From Brown Hair to Grey Hair at a Young Age: Who am I to Define Graceful?

I found my first grey hair at a very young age... Well, I was in my early twenties and that is a very young age now I'm nearly forty (shhhhh!) And ever since then I have been battling against time and nature. 

I started off by plucking the errant hairs out. This proved fairly easy seeing as the little blighters would stick right up, defying gravity and waving their greyness for all to see. They were almost asking for the tweezers! And for a few years this was fine. Then the ratio of brown hair to grey hair started to change and the panic set in. How could I carry on plucking out the grey hairs if it would leave me with an unsightly bald patch at the front right of my forehead?

Then the ratio of brown hair to grey hair started to change. 

So it was in my mid twenties that I started to dye my hair. I dyed it all sorts of colours, thinking that this slight on my youth was a chance to experiment.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and perhaps grey hair at a young age isn't all that bad.

So instead of having dark brown hair with a small patch of grey at my temple I had (brace yourself):

  • Henna Red - which clashed with my red face (Rosacea and Henna don't match - I'll blog about that another day!) 
  • Bald patches from trying to use a hairdressers cap and bleach on very long, very thick dark hair. Every single strand of hair that my friend tried to pry through the tiny holes in the cap with the metal hook was excruciating. I wonder now if she didn't really like me all that much. Still, the blonde highlights actually looked quite good, even if my bleached hair was wiry and straw like.
  • Orange hair from a last minute trip to a hairdresser as a treat to myself. I asked her to remove all the red from my hair and make it a luscious chocolate brown. I think she must have been new, because she dyed it bright orange. A few awkward exchanges between myself and the young girl - mostly her saying, sorry I must have mixed the wrong dye, and me saying it's okay it actually looks quite nice, whilst dying inside. Forty quid later (I'm far too British to complain) I vowed never to get my hair dyed professionally again. 
  • Did I listen to my wise decisions? Did I heck! A few years down the line I thought I'd try blonde highlights again. This time there was no broken hair follicles or cap involved. Just a well trained, not new, stylist. I ended up with green hair a few days later and had to go to a different stylist to fix it! 

So by the end of my twenties I was broke but very lucky to still have a full head of hair. 

By now the ratio of brown hair to grey hair was tipping the wrong side of the scales. I didn't just have a patch of grey at my right temple, there was a scattering along my parting too. I felt as though I was fighting a losing battle—which I was, because you can't fight with time or nature! So I decided to grow old gracefully.

Who am I to define graceful?

I decided to just leave my greys to take over my beautiful, thick, dark brown hair with natural red highlights... And that lasted all of about a month. I couldn't do it. I couldn't let nature win just yet because I felt like I wanted to regain some control over my life following a messy divorce and becoming a single mum. One way I could do this was by dying my hair, daft as it may seem, it was at least within my reach. 

So I started dying it myself. Just any old box of permanent chocolate brown hair dye that was on offer in Boots. And this is how it continued for the next eight years. But recently I've been wondering if I should once again let nature take its course and grow old gracefully, from brown hair to grey hair. I am nearly forty after all.

Not only would it save me money—hair dye isn't cheap— it would also save me the time every four to six weeks. It's messy and smelly and I'm sure it doesn't do my scalp any good. With my seborrheic dermatitis I need to really look after my scalp or it gets very sore very quickly.

So I left it to see what would happen. 

It started with the patch at my temple, which by now is more of a bloom than a patch. It blossomed nicely and spread into the wiry greys at my parting and scattered throughout my whole head. And that's what they are, wiry. They lose the softness of their youth too. And turn into head pubes! (Luckily they're the only pubes I have to worry about, having had laser hair removal a few years ago - another blog post to add to my list.)

I stuck with it, relishing the extra fiver, and extra half an hour a month of free time. But my face looked paler, my wrinkles more pronounced. I would catch glimpses of myself in any reflective surface and think yikes. It was almost as though because I wasn't looking after my hair anymore, I could let other bits go too. I'd stop styling it, I'd stop doing my eyebrows, I'd stop caring...

And I thought to myself, is this graceful? There's nothing wrong with a bit of self love, and if that means covering my hair in stinky gloop once a month then so be it. I feel more myself as a brunette, and it doesn't matter that it comes out of a bottle, what matters is how it makes me feel. So I went from grey back to brunette and in a matter of 30-40 minutes took back control.

Who knows, maybe I'll try again when I actually reach forty (two years if anyone is asking!) But until then I'm reclaiming my youth in a bottle. And why not?!

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