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Inside: Frankie, aka @naturally_silver on Instagram, shares her grey hair transition story.
My name is Francesca. I am 35 years old and I live in Ontario, Canada. I am married and we have two young children. I enjoy art, music, movies, and I happen to have grey hair.
I was 13 years old when I found my first few greys poking out of my dark brown hair.
Those few hairs looked different. They were wiry, unruly, and they stuck straight up! I needed them gone. For many years thereafter, I hid those pesky grey hairs with dye.
I have been every “natural” colour except my own…until now! I dyed my hair for over 20 years until one day I put an end to it.
Years back, in searching Pinterest for new hairstyle and colour ideas I came across photos of women dyeing their hair silver and I thought, “wow! That looks great.”
Frankie’s Grey Hair Inspiration
Not long after that, I stumbled upon Grombre on Instagram. Seeing so many people on Grombre of all ages with their natural colour variations made me really have the desire to see what my own natural colour would look like.
These groups and accounts helped out in ways I did not realize I even needed. I developed connections with people who are very supportive and encouraging.
In the groups, questions I would not even think to ask would be asked which would spark new thoughts and questions:
- How do I keep my hair from yellowing?
- What should I do in the sun?
- What can I use to protect myself from heat damage?
- Best products for grey hair?
- Haircut ideas? etc!
In December of 2018, I was 4 months into my hair grow out when I decided to start my own Instagram account devoted to photos of my hair journey.
My Instagram account is my place to show how my hair is changing over time, how I style it, new haircuts and fun wash-out colours.
I use Instagram to get inspiration from others and have come to see that others are gaining inspiration from me as well which definitely feels great.
As I posted my progress, I received many messages from people wanting tips from me and letting me know how I have inspired them.
It was very heartwarming and made me feel like there is a bigger aspect to this than just changing your hair colour:
We are a group of people supporting each other world-wide, we are promoting loving your natural, authentic self and with that comes a sense of belonging and self-assurance.
MY HAIR HISTORY
As a young girl, finding grey hair made me feel self-conscious, embarrassed and unattractive.
My father went completely white in his mid-thirties. He tried everything he could to hide the colour of his hair but he had an allergy to dye so he was forced to embrace his colour.
My mother would dye her hair at the salon. Everyone I knew would hide the grey so I knew that was also my path. At first, I had so much fun going to the salon, picking out colours and also doing it myself at home with a box of dye.
SALON VISITS BECAME A CHORE
As the years went on, it became more of a chore than anything else.
If too much time passed between root touch-ups I felt anxious and embarrassed and it was not all internal. On a few occasions, I had friends remind me it was time for a touch-up. Like, thanks Karen, I had no idea *sarcastic eye roll*.
Awkward glances to the top of my head were the norm at week 3 after my last dye.
At the salon, my stylist would be astonished at the amount of grey I had coming through at my age which made me feel very unlucky.
Some colours would not even take as I had “stubborn” greys. I would have to keep the colour on longer and sometimes go darker so that I would get full coverage.
To think of all the time and money spent on my hair!
I would go roughly 8 times per year and would spend 2.5 hours at the salon (sometimes more than that). Between the ages or 13-34 that equals 168 visits, 420 total hours which is 17.5 days!
The average cost per visit was approximately $200, which means I spent close to $30,000 just on my hair over the years.
DECIDING TO DITCH THE DYE
So, what made me finally decide to ditch the dye?
Well, it was not a decision I made quickly. A few years ago, I noticed people starting to dye their hair silver or grey and calling it “granny hair” (blegh! Not a fan of that term).
I decided it looked good on others, but it probably would not look good on me. The thought of it never completely left my mind and my curiosity continued to grow.
In May 2017 I began having my hair lightened to better blend with the greys coming in, as I was tired of the harsh look of grey roots on solid dyed brown hair.
There was still a demarcation line as my stylist was adding in highlights and brown colour to the base.
We tried several things, but what worked best was a semi-permanent brown base. The base faded which allowed for a softer demarcation line and the blonde highlights on top… still, I was not completely satisfied.
I got a glimpse of my natural colour at my temples as the semi-permanent colour wore off. It was not what I expected. I expected wiry, coarse, wild. On the contrary, it was soft, pretty, shimmery, next to the flat yellow-y blonde of my dyed hair.
I decided I was going to grow it out and if in the end, I didn’t like it, I could always dye it again.
My last colour was on July 27, 2018. I planned to colour again in September but by then I was set in my decision to grow it out.
In November 2018 I got a lot of the colour chopped off. My new length was to my chin in the front and at the nape of my neck. It was pretty well buzzed.
It felt amazing, I’ve never had such a short cut. My goal with this was to cut off as much of the dye as I felt comfortable with but then to grow my hair long again.
REACTIONS TO MY GREY HAIR
In the beginning, reactions varied from people not voicing their opinion at all to being downright rude. I only really had one friend who seemed to be excited about the idea (Thanks, May!).
Now that time has passed, I think people have come to like it and I have a lot more support. As far as I can tell those same naysayers seem to have come around …but even if they don’t like it, oh well, I do!
I get compliments on my natural colour quite often, mostly from strangers passing by or acquaintances at work. I have been asked if I dye my hair silver on several occasions and when I explain it is my own colour they are amazed!
MY GREY HAIR JOURNEY ON INSTAGRAM
I am documenting my natural hair colour journey on Instagram.
It has been one year into this process and I am still excited by it.
In all honesty, I may take a few too many selfies but that seems to be the norm amongst us silver sisters in the process of growing it out!
Some days I think, “what am I doing?? Do I like this??” But then I think of the alternative and I remember that I definitely do not want to go back to root touch-ups.
Even when my hair was any of the other colours it has been I had days I did not like my hair… that’s probably why I changed the colour entirely once and a while.
There was a nice feeling associated with a new look and perhaps that will be the only thing I miss about dyeing my hair. I think a new haircut or even a new outfit could fill that void.
MY GREY HAIR TIPS & TRICKS
Purple shampoo is my go-to item for combatting yellowing grey hair.
So far, I have only tried Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo & Conditioner. It works well but is drying, so I only use it once a week. (I’m pretty sure all purple shampoos are drying).
Sometimes, I add fun colours like pink or purple to mask some of the remaining dyed areas of my hair.
I also use Ion Weekly Blonde Boosting Treatment. It’s a purple conditioning treatment that removes brassiness and also helps to condition dry hair – it’s a double whammy!
The best thing (I find) for dry, unruly hair is to use one pump of either Moroccan Oil or Argan oil at the same time as your conditioner in the shower. The hot shower water makes your hair more porous and allows the oil to penetrate the hair shaft.
I still use heat on my hair but I want to get away from that. Heat can cause damage and yellowing to our gorgeous white locks.
ADDING FUN COLORS TO MY GREY HAIR
Another product I use is Arctic Fox Hair Colour. It is semi-permanent (washes out after 5-10 washes), vegan and they have many fun vibrant colours.
When I say vibrant, I mean it! So be careful! If you want a pastel colour then mix it with a pastelizer.
You can even mix Arctic Fox colours to get new shades. I have just been applying these colours to my blonde ends. They work best on bleached hair but I find it takes to the grey hair as well and seems to wash out faster on those areas.
Always do a strand test with any colour you apply and get an idea of how many washes it will take to fade away. I have heard of situations where the hair becomes permanently stained.
DYEING YOUR HAIR GREY? IT’S NOT THAT EASY
I personally do not recommend dyeing your hair grey as a mode of getting there quicker or as a way of easing the demarcation line.
I have two reasons for not liking this method, my first and most important reason is that it is hard to maintain.
First, if your hair does not hold on to toner well (mine does not) then the grey will wash out very quickly. When I attempted this, it washed away with one shampoo. (Typically toner lasts two to three weeks if your hair holds the toner well.)
My second reason for not liking this route is that I feel you are missing out on the journey aspect of growing out your hair.
If the grey toner takes well to your hair and or you are willing to keep it up, your transition is complete in the snap of a finger. That may be exactly what you want and if that is true then go for it.
For me, the journey of growing out my hair has been quite educational and eye-opening.
HOW GOING GREY HAS CHANGED ME
I had no idea going grey would change any other aspect of my life other than just the colour of my hair but it did.
It prompted me to care less about what others think about me. I went against the norm and I did it for me. Even when important people’s opinions did not match up with my own, I stuck to my desire to go through with this.
I feel confident with something that made me self-conscious my entire adolescent and adult life. I am now owning it.
I feel more “me” now than ever before. Along with my new found-confidence, I gained strength and freedom. I am now my authentic self.
I feel that I’m part of a revolution breaking a long-standing social construct that grey means old.
ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT DITCHING THE DYE?
Hey, you reading this, yes you! If you are thinking about growing your hair out, do it! And give it a fair shot.
You may not like it at first when there are only a couple inches of growth so give it at least 6 months or longer if you can. What is the worst thing that can happen? If you do not like it, you can dye it again.
There is no right or wrong way to get to the end result either, you can buzz your head or get a short cut. You can get highlights like I had, or go cold turkey and watch that demarcation line as it gets further and further away from your scalp.
I think going grey cold turkey with dark hair may be the hardest way to do it but it’s also possibly the most rewarding in the end because of how drastic of a change you can see month to month.
No matter which way you choose to do it, what you will end up with is one healthy head of hair that is all you!
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