Friday, October 18, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Going Gray Soul AND The Happy Things to Expect as You Transition to Gray!

When I was a sophomore in college, I had a boyfriend who liked short hair on girls.  Short hair and glasses and skater chick clothes. (Think late 90's.)  So, of course that's what I tried to become..... a skateboarder with glasses and short hair. First there was the old Alien Workshop board that was swiped from my brother. Next came a "Girls Kick Ass" baby-tee and several pairs of giant pants.  And glasses. The last thing to do was cut my hair. How bad can it be, I thought. I'll look cool, I thought. So I marched down to the local Aveda school and salon for my discounted stylist in training hair cut, and emerged 45 minutes later looking just like a little skater BOY.  I remember swiftly peddling my bike down the street towards the dorm. Tears rolling down my cheeks.

To be honest, there is not much more that I remember of that haircut, not even whether my boyfriend liked it or not. All I have is a handful of photos from that time to remind me what my short, unruly, hair looks like in the mid-summer humidity. The one memory that I do have, is of walking into a friends dorm room, crying.

"What's wrong!?" she said. "My hair!!!!" I cried. "It too short. I HATE it!" I went on.
My friend tried her best to console me, when one of her suite mates piped in, in the kindest way.........  ........"My sister had cancer. She lost all of her hair. It'll grow back...... It's only hair."

And that is the moment that I stopped crying and stopped worrying about my hair.
Because, IT'S ONLY HAIR ! she was so right.

You guys, it's only hair!

You are sooooooooooooo much more than your hair. You are your soul, you are your heart, you are the smiles that you give and the hugs and the brilliant ideas and the helping hand.
The YOU on the outside changes each day as our cells die off and new ones take their place. The outside you is replaced as years roll on. A new wrinkle, a new lipstick, a new diet......

But the INSIDE you, oh the inside you! THAT my dear is precisely the REAL you. The BEST you there is !!!!

When you strip away all of the commotion and fear of growing out your gray hair, what you're truly left with at the heart of it all, is learning to be comfortable and PROUD to show the world the true YOU!

The freedom, oh the FREEDOM that comes with ditching the hair dye, the freedom from worry that your white roots are starting to show again - IT. IS .PRICELESS.
Knowing that you don't have to make the trip to the salon, AGAIN, or spend more money, or slather your head with pungent chemicals, or find drips on your bathroom floor...... it's the best feeling!

When we push through the worry and fear, when we come to terms with letting go of what used to be ( old brown-haired self), and embrace who we are now....... LIFE OPENS UP!

When I started this gray hair journey two years ago, I thought it would be about my hair. I was quite mistaken. This was an exercise in learning about myself and growing into me. It was also about letting go, just a little bit, to my worries over of what the world thinks of me.

It's easy to fall into the what-if thought trap: What if I look old? What is everybody hates it? What if I'm less attractive? What if I look strange?

All I have to say is: yeah, WHAT IF!?

Ok, that's a little insensitive, but...... this is what going gray does. Eventually, it helps you to say...."Yeah, what if......"

Learning to be yourself, the INDIVIDUAL that  you are, truly does open doors. For example, after I accepted the gray and just went with it, I was able to wear strange  large purple Bogs boots, EVERYDAY!
Who cares I would reassure myself, they keep my feet warm and dry, they are what I need in our slushy Michigan winter. They make me happy.
Sure the boots didn't make me  into any kind of fashion plate, but they're just shoes. Just like your hair is just hair!

So, step back, it's best to see the big picture in things sometimes. You'll be fine. You'll be more than fine, you will be TRANSFORMED into an even more beautifully, complex and aware YOU!


We fear so much, the growing out phase, more than actually being gray. Don't you think?
My message to you is that I PROMISE  it's not as bad as you think! My message is to jump in! Get it over with, it doesn't take as long as you think to get to a place where you feel more confident.

A hill can feel like a mountain when you're hiking up it, but from the top (where I am now) a little perspective can reassure you, it's only a hill.

Yes, there might be three or four or six months that your head is a mixture of hair colors, or sports the famous "skunk stripe", but there are SO MANY things that you can do to make the transition not only easier, but fun! Follow my tips and I promise you, you won't feel as badly as you think!

And then one day, you'll see your new gray hair next to your skin tone or eyes and you'll think: "Gee, I kind of like this!"  One day your gray hair will shine in the sun, maybe even sparkle, and you will say: "Wow, this is so much less harsh than my over-dyed hair." You'll run your hands through your new hair, and suddenly you will be surprised...... it feels so healthy and soft now!
Slowly one by one, people will take notice. "I like your hair!" they'll say. Women and men. "It's neat", "I wish I could grow my gray out too", "It suites  you." And since you've learned to like yourself more, these compliments are not needed to boost your confidence, so you can finally take them as just that:  compliments. :)

Don't be afraid to embrace your unique YOU, it really is ok. I wish I hadn't waited so long myself!

(What is this strange expression? The point is, YOU CAN DO IT! Be YOU!)



Lisa said...

Great post! I have to say that my silver hair is one of my favorite things now that I don't dye anymore - keep up the wonderful blog posts!


LRW said...

Amen sister :)

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren,
Thank you for sharing your experience of growing your gray on your blog.
I started to see gray in my late 20's. For the last 5 years, I dyed my gray but I started to think "Why do I dislike my gray? Gray or black, it's my hair." I wanted to love my gray as much as my black hair. I searched others like me (young but growing gray)... and I came across your blog. My journey started since spring 2013.
This post was encouraging, and I couldn't help myself but write a comment to thank you.

Lauren said...

Hi Lisa!

Thank you for the comment. I know, isn't the silver kind of fun!? I'm glad that you like yours too. :)
Thank you for the encouragement! xoxoxox

xoxoxoxoxoxox :)

Lauren said...

Hiya Y SS!!!

Welcome, welcome! Thank you for sharing. You help me too! Meeting everybody through the blog has helped me to see that I'm not the only 30-something with grays hair. :)
It's not easy, is it? But it's ok!
Do you also get many questions in public about having gray hair but being young?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wendi L. said...

Awesome post...I'm five months into the transition and I'm so happy with this decision! Thanks for your post - it is excellent!!!

Monica James said...

Love it! And you are so right. Finished my grow out last March and am now in a shorter length than I like so feeling blah...but it's just hair!

Monica said...

Love it! You are so right. Finished growing my gray out in March. Now the length is a bit too short and I'm feeling blah while it grows! But it's just hair... Thanks for this!

KWD said...

I'm in my late 30s, decided in the spring I was sick of coloring my hair - the chemicals and itchiness, the cost, the stress over roots, etc. I came across your blog which gave a lot of recommendations and helped me feel more secure in my choice. I just had my first cut in almost six months and although I still have probably another six months of out growing to do, it is coming along nicely and I REALLY like it.

Interestingly, the only people who have given me a hard time during this transition are my parents! They even offered to pay for me to get my hair colored. I had one other person comment about making it harder on myself in job interviews as well. Regardless, I'm happy with the change and your blog has been a wonderful supportive resource! Thank you, Lauren.

Tanya said...

Lauren, I found your blog via Pinterest and have to say you have really inspired me. You are beautiful inside and out, and I have been wrestling with the grey debate for some time. I think I am finally ready to take the plunge; it's not easy but I'm going to stay strong!

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren,
To answer your question...
When I just started to grow my gray hair, someone at work said "What's going on up there (pointing at my head)? You're still young. Little bit of maintenance does not hurt." This was my first bad experience.
I have two areas that gone gray... My gray is completely white, and the rest of my hair is black because I'm Asian. The gray area on my left side is small and concentrated, so I part my hair on that side to show streaks, while hiding a larger salt-and-pepper area on the right. Every now and then, I lose to the social expectation (women looking younger the better, therefore, gray hair should be dyed) and part my hair in the middle to hide all gray... While there are people who thinks I should dye my hair, there are others who say my hair is chic.
My gray is now about 4 inches long with the rest of 8 inches black. I see comments from other 30-somthing with gray, and it is encouraging!

Anonymous said...

You are a beautiful young woman. You have inspired me to stop coloring my hair. I have not colored it in 2 months. My hair is short now and have a few cuts before my color is completely cut off. I look forward to seeing the real me and growing out my hair. I turned 42 this year and have alot of white mixed with gray hair. It will be nice to see the real me without color.

Lauren said...

Hiya Monica James!

Wow, awesome! (The growing out part.)
It's funny how much a cut and/or length can effect how we feel about our hair. Hang in there, ok! It'll grown into a length that you love before you know it! Thanks for stopping by!
Laure :)

Lauren said...

Hi KWD!!!

What a great comment. I'm so so happy that you like your new grays, and I'm inspired by your strength and perseverance. At first my Mom thought it would be a bad idea to grow my grays out. I'm sorry that your parents are not supportive and even offering to PAY for the salon! That must be really hard. :(
You know what though, once all is said and done, your parents might come around, just like my Mom did. When she saw the "finished product" she just love it! Now my Mom is one of my biggest supporters!
So glad that six months in, you are liking what you see. Hang in there, before you know it, the "growing out" phase will be a thing of the past!
Nice to meet you!!!
Lauren :)

Lauren said...

Hi Tanya,

Oooooooh I am sending you a BIG BIG hug. No matter what you chose to do, grow out the gray or not, I'm here to support you. It's SUCH a difficult and personal decision. I understand! You'll do it when you're ready. Don't feel pressure either way, just know it is an option, and we're here to cheer you on if you decide to give it a shot!
Thank you for your comment.
Lauren (> ^-^)>

Lauren said...

Hi Y SS!!!!

Oh my...... I'm so so sorry to hear about the comment from work. :(
That is really too bad. Sometimes people will say or ask anything! Maybe it was just curiosity, but I've also had "comments" to edge me towards covering my gray.

I think your white hair patterns sound AMAZING and so unique! I'm sure you DO look chic!
Please follow your heart. We can't always make everyone happy. That's what I try to remember myself.

I love that you can play with your part to change your look too. How cool is that!? You are awesome!!!!

Lauren :)

Lauren said...

Hiya Diane!!!!

Oh yay! I'm so happy and excited for you! I'm glad that I can be of help. :)
Oh it really is exciting and fun to watch one's "real color" come out. It's very interesting as your color and cut change with each month!

You hang in there, but it sounds like you're doing great!
So nice to meet you Diane!
Lauren :)

Colleen said...

I know I'd like my hair silver or gray (or at least I'd like it better than the constant roots and either chemicals or henna which is so unbearably messy)... I tend to cave whenever I have about 4 inches of gray (right now) and by then a strange orange-y colour on the faded ends. That's what I can't stand... the mix of gray with this orange-y brown colour. It is so dismal. I'd like to cut it all off but I've done that before and that was worse.

Way to get slog through the process... it looks very stunning.

Lauren said...

Hey Colleen!

Thanks for the comment. Oh I know, I know so so much hard hard it is. Especially like you said at the 4" mark. I promise you that it does start to get much easier. Once my gray hair was about to my ears, I was able to pull it back and soften the look. You just have to keep your eyes on the goal. It is SO nice to not have to worry about roots anymore. And to give up the chemical dyes and messy henna.
I wish you so much luck. If growing out your gray is the right thing for you, I have no doubt that you'll be able to do it. Hang in there!
Lauren :)

LaVonne said...

I think I am ready to jump off the crazy every three week root touch up train. Why am I spending so much time and money and putting so much stress on my hair? My goal is to go for healthier hair so who cares what color it is, right? Thank you for your words, they have encouraged me.

LaVonne said...

I have finally decided it is time for me to jump off the every three week root touch up crazy. Why am I wasting time money and damaging my hair even more? My goal is to get healthier hair so why should I care what color it is? Your words have encouraged me so thank you.

Unknown said...

I'm just starting my grow out and your post has given me much needed inspiration. Can you tell me what shampoos and hair products in general that keep the yellow away? Thanks so much!!!

Lauren said...

Hi Eve! It's nice to meet you. I'm so glad that I've been a little help! :)
Currently I've been loving Shikai's Color Reflect Platmuim Shampoo. You can find it on Amazon and at Whole Foods. But there have been many shampoos, conditioners and other hair products that I've tried, loved and blogged about. You might want to go over to this page at the top on the blog called "Going Gray? HOORAY!" You can find it here:

This page lists my gray hair related posts where I go in-depth about products. Good luck Eve, and please let me know if you have any other question!
Lauren :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for this! I found you through Pinterest. I've been playing around with the idea of going from my very dyed red hair to letting my gray come through. Thanks to your blog and ALL your pictures ( I say it that way as I read you were uncomfy posting them, but they really, really do help!) I think I'm ready to make the transition. Thanks so much!

Lauren said...

Heeeeey Marilyn!!!!

So nice to meet you! Thanks for your comment! Your red hair looks gorgeous in your little comment profile pic, but if you're ready for a change, I say "go for it!"

I was coloring my hair every three to four weeks when I decided to just let my gray grow in. I can't tell you the sense of freedom that I felt from that. It was really nice. Going gray isn't the easiest thing in the world, but there are lots of great things to come from it.

Lots of luck to you Marilyn! I'm always here if you have any questions. Thanks for stopping by to write!

kitty_katie07 said...

If it makes any of you feel any better, I started graying (shiny silver, really) when I was 14. With almost black hair. I've never dyed my hair. Too lazy for the upkeep. It's been 14 years of a ridiculous amount of compliments, and lot's of the trite "You're way too young to be going gray." Or "Why are you going gray already?" As if there is some kind of legitimate answer I can give. Anywho, it's an interesting journey. Part of me misses the dark hair, since my hair is lightening as I gray, as well, and part of me is interested to see how it's going to turn out.

Anonymous said...

I stopped coloring my hair almost a year ago for all the reasons you point out. After coloring my hair for 20 years I was also intrigued to see what color it truly was, lol! Now I can say how freeing it is to not worry about the outgrowth. I cant wait until the old color at the ends is finally grown out and I can wear my natural crown with pride!

M@riela said...

I am 35 years old and three months ago I decided to stop dyeing my hair ... it is difficult but I am happy with my decision. Like you, I have many gray hairs. Greetings from Argentina