Transition Story: Theonita Bowman
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How old were you when you discovered your first gray hair?
15. I noticed a long white streak in the middle of my forehead. I thought it was cool because it made me look different from my other classmates
How did your friends/family make you feel about going gray?
The only family members who had issues with my gray hair were two sisters who kept asking me when I was going to dye my hair.
How many years did you dye?
I dyed my hair for years! I started dyeing on a regular basis when I was in my late twenties. One white streak was good, but gray hair peeking out from the sides and crown wasn’t okay to me at the time.
At first, I spent lots of money and time at the salon only to see the gray peeking out after a few days when I’d wash my face. Later on, when I cut all of my hair off, I went back and forth for a while with color until I was sick and tired of coughing like crazy from the chemical fumes when I’d do my hair at home!
What made you decide to stop dyeing?
The cost and the toxic fumes.
How are you transitioning?
I’m already done! My ex-husband buzzed me in 2008. When he cut it all off it was completely gray at that point. I would still dye it from time to time, but I grew to really like my gray hair, especially when I’d get nice compliments.
Once I fully accepted my gray hair, I grew it out really long and used a hair stylist. I allowed her to apply a chemical relaxer to make my tightly coiled, curly hair straight. Relaxing the hair is not a pleasant experience either, and there can be a lot of hair breakage and dryness associated with the process.
Anything you do NOT recommend?
Dyeing and relaxing the same day, no, nope! If you decide to relax your hair, then stick with one chemical process. You should also know that relaxers are very high maintenance and costly!
Any products that you recommend for fully gray hair?
Choose products which offer optimal moisturizing benefits. I have used Shea Moisture products in the past, and they are good for curly hair.
I like products without parabens, sulfates, or other products which dry out your hair. Since I’m sporting a buzz cut now, I’ve started using “As I Am” a co-wash conditioning treatment. I’m loving it so far. I like to be very low maintenance these days with the summer heat!
Did you use any online resources to help you with your transition?
I like to check out Pinterest – it offers a huge range of hairstyles and gray-haired beautiful women from which to seek inspiration.
Did going gray change you?
Yes, going gray has been the ultimate confidence booster! I walk differently as I greet the world. I love my gray hair and I will not change a thing on this journey.
Final thoughts? Any advice to women who are thinking about going gray?
Like that Nike ad from long ago, “just do it”! Rock it and don’t look back. It’s not easy when you look in the mirror for the first time with gray/white hair: It scared me!