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My gray hair is just now three years old in the open. It was after the Christmas holidays of 2017: one day I called the hairdresser, asked for advice and an appointment, and in just a few minutes they cut the fried hair that I had been growing for more than two decades. I still haven’t regretted it.
I do not know exactly when my gray hair started to appear, because I have been dyeing since I was 20 (now I am 48), but the time I spent in the hairdresser to cover them does not deserve a minute of the supposed youth that gives color. To achieve the natural blonde tone that I once had, a brown hair dye session (several shades on mine), blonde highlights on top, and a shine bath were necessary. A minimum of four hours nobody took it from me. Down with the caenas, I prefer a life with gray hair!
Since then, I have spoken with different hairdressers, I have read everything I have found on the subject and, above all, many women have asked me how I had done it or have simply told me how they felt about the imminent whitening of their heads. Suddenly shaking off my own chains has turned me into some kind of heroine.
Now I see more people than ever wearing gray hair and it seems that we have finally become homogenized with Europe: women, and not only men, can go undyed, without anyone thinking that they look old or shabby. Today many ladies finally share with men the title of sexy with silver hair. Some famous women have made gray hair fashionable and there are those who, without being gray, dyes hair gray. Yes, Lady Gaga, Pink or Kylie Jenner have sported artificial gray hair. Chiefs.
In these three years, my hair has changed color, I have cut and let it grow several times and I have learned to take care of it in a different way. I have saved a lot of money in hairdressing and I have spent the hours better. I have also learned many things that perhaps you, who are thinking about it, or you, who have not even considered it, can be useful. I’m a big fan of gray hair, of all of them, but I also think that wearing them only depends on one thing: that you, and only you, like yourself with them.
Why do you have gray hair?
The simple explanation is that the hair over time loses its ability to generate pigmentation And, therefore, it continues to grow, but no longer color: the melanocytes deteriorate, which are the cells responsible for making melanin, which gives hair its color. When and how it occurs depends on many factors, including genetics. It is basically a biological process, associated with having a birthday. Therefore, there is no gray hair similar to another, nor does gray remain the same all the time. And, for the moment at least, once the transformation begins it is irreversible.
How does hair change?
The usual thing is that loose gray hair appears first, then a few strands and, for a long time -sometimes years-, this process spreads throughout the hair. Hence, hair color changes over time, although it also depends a lot on the person and the tone of the hair base. The gray hair of a brunette is very different from that of a blonde.
It is probable that the first gray hairs give a gray or silver tone to the mane – in fashion magazines they call it “salt and pepper”, due to the contrast between the white of the strands and the darker base -, which are giving way to increasingly white and bushy wicks; then there will be large areas of the head with white hair (usually in the front) and others with darker hair (the nape or the strands closest to the scalp), before reaching the idealized completely white hair. But from one point to another it can take years. Many years.
What does happen to everyone, in addition to the loss of pigment, is that the hair shaft becomes thicker. Not everyone receives it with love: if very fine hair improves the volume of the hair; on already thick hair it causes more frizz. Once again, genetics rule.
Should I dye or go gray?
This is as personal a choice as whether to go to the gym or not; Wearing sneakers or heels regularly or choosing between wearing botox or a wrinkle poster is beautiful. It is life itself. Each one chooses how to age. Some of us are daring to get rid of chemicals, to go through life in a more natural way. Others prefer to cover what they don’t like. All options are good. Here I tell you mine. And to help you with yours, you can play with this Pantene app, with which it is possible to see how gray your hair looks:
Unless you haven’t dyed yourself in life (advice I’d love to have given to my 20-year-old self), this is the crux of the matter. What is the best method to ditch the dye and embrace natural hair?
There are only two ways to transition: cut very close to the root or grow out (with or without chemistry support). None are comfortable or easy and I know this because I have tried them all. Therefore, my recommendation is without a doubt to cut your hair very short. It is the most effective and cheapest formula. And the least aggressive with hair and scalp.
The extreme cut
There is no more effective trick than shaving your hair. The transformation is radical and, since there is no going back, it prevents the transition from being prolonged in time. Between the cut and a mane at the nape of the neck, several months will undoubtedly pass, but you will avoid the doubts that may lead you to back down. What happens more than you imagine.
My recommendation is to take advantage of the summer holidays: let the white roots grow as long as possible and cut very short. In summer we are always more favored and, in addition, you will not be cold. Removing several kilos of hair in one stroke causes a considerable drop in temperature in the skull. As I did in January, I was terribly cold, and I do not recommend it. For several months I wore a woolen hat to cover my head, even indoors.
The great advantage is that, from the beginning, you see what the color of your gray is like and, above all, you leave your hair completely healthy, which never hurts. With the perspective of time, the eight or ten months that I spent not being happy with my image – I did not like short hair – were worth it.
Let the roots grow
When you don’t know how your hair will look, taking the step of the cut is very scary. The alternative is to let your roots grow, without cutting the length of your mane. But I notice that it is a task for very self-confident women, who overcome doubts and stay in their thirteen for months. Or turbans, hats or scarves that cover the roots as they grow. In the United States there are even groups to help with the process. On Instagram and Pinterest, you will find many testimonials of women transitioning, tagged with the hashtags #goinggray, #greyhairmovement, #silverhair, which will help you get an idea.
There are those who just let it grow, others who combine dyed bangs with shaved sideburns and nape and those who will advise you with all kinds of updos and tricks to cover.
Cowards go to the hairdresser
It is also possible to grow the roots with professional help. In almost all hairdressers they dominate the art of shading and “cooling” the tone, which is what it is called to go lightening hair with highlights or highlights. It is basically about lowering the tone of already dyed hair to lighter colors, more similar to your natural gray hair, until the roots without dyeing grow to the desired length. Only then is what remains of artificial color cut off. Depending on how clear the dye is, the process takes more or less. And you have to count on the possibility that it won’t work on your hair.
I can say that I have tried all kinds of hairstyling tricks to try and make the transition without cutting: lighter highlights, bleaching and gray tint, bleaching and white tint, tinting the color… But it doesn’t work for everyone. To me, certainly not. The lighter the tints, the more they tend to yellow. One thing is how you get out of the salon and another, how you are after a couple of weeks. In my case -which does not mean that it is yours- I spent a lot of time, a lot of money and my hair ended up very damaged.
I have come to dye my hair the same gray color that I have naturally – I didn’t know it yet – thinking that this way letting the roots grow would be easier. After two weeks, the tint was no longer gray, but a little greenish and then yellow. And the roots were even more noticeable.
Nobody said it was easy, but at least it doesn’t hurt.
If your hairdresser doesn’t understand you, run away
Whether you are going to cut yourself or if you are not willing to go with your roots bareback, you need a hairdresser friend (or friend). Much more, an accomplice. If where you have been going all your life they start to give you long, to comment on how much gray hair does or that you will have to take care of yourself and double makeup, flee. The hairdresser is not your family, if they only love you prey to the dye, they do not deserve your loyalty. Go with whoever helps you, not whoever puts obstacles in your way.
How to take care of your gray hair
If you have already started the transition, you will notice that the hair is thicker, tends to yellow and that many colors no longer suit your face. Welcome.
To prevent the gray hair from turning yellow, it is better to say no to the dryer, the chlorine in the pool, the tobacco smoke and the sun. Lean on hats and caps and good sun protection (yes, there are also those for your hair), which are usually hair oils with UV filters. Remember that, once the gray hair turns yellow, there is no other solution to cut.
Against dryness, the key is to use a white or neutral soap or shampoo -that has no color- daily and apply fabric softener or mask. Once a week, a shampoo with blue or purple pigments, which neutralize the yellow. As your gray hair is unique, only you will know the best treatment. There is thousands of products, with a wide variety of proposals and prices.
My recommendation: in Mercadona, they have a specific Azalea brand shampoo and mask for gray hair. If you prefer a natural care, my friend Anabel Alonso boils flax seeds and applies the foam that forms on her hair to soften the frizz.
In addition to the head, you will experience a second transition: the closet. The earthy and beige tones feel like a kick. Vivid and neutral colors such as white and black will favor you more. I made another discovery: I no longer go out without painting my lips bright red.
It’s never too late to empower yourself
Being older and not hiding it is also a form of empowerment and I identify with all the women who have decided that no one dictates how they have to age. Many years ago I was blonde, but no dye matched my natural color. Since then, I have changed a lot inside and out. My skin and even the color of my eyes is different. But the only hair that goes well with this older self is the one that no longer has melanin. For that reason, leaving my gray hair has compensated me. Whoever repents, can always re-dye.
And you, how do you get along with your gray hair? Tell us in the comments or send us an email to [email protected]
This newsletter has been prepared by Soledad Alcaide @solealal.
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