Friday, 26 September 2014

Grey is the new black: Why I won't be dying my hair to cover my greys


Recently, like many other people of my age, I've been seeing an increasing number of noticeable, white strands amongst my otherwise almost all black hair. I've always had the odd few here and there. I discovered the first one when I was nine so white hairs have never been a big deal for me, until now. I once considered my espresso coloured hair a blessing because it was always ultra shiny and healthy looking but recently it's been more like a curse. For people with hair like me, white hairs, some or many, stand out significantly.

'But why am I bothered?' I keep asking myself. Because it makes me look old? Which isn't true, I often get told I look younger than I am aaaand, 28 isn't old anyway! But for many people, going grey does make them feel old. An article by The Daily Mail Online suggests that one in three women instantly feel old when they discover they have grey hairs.

When I sit and think about it I really don't understand why having more noticeable white hairs is starting to bother me when I don't look or feel old. This feeling is obviously ingrained into me because the hair dye adverts on T.V are telling me how well they cover up greys. Basically, these adverts are saying that grey hairs aren't great. Plus the fact that most of my family dye their hair. My mum dyes her hair (sorry mum), my dad dyes his hair, my grandma sometimes dyes her hair black (this looks pretty funny) and I'm sure a whole bunch of other people I know dye their hair to cover their greys.

I've never been one to dye my hair. I experimented with home dye kits when I was younger and I do love the way that people can change their hair colour when the mood takes them. I've always envied people who have the kind of obedient hair that that turns into whichever colour they tell it to become. However, I don't dye my hair because a) my hair is so stubborn and dark that it's never been anything but tinted a different colour, and b) I just can't be bothered. My hair colour has always been my hair colour and for the majority of my life, I've been happy with that. So why oh why should I dye my hair for the sake of a few strands of white?! I was thinking this as I was plucking one of those pesky little strands out of my poor head. And yes, I understand that ten more may now attend it's funeral.

I then decided to do a bit of research and typed 'white hair' into Google. The first thing that came up was the snippet from Google's image bank stock showing fashion photographs of models with uber-cool, all white hair styles. Not so drab looking at all. This was followed by a wikihow link on 'how to get white hair'. Yes, people actually want white hair. Now I'm thinking, maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all. Then I came across a website called White Hot; a British company and movement that's dedicated to developing specialist hair products for people 'who have chosen to embrace their natural white and grey hair'.

Now I know my hair isn't quite at that stage yet, but I was happily surprised at the company's positive take on going white/grey naturally. Yes, the company is there to sell products to their niche market but the movement aspect of the brand is pretty awesome. Their twitter page guided me on to many articles written by people that explained their reasons for going grey. Albeit, most of them are in their 60's but still, their message is relevant to people of my age too. Grey hair does not have to suggest that you are getting old. As I've discovered myself, white hair can be fashionable and as Margaret Manning points out in her post 60 Shades of Grey: Why more women are going grey gracefully! it's the way you think and act that makes you look old (or not).

It doesn't just stop with hair either. There's a whole 'pro-aging' movement happening right now. I just recently came across this term coined by Cindy Joseph, a 63 year old make up artist and model, in an article featured in issue 238 of the Stylist magazine. Written by Joanna McGarry, she explores a shift in the beauty industry. An industry that used to define beauty with terms such as 'youthful' and 'anti-aging' is now starting to cater for woman that are happy to embrace the lines on their skin, and the more I look for positive attitudes towards ageing the more I find it. Think about the 'Pro age' range by Dove or fashion/beauty campaigns that feature the likes of Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltro and Jennifer Anniston - all women over the age of 40.

When I was reading that particular issue of Stylist magazine on my lunch break, my colleague walked past me and upon seeing me reading a beauty column she said, 'the only way you'll avoid wrinkles, Rina is if you live like a nun. I have wrinkles on my face and every single one of them was worth it!' I admired, Norma, for her frankness but more than anything, I admired her for accepting herself the way she is and being proud of the lines she's achieved through actually living her life.

So, I've confirmed what I probably already knew in the first place: That I am okay with my white hairs, that there's nothing actually wrong with having white hairs and I don't have to dye my hair to cover them up. So here's to going grey (or white) gracefully and joining the revolution of other women (and men) that are choosing to go grey, to those people who are happy with how they look and feel whatever their age and to fellow revolutionaries that are helping to break down these crazy myths and taboos associated with getting older. I only hope this feeling lasts!

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