I was holding my baby son and perusing the toys with him at Costco a few years ago when an old fart wandered by and yapped at us, “Ooooh! Looks like Gramma might get yooo sumpin’ special!” I turned to look over my shoulder before I realized he meant me, and just barely caught and stopped the “FUCK YOU!” as I pursed my lips into a tight smile instead. I huffed off and complained to my partner about it who laughed and laughed, blamed it on the baby robbing us of sleep, and then also said, “Well, you do have gray roots right now, too.” I internally promised myself and that baby that I would keep covering my gray until I was at least 50. I developed an instant hangup about gray hair, even though I found it to be visually pleasing on others.
Flash forward a few years, and here I am, not 50 yet, standing under a very bright skylight and peering at my silvery roots. It’s months into the pandemic, and I am digging these roots. I vaguely remembered that I had seen my first gray hair as a teenager, maybe age 16. But, I started box-dyeing my hair when I was 13, and that started decades of unending hair fuckery that never saw a break. And, for the last 15 years, I’ve seen one of the best colorists in the region — an older undercover punk rock man who made his mark making glam punk hair for national and even international hair shows throughout the 80s & 90s. He was already nearly retired, and would only see a few people a week. There was no way I was going to stop seeing him without a pandemic to separate us. (And, even so, there were some brown bag handoffs between us to keep my roots touched up.)
Letting your hair make the switch from dye job to “silver sparkles” is a really big deal on the internet. I mean, it is a WHOLE THING!
And so it was that I found myself curled up on a window seat and searching the web for ideas on how to best go gray. I already knew there was a trend to completely artificially make your hair gray/silver, but I had no idea that there were “influencers” whose entire realm of influence was predicated solely on them playing with their silver hair on camera, trying out different makeup to go with their silver hair, and drawling on about how one could still be pretty with natural silver sparkles, glitter, etc. And there are pretty amazing colorists that have found a niche helping women transition with bleach and toners with incredible followings as well.
Although I wasn’t too crazy about any one particular silver-haired mermaid extolling the virtues of growing out silver, I did learn a few things, and I did get excited about just growing this out and getting a look at my natural hair. And, I did find the colorist of colorists on Instagram that consistently posts the most lovely before and after shots, Jack Martin Colorist. I learned about toners, purple hair shampoos and conditioners, and also decided to go ahead and give myself a lavender semi-permanent dye job for funsies.
The lavender I used was very subtle, but it did the job of toning out the yellow, gold, and gingery shades in my hair. I’ve had various shades of pink, blonde, and reddish brown hair for almost 20 years, with weird bursts of very dark brown moments when I wanted to completely cover hot pink to work at a law firm or just make a drastic change. I’ve now tried several purple hair shampoos and haven’t noticed any effect whatsoever, but I probably wouldn’t until I have a full head of silver, right? My favorite thing about all of this is that I feel fully committed to never using a dye or bleach with ammonia again. I had no idea that should have been my hangup! 30 years of never going more than about 6 weeks between dye jobs, wow. What.The.Fuck?! Hanging up the hangup, loving every minute of it. Another moment of gratitude during this incredibly hard, weird year.