Everywhere we look, we see hair in every color of the rainbow. This feels new, but it’s not. We’ve been coloring our hair for centuries. We have historical records depicting romans sitting in the sun with hair soaked in a lime wash, baking and gossiping for hours while their hair turned orange. Anthropologist Harry Shapiro wrote: “So universal is this urge to improve on nature … that one is almost tempted to regard it as an instinct”.
Today, hair coloring is so popular, 75% of women color their hair, compared to 7% in 1950. In Nora Ephron’s 2006 book “I Feel Bad About My Neck”, she gives hair color total credit for turning back the clock on aging. She says hair color is “. . . the most powerful weapon older women have against youth culture.” No one wanted to be gray.
But attitudes toward gray are shifting, fast. Pinterest reported an 879% jump in the use of the search term “going gray” from 2017 to 2018. The last time gray hair was this hot was probably the 1700s, when Marie Antoinette types would dust wigs with white rice flour. So, why is ‘going gray’ on everyone’s minds? When you noticed your first gray hairs, you found you could cover them pretty easily. And infrequently.
But, gray hair is progressive–10%gray isn’t noticeable much as it grows out. But 10% becomes 20%, 20% becomes 30%, then 40% and twice a year root touch-ups become every six week visits. Once your hair hits 50% gray, your percentage of white/gray to natural hair moves pretty fast, and before you know it, you’re seeing your stylist every 3 weeks—you have now become a slave to your hair color.
White roots and shoe-polish-looking hair color is no longer stylish or young-looking. In fact, obviously dyed hair is now considered ‘aging’. It’s also time-consuming, expensive, and annoying. How did this panacea to aging become a monkey on our backs?
Maybe all the fake news and daily lies makes us determined to create more transparency in our lives (and our beauty routines). Maybe we crave ‘Real’, or the illusion of it, anyway. Maybe we’re just busy, and need less on our plates.
So, what to do? You can free yourself from hair color slavery. If your hair is tinted brown, the process of letting your gray grow out could demand a major salon commitment, involving multiple bleachings. One stylist in Phoenix says it takes 9 hours, and don’t even think of getting off cheaply. Even embracing your natural gray can entail a lot of salon time or torturous hard color lines, to grow out existing dye.
Or . . . you can subtly change the way you color your hair, blending rather than ‘covering’ your natural gray. Get back to your previous stress-free maintenance schedule—it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are tricks. We like to call this clever process “Hair Color Renovation“.
Every head of hair patterns the gray in a different way and it’s different with each person. Hair color is sort of a science experiment and gray hair—fake or natural—must jive with your coloring to work. You have other options. It’s not always eliminating the salon color process itself that’s liberating, it’s the option to choose, to make the trip to your stylist be whatever and whenever you feel. It should be your choice. Free your hair.