Negative! Whoooo ME!!!? (Yes.)
It hit me right after New Years. This little voice inside my head that started saying: "I just wish I had a hair color like everyone else." "I don't want to be different. I don't want to be a gray-haired lady." Then the negative thoughts included what-if questions like: "What if it really really ages me?" and "what if it just looks terrible?"
Probably most damaging, I then started to hyper-focus on all of my hair flaws- the yellowing ends, the frizz, the way it was white on top but a muddy brown on the bottom. I was in the rut of all hair-ruts. I had a bad case of the gray hair blues.
What followed was a frantic Pinterest search for women who made their gray hair look great. I was going to try to gleam some tips off of them. This was followed by a sudden and impulsive decision to cut my hair into a pixie cut again. I emailed Jon at work, I called my Mom at home. Should I do it? Should I do it!? Jon was supportive as always, and my Mom begged me not to, being in her opinion that my gray hair was too pretty to cut off.
I'm glad that I came to my own decision that I wouldn't be any happier with a short style, and that I was being rash, before I had time to schedule an appointment at my salon. That said, WHAT WAS GOING ON to cause these sad feelings of hair hate all the sudden!!? This June will mark the 5th anniversary of deciding to start this gray hair journey. For the most part, even through the toughest, early stages, I've stayed pretty positive. What was eating at me now?
I thought about all this for a while, and I realized that it has been the recent lack of care and attention that I've given to my hair! I know this sounds trivial, but my first tip is:
1.) You have to realize that having gray hair takes just as much, if not MORE care and attention than your dyed hair color did.
In September of 2014 we unexpectedly became the parents to a little 9-week-old puppy. Nearly overnight my world changed for quite a while. Instead of taking the time to blow-dry and style my hair each day, or schedule regular trims and hair glazes that removed the yellow, brassy tones, I stayed home. I was chasing a puppy who needed to go out to pee every 30 minutes and who wanted to chew up my house. There wasn't a lot of self-care going on, especially with my hair.
Without the time and attention to drying my hair properly and styling it, due to my hair's texture, you're just left with a frizzy, poofy mess. Without regular trips to the salon, my white hair tends to yellow on the ends over time, from heat styling and product build-up. It's kind of a vicious cycle. If I don't take the time to make my difficult hair texture presentable, I look unkempt, but if I do use some of the products or heat styling tools, then I look yellowed.
The point is, I kind of let me hair care go to the wayside for a while, and ended up cutting a whole bunch of length off, twice, because I couldn't stand it. What I SHOULD have done was found the time to care for my hair's needs.
Fast forward to this summer and fall. Once again I became very busy. This time with Noah, his busy summer and then school refusal in the fall. Now I'm a homeschool Mom, and it would be fair to say that once again, I've kind of put my hair care on the back burner.
I've come to suddenly realize this, and I think it is precisely the reason that I've been having the gray hair blues! Yes, I've been using gray-hair-specific shampoo and conditioner, and styling products that don't seem to leave deposits behind that yellow. Still though, it's not enough, I haven't been to the salon in, gosh, seven months or more. I've found that going about every 3 months to trim the old, brassy ends off and having a clear glaze with a very slight purple tone, it does wonders to make my white hair brighter and helps with the unruly texture. I'm long overdue.
Ok, so practical tip - (one which I intend to follow up on ASAP)- be sure to schedule regular "maintenance" with a trusted and loved professional. Whether that be tiny trims just to keep your ends nice and a good shape to your cut, or a conditioning treatment or shiny glaze. It doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming or full of chemicals. It can be the basics. Find an establishment that works for YOU and your needs.
2.) When you're feeling blue, reach for the blue. First things first, when I'm feeling like I don't love the look of my hair color, I make sure that I've recently tried a gray-hair-specific shampoo and conditioner, which are usually tinted blue or purple. These can work wonders in just an application or two, to brighten up your whites and possibly your whole outlook on things. I talk about my favorite gray hair shampoos and conditioners HERE! There are several in different price points. Some are more natural too. Sometimes this little boost is enough to get you back on track. It's quick and easy too.
3.) Go the extra step. Don't just resort to your old stand-by. If your hair is long enough, nothing is easier than a quick ponytail. That ponytail is my go-to hairdo when I'm sad about my hair. It just kind of pulls everything up and away from my view. The catch is, wearing a ponytail, for me personally, doesn't make me feel pretty or good about myself. I feel rather sloppy. I have yet to be able to make one of those fancy, sleek yet perfectly volumized ponytails on myself.
The thing is, if you're not feeling good about the way your hair looks, you need to stop what you're doing and try something different. This is when I take down my ponytail and go back to my set of rollers. The heat styling isn't great for my white hair, but it gives me bounce and body and volume. I also took another step. I didn't want my hair hanging in my face and I wanted to try something fun to raise my spirits. Enter barrettes! Barrettes and cheap, easy to find, easy to use. They add some youthfulness.
So you see, changing the way you style your hair, taking the time and making the effort to do something different will really really help to hopefully change your feelings. From a new styling cream, to voluming rollers, barrettes, headbands, A NEW PART ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE, they can all work wonders!
4.) POSITIVITY IS THE WAY TO GET THROUGH YOUR GRAY HAIR GROW-OUT AND ON TO LIKING AND BEING OK WITH YOU HAIR!
They say that positivity is a choice (I think they say that about happiness too), and I think in REASONABLE circumstances, everyday circumstances, this can be true. When I had my last, allergic reaction to hair dye and couldn't find a natural dye that would work to cover all of my gray and the henna had turned my hair bright red and brittle, I knew I was pretty much out of options. I was the 33-year-old Mom of a six-year-old and I had a giant skunk stripe of shockingly white hair coming in. I realized that I had a choice. I could stay scared and bummed and grasping, grasping at anything that could help. Like homemade concoctions that only stained my white hair a pale yellow, not back to it's original dark brown. Or, I could not give up, but surrender and JUST GO WITH IT! See where this new journey would take me!
When you surrender and you just float down stream, you start to relax. And, when you start to relax, a lot of the time we begin to feel calm enough to see things from a new perspective- a more POSITIVE perspective. My gray hair STRUGGLE became an ADVENTURE! An interesting adventure at that. I decided to see it as:"Oh boy! whaaaaat IS my REAL color underneath all that dye? How exciting that soon the big mystery if my color will be revealed." I also looked at it as: "Woo Hoo! My own, little chance to be a social deviant! Ha! Defy convention. TOWANDA!!!" The other, most amazing thing that came from this positive outlook that kept me on this path - I MET ALL OF YOU MY SILVER SISTERS!!! I would have never ever met all of you and would never have been the recipient of so much love, encouragement and support in my life, had I not gone gray and connected with all of YOU! We've connected with each other, here, on Facebook, in our respective groups and with our friends and family. Our silver is a "conversation piece" that has fostered all kinds of talks and reaching out and the making caring relationships. Now isn't that worth it!? :)
It's fine and NORMAL to have our down days. I sure do! Nobody is constantly positive. Then you'd be a scary Stepford wife or a humanoid robot only programed for "perma-smile." That's not real. You're real. Just know that over the years, I have learned time and time again, that my attitude about this whole journey has been one of the biggest helps or hindrances to my happiness regarding my gray hair.
Until next, know that ALL THINGS MUST PASS. You'll feel better soon if you just use a bit of TLC and positivity. You can do this Silver Sister!!! \(^-^)/
P.S. PLEASE, stop by any time to my Facebook page and feel free to join and share your stories or pictures with our other Silver Sisters! I love hearing about your "adventures too."