Terry’s Lovely Long Gray Hair
So many women fear that gray hair will make them look dowdy, but all you have to do is see Terry’s gorgeous long gray hair to know that’s absolutely not the case. She rocks the silver! Terry is from the USA and has been dye-free for almost 4 years. You can find her on Instagram here: @gray.and.beyond
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When did you first notice your gray hair and how did you feel about it?
I first noticed it at around 20, 21 years old. There were 2 to 4 white strands hidden away around the top of each ear. I was embarrassed because I didn’t want people to know I had gray hair. I thought there was something wrong with me, like all of a sudden I was turning old, because people associated gray hair with old age.
How did your friends or family react?
Initially, my gray hair wasn’t visible, being on the inside. So friends and family probably never noticed it unless it was tucked behind the ear or got pulled up and back. It was “out of sight, out of mind” kind of hair. If they were bothered by it, it wasn’t mentioned to me. I was glad my hair was never a topic of conversation or perceived as a negative thing.
Fast forward to today: My husband prefers my hair dyed. He thinks gray hair is “old hair”. I would get frustrated trying to convince him otherwise. So we agree to disagree. But he has been supportive of my gray hair journey despite his preference.
How many years did you dye?
I dyed on and off at home for about 20 years. I first dyed it shortly after discovering those white strands. At some point in college, I was OK with having gray hair. By the end of college, I had at least 2 visible white strands on top of my head. If I dyed the hair, it was mostly to cover up the dryness and split ends. (That was the one nice thing I observed about hair dye, at least on my hair).
It was after undergraduate college that I received comments that made me feel insecure about my gray hair. Over a span of 8-10 years, 3 comments stood out: “Gray hair makes a person look dirty”, “gray hair makes a person look old”, “gray hair makes a person look unprofessional.”
Although not all were directed at me, they still hurt enough that I caved and dyed my hair solely to cover up my grays, either to prove them wrong or to prove them right about gray hair.
What made you decide to stop dyeing?
Around October/November of 2014, I looked in the mirror and couldn’t stand seeing roots of black and white and the rest of my hair dirty blonde, light brown, and whatever else. I only wanted two colors on my head, even if it meant one of the colors was not desirable by society. It was as if my inner voice spoke so clearly this time that I didn’t need to prove anything about gray hair to anybody anymore. It was time I did this for me! So what if people think gray hair is this and that?
How did you transition?
Once I made up my mind to stop dyeing, I stopped cold turkey. Between working long hours and attending to a toddler at the time, I didn’t have much time to fuss over my hair, so time passed by fairly quickly. I did feel alone in my journey. I didn’t have friends or family who were embracing their grays. And I didn’t have an Instagram account or belong to any Facebook groups. I didn’t know if other people were going through the same struggles.
How long did it take and how do you feel about it?
3 years and 7 months. I’m probably one of the few ladies who decided to let it grow out for a long time. I’m so happy with my natural hair color now. For once I feel like it could breathe better and no longer be a prisoner stuck underneath all that dye. It’s natural from ROOTS to TIPS (except for the remaining 1-2 inches of dye). It has not been dye free with this much length since it was first dyed back in college. Finally, I got my 2 colors!
Any products that you would recommend?
I’m a wash-n-go girl so I use minimal products. I use sulfate-free products. Currently, I’m using Loreal, Shea Moisture, and Renpure shampoos and conditioners. I rotate between products and mix and match using them, sometimes.
Did you use any online resources for helping you in your transition?
After about 2 years or so of growing out my hair, I started watching videos of other ladies growing out their grays like Susan Paget. She had a whole series of videos revealing her grays at different stages of growth. I loved listening to her positive voice and feeling her positive energy. It was not until late 2016 that I discovered Grombre on Instagram. I saw photos and read stories of ladies who had similar struggles/frustrations. This community page allowed me to be connected to other ladies of different backgrounds and cultures across the United States and internationally. I didn’t feel alone in my journey after that.
Did you find that going gray also prompted you to make other big changes in your life?
I could have completed the transition at year 1 or year 2 but waited until another goal was accomplished first. I actually started both goals around the same time, but decided to bundle the two together after a year so I could be held accountable for both. That was why I waited longer to complete the transition. But it was so worth it! I had my eyes on the prize and was not tempted to cut my hair. It was a win-win because I wanted longer hair, too.
Final thoughts? Any advice you would give to women who are thinking about going gray?
If you are thinking about going gray, please consider the following:
1 . With any new lifestyle change you make, it may take a few tries; it requires YOUR right time!
2. Not everyone will be supportive, so expect to hear the worst comment ever, and be ready with a great response and don’t let it affect you.
3. It should not be the focal point of your life…keep yourself busy with other projects/activities or bundle it with another goal like I did. All this will make your transition time go by quicker.
4. Take photos of different stages of growth, 3-month, 6-month, etc. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey. It really does go by fast.
Cheers and Happy Growth!
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Katie is the founder of Katie Goes Platinum. After constantly dyeing her hair for over 25 years, in 2018 Katie decided to stop the madness and embrace the gray. Since then, she’s been sharing her favorite gray hair tips, resources, and stories to empower women to feel beautiful during and after their transition to gray hair.