I started dying my hair around age 17 to cover gray, which means my first gray hair likely popped up around age 14, though I truly don’t remember it. I do remember sitting on my bathroom counter nightly plucking them out until I started noticing a slight thinning/bald spot. Yikes! Time to start coloring…
What started off as full color every 6-8 weeks slowly morphed into root touch-ups every 3 weeks. I’m not entirely sure how much I’ve spent on hair color over the past 18 years, but a back-of-the-envelope estimates puts it around $25,000. Holy shit. That’s a lot of money. That’s more than my college education and first car put together. For what? What was I paying for all those years? To look like an image I had of my self from my teens? Or to look like what I thought society viewed as beautiful? It certainly was not what Mother Nature intended me to look like.
This past January 2020 I decided I was done. Done with the 3-week root touch-ups. Done with scheduling my color appointments around important events or trips. Just done with hiding under fake hair. Another added slice of motivation for ditching the dye was my daughter. My gray hair is genetic and it’s pretty likely she will get the same awesome, silver gene. I didn’t want her wasting time and money trying to look like someone she wasn’t. So, January 23, 2020 was my last root touch up.
I was beyond excited to start this journey, and in true Ami-fashion, I dove head first into the world of silver hair (pun intended). My evenings were spent researching all I could about how to make the transition easier, learning about others who ditched the dye and what their experience was like, and plotting my own path forward. One of my favorite reads was “Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook Handbook” by Lorraine Massey. The original curly-girl, I was familiar with Massey and trusted her sage advice. The book chronicled the unique journey of several “Silver Sisters”, as we call each other, and was helpful in outlining potential paths for me. I read it front to back at least three times.
Since I had been dying my hair dark brown for so many years, the transition was likely to be rough. The dreaded demarcation line was stark – dark brown against silver and gray was not a particularly attractive look. I had been spending so much time trying to boost my appearance, it felt ridiculous to intentionally go the other direction. What was I thinking!! Thankfully, I found a community of Silver Sisters on Facebook that really helped me stick to the path. It’s really phenomenal what a group of women from all over the world, with all different backgrounds, and of all ethnicities can do when they band together. The outpouring of love and support on that Facebook group daily is so inspiring and humbling.
I had been spending so much time trying to boost my appearance, it felt ridiculous to intentionally go the other direction.
Ok, so with the decision made to go all natural, what would my journey look like? Thankfully, the pandemic forced us all indoors and out of social gatherings, which meant my early months of grow-out were spent amongst my family and out of the public eye. With salons closed it wasn’t possible for me to dye my hair, even if I wanted to. This meant I had nothing to explain to anyone. And yes, I fully understand that I never have to explain any choice I make about my body to anyone. But let’s be real. This was a really really really scary thing I was doing AND it went against all social norms. Explaining it over and over to questioning people was not how I wanted to spend my time.
After a few months of root growth I started getting a better idea of what my gray hair would look like, and I knew two things for sure: my silver hair was gorgeous and the demarcation line totally sucked. I knew I needed help to ease the tension between silver and dark brown so I reached out to my former stylist in Chicago who I trusted with my life for advice. Franky was a rockstar of support. When we first chatted via phone the excitement for my transformation was palpable. She was up to the task and eager to get me into her chair. My first appointment with Franky was in July, just a few days before my 35th birthday. She spent 14ish hours lifting old dye from my ends through clarifying washes and bleach. Afterwards, she applied a couple different toners to take my now yellow ends to silver. The outcome was pretty remarkable, but we both agreed it wasn’t what we had hoped.
I went back 6 weeks later for a touch up that resulted in exactly what we were aiming for: a subtle gray-ombre or grombre. Thanks to a special care package sent by Franky, I’ve been able to touch up my ends with silver toner twice without the drive to Chicago. If you are close to Chicago and thinking about making a color transformation, gray or any color in the rainbow, please look up Franky, owner of I Fucking Love Your Hair. She’s an amazing human and supremely talented colorist. Seriously. Check out her stuff on Instagram @IFuckingLoveYourHair.
This past year has taught me a tremendous amount about self-love.
Today I am exactly at 11 months of root growth and I’m obsessed with my silver, most especially the stripes that frame my face. The past year has taught me a tremendous amount about self-love. No, I did not look beautiful the entire time and I still have plenty of bad hair days. Obviously the pics above are after a professional styled my hair. Below are some more real-life examples of what my process looked like over time.
If you’re considering going gray, I strongly recommend you do two things: 1) check out Lorriane Massey’s book, and 2) join our Facebook group for a community of silver sisters. It’s not an easy process, but one that will take you on an amazing journey of self discovery.
What scares you most about going gray? Are you worried it will make you look older? Are you afraid of the grow out process? Drop a comment below and let’s get a conversation going…
Let’s stay in touch!