Journaling My Adventure of Ditching the Dye and
Exactly one month ago I decided to let my hair go gray. I last used hair dye on January 3. I don’t like sharing that I have been dyeing my hair, I prefer to make my own body/care choices without public scrutiny. But I have found the decision to stop dyeing to be an empowering action and to share my story, as other stories have inspired me with their stories, might help someone else decide to ditch the dye.
I have been dyeing my hair for about two decades. I found my first gray hair in my early teens. By my twenties, I was probably quite salt and pepper. After I had kids, at 25, my hair went on its own silver adventure. I don’t really know how gray I have been or even how gray I am, because I have been covering it up for a long time. I used henna for years. I just LOVED henna! Henna is a completely natural dried herbal paste that you mix with a little hot water, maybe some vinegar and other natural substances. It both dyes and conditions your hair. Henna has this marvelous earthy scent, it dries like mud on your hair, and when you are finished (about 2 hours later), after you rinse and rinse and rinse, your hair is super soft and glows. For about 10 years, henna worked great. It layered over the gray and added interesting color texture. But as the silver adventure continued, it became more and more difficult to use henna. It didn’t quite cover those white hairs as well, and I had to do it more often. At a two hour per treatment commitment it became difficult to justify and easier to look into other options.
When looking to switch to hair dye, I wanted to make sure that I was purchasing dye as natural as I could (no ammonia or parabens, etc…). I did the best I could with the “safe” options, but the fact is, there is no safe hair dye. Nope. Not at all. They know this of course because they test hair dye on animals. Another bad. It never sat well with me, but I felt I didn’t have a lot of choices, I was just too young to be gray! I played with a variety of colors over the years: Brown, Black, Mahogony, Chestnut, even Blonde! But for some reason, Silver never seemed like an option until now. I didn’t have gray role models in my life for a long time. My own 80 year old grandmother only stopped dyeing her hair a few years ago. But as a yoga teacher in a rural location for the past 10 years, I have had the honor of teaching many “silver foxes.” I always admire their luscious grays and I think I started to realize that Gray, or Silver, is actually an option and it doesn’t have to mean “old”. Ditching the dye would mean I could stop using products I hated and stop making unnecessary waste. I could also accept my true hair and not feel like I had to cover it up because it wasn’t good enough.
Now, I don’t want this to be a judgement against anyone who still chooses to dye. I get it and I understand where you are coming from. I believe you have to feel ready to take something like this on, otherwise it will just be a miserable experience. Anyone who truly enjoys dyeing their hair should not be judged or pressured to change. But I do think we need to reconsider the idea that gray means old and unattractive. I have also heard that it is more difficult for a woman to get hired, or even to keep a job, if she has gray hair. I don’t think this is a reason to continue to dye one’s hair, it is discrimination, it needs to be challenged, and there is only one way to challenge this sexist act: Go boldly gray. What if our suffragette ancestors thought it was too difficult to work for voting rights? We have to start somewhere. So if you love the dye, feel empowered to keep it going. If you don’t, you should feel empowered to ditch the dye and let yourself go gray.