Silvering

Posted on Jul 30, 2013 | 12 comments

Silvering

Over the past eighteen years, my hair has been every color from a too dark brown to a light, light blonde. I’ve had highlights and lowlights and washes and tints. I turned my hair green once and a lovely shade of apricot on two separate occasions. All of this has been in an attempt to cover the gray that started poking through somewhere around my thirtieth birthday.

My grandmother’s hair was completely white by the time she was eighteen. My mother’s by the time she had me at twenty-two. I always thought their white hair was beautiful and unique. Neither of them attempted to color their hair, ever. They accepted their genetics and wore their snowy locks like a glorious crown.

In spite of this example, when I found my first white hair, panic immediately set in. I didn’t feel ready to be a white-haired lady and I rushed off to find a solution to what I deemed a problem. I’ve been doggedly trying to cover my white hairs ever since.

At first it was easy. A trip to the salon every six to eight weeks kept my locks the dark brown of my youth. In recent years, the quest to cover the gray has become tedious to say the least. Nothing I or any stylist does effectively conceals the abundant white hair for any longer than a couple of weeks.

There have been many times, especially in the last few years, where I have considered just giving in to my gene pool. I’m tired of trying to solve this problem, tired of sitting in a salon chair, and tired of the white halo that still emerges after every attempt to hide it. I’ll let the white grow in for a month or two but, in the end, I always head back to the stylist for another hit of color.

I have several friends, who like me, started silvering at a tender age. Unlike me, they didn’t hide it. I think they’re beautiful. In addition, whenever I see a woman with snowy locks, I always do a double take. I think they are stunning. So the questions remains, why can’t I do the same. Why can’t I allow nature to take it’s course.

A few weeks ago, frustrated at this dilemma I did an image search for “white hair” and came across photo after photo of gorgeous white haired women. I drove my spouse crazy forcing him to look at the pictures while I discussed at great length whether or not I should just begin the silvering process. I politely accosted several women to discuss their beautiful heads of white hair. They were all kind enough to offer me tips to make the transition easier.

In the end, it all came down to Denise Wade. My best friend for fifteen plus years, she grew up in her mother’s salon and has built a stellar career as a stylist. She gives the best cuts (if you live anywhere near Temecula, CA you must look her up) and I knew that she would be brutally honest.

She’s not a fan of gray hair, but I pled my case, showed her some photos, and promised that I would not become frumpy. I explained that I was going for hip and fit and mature. After much contemplation, she decided that my skin color might be compatible with white locks. She decided I could give it a try.

Prior to visiting her in California, I had already allowed about three quarters of an inch of white to grow. I had  also done a pre-cut to a chin length bob to get rid of the old tinted hair and to make the transition to white faster. Over the next four days Denise worked her magic. Two rounds of highlights, several rinses, and a cut later, I was not quite white but considerably lighter and shorter then I’ve been since my mid twenties.

The whole experience has been unnerving to say the least. I don’t think I look bad but I definitely look different. People who’ve just met me, have had favorable comments, and my friends are supportive. My kid’s reactions have been reserved and in a moment when I caught my poor husband off guard the man agreed that I looked like a middle-aged southern belle. Yes, he still regrets it. Bless his heart.

Everyone says it’s a process and I keep reminding myself of this every time I catch a glimpse of the stranger in the mirror that is now me. In the end, when the last remnants of brown and blond are ancient history, when my hair has grown into the style I want, and when Denise Wade gives her final approval, then and only then will I decide if I like this silvering thing.

If at any point I tire of the process, I can always haul my self into the salon for a color fix. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep leaning in and embracing the change. Thank goodness silvering is a choice.

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12 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to see the end result! I agree that I’m glad silvering is a choice, but sometimes all these choices just make things more complicated! I love the term silvering, by the way. Never heard it before you said it!

    • I’ve often thought it would be nice to not have a choice about coloring my hair. If we all just had to live with the hand we were dealt, it would be so much easier. In our youth centered society, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to continue to color. I don’t want to be judged or dismissed as old and worthless because of the color of my hair and that is a fear I have.

  2. I have made the same decision. When dad was sick I didn’t have the time to get in to the salon, and since he has passed just decided that I didn’t like sitting with the goop on my head. It felt like it was damaging what little hair I have. If George Clooney can be salt and pepper gray then so can I. I have always admired silver haired women like Emmy Lou Harris, and Jaime Lee Curtis. I too am going for hip, you can let me know if you think I am pulling it off when you see me next!

    • That’s the rub…men are distinguished and we are frumpy. Thank goodness for gals like Emmy Lou and Jaime Lee for doing it right.

  3. Oh wow, Denise! This is a topic that has been on my mind for the past few years.

    I am committed to eradicating toxins from my life (the ones that I have control over), and thus my decision to stop drinking alcohol, and, of course, my dietary choices, too. I have recently started, after years away from doing so, making my own cleaning and beauty products. Hair color is the last bastion.

    Last month, I had significant grow out, and since I keep my hair very short, I was almost ready to pull the trigger and stop coloring.

    Two things took me back to the bottle at my stylist’s. 1) I am such a red head! Everyone knows me this way, it’s even, dare I say, a part of my brand. And while I do have a fair amount of red naturally, I am certainly not *this* red :) And, 2) I really don’t have that much grey, yet, and it’s definitely not silver. Skin and hair tone compatibility are really important. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it looks good on me. I am more ashy dark blonde with some gray and it just makes me look tired/washed out.

    So, eventually I will do this, and I look forward to the days of ease and less $$ spent on maintaining good color, but for now, red I stay–as I cheer you on from the sidelines!

    • Shanna I love your red hair and since you don’t have much gray and you keep it short and sassy, I say continue to color. It suits you well. Promise if I look tired and washed out, you’ll tell me and I’ll suck it up and head back to the salon in a heartbeat.

  4. 4 years ago I decided to do this. My son (an adult) made a somewhat off hand remark that I just didn’t seem the type to continue to dye my hair. I cut my hair short, something I hadn’t done in years and waited for the grey. No grey. Since it was already short, I always wanted to have black hair, so I dyed it black against everyone’s advice and everyone loved it, LOL! And finally, the grey started to appear in bits and pieces and now, at 58, I am almost completely grey with wonderful streaks of silver, that I love. I think one of the really fun things about having grey hair is that you don’t have to resort to being frumpy. You can still have great cuts and I’m actually considering dreads.

    • Your hair sounds amazing. I’d love to see a photo, Annmarie. I hope I end up with something wonderful and can feel good about how I look white headed.

  5. Good for you! I am not there yet and don’t have too many grey hairs. I had a crazy sister in law who told me I shouldn’t have such dark hair at my age. Go figure (i.e. it’s none of her business). Let us know when you post a photo!

    • I love your dark hair. I think it suits you perfectly. My advice is to hold off doing anything until you absolutely have to. I never got near color until the gray started showing up. Wait as long as you can.

  6. I can so relate! I had managed to “highlight” the gray away until just this past year when my stylist looked at me and said, “No can do. It’s time.” Oh how I wrestled with this. I, too, try to keep all toxins out of my life yet I let him place that color on my head. You, know, the part of body that’s attached to my brain. Yikes!

    I have often fantasized what it would be like to take a year with a close group of women, where we cut our hair very, very short and then support each other growing into gray, white, silver. Loving words. Powerful mantras. Embracing who we are. Congratulations, Denise. I want to see your photo. I’ll bet you look exquisite.

    • Too funny! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve considering shaving my head. Was considering it again today as a matter of fact. I figured people would just assume I had cancer and focus on my bravery and not give another thought my tattered white head. It’s a process…I’m still not use to the mix of mostly blonde and white and definitely not use to the short. I hope once I get it to a style that suits me, I like it better.

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