Gray And Long: An Oxymoron?
- Thursday, 21 July 2011
It seems that men have been noticing my hair at checkout lines. Today the guy behind the counter at Costco told me he loves my silver hair – that it reminded him of his mother’s hair. Last week while I was waiting at the grocery checkout counter a short man with a full head of white hair turned, gave me a quick onceover, and with a wry smile asked if I’ve ever dyed my hair. And without batting an eye, I said yes, but I didn’t go into all the long and gory details. He didn’t say whether he liked my gray hair or not, but he whined about his wife’s salon visits every six weeks and that she couldn’t enjoy the athletic activities he participates in.
Actually I dyed my hair for years. First it was a straight dye job in an attempt to get my hair back to its natural dark brown color, and later on as my face began to age, I had low lights weaved into my graying hair for a softer, more natural look. Clearly I had inherited my father and his father’s genes. They had full heads of white hair by the time they died, both at age seventy-two. I saw my first gray strands when I was eighteen.
But I always thought about letting my hair go natural. In fact, one time I was so intent I had my color entirely cut off in a hairdo so short someone thought I was recovering from an illness. Other times I’d grow it out gradually getting the ends snipped over every couple of months or so. And then I’d dye it all over again. This went on from about the time I turned forty-five, until I finally gave up the bottle once and for all at age sixty-five. My mother bragged for the entire ninety-four years of her life that she never dyed her hair. Sorry, Mom, I didn’t think that was anything to brag about. My theory has always been: it’s hair so it can always be changed without much of any consequence.
Finally, I just couldn’t stand spending my time and money time on something that was damaging to my hair – almost all the commercial brands of hair colors and dyes contain petrochemical – made from petroleum and natural gas; many of which are toxic, according to Jennifer Chait, in her article, “Color Your Hair Responsibly,” for Blisstree (1) . In her article she also gives a long list of why we shouldn’t use commercial hair dyes: groundwater pollution, ozone depletion, and inhumane animal testing.* Plus, after about four weeks or so, the sun turned my hair almost orange – definitely not my color.
So now I use a hair strengthening shampoo and conditioner, a spritz or two of hair defriz before I blow dry it, and a drop of Moroccan oil before I attack my natural waves with a flat iron. Even though all that is a bit of a bother, I don’t need to wash and go through that ritual everyday. Once done it will last at least two days.
However, there is always a confront when I go to my salon for my once every eight-week hair trim. My hairdresser always asks what I want to do with my hair, that is now approaching the middle of my back. And I can see the gleam in her eye when she suggests I bring it up a bit this time – to her bringing it up means cutting it it all off. I bristle and always say, just a little trim please. I’ve decided I don’t want to look like the other gray-haired old ladies with coiffed thinning short hair. I like my hair long. I like that I can make it swing around my shoulders, I like that I can wear it up pulled into a twist or a pony tail using my huge collection of barrettes and clips and hair ties, and most of all I like that I’m on my way to wearing my hair as my grandmother did in her later years – in a long braid down my back.
I also wonder why we don’t see women with beautiful salt and pepper hair swinging their long manes on television like they do for hair dye commercials. I bet a lot of us would be willing to show off our strong, healthy locks and great faces in safe, hair-care product advertisements.
*By the way, if you still want to dye your hair, Chait lists some safe alternatives to the commercial chemically enhanced products. Also see “The Dangers in Hair Coloring and Safer Alternatives,” by Cathy Sherman at: http://www.naturalnews.com/022575.html.