Gray Hairs? Who Cares?

So, I’m around 30 years old, and over the past few years I’ve noticed a persistent grayening (not a word) of my hair. It first became noticeable/distressing a few months before my wedding, so like any properly crazed bride-to-be, I dyed it before the big day. Then I cut all my hair off. Not the sort of lighthearted “I’ll get a bob!” thing that many brides do after their updo days are behind them. Nope: I got my hair cut so short that my stylist shaved the back of my neck. (I could write a whole separate post about neck stubble.)

Needless to say, I barely thought about my hair for about a year, as it was really liberating and freeing to just forget about it for a while. But! Now it’s back to shoulder length, I’m back to parting it on the side, and now I can no longer ignore the gray strands along my hairline that greet me in the bathroom mirror every day, glistening in the morning sunlight.

Cartoon drawing of curly haired girl with gray spiky hairs
Pictured: Hattie's Sunburst. Also, art.

A gray hair here and there is not a problem. Everyone has them, and they represent your pigment-producing cells’ having gone to Pigment-Producing Cell Heaven. But the corner of my hairline is becoming a veritable pigment cell graveyard. Not to mention that my grays don’t play nicely with the rest of my hair. First of all, they stick together in the upper corner of my hairline in a configuration I like to call the Sunburst. Second of all, they are total wusses and break at the first sign of heat styling. And, most incredibly, they’re straight. The rest of my hair, as illustrated here, is super curly.

As I’ve attempted to adjust to this perplexing new situation I’ve reached out to friends of both genders. As always, the lovely women I spend my time with commiserate with my circumstance and share their own experiences. The men, on the other hand, free as they are from the stigma of going gray, pretty much run the gamut. My best gay points out the sunburst with a smirky sort of half-joking, half-not manner that he pretty much majored in in college. One good friend is very pro-gray and is married to a beautiful salt-and-pepper gal himself. And finally, one of my oldest and dearest friends expressed his belief that if I let the grays keep going as they are, I will soon look like Rogue from X-Men.

So, what to do? The decision I’m referring to, of course, is whether or not to dye my hair. I’m not opposed to dyeing it; I’ve tweaked my dark brownish-red color a few shades here and there throughout adulthood. But it’s always been for fun. It’s different now. What I’m concerned about is starting this now, and “¦ never ending it. Because the grays are just going to keep growing. There’s some sort of plague that’s killing all my pigment cells and I don’t know how to save them. If I just keep dyeing it, how soon before I’ve passed, despite the warnings from Christine Daae, the Point of No Return?

Anna Paquin as Rogue from X-Men
Pictured: Hattie's future? Also, boobs.

What I really want from myself is to be able to just say “eff it” and leave my hair alone. Let it go gray naturally, gradually, and just accept it. Set a good example for other women who are trying to make their own decisions. Hold out hope, too, that once it’s all gray I’ll have the sort of fabulous silver tresses you see on senior models.

It’s not unlike the Boobs Issue. When I was a younger, scrawnier little thing, I wished I had boobs. When I finally got them, I was all, “That’s it?!” and wished they were bigger. Then, sometime around senior year of high school, I just stopped caring. I have small boobs. I don’t care anymore. I don’t want a bra from Vicky’s that “adds two cup sizes” because I think my cups are fine. Considering how many things about my appearance I tend to be insecure about, this is really quite remarkable.

So that’s where I hope to be with my gray hairs. I think I’m almost there. It won’t be too much longer, after all, before I won’t have to tilt my forehead toward a light source for people to see the grays. The dark color of my natural hair will force my hand. It’s just hard to accept that something ““ anything ““ of mine is dying, and will stay dead. (RIP, little cells!) And it’s going to be strange for this proud brunette to transition into being a light-haired lady. But I’m going to try.

Photos: tumblr and courtesy of the author

13 thoughts on “Gray Hairs? Who Cares?”

  1. OH MY GEE. I have a ton, right where my bangs start and then bunches over my ears.

    Mine are kinda a glaring, sparkling, curly white (my hair is a straight goldy, red-y brown). My sister-the-cosmetologist says you can buy shampoo with a slight tint that will gently dye your white/grey hairs a darker tone but won’t really affect the rest of your hairs.

    I’m too lazy to do this. Also, too cheap. But it is an option.

  2. Hattie, I feel your pain. I get the occasional gray that I pluck, but I have a whole mess of them UNDER the top layer of my hair. I’m leaning toward starting to dye it soon — as I age, the once light brown has turned mousy, and it no long highlights in the sun on it’s own like it used to. But yeah, the “starting and never stopping until I’m too old to drive to the salon or the drugstore” is sort of overwhelming.

  3. Oh man, I can so relate to this. I’m 28 and I’ve discovered occasional gray hairs off and on since I was 18. But in the last year, they’ve started accumulating in little patches… near my part, behind each ear. I am still at the stage where I will pluck one or 3 every few months and then forget about it, but I know it will soon be a situation. The women in my family go gray young. Of course, these grays are also even more kinky and wirey than my already crazy curls, so I can only imagine what kind of crazed afro I’m going to be rocking eventually. At the moment, I’m enjoying my natural hair color, and I figure I’ll experiment with color once it becomes obvious that I have to do something about the grays. I’m hoping that still several years off, but I’m not so sure.

  4. Hattie, I feel you. My hair is also curly (well, somewhere between wavy and properly curly, depending on the weather and its mood), but my gray hairs are stubbornly much coarser and straighter. And unlike some ladies, who start with a dignified looking darker gray progression, mine are a white as a sheet. Whiter! (I’m not very good at the housekeeping stuff.)

    Fortunately, I don’t have the sunburst. I started going gray very early* (21?) but slowly. Mine are kind of streaked throughout. I’m actually kind of looking forward to when I hit the tipping point. I’m almost thirty, but I get mistaken for much younger all the time. It will be nice to not be constantly undermined by people who think I’m an intern instead of a director.

    *Not as early as my brother, who is 22 now and more salt than pepper.

  5. I’m starting to go gray, and I kind of like it. I wear a relaxer, so dyeing isn’t an option, and rinses/cellophanes merely turn the hair the same color as the base. I can remember my mom having errant blue and purple hairs when she got her jet black cellophane.

    People insist that when I get more grays I will rush to cover them, but I’m quite looking forward to going gray. I’ve always wanted to be a superheeo. Anything that makes me look more like Storm is fine by me.

  6. I started getting a few gray hairs in my mid-twenties. More than ten years later, I have about the same amount. Not a cool gray streak (ala Stacy London) or George Clooney-esque salt-and-pepper, just a handful of grays scattered among my dark brown hair. I color it.

    I color my hair anyway, grays or not, so it’s not so much trying to retain my youth, but altering my rather blah shade of brown. It’s been red, black, highlighted blonde, and pink (usually not all at once), but the grays still poke through.

  7. I might be tempted to let my grays (more like blindingly whites) alone if they grew together in a cool Rogue-like streak, but they’re all scattered throughout my hair and I hate the look of them. So, dyeing it is! My hair is super curly and the whites are, too, just a bit coarser. I’ve had a few grays since college (thanks, genes!), but it wasn’t until last year when I turned 30 that I started getting a lot more of them, so I started dyeing.

  8. That’s my question. WHY are the gray hairs so much thicker and weirder than the rest of my hair? They have a half-curl. They look… ridiculous. I don’t even really mind that they are grey. But I wish they would at least play nicely with the other strands.

  9. My silver hairs are all above and behind my ears. Yes, I have had several stylists tell me I am going grey “like a man,” what of it?

    I thought going long instead of the pixie cut I was rocking at the time would hide them. However, the texture was so different (and really, that’s what bugs me the most … the massive difference in texture, not the colour) that even if I coloured my hair they were all sticky outy and crazy! So in November, I went back to the pixie. The silver hairs are noticeable, but at least they are playing nice with the dark blonde.

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