By Nancy Hall10 Reasons to Go Gray
A look in the mirror told me it was time for a change. At 50, I had the auburn hair of a 35-year-old, but I was not that woman anymore-nor did I want to be. I'd taken up painting and bookbinding. I regularly traveled to the mountains for weeklong silent meditation retreats. I had earned my first-degree black belt in karate. I felt good in my own skin-why not in my own hair? That day I decided I'd only keep coloring if I could come up with three good reasons to. Instead, I thought of plenty of reasons to put down the dye. Gray? Bring it on!
1. Gray saves time and money. Life is short and gray hair is easy and (mostly) free. As my newly gray friend Maureen says, "I don't even want the stylist to spend time chatting with me. Cut it and let's go-I've got a life to live!" If I still had all the money in my pocket that I'd spent coloring my hair, I could take a European vacation…a nice one.
2. Gray is earth-friendly. We eat pretty low on the food chain at my house. We recycle. We avoid foods with unpronounceable ingredients. So why am I putting something called p-Phenylenediamine just a few millimeters from my brain eight times a year? Depending on the product you use, you might be smearing your noggin with lead, mercury, coal tar or formaldehyde. The jury's still out on how dangerous hair coloring may or may not be, but I'm through with putting an alphabet soup of potential toxins on my head-and down my drain into the groundwater.
3. Gray is the new black. Seen Helen Mirren's gorgeous silver locks lately? Or Nichelle Nichols's amazing shining gray? What about Emmylou Harris or Annie Lennox? Even singer/songwriter and rebel icon Patti Smith now has a head full of silver-and that really rocks.
4. Gray is flexible. Decided to try it? There are lots of approaches to converting-from stealth to cold turkey-and you can pick the one that fits your comfort level. Maggie Rose Crane, inspirational speaker and author of Amazing Grays: A Woman's Guide to Making the Next 50 the Best 50, describes four approaches to letting your gray grow wild:
• Eliminate the artificial color in one fell swoop by shaving your head.
• Wear a wig in your dyed color until your gray has grown long enough to cut off the old color.
• Have a professional colorist camouflage the transitioning hair with artfully placed lowlights as the gray grows in.
• Just wait out the growth, trimming off the old color until you're left with purest silver (a short haircut speeds the process along).
5. Gray is surprising. Letting your hair go gray is a little like searching for hidden treasure-you can't be sure at the outset what you're going to find at the end of the trail, but the journey is always interesting. I was lucky to find that my (current) real hair color is a shiny salt and pepper mix, and my friend Sue happily describes her chic gray hair as her "precious metals"-a little bit each of silver, gold and copper. Cathy Highland, a celebrity stylist with AIM Artists Agency in Beverly Hills, California, notes that if your gray hair is tinged with yellow, which is sometimes the case if your hair was naturally blond or a warm brunette, your colorist can correct this with salon treatments that bring out blue or violet rather than gold hues. This won't turn you into a blue-haired little old lady, but it will give your natural color a silvery shimmer.
6. Gray is sexy and sophisticated. Just three words: Jamie. Lee. Curtis.
7. Gray is powerful. Think about it. Would Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada be taken so seriously without that mane of snowy hair? Not so scary, but plenty powerful: Food Network chef and entrepreneur Paula Deen; Nobel Laureate and Princeton professor Toni Morrison; and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Many women find that they're taken more seriously in the workplace after they reveal their gray.
8. Gray goes with everything. My colored hair looked fine, but my graying, wiry eyebrows were beginning to give me away (and let's face it, the mismatch was weird). Once you go gray, you may also discover that your hair not only matches your eyebrows, but that it has a rich new texture and amazing shine. Highland notes that you can play up the beauty of your gray even more with gray-friendly clothing and makeup in cool tones from the blue (rather than the gold) end of the spectrum.
9. Gray is real. "We live in the United States of Advertising," says Crane, "in a society that worships youth and makes us afraid of aging." For many women, she adds, going gray is not as much about style as it is about attitude. Going gray lets us celebrate our wisdom and maturity and throw out the script that says older women can't be sexy and strong and happy. "Amazing grays confront the reality of getting older," she says, "and embrace the challenges in their lives."
10. Gray is just hair. Going gray doesn't have to be permanent unless you want it to be. Crane says that most of the women she met while writing her book were thrilled with their new gray hair, but one woman went back to coloring after someone assumed she was her elderly father's wife. But that's the beauty of it-you're in charge. As Crane notes, "It's not just about hair, but about how you want to live and creating a life that reflects the woman you've become."Photo: © iStockphoto
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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