Transition Story: Kim in Los Angeles
Kim, age 50, has a great attitude about her gray hair transition, which is especially inspiring as she is going gray in Los Angeles, one of the most image-conscious (and dare we say ageist?) cities in America!
I’ll never forget it; it was my Freshman year in college and a guy sitting behind me in one of my classes pulled a hair out of my head, showed it to me and said, “Hey! Didja know you had a gray hair?”
So began the battle.
I dyed my hair regularly for the next thirty years.
That meant a seat in a salon every four weeks, and for the last week and a half I’d have to use hair mascara.
That worked great, except my pillowcases and shirt collars had brown smudges on them and when I’d come in from a run I’d have to mop my hair part to keep the mascara from running down my face. Lovely!
So then it was a visit to the salon every three weeks and when I just got so sick of spending half my Saturdays and basically all my paycheck on my damn hair, I decided to start dyeing at home.
I didn’t trust box dye from the drugstore, so I spent hours on YouTube figuring out how to mix salon quality colors with different levels of developer (apologies to people who actually went to school for this…believe me, I never was great at it!)
I bought expensive color, gloves, bowls and brushes and just started coloring at home every 2 ½ weeks.
I’d recruit my boyfriend to get the roots at the back of my head where I couldn’t reach.
This was a source of great comedy for the both of us but one day he looked at me and said, “You know, I think you should just go gray. I think it would look really cool!”
I’d like to add here that he’s 16 years younger than me and I’m so grateful for the Millennial open mind about hair color! I said thanks, but there is no way in hell that I’m going gray at 48 and kept dyeing.
But I kept thinking about it. Could I go gray?
I work in a really young industry. I date a younger man. I FEEL young! Would it mean I’d never get hired? Never be loved? What would people think?? I mean, it’s crazy, right?
This is what you do. You’re a woman in Los Angeles, you dye your hair like everyone ELSE in Los Angeles.
I figured I’d go gray about six months before I hit the grave.
So I kept dyeing. And kept on with all the crap that comes with dyeing: the monotone hair, scheduling dyes to coordinate with events and vacations, feeling gross if a little white skunk stripe showed up, spending money on supplies.
You all know the drill. Ugh!
Then a few months after I turned 50, I ran into an acquaintance of mine who was transitioning to gray. She looked amazing.
Her hair color looked great with her complexion, she looked radiant, she looked FREE!
She didn’t look like she ‘let herself go’ or look ‘old’ at all, she just looked wonderful and natural. So that was it. Something deep within me clicked and I knew I was done.
My last color was on Feb 28, 2018. Boyfriend rejoiced that he didn’t have to color my hair anymore!
I talked with my amazing hair stylist who was on board and cool with my decision to start my gray hair transition.
I’d like to add what a bonus this was, having her in my camp. She told me to grow out the roots for a few weeks or so to see what colors we’re working with and she’d put in a ton of highlights and a silver toner. So we did just that.
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It took hours and was expensive but I walked out of the salon with most of my old brown out and with some blending that worked a little better.
She just gave me a head FULL of foils (bleached highlights) and she used a ton of Olaplex which prevents damage.
She then used a Kevin Murphy silver toner. I went back to her a few months later for another round of highlights and toner.
The toner seriously lasted about four shampoos, not sure I’d recommend it. I’m at 7 months now and I don’t think I’ll have any more blending.
I kinda love my weird two-toned grombre hair and don’t feel self-conscious about it at all.
Kim’s Gray Hair Transition Photos
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Here’s the thing: I *do* feel I look a little older. But I’m ok with it. I *am* older.
I mean, who was I really fooling?
I feel like I’m in a new category: before, I was a tired passing-for-youngish person just barely clinging to it, and now I’m a fresh looking older person!
It’s like I’m in a new bracket!
Really makes you think how we’ve been fed the line that as women we can’t age. Why can my male peers get older and I can’t?
When you start unraveling the bull we’ve been sold for so long you see how ridiculous it is!
I like that I’m representing change.
My friends and coworkers have been amazingly positive and supportive. Men of all ages really seem to like it!
The only guff I’ve gotten so far is from older women who still dye. And my dad, he hates it!
I’ve seen photos of me where I look pretty washed out, so I still feel I need to tweak makeup and what colors to wear, etc.
It’s fun having a new palette to play with!
In general, I’ve been really loving what it’s been doing to how I feel inside- more mature, ready to take on the next phase of my life. And I feel like such a rebel!!
I had started using sulfate-free shampoo for about a year before I transitioned so I feel my hair was a little more healthy and ready to take the bleaching.
I love New Wash– it’s expensive but just makes my hair feel great.
I’ll use Overtone Vibrant Silver but it does make my non-gray hair darker so I think it makes the line of demarcation more visible.
My new gray is definitely coarser and drier so I’ve been using a lot of coconut oil. I like the fractionated because it’s liquid and easier to deal with.
I use purple shampoo/conditioner a few times a month to tone down the yellow and this Pravana Perfect Blonde is great. Sulfate free!
This Kevin Murphy Easy Rider Cream is great and smooths down the gray hairs that stand straight up!
Thanks, Katie, for letting me take up some space on your blog!
And for anyone thinking about going silver…come on in, the water’s fine!
Katie here: This post was originally published in the summer of 2018. In early January 2019, I checked back with Kim to see how she was doing with her gray hair transition, and she gave me this great update:
Here are my photos from around 11 months dye free. Almost a year!
I now don’t think about / obsess over my decision to go gray ever waking moment (haha!)
I still feel wonderful about my decision and love the compliments!
I recently went on vacation and then went through the holidays without once worrying about making that salon appointment so I wouldn’t have gray roots for photos – how freeing!
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