Growing out my silver hair wasn’t just about the choice to ditch the dye. The entire journey of going gray taught me several things. It changed more than just my appearance; I changed mentally, emotionally, and socially. I have learned some things I never would have even imagined during the process. I hope that this will be of some inspiration for those of you new to the journey.
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I learned more about ME. The journey of going gray helped me learn more and more about me. It allowed me to start picking out who I was; it helped me throw out more things in my life that weren’t me. Authenticity was something I had been working on for over a decade, but something happened while transitioning my hair, it felt like I had made a massive leap into who I was. I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do make A New Year Focus, one year around this journey I told the universe that I wanted to focus on Authenticity, I wanted to let go of any relationships or choices in my life that weren’t aligned with authenticity. It was powerful; people disappeared out of my life. Stressful situations dissolved. In most of the cases, nothing ever “happened” it all just went away. I claimed a space in my career path that I had just been edging around, and I went for it. I had been designing websites behind the scenes for other people for over 10 years, so I started my own design business. Since then I have built or rebuilt about a dozen sites. In addition, QuickSilverHair was born of this evolution of me. I started taking more leaps in career, health, lifestyle, and it all just started shifting.
Coming into an authentic version of yourself requires moving past all the noise, all the influence, all the push from the outside in. It means checking in with your beliefs and making sure, they are YOUR beliefs. Belief that we look older with gray hair is a myth propagated by ad agencies in the 40’s and 50’s that figured out their best customer demographic was the housewife. Ultimately, it is all just noise, and as Bethenny says in her book; ignoring the noise allows your inner self a louder voice.
“…your noise has a counterpart: it is your voice. Your voice knows what’s good for you and right for you and what is authentic to who you really are…and when you learn to hear it and ignore the noise, the noise gets quieter and the voice gets louder.” ~From A Place of Yes by Bethenny Frankel
Color of My Surroundings
I learned to let some color into my life. About midway through my gray hair transition, I realized I was going to have to clear out some of the more ‘fall’ colors from my wardrobe. What once went well with my faux red hair was no longer looking very nice on me. Rust, orange based browns, yellow side of beige, darker cream colors, they had to go. In all reality, that was a small section of my wardrobe. I tossed out my brown eyeliner and shifted to a little bit cooler makeup palate, but all in all it was really one eye liner pencil and a couple of brown eye shadows. Not a huge change, as with most of us, I was already wearing colors that played well with my skin tone, eyes, and hair. Don’t believe what everyone says about not being able to wear specific colors. I’ve heard never wear yellow, I have never worn yellow because I look like I have jaundice when I do, but I have seen amazing yellows looking stunning on silver sisters. So go with what works FOR YOU, hair color is only one factor to what colors you can wear. If you have a favorite color that isn’t quite right anymore shift shades, it can make a world of difference. I love green, I will never give it up, but now I am just careful the shade and hue are correct for my hair.
I was sitting in my living room one morning and had a startling thought, I was an artist, and my home didn’t have much color in it. So the transformation went way beyond the closet, the walls, the trim, the carpet, the couch, the chairs, the outside of our house were all shades of beige and brown. I do live in the southwest but I had completely succumbed to neutrals. My 40th birthday (five months into my journey) my husband asked me what I wanted, I wanted to redo our living room. We had an old, sad, hand-me-down raisin color couch; I replaced it with a dark teal velvet chesterfield. We had some well-worn, sun-bleached, little leather brown club chairs; I eventually refreshed those with some big comfy rich dark chocolate leather chairs. Little by little, as my hair became brighter so did my world. I learned my whole life needed brightening up.
On my journey of going gray, I learned to take selfies…loads, and loads, and loads of selfies. I rarely took a selfie, mostly to update my profile picture. As a photographer, I have usually been behind the lens instead of in front of it. I learned to enjoy this and get the best out of the images. I learned a few things that anyone can appreciate. Take the pictures; it helps you see your progress. Many women will confess to wishing they had taken more.
Position of Camera:
Raise your arm above your nose and eyes; shooting from below is unflattering in any photo no one wants to see your nose hair. LOL
Slightly tilt your head back, straighten your back, neck and shoulders. Untuck your chin.
Eventually you figure out where your best position is and you can take one or two rather than thirty pics. Go ahead though; take more than one picture with your head tilted in different directions. You can always delete the blurry and the weird faces.
Metering and Exposure:
If you are wearing white, you may have trouble with color accuracy as white is used to balance the meters in a camera. If you are standing in a yellowish undertone room, you will get a warm effect and if you are standing in a blue undertone room, you will get a cooling effect. The yellow square on the iPhone, if you tap it on your face in the camera, it meters on your face. The little slider next to that yellow square adjusts the exposure.
Go outside in natural daylight. Or find a room with a window in your home where you get good bright light, face the window, blinds up. You want the light to be coming from the side or from behind your camera, if you take images with light behind you it will create glare and sun flares. A lot of people prefer their cars, the reason is simple in a car you are surrounded by light filtering in from the windows but you are actually in the shade from the roof… makes for a winning combination.
Make sure, when you click, you are looking at the actual lens of the camera and not your image in the screen. Or if your head is turned look slightly down or slightly up.
Try to do at least a monthly shot so you know your progress. It can become discouraging when you can’t tell because you see yourself every day.
I don’t take nearly as many selfies as I did during the transition, I learned to just go with it and get that pic when I felt like I was looking bright and shiny. Remember somewhere out there, there are people who love your face and want those pictures of you more than you do.
“The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” ~Lady Bird Johnson
Accepting a Compliment
I learned how to accept a compliment on my journey of going gray. Before I transitioned, I was very shy about accepting compliments of any kind. If someone complimented me on my hair color, I always had it in the back of my mind that it wasn’t MY hair because it was dyed. Compliments on my curls have usually been attached to “I wish I had curly hair…” I always would think, “No you don’t, it is way more work than you think.” I had to learn how to say, “Thank you” to a compliment. Honestly, with practice, I learned genuinely to appreciate those compliments too. I also learned to dole them out. My family and friends have noticed this shift in acceptance as well. A compliment received without gratitude is like handing a gift giver a gift back and saying you don’t want it without even opening it.
“Accepting what others see as your strengths is crucial to your continued growth. Compliments are a gift. They are an opportunity for you and another person to connect in a powerful, positive way. How did you handle the last compliment directed at you? Did you accept it?” ~From Fearless Living by Rhonda Britten
Ignoring the Haters
On the flip side of the coin, I learned how to ignore the haters. I only had a few experiences with people saying things they really should have kept to themselves. I learned very early in life, that what other people think of me is none of my business. I tell people this all the time because it really works to realize you will still be you no matter what THEY think. Grab hold of those compliments and snuggle them tight to your heart because I’ve never heard someone give a fake compliment, but hateful comments are projections of that person’s own B.S. Who wants to hold onto someone else’s insecurities and hatefulness? Which brings me to the next point….let that shit go.
Investing Time in Letting Go
I learned that letting go is an art form. It happens in layers and evolves with each thing we let go of. We go through a process of not only dropping the dye and chemicals, but also looking at other toxic places or things in our lives and investing time in eliminating them. Cutting out dye was sort of the last phase for me of eliminating toxins from my life. Before I ditched the dye, I was already eating organic food, using organic cleaning products, I had stopped smoking, and I was growing an organic garden. It only made sense that I stopped dumping chemicals on my head. For some they begin to do this toxin off-load during their transition. Some let go of relationships. Some let go of jobs. Some let go of weight. It’s all dependent on your needs, but as I did, you will likely find yourself looking at the other things in your life that need letting go of.
“Changing ourselves, allowing ourselves to grow while others seek their own path, is how we have the most beneficial impact on people we love. We’re accountable for ourselves. They’re accountable for themselves. We let them go, and let ourselves grow.” ~From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie
Be Patient with Yourself
I learned to be patient, one more time; it’s a theme in my life. I have joked that by now I should have a doctorates degree in patience. Unless you shave your head, you need loads of patience, and even then, because you will have to grow it back out if you want too. This is a journey…it takes time. On average with a medium length grow out it will take almost two years. In that time, you will obsess; you will look in the mirror EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! to see how far you have come. Be patient with your hair and yourself.
One thing I tell everyone who suddenly wants to dye again or shave it off, wait it out a day or even two weeks, if you still feel that way then do it. Just give yourself a minute, usually the next day you won’t feel the way you did the day before trolling the hair dye aisles of Target for your normal shade.
My hair changed, curl, texture, shine
On this journey of going gray, I learned about my REAL hair. By the time I had the last of the dye clipped off I had to re-learn my hair. It was softer, shinier, but the texture wasn’t quite the same. No dye meant no damage. That meant as a curly girl I had to find a new Curly Girl Method—Holy Grail. It took me almost two years to get it right. I found some great lightweight products that really work for my hair. Found the Laura Routine, which helped me to apply them better. I had to adjust that even to fit MY needs.
I learned about worldwide friendships. Because I joined the Silver Circle I have made some of the most wonderful friendships…true friendships too. If you join a group on social media that supports you through this transition, you’ll find friends you never knew you needed or would have found otherwise. I have found common ground with everyone I have met who made the choice to ditch the dye and it is about way more than the hair. We’ve bonded through surgeries, cancer, divorce, grandbabies, moves, deaths, and many more life events. I found new friends in the same city and I found new friends across the globe. I can honestly say I have never had that with so many women in all my life.
“Any friend who enforces and contributes to our vision of our finest selves should be allowed to enter and stay in our lives.” ~From The Secret Lives of Wives by Iris Krasnow
I also learned that for myself this journey was an individual experience. I did it all MY way. And you will do it all YOUR way. There is no right or wrong way. We all made mistakes during the process. We all did shit that we regretted directly after. It is all just part of the experience. Not one person has the right to ‘should’ all over you about your hair or anything else in your life, for that matter.
If you want to bleach it down to a really light shade…do it. (Have a pro do it though; no need for your hair to fall out too.) If you want to do gray blending…do it. (Again, have a pro do it.) If you want to chop it all off or even shave it all off…do it. (It will grow back.) If you want to grow it slow and keep your length…do it.
The deal is, it is your hair, you have to live with it, and no one else can live it the way you have to live in it.
“Success means fulfilling your own dreams, singing your own song, dancing your own dance, creating from your heart and enjoying the journey, trusting that whatever happens, it will be OK. Creating your own adventure!” ~Elana Lindquist
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share.
As always it is about so much more than the hair.
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