How to Deal with an Unsupportive Stylist When You Are Going Gray on Purpose
Inside: What to do when you have an unsupportive stylist while you are going gray
MY IDEAL HAIRSTYLIST EXPERIENCE
I moved to California as a newlywed in 1993 and started seeing my husband’s hairdresser, Andy, shortly thereafter.
Sitting in his chair was a treat.
While he dyed and cut my hair, he’d tell me about his romantic shenanigans, and I’d fill him on crazy things that happened in my friend circle or at work.
Years went by, and our chats stopped being about clubs and romance and started being about our children, dogs, spouses, and other topics of mutual interest. We never got tired of talking to each other.
He always gave me whatever haircut or color I desired. Sometimes, if I had no ideas, I’d let him do whatever he wanted (within reason), and I was always happy with the results.
Over the years, I occasionally mentioned a desire to go gray when I got older, but neither of us pursued the topic. Getting older always seemed so far away!
To my dismay, a few years ago Andy retired and moved away.
MY NEXT STYLIST: A GREAT COLORIST BUT ANTI-GRAY
I found a new hairdresser who was known for being a great colorist. She wasn’t as easy to talk to as Andy, and her prices were much higher, but she came highly recommended and she was a super-talented colorist.
For a year or two, I sat in her chair dutifully every 4 weeks to get either a full-color dye job or a root touchup.
Occasionally, to save money, I’d do a box dye at home and return to the chair the next month feeling somewhat like a recalcitrant child.
In my late 40s, after decades of dyeing my hair, I broached the idea of ditching the dye and going gray.
A close friend had gone gray in stages – she let a long strip of hair on either side of her face go undyed, and it looked very striking against her dark hair. When she was ready, she let the rest go undyed as well and it made the whole transition easier for her.
I mentioned this to my new hairdresser. “You’ll look old,” she snapped.
I insisted that I didn’t mind and that I wanted to leave one long section of hair (that framed my face) undyed.
So, to indicate her displeasure, she sighed heavily and proceeded to make a very sloppy job of it. And she barely spoke to me for the rest of the visit.
And what did I do? Instead of complaining, finding a new hairdresser, or standing up for myself, I paid and left. And the next month, I went back to her salon again and colored my hair… and I kept doing so for another year or so. Like an idiot!
I’m a pretty self-confident person with good boundaries. But for some unknown reason (fear of aging? fear of hairdressers?), I kept going back and coloring even though I knew in my heart I didn’t want to anymore.
But by age 50, I knew I’d had enough.
I made the decision to ditch the dye, and I knew that meant I had to find a hairdresser who wouldn’t make me feel unsupported or judged for going gray.
Luckily, I was able to find an Aveda salon in my area, and I’d read that they were known to be gray-friendly. Ava, my new stylist, not only supports my gray hair transition, but she also encourages it! She makes me feel beautiful while I’m in her chair.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I don’t want you to make the same mistake! You are a paying customer, and when you are sitting in that chair, you are in a very vulnerable position.
The last thing you need is to pay someone to make you feel bad about yourself!
Find a stylist who will support you. It will make all the difference.
HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOUR CURRENT STYLIST IS ANTI-GRAY
Before you go looking for a new stylist, broach the subject of going gray with your current stylist. You might be lucky and get a very positive and supportive reaction.
Yay! You can stick with your current stylist.
But what if your stylist approaches your desire to go gray with horror and/or disgust? You can try to change her/his mind if you feel up to it. You can explain all the reasons you want to go gray, and explain which method you want to use to go gray.
Or you can say “screw it” and start looking for a stylist who doesn’t need to be cajoled to support you through your gray hair transition. One who finds the prospect of gray hair exciting would be ideal!
Ideally, you will let your old stylist know why you are leaving. I know not all of us like confrontation, but if enough women speak up, maybe these anti-gray stylists will start to think twice.
HOW TO FIND A SUPPORTIVE STYLIST FOR YOUR GRAY HAIR TRANSITION
Don’t see a gray-friendly salon near you?
If you live in America, Aveda salons are known to be gray-friendly. Try them first!
If that doesn’t work, it’s time to go the social route: Ask friends and family with gray hair for salon recommendations.
Do you belong to a Facebook gray hair support group? If you do, make a post and ask the other members if they know of a salon in your area.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A NEW STYLIST FOR YOUR GRAY HAIR
To avoid any potential awkwardness, before your first visit to a new salon, call ahead and tell the receptionist point blank, “I’m going gray. Does this salon support gray hair?”
I did this when I booked my new Aveda salon, and the receptionist enthusiastically asserted that they were very supportive.
Have you decided to go gray cold turkey or do you want to use salon methods to go gray? Ask your stylist how she will support you with each method.
Some stylists are anti-cold turkey, but going gray with salon methods isn’t for everyone, so you need a stylist who will support you whichever method you choose.
Remember, you are the customer. You need a stylist who understands your needs and is willing to meet them.
I did a poll among my silver sisters on Instagram and found, to my delight, that only 28% of my followers had to switch hairdressers when they decided to ditch the dye.
Many of them found that their hairdressers were supportive and enthusiastic. But if yours isn’t, you know what to do!
Please do me a favor and share this post to social media, as it helps me grow my audience and spread the word about our Silver Revolution! And remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and Pinterest Feed for more gray hair tips and product recommendations. Thanks!
Check out my shop on Amazon for all your gray hair needs:
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Make sure to check out Joli Campbell’s excellent article about finding a supportive stylist for your silver hair to get further ideas on this topic. Joli has curly silver hair, too, and she offers excellent advice on how to find a curly stylist as well.
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.