Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silver threads among the mouse

It was brought to my attention this morning in a crueller light than usual that the whole ageing thing has finally caught up with my hair. Both my sisters are also going grey; the older one has dramatic natural silver streaking her almost-black hair with its amazing natural highlights of burgundy and indigo, while the younger has pale champagne threads through hair the colour of ripe apricots. Mine is more in the palette that goes 'mouse, ash, potato'.

There are a number of possibilities for dealing with this.

1) Go grey and be damned. (All very subtle for the blonde, just a little shift from gold to silver-gilt and pewter, and dramatic contrasts for the brunette. But the boring grey in boring brown just looks dowdy and hippieish and, um, boring.)

2) Professionally done permanent colour, which must be constantly maintained if you're not to end up with cheap-looking two-tone hair. Regardless, sooner or later the bullet must be bitten and the colour allowed to grow out, or at least mutate. In the meantime most hairdressers want to colour your hair in such a way as to make you match the tortoiseshells (a cute idea, but disappointing in practice), despite the fact that you have said you want nothing that could even remotely be called red, yellow, gold, peach, apricot, russet, bronze or, the hairdressers' favourite, "warm". Not that they don't sometimes look lovely in the first instance, but with time they all fade to a uniform washed-out orange straw.

3) Home done semi-permanent colour, which is much less hard on the hair, infinitely cheaper, can be done in your colour of choice, and if you hate it it'll wash out in 36 shampoos or whatever. Disadvantage: unremovable dark splodges all over the bathroom.

What do the rest of you do? Advice from the ladies pls.


ThirdCat said...

Other options include: shave your head; move to Abu Dhabi and hear (and see) so many horror stories that you suddenly think your own silvery locks look much more silvery and much less boring.

I have done both of these things and also all of your suggestions over the years. I'm a bit over the DIY option though. I think environmental and health-wise we're not supposed to be doing so many hair colour changes, but Liquid Hair used to do a fantastic henna which you can tell yourself is the environmental option, although it probably isn't.

francine said...

i do the dye-it-yourself way. with chemicals. not so many blodges in the bathroom. i would definitely check out the henna option, as i have heard that once you start with chemicals, you can't swap over to henna - and that henna is better for your skin as well as the environment. but can anyone confirm that?

Deborah said...

I dye my hair an outrageous red which couldn't possibly be natural. I decided to go down this route shortly after leaving my last job in New Zealand, because when I went in to say goodbye to one of the senior managers, he took one look at me and said, "Christ, Deborah! You've gone grey while you've been working for us!"

At that point, I decided that I was over grey.

ThirdCat said...

oh, and having had the pleasure of showering in desalinated water for two years, I can tell you that once Adelaide has switched to desalinated water, it won't actually matter what colour you dye it, because it will all fall out anyway.

Helen said...

The only drawback to Henna is that you have to leave it in for a few hours (with one of those cheap bandanna scarves tied over it) but with your routine it should be relatively easy to pick a day when you have to really buckle down to work.

And it makes your hair feel lovely afterwards, rather than chemically bombarded.

librarygirl said...

I could bore on about this for hours and hours. Got sick of colouring it and started off with a head of blonde foils instead of the usual dark hairdresser job, so I wasn't going from really dark to hard silvery re-growth Went shorter too.
Took about ten months for all the colour to grow out, now it's silvery-browny shoulder length. It looks great, husband loves it, looks right and dare I say youthful? against my older skin (I'm 47).
A couple of men have said to me, I wish my wife would do that intead of dying it.
Read Anne Creamer's book "Going grey" - it is the grey hair Bible.
Have you ever wondered about all the young ones dying their hair grey? I'm sure it's a reaction against all the middle aged and up to 75 year olds NEVER going grey but all being 78 shades of blonde. You can tell I'm a convert.
Sorry about the essay.

Ampersand Duck said...

Wow, Thirdcat, that's a reality check and a half.

I'm on librarygirl's side, which all my friends think is very boring, but to be honest, the constant hair maintenance really gets me down. I know all you dyers out there don't want to hear this, but even a week after you've freshened up, the scalp halo reappears.

I don't have problems with going grey, am quite enjoying it really, but it's the style that now frustrates me. I'd like to be short, sharp and punk but the family prefers long & sleek. Almost there again.

I think mouse/potato/ash gets quite enlivened by some true grey and silver. Make sure you've got a smart hairstyle and the maintenance of that should keep you reasonably happy... maybe.

Anyhoo, that's my 2 cents worth, for better or worse.

WV= traph, the start of a hair saga

Mel said...

I'm embracing my tinsel, and loving it.
I didn't realize how stark my dyed hair looked till I went natural. Be brave.

Anonymous said...

Me, I am going grey. After all I have earned it. And in an (I hope) irrelevant aside I recently had chemotherapy and only the grey ones fell out. And I have lots so only I notice the lack.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I detect just a little tiny bit of thread drift towards the idea of fear of going grey, but that's not what the problem is. I'm in my, ahem, early late 50s, for a start, so it's not as though it's making me feel old; every other possible part of my body has been wildly successful at that already. No, my problems are aesthetic -- it's about not liking the brown/grey colour combination. But I dislike the whole 'scalp halo' thing worse, I think, and certainly don't have either the time or the money for constant maintenance.

ThirdCat, quelle nightmare. Are the Abu Dhabi horror stories about the desal/hair falling out thing, or are these two separate iss-yews?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Anon, comments crossed. Fark, that's quite a story you have there. Hope you are well on the way back to the land of health.

Anonymous said...

Family background of early grey-ers.
Granny went the blue route. Dad (good looking well set up) looked so good with greying, and by 40 full thick wavy silver hair.

Mother's family by contrast retained their hair colour well into senior years - but the colour went dull and dusty looking.

So when the first streak of grey appear in the boring mouse, at age 17 (that's right - 17 !), for a few years I did home colour rinses, heading to the red shades.

Quickly got sick of that, and just decided to let nature do her worst which turned out to be her best.
By the time I was 30 if I went to a new hairdresser she would want to know who did the beautiful job of 'streaks', it looked so natural.

By 40 I had a full, thick wavy head of silver white hair, which actually looked quite spectacular when well cut and well maintained.
I think condition is more important than colour.

Am now rapidly approaching 67 - just realised that in the first week of January, I will celebrate the 50th anniversary of my Driver's Licence.

Personal choice....

Gae, in Callala Bay

Anonymous said...

I've done the salon routine (expensive!) and the home routine (oooh, bad for hair over long run) for years (um, decades) and grew increasingly unhappy with the stupendous waste of effort, especially what it said about my own vanity. When I was laid up with a broken leg, I took the opportunity to grow out the colour, and now I LOVE my silver streaks. Like anonymous, I feel I've earned it. Bonus: it turns off the wrong kind of guys and tends to authenticate me to the right kind.

Anonymous said...

Much better thanks. Moving more freely than I have in yonks. Sorry, I wasn't after the sympathy vote, it just tickled my (black) sense of humour to offer another alternative to the dilemma.

Elsewhere007 said...

Not much to add here, except when you go wrong with dyeing, you can go very wrong and take ages to grow/cut it out.

I think it's all a matter of skin tone as to whether grey hair or whatever dye colour suits you. I strongly suspect grey hair doesn't go well with a fair skin tone like mine, but each to their own. Many people dye their hair with colours that are too harsh (blacks and strident reds). A half artificial, half natural look can look good (even gayboy hairdressers will comment favourably on this one). I also think it's a lot of fun, farting around with different colours. But don't go the streaks--'panels' of colour, maybe.

I think it's remarkable that you've only just started to go grey now.

Red Horse said...

Try a short style of hair cut. After a lifetime of long (ish) hair I've recently chopped my locks and the effect is miraculous. I look much younger. It was the length of my hair that was ageing me, not the colour. Go short and go natural. If you don't like it you can always grow it out and colour it.

Lesley said...

I was a very dark brunette and have light olive skin. I wish I could have back all the dosh I spent on hair colouring! I coloured for 20 years until last year I finally persuaded my hairdresser to stop. I went the streaky blonde route to grey and it's been really liberating!
No more grey roots - they would show within days of colouring (notice I never say dye) and I loathed it.
My fear of grey was not about the age factor (I'm 56), but looking washed out. I worried the grey would suck the colour from my skin and make me look tired and worn. In fact, it's the opposite. I love it! And suddenly a host of new colours look good on me.
Should have done it years ago.
I do feel sorry for the woman above whose family are allowed to influence how she wears her hair. I have a friends my age whose husbands insist they keep their hair long when the women want to go short. Fuck that, I say.

Nici said...

I've done all three of these options after going grey in my thirties. I found my first grey hairs the night after giving birth to twins.
The professional dye is a big expensive committment. I prefer to use a rinse or semi-permanent when I feel like it. That way, you can let it grow out and be grey if you can't be bothered with the dying. I left my undyed for about four straight years but then got sick of the grey. I'm just about to do it again after about six months.
Admittedly, there are a few splodges in the bathroom but not nearly as many as when my daughter is living at home and dying her hair bright red.
Nici xx

genevieve said...

From what I see, you have a fine Anglo-Irish complexion to show off there, Kerryn - just chop it off!!! the dye is a pill and a half, and the only downside of shortness is getting up quickly with bed hair to get the paper.

People are still telling me how much they like my hair short with grey bits and I like it myself. The hairdresser keeps telling me to keep it short and grey.
Duck, just cut some of it off yourself one day and then go and have a tidy up, say, 'oh dear, I really didn't mean to cut that much off...'Don't tell them you already booked the appointment, of course.
Regrettably there is no dye that covers rosacea with dry skin topping...is there? though mineral makeup comes close I guess.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yes, I've had short to very short hair for much of my life and have always liked it a lot. But I know from all that experience that, like colour, it actually takes a lot of maintenance -- short hair can go from gorgeous spiky pixie to shapeless blah inside the space of a week. The huge advantage of longer hair is that it actually takes less of the more expensive kind of maintenance.

Mindy said...

I really started greying at about 35 but mostly it seems to be underneath the top layer of dark hair at the moment (not yet 40 but close). I do occassionally get it coloured, but pretty close to my natural colour and only a semi so it gradually washes out rather than leaves a tide mark. I've been getting a bit of red in it lately in honour of Julia but it's always a bit full on for the first week or so until the colour settles and looks more natural. I agree that finding a really good hairdresser makes all the difference. A good cut is really what you need, regardless of colour.

Semi colours are cheaper than permanents I think and if you get something close-ish to your eyebrow colour it generally looks fairly natural. (I think).

JahTeh said...

I've tried, really tried to let it go natural but all I get is a white halo around the front and the rest is a mess of grey, brown, white. Since I've always believed I was meant to be a redhead, I'm sticking with the dye jobs especially when a little old lady in the street tells me she felt happy looking at the sunlight bouncing off my hair. For a fat 62 year old, that was like winning Tattslotto.

Anonymous said...

My hair is brown and white, having experimented with all the options mentioned above over the last 15 years or so (we're early greying people in my family) I've arrived at the natural colour, more regular cuts option. It does, as you say, require more time in the hairdresser but now that I get my hair cut in the country rather than the inner city I can afford to do it twice as often.

Unknown said...

Great discussion! I'm at least motivated to *do* something now: phone the hairdresser! My current solution is to scoop up the grey hairs into the still-mostly-dark-mousey-brown ponytail or big plastic comb-clip. Not the most sophisticated look on the planet, I do concede. I'd say I got around to seeing Liam maybe four times a year, which means the potential for transformation each time is pretty big.

WV: prosalor sounds like an expensive hair care product you buy on your way out of the salon..

birdmonkey said...

Like Gae and others I started going grey early- 21 and now at 42 I am 100% at the front and 50% at the back, with, what was fabulous Auburn hair, faded to average brown.
I know what you mean about the aesthetic issue. I didn't start dying my hair still my mid 30s- the rest of me was no younger "youthful" and I couldn't carry it so easily.
I have professional foils- not many- of black put in just below the crown- that way the grow back looks ok till about 4months- I'm broke an busy so its every 6 months. its a bit rock chick on me, but I know other older women who carry it more fashionista.

Although I second Ampersandduck- the cut is everything.

Fine said...

I go the expensive salon route. I like the look of it and I have a hairdresser I trust, so it's something worth spending money on, for me.

I actually enjoy my trips to the hairdressers as a bit of down. The mobile is off. I gorge on 'Who Weekly' and 'Marie Claire'. Lovely young women bring me coffee. What's not to like?

I've had attacks of guilt that it's all a dreadful waste of money. But, I enjoy it and it's one of the few major expenditure items in terms of keeping my appearance in check.

Fine said...

Just to add, dyeing my hair isn't about not going grey for me. I've dyed my hair since I was a teenager. It's just an ingrained habit. I've ben every colour imaginable. I'm still not going grey, butI wouldn't go to the hairdressers without getting a colur job.

susoz said...

Home dye isn't less hard on the hair - it's the opposite. When I was home-dyeing about a decade ago, my hair noticably lost quality. Deciding to stop dyeing and let my hair be its natural white was relatively easy, because I got back healthy hair and I stopped having that embarrassing regrowth stripe.
But if, like you, I weren't very grey, I'd go the foils route - a good colourist would divide your hair into threes, and dye one part brown, one part a lighter brown/blonde and leave the final third alone. That would disguise the grey without having a harsh, too-dark colour - a softer look that avoids the regrowth stripe.
Good luck!

ThirdCat said...

Sorry, the first comment wasn't clear...the horror stories are about visits to the hairdresser and especially the hair dye stories which are numerous and horrendous. So I just don't dye my hair anymore.

As for the desal, I'm not sure that it makes hair fall out so much as it damages hair, so that it breaks and snaps.

It's a long way to go, but I know a truly brilliant hairdresser in Berri.

I love changing my hair colour. It's fun. I blame Annie Lennox - I spent about five years of my life trying to be her in red-hair stage.

David Irving (no relation) said...

My ex-missus started going grey in her twenties. She never bothered with colour and now, at 56, she's just about white. It looks quite interesting, particularly as it's half-way down her back.

I just wish someone had some useful suggestions for male pattern baldness :( Frankly, I'd rather be grey.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

All the coolest bald(ing) dudes simply cut it a quarter of an inch long or shave it altogether. Be bold.

M-H said...

I have been colouring my hair (or rather, having it coloured) since i was in the my early 30s - I'm 59 now. In my twenties the colour changed from rich brown to a darker, dull colour. I haven't got much grey, but what came in didn't improve it; it started looking a kind of dead steely grey. As I had auburn hair as a child and my skin is very fair it made me look rather pale. I've gone the 'tortoise-shell' route, which gives my skin a better colour. But I've kept the base colour fairly dark (I got them to take quite a lot of the red out of it recently) so that it's not that different from the natural colour, just a bit richer, and the regrowth isn't very obvious. Of course it's clear that it's not natural, but like Deborah I don't care. It's a fun thing. A bit of grey appears at the temples when I need 'my roots done'. I like it and will keep doing it for as long as I can.

My mother's hair went the same unattractive steely colour; she never went white, even into her eighties. I envy people with white hair like my partner. She had that blue-black Irish hair, and started going attractively grey in her twenties. She now has a wonderful head of snow-white waves.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

M-H, oh yes, it's the luck of the draw what colour and texture it turns. I know someone I'd always thought of as a pretty little woman with a brown bob -- hadn't seen her for some years and then caught up with her last year, by which time she was well into her sixties, and from being a pretty little woman with a brown bob she had become this amazing looking creature with a Judi Dench pixie cut to her now beautiful shimmery silvery-white hair -- and the cut and colour between them sparked up what I had never realised before was gorgeous bone structure and electrifying blue eyes.

Fyodor said...

"My ex-missus started going grey in her twenties. She never bothered with colour and now, at 56, she's just about white. It looks quite interesting, particularly as it's half-way down her back.

I just wish someone had some useful suggestions for male pattern baldness :( Frankly, I'd rather be grey."

Copy the ex-wife, dude.



Mindy said...

Your request to URL "http://www.mulletjunky.com/skullet.htm" has been blocked because it is listed under categories (Humor/Comics, Profanity), which is not in compliance with the ***Operations security policy and privacy practices.

Hmmm, what exactly have you pointed us to there Fyodor?

Fyodor said...

"Hmmm, what exactly have you pointed us to there Fyodor?"

I could tell you, ma'am, but then I'd have to kill you.

"***Operations security policy and privacy practices"

More importantly, Mindylicious, where tee eff are YOU working? The Bungendore Bunker?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

If that five-inch scar is anything to go by, the dude with the Alien Skullet has at some time taken a really fearsome blow to the head. Which would explain a lot.

Mindy said...

No, Fyodear, I'm at Yass. We just have a really full on IT 'I don't think so, what are you looking at that for!' net nanny system.

Anonymous said...

Herbatint. Experiment with mixing colours. No pong, less chemicals. Slightly in a "will I continue" moment - a cousin with terminal cancer, a colleague who pulled me into a meeting room before leaving work tonight and said "I have breast cancer". We had only been discussing HRT the other day - me against, she for. She is 48 and described the ageing process is cruel. I think I might let the Herbatint go. And my colleague and cousin - well, one is grey, one is dyed blonde.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

The ageing process is indeed cruel; never mind the 'appearance' fuss that women are still obliged to make, there's also, as you point out, the fact that the body starts to fail you. And, to my absolute horror, occasionally the spirit as well.

furious balancing said...

I have to do a chemical safety course every few years for work. They always like to surprise newbies by asking them to line up chemicals from least toxic, through to most toxic. I think I've seen this exercise about 5 times now and it's interesting to watch the reactions when a well known herbicide is the least toxic chemical and eucayptus oil is on a par with home hair dye as most toxic. Later in the day we run through all the protective gear we need to use the herbicide. I'm usually the only female in these courses and
most of the others are farmers so I'm probably alone in my pondering about the irony of having to do a 3 day workshop to safely use substances significantly less toxic than what I willingly put on my scalp for a couple of years.

I'm also mousey, I have a few greys, but I also have blonde bits that in certain weather curl in such a manner that can't be tamed. My hairdresser who, bless her, let's the curls do their own thing, says that having some texture and highlights from the errant blonde bits means that the gradual greying should work okay for me. Hope so.

There have been times where I've really enjoyed the androgyny of having a crew cut and would happily do that again, so that is my plan B.

dogpossum said...

I'm 36 and am going quite seriously grey. But I still colour my hair pretty serious shades of red and cut it all very short, because I like the colour changes and I can't be bothered with long hair. People usually assume from looking at me that I'm in my 20s, but I think the grey hair would change that.
It wouldn't bother me, though.

I figure I'll colour it til I'm tired of nuking my skull, then do something interesting. I wish it was solidly grey.

I have a friend my age who went solidly grey in her 20s. She has long, white, silver-white hair, very dark eyes and eyebrows and olive skin, and is quite striking. On a few occasions I have seen men approach her on the street just to say "You are very beautiful" and then flee in fear of their own temerity.

Now, of course, I'm wondering when my pubes will go grey, and whether I'll notice when my armpit hairs do. I won't bother dying them. :D