintenance. Or so the story goes.
And so far we a have only been speaking about head hair! (here’s a fun look at dyeing pubic hair!)
STOP! STOP! This is where you need to be able to insert sound effects in the written word.
Play the sound of a needle being scratched across a record as it is suddenly stopped.
This is not what my blog is about! This is not a representation of my values! Martha Stewart-like advice on how to change your hair colour! I feel like a fraud. Once again, I am drawn into this murky world of ageism and sexism. Where youth is queen, and older women become irrelevant and invisible. Where grey hair is synonymous with undesirable or unf@#kable.
Why is grey hair such an issue in the first place? I am reluctant to take the plunge and my own discourse around the whole grey issue is contradictory. I don’t think I should feel bad about being grey from a sociological standpoint, but I still have to live in this world!
We call men with greying temples distinguished. We call them silver foxes. Women are declared “brave” for letting their hair grey. Brave being code for “I wouldn’t do it”.
Why don’t women wear it as a badge of courage?
I got here! I survived! I didn’t do anything too stupid! I raised children!
The reasons are, of course, all tied up with marketing, consumerism and money. The hair dye industry is a multi-billion dollar industry globally. Seventy-five per cent of women colour their hair at some stage in their life. The number of men dying their hair is increasing.
Let’s not even get into a discussion about whether hair dye is toxic or harmful in any way to ourselves or to the environment. That’s a whole other ball game!
There is no way that sort of consumerist pressure is going to let us feel good about going grey. Not in my lifetime, anyway.
Let’s start chipping away at this ageism. One strand at a time!