Silver. My hair is not gray, and it’s definitely not blonde; it’s silver.
Today I’m taking a break from talking about adoption/foster care to talk about hair – funny, I know.
Silver Hair, Maybe
I was in my mid-twenties when I noticed my first gray hairs. No matter, I thought as I plucked them out.
By thirty, there were too many to pluck, and a friend suggested I cover them with temporary hair color, keeping my natural dark brown color.
This began a routine I maintained for twenty years. As my natural hair became more predominantly silver, it became far more difficult to hide the bright color shining through. I colored my hair and it seemed within one week a bright streak would show along my part.
Sometimes I colored it myself; occasionally I had it colored professionally, but, of course, nothing changed how quickly the silver reappeared.
I tried many products to hide that streak, from colored mousse to something akin to hair mascara, to regular dark brown mascara itself.
By my mid-forties I began talking about letting my hair go natural and be silver. I looked at loads of pictures of younger women with silver hair, read articles, and talked with Russ and my kids.
At one point I began the process, even adding lowlights and highlights to break up the bright silver stripe of my roots, but after two months I couldn’t bear it and reverted back to the box of hair color under my bathroom counter.
Yet, I was always self-conscious about my roots showing and I was tired of the color.
The decision-making process began again.
There were a few reasons I was hesitant about going silver.
1. | The process. I knew there would be awkward phases of my hair growing out, no matter how much I tried to hide it. My friend and hair stylist, Kelly, was committed to helping me make the transition and was reading about it as much as I was. She had ideas for lowlights and highlights, so I wasn’t completely on my own, but no matter what, the silver hair had to grow in.
2. | Looking old. Would having silver hair make me look older? Probably – maybe? Or would I look more interesting? I wasn’t sure. Some people make the simple assumption that gray hair (those people wouldn’t say silver) means old. Could I make up for my hair by not looking “old” in other ways?
3. | Having young kids. Would it be fair to my younger kids? Honestly, to little kids, I already look old compared to their moms, and when I go to my boys’ baseball games, I am the oldest mom there, so why not let my hair be what it wants to be?
4. | What if I changed my mind? The process of letting the silver grow in was slow – think 1/2 inch per month. Many women cut their hair short, but I was not prepared to go short. Many months into the process, I knew I couldn’t go back because I would never want to start over.
1. | Who cared about the color of my hair? If I liked the silver and Russ liked it, who was I coloring it for? Was it to keep people around me from knowing I had silver hair under the dark brown? Why did it matter if they knew? I was fifty – should I be ashamed of my age? Age is the strangest thing; every thirty-something person I know will be fifty some day. Nearly all of them will have silver hair one day too. What’s the big secret?
2. | I like being different. Frankly, I like being different. None of my friends had fully silver hair yet, and I was pretty sure when mine came in, it was going to be bright and bold. I felt ready for that. I’ve lived my life differently from lots of people, and I’m comfortable with it.
3. | I wanted to be my authentic self. Coloring my hair had begun to feel like covering something up, like I was ashamed of my silver, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to be more fully authentic – that’s not to say I think you should stop coloring your hair to be more authentic! This was my own journey – you be whatever color you want to be! As a side note, sometimes color is just plain fun. My daughter put a temporary blue streak in my hair which I fully enjoyed until it washed out a few days later. This is all about breathing deeply and enjoying being yourself.
4. | I wondered about the chemicals. I put chemicals on my scalp every few weeks for twenty years. I have an autoimmune disorder and just the smell of the hair color made me question myself. Do I still use not-so-good cleaning chemicals in my home? Yes, but I don’t rub them all over my head and let them soak in until a timer dings. Maybe one day I’ll stop using those too.
I had grand plans to blog my way through the process of going silver, then our accident happened about six months into the process and, as you know, everything else became of little importance. I took a few pictures along the way, and there are family pictures too.
The process felt slow at times and required my friend, Kelly, to experiment a lot with subtle highlights and lowlights. She did all the work, I did a lot of angsty reading online and pinned lots of pictures to our shared Pinterest board.
I knew I didn’t want to look blonde, and sometimes the color got too warm for me so we had to correct it. It was a learning curve, but we were both willing to keep trying.
As the silver came in, people began to notice and comment; it was shiny and they liked it. Other women, even strangers, confided they wanted to let their silver come in but hadn’t had the courage.
At one year, the transition was going well and my hair looked decent.
At eighteen months, I felt nearly there; I also cut it a little shorter to speed up the process.
At two years the last bits of blondish tones from highlights and lowlights were gone and from then on, the color of my hair was my own. What you see now is just the way it grows out of my head.
From time to time I see pictures of my dark hair and I miss it, but most the time I feel confident and healthy with my silver hair.
Last year I pierced my nose – somehow it seemed like a nice balance to the change of hair color. I’d been thinking about piercing my nose for a decade and the timing seemed right.
[Edit: This post is seriously so much fun, I keep coming back and adding little things. I’ve gotten several comments about piercing my nose at 52. I have to share the best story about it here. I asked one of my best friends, Kathleen, if she thought I was too old to pierce my nose and this is what she answered, “I think you’re old enough to do whatever you want!” I still laugh every time I think of it. I like my nose. Russ likes it. I’m pretty sure that’s all that matters!]
One more thing: Shampoo absolutely matters for keeping silver hair looking good. I use Matrix Total Results So Silver.
How about you? What are your thoughts on silver hair? Are you old enough to have any yet? Do you think you would embrace it? Do you have silver hair?
I would love to hear from you! It’s kind of a fun conversation compared to lots of what we talk about, right?
I have lots to do in preparation for heading to Seattle Wednesday morning. I may not be back on the blog this week unless I can squeeze in a little time while I’m on the road. I’ll try to post on Instagram!
I hope your week is off to a grand start.
If you’re thinking about ordering a custom Mother’s Day necklace, the deadline for ordering in time for Mother’s Day delivery is this Wednesday, May 3rd.
Thanks so much for reading, friends.