What is it like the 1st year of Going Gray?

September 10, 2017

No kidding, it is a great feeling to accomplish the year-long goal of going gray.  All I had to do was endure the changes and keep on – keeping on.

Come on, that’s it?  Keep on, keeping on?  Do tell more.  What was the first year like?

Did I have any expectations and fears going into it?

You bet.  The head games are the toughest part of going gray.  My own personal obsessions with the process hit me as an embarrassment now that I’m looking back at the year in review.  In retrospect though, it was a form of a journal.  I did find it beneficial no matter what.  And I’d recommend you journal or document the process somehow to see how far you’ve come in a year’s time!

I really did look a bit scared back when I started the journey.

IMG_1549Now I feel more relaxed and happy about my hair!

IMG_3884cIf you’re someone who is thinking about going gray and have found my blog, I hope you find some comfort and support you need.  I know when I stumbled upon the Gray and Proud Facebook group it helped me tremendously.  Especially when I struggled with the decision to keep going gray.

Was the year-long journey of going gray tough?

On one hand, you bet it was tough.  In a mental tough kind of way.  Early on I had definitely had to find ways to keep motivated.

On the other hand, Nah, it wasn’t that hard after all.  Funny how quickly a year flies by when you stop worrying about what other people think.  Or you learn how to deal with the mind games of the process.

Did my hair turn out the way I envisioned it would?

That’s a tough question.  I’m not sure for a couple of reasons.

After coloring for 12 years, I forgot what my original hair color looked like. When I started out on the journey to gray, I hoped it wouldn’t look witch-like.  The jury is out on that one.  Some mornings, upon rising, my hair does look a bit scary.  But it did when I colored it too.  Curly hair has a mind of its own no matter what color it is.

My choice to cut off the majority of the colored hair early on helped speed things up for me.  Saying bye-bye to the brown was a blessing!

IMG_2740Doing so revealed what the final gray would look like. I’ve had several months to get comfortable with it.

I am still surprised to have a lot of my original dark black color in the back and more white in the front.  A look I didn’t anticipate.

IMG_3623c

I kind of imagined it would just be all gray.  I’m happy with the natural mix of black, gray, and silver.  The end result has way more depth and character from when I had colored or tried highlighting it in the past.

Does my hair texture feel different or healthier?

Absolutely!  My hair is incredibly soft now.  Not as coarse as I thought it would be. My scalp doesn’t itch like it did when I colored it.  I don’t even have to do the no-poo method to have healthy feeling hair.

Do I have any doubts about the decision to go gray?

Frankly, some days, yes I do.

Oh no, really?  Yep.

Unfortunately, as a female in her 50’s, I succumb to the silly self-imposed societal rituals of being overly critical of my hair.  No different from I did when I was 20, 30, 40, etc.

I still get worried if my hair doesn’t “look okay” before I head out of the house.

Doing things out of my comfort zone takes confidence.  I remind myself, my hair isn’t the source of confidence.

Confidence isn’t rooted in hair color.

The biggest moments of doubt hit me when I see pictures of myself (aka, not one of my selfies).  I find myself thinking, “Holy sh*t who is that woman with the gray hair?” Yikes.that.is.me! Pictures in the sunshine tend to emphasize the light gray tints.

IMG_3324I freaked out a bit when I first looked at my About Me transformation picture.

gg

Just watching my transformation from long dark hair to shorter gray hair still surprises me in a way.  I don’t think that would’ve happened had I never colored my hair.  Gradual changes to gray hair color over the decades is way less intimidating than a dramatic change in one year.

Am I sad I didn’t keep my long hair during the transition and for making the choice to cut most of my hair off to speed up the process?

Honestly, some days, yes.  I knew I’d get to the awkward length stage. Growing out short hair is a pain in the butt.  Right now, my hair is too long for a nice short style, and too short for a nice long look.  Sigh.

Other days, I am beyond happy I no longer have any of the old colored hair.  3 months ago was my last salon trim.  Not having any of the old colored hair makes the process of growing it out easier for me.  For those who are enduring the let-it-grow-out-and-not-cut-it process, kudos to you!  I encourage you to follow your heart and do what’s right for you.

Oh, and I taught myself how to trim my bangs (thanks to a few YouTube videos, this one was helpful in showing the options).  Not having to go back to the salon (aka, the place of coloring temptation) saves time and money.  I do miss chit-chatting and catching up with my hairdresser though.

Are there any disappointments about gray hair now that I have it?

I’m a bit disappointed about how sensitive it is to heat from curling or straightening irons.  The heat elements seem to turn some of my grays a brassy blonde-like color.  I need to figure out how to avoid that other than limiting the use of heat on my hair. The purple shampoo routine helps a bit but not as much as claims on the bottle.  I came across a tip re the curling/flattening irons:  A thorough cleaning of the blades on the irons helps to remove residual chemicals that tend to build up over time.  When the blades are dirty and heated up and you apply to your hair, your hair will absorb the burnt chemicals and turn the gray hairs a yellowish tint.  Bottom line, it is important to keep your tools clean!

Do I receive comments about my hair, good or bad?

Nope, no more or less from I did when I was coloring my hair.  Unless people are doing what, or want to do what you’re doing with their hair, in general, they don’t spend a ton of time commenting on other people’s hair.  Really.they.donot!

I receive the same number of compliments as before I went gray.  The rare compliments just make me smile more.  The decision to go gray is a private and self-reflective choice. Any bit of reassurance along the way helps, no matter what phase.

And, it is rare to have anyone say out loud to me that they don’t like it.  People are genuinely polite.

People who do compliment me are those who have already gone gray, those who wish they could have gray hair or those who just like the look of gray hair.  No different from those who wished they had curly hair, or dark hair, or highlighted hair, or short hair, or all the other stages of hairstyles I’ve had over the years.

Do I feel older with gray hair?

That is too funny.  Duh.I.am.a.year.older.

I still don’t think the gray hair makes you look older.  Our choices in hair color shouldn’t make us feel anything but good about ourselves.

Now that I pay attention to people who have gone or are going through the transition to gray, I think natural hair color, whatever it is, makes a person look their age and compliments their skin tone the best.  I find it reassuring that nature doesn’t make mistakes.

Would I recommend going gray to others?

Absolutely…but only when the time is right for them.  It is a very personal decision.  If you are ditching the dye, prepare yourself.  It takes 6-24 months to complete depending on the route you take and the length you want your hair when done.  I think that’s why some people say, “You’re brave to go gray.”

It’s not the end result of being gray that makes you brave.  It’s the journey.

It is the journey that takes bravery, persistence, commitment, and dedication to keep your changing self-motivated.  Whether you’re ditching the dye, or stopping drinking, or overeating, or overcoming being a couch potato to learn to run a marathon, the process of changing yourself in any way takes bravery. Read about others who have been there and done the going gray process, it helps!  I watched many of Susan Paget’s YouTube videos early on to keep motivated.

And, if you’re thinking about covering your gray for the first time, I’d be the first to tell you, “DON’T do it!”

What takeaway thoughts do I have about the 1st year of going gray?

No matter what, sticking through the thick and thin of emotional battles during the journey helped me (personally) grow the most.

I’m very happy with my decision to go gray.  I can’t think of a time in my life I loved my hair more.  I know I’m never going back to coloring it.  Been.there.done.that!

Oh and last, but not least, silver sisters (and brothers, cuz’ yes, guys have feelings about this too!) – Good.Graycious – It’s.Just.Hair.  Go ahead, embrace your gray hair!  You won’t regret it!

Daily Post Prompt re-posted 12/31/17:  Almost

 

Pocket

By Shelley

Letting my quirk out one post at a time.

6 Comments

  1. Reply

    EmotionalNotions

    Coloring the hair is too much work and the chemicals can cause negative health issues. Sometimes gray hair can make good skin seem even younger, wondering if the person went gray “early”. You look nice, I took embrace it.

    1. Reply

      shelleykrupa@gmail.com

      Ah, so true, it is a lot of work and chemicals are nasty! Thanks for stopping by to read the post, I appreciate your feedback too!

      1. Reply

        EmotionalNotions

        You are most welcome.

  2. Reply

    Laura

    You look great! This was a very helpful and inspiring post. I’ve thought about it, on-and-off, for a long time but still not ready to go for it yet. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Thank you, Laura! You’re welcome, I’m so thankful you found the information helpful (inspirational…aw, shucks, that’s very touching to hear!). You will know when it is the right time for you!!

  3. Reply

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    […] first of the year. I had a (theory to test) feeling that if I posted on a Facebook group page about “What it’s like the first year of going gray?” it may be something the wannabes to going gray would like to […]

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