Transition Story: Lori Dawnolyn
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There is a scene at the end of the 2003 movie, Something’s Gotta Give, a montage of Jack Nicholson apologizing to all of the women in his past. A stunning woman strutted down a Manhattan street, silver locks flying, pointedly ignoring Jack. That woman was Cindy Joseph, a pioneer of the Grey Hair Movement. I remember thinking that she looked confident, vibrant and like a woman who knew her own worth.
It was at that moment that I first thought that growing grey might be a blessing and not a curse.
I was 25 years old when I first dyed my hair.
As an infantryman’s spouse, there was never any shortage of stress in our lives, and after every tour of duty, I found that I was spending more time covering up my rapidly silvering hair. Shortly after my 40th birthday, I approached my hairdresser about transitioning. She was surprisingly supportive of the idea. By this point, I was touching up my roots at home every Sunday evening, so she asked me to stop for a month and come back to see her, so that she could assess the colour of my silver, and its pattern.
When I returned to her chair, she gave me her honest assessment: I was over 50% grey, and had some fantastic lighter bands of more solid grey near my temples and in my bangs.
It was April, and with her encouragement, we developed our roadmap to silver. We cut my lob hair into a chin-length bob to reduce the transition time. Because I was using boxed colours, she asked me to start mixing my usual colour 50/50 with one shade lighter:
The following month, I used only the lighter shade and then mixed that shade with one shade even lighter in June. My final colour, two full shades lighter than my original colour, was in late July. The idea was to create a softer line of demarcation in my naturally dark hair and to let the longer, stronger summer sunlight help to bleach out the colour.
Six weeks after my last dye, my hairdresser gave me a pixie cut.
Having missed six weekly touch-ups, I was pretty sure that the entire world was staring in silent judgment at my silver temples. In reality, what felt so glaringly obvious to me, was barely noticeable to anyone not totally absorbed by my hair (i.e. the rest of the world).
I bought Regis DesignLine Super Silver shampoo and conditioner and began to use them weekly. I found that the purple base brightened my silver, and reminded me of the amazing colour awaiting me at the end of the process.
I pored over images of gorgeous silver women on Pinterest (Instagram hadn’t yet caught on as a gathering place for #silversisters to encourage and inspire one another) and pinned any images of women with similar skin tone and eye colour to me. They inspired me to keep going.
By October, the worst of the transition to gray was over. Only the ends of my hair on my crown had any dye remaining, and my colour began to look purposeful:
By January, there was just slightest colour left on the tips of my bangs:
In February—seven months after my last dye—I was completely transitioned:
The only drawback to cutting my hair into a pixie was the growing out process.
With my new silver hair, my stylist insisted that we grow it out in slow stages, because unfortunately, grey can look dowdy if it’s not kept crisp and stylish. It took us over a year to transition from a pixie to a short bob, which was primarily my fault because, on at least two occasions, I couldn’t handle the in-between stages and begged her to chop it off once the summer humidity kicked in.
In hindsight, I wish I’d had the courage to leave my hair in its original shoulder-length lob, and simply let the silver grow out. But in all honesty, my dark hair would have looked horrible transitioning in that fashion. If I’d gone that route, I most likely would have lost my courage and resumed colouring it again.
A year and a half ago, I was approached by a modeling agency and asked if I’d be interested in doing some test shots.
The test shots turned into an offer of representation, and now I’m making the three-hour drive from my home to Toronto a few times a month for auditions and go-sees—often surrounded by other amazing silver-haired women in the waiting area.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I’d be having this much fun in my mid-40s, and cheering other women on via Instagram and on the street, as they contemplate their own journey to silver hair.
And the biggest kick of all is that so many of the role models that I found during my own transition on Pinterest have become Insta-friends.
I love that I embraced the Grey Hair Movement, and would encourage anyone contemplating transitioning to give it a try. If it’s not for you, then by all means, reach for the dye bottle again. This is a no judgment zone.
But I’m willing to bet that once you see the beauty of your own silver, you’ll embrace the journey, too.
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