Thursday, January 03, 2008

Why We Dye


Er, nope, not talking death today. Got close enough to that with the Sweeney Todd review the other day. But strangely, Mr. Todd does make another appearance in today's blog.

It started two days ago. I woke up, hair was all this way and that. It's short now, remember, I cut it all off in the fall. Love it! There are days I don't even comb it, and it looks fine. Anyway, so back to the this way and that. I stepped into the bathroom, glanced at the mirror and let out what must have been a sort of chirp/eek sound. There was Sweeney Todd staring me in the face. The hair was all out there, and that streak, that huge gray streak down the middle. Aggh!

Okay, so Johnny does do the gray streak much better than me, and okay, he's prettier. But I've got the Sweeney Todd look going on right now because over a month ago I swore off dying my hair.

I know, I woman should never tell if she dyes or not. Only her hairdresser is supposed to know the real truth. Get over it. I've been dying my hair since I was 19. You got it. 19. I've been using semi-permanent color for over twenty years now. Every few months, I touch up the new gray growth that streaks from front to the back of my head. Oh yeah, I couldn't have a few spot grays here and there. This stuff starts all along my hairline and blazes backward like a skunk. Sigh...

So why do we do it? I mean, it started gradually when I was younger. Then, it was fun to experiment with different colors (I've been pink, purple, and accidentally, orange). But now, it's just a chore. Sure I feel great after I've done the deed. Let the color grow out about a month and I'm feeling pale and wishy-washy. Slap on a new coat and my shoulders straighten, I hold my head higher. I feel good about myself when my hair color looks good.

So why did I swear it off? Well, honestly, I'm just tired of doing it every few months. I don't go to a salon; I'm a cheapskate. Most salons don't do semi-permanent, and I still can't talk myself into permanent haircolor. And besides being just sick of the whole process, I thought it would be nice to give the ole noggin a break from the chemicals, you know? Who knows what hair dye does to the brain. The body absorbs those chemicals and well, I have my theories. So I thought to go chemical-free for a while.

But man, this growing out stage is tough. It's about two inches of gray right down the middle. I feel I should break into song about 'My Friend' the straight razor or warble out a ditty about meat pies. Can I hold out much longer? Right now I can pass this off as a stylish fashion a la Sweeney Todd, but another few inches and it'll just be Ugly.

And what if I can hold out? Will I like my new gray self? Or will I run straight for the bottle of dye to erase the error of my ways? It looks like it might be a nice silvery gray, yet I've always looked best with darker colors around my face. Ah, the dilemma!

What about you? Come on, how long have you been a slave to the bottle? Ever think about giving it a break? Why do we do it? For ourselves? Or for others?

22 comments:

Jane said...

The first time I dyed my hair was when I was in college. I dye my hair about twice a year to lighten my dark brown hair. I'm dreading the day where I have to dye my hair to cover the gray. It seems like it takes so much work to maintain the color.

Terri Holley said...

I wrote a post about going gray a few months ago. Out of 140+ posts, this one gets the most attention. There are pros and cons with going gray. From the comments I have been receiving on my blog and via e-mail, more and more 40+ women are honoring the aging process and making the choice to go gray.

http://mhlcoaching.typepad.com/the_health_and_life_mixin/2007/09/gray-hair-is-in.html

Kathleen Eagle said...

The only color alteration I tried in my teens was something that was supposed to give you "sunlights," It was probably basically lemon juice, and I can't say I saw any difference. Fast forward mid-30's. I tried some sort of highlighting process at the salon and soon ended up "brassy." Enough of that until I decided to do the foil highlights (salon job again) around late 40's (? I'm not sure of the age on this one.) It brightens me up. I don't do it more than probably 3 times a year, and I'm seeing more gray all the time as it grows out. It's way too expensive. But it's a major boost for my outlook when I do it.

Back later with a funny story.

Michele Hauf said...

You know, I forgot about what blondes must go through with gray hairs, but Kathy made me wonder. Can blondes gray gracefully, and not have that awful streak down the middle? Is it more blended? Us dark-haired chicks just don't have much of a choice, surrender or dye.

MsHellion said...

I started dying my hair when I was 19 or 20, probably 20. First the wash out color stuff; then permanent. (I always thought I should have Titian red hair instead of medium brown.)

If (when) it starts to gray, it will be dyed even more regularly than it is now. *LOL* I look old enough now without letting the gray hair age me. I mean, some people look distinguished with gray hair. One of our faculty, Nancy, has shoulder length, bobbed, gray hair--salt and peppery; and another Linda, short, salt and pepper hair--and I think they're both (maybe) 50, but they look 40. Not I. I just know if I went that way, *I'd* look every minute of my age and a couple decades more. The Colleys do not age gracefully. We look ridden hard and put up wet. Hair dye helps.

I'm sticking with hair dye, chemicals or not. I ingest enough soda--well, the hair dye is the least of my problems.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I was born blonde, but my hair went the way of that non-descript mousey brown that grays the least graceful of all. Michele, I think the dramatic streak would be cool. Hubby's near black hair went salt and pepper and is now mostly salt--very attractive. But mouse brown gets gray threads, gray temples, dull dull dull.

Candace said...

I didn't start coloring my hair until my late twenties when the pale blond hair I was born with darkened to dishwater blond. I've done single-color processing, double-processing, highlighting, lowlighting, and various combinations thereof.

The grays started coming on about two years ago and I am here to tell you, gray makes blond hair (okay, my blond hair) look drab and me look tired. So, yes, foil highlights every 6-8 weeks are too expensive but they are worth every penny in self-confidence.

Helen Brenna said...

I held off until my 40s to start coloring and now, yeah, I'm hooked. I do it for myself, though, not for others. I do think about quitting, the whole chemicals thing give me the jeebies, but I'm not quite ready. When I do, I'm going commando short!!

Anyone know anything about the glazes or rinses? They're supposed to have fewer chemicals.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Funny story about Mama, who decided somewhere along the line that her natural color would never again see the light of day, so I don't know when she started graying or what form it took. She LOVED going to the hairdresser. So she was doing the curly perm/blonde dye combo, going in way too often, and finally ended up with cotton candy pink. Hairdresser--his name was Angel--was horrified and tried to correct the color during the same visit. He toned down the color, but the hair fell out in chunks. He cried. Ever the Southern lady, Mama told him not to worry. She loved hats. But could he cut it shorter and try to come up with a comb-over plan? It took all day, but at the end of it she said she felt presentable enough to accept his offer of a Marguerita at the nearby imbibery, just to make Angel feel better. And, yes, she stuck with him. Mama believed in being faithful to your husband and your hairdresser.

Keri Ford said...

Born a sun-kissed blonde, when it started faded to a dirt brown, I began highlighting. The first time, I decided up-keep was a pain, so I stopped unless something big was happening...like senior pics. Again, roots came in, so went to the hairdress and told her to dye the rest of my hair the shade of my roots. and it was okay, wasn't a fan of the brown hair after living 80% of my life as a blonde, but it looked better than dark roots on light hair.

Years went by, and then about 6 months we all (by that I mean family) get this email about uses for peroixe. So supposedly, peroixe will slowly lighten your hair. Since I'm the stay-at-home person, I'm the who dumped peroixe on my hair...and you know what? It WORKS! perxoide will slowly lighten your hair (side note, makes it incredible shiny) and I was happy. Until my darn roots started growning back in.

Virginia Lady said...

Well, I too was born that beautiful white gold blonde. Lost it in my teens to a mousy mix of colors resulting in a light brown appearance. But the sun would naturally bleach it so it looked like I had bad highlights. When I finally got sick of the plain look I asked a stylist what would look good. She asked who did my current coloring.

I said the sun and she was shocked. Now I get highlights done throughout my hair every 2-4 months and I like the brightness much better than my natural coloring.

Since I only started this a few years ago, and I'm 41 now, I've got a lot of making up to do, chemical-wise from the average coloring addict. I suppose at some point I'll stop, but it'll probably be because it's a hassle to go and do.

My mom dyed her hair from her early twenties until she had grandchildren in her fifties, then she went au-naturale....grey, very grey. She wore it well though.

flchen1 said...

Haven't started dyeing yet, and am not sure what I'll do once I get more grey. I've always admired highlights and different colors, and maybe it'd be a chance to experiment some? We'll see... :)

Hang in there, Michele--growing hair out is always a test of patience!!

Playground Monitor said...

Time Magazine did a cover story on this back in late summer.

I've never had permanent hair color put in. Once a year (right before RWA conference) I buy a box of Just 4 Men and cover up the little bit of gray I have. It's cheap, it's simple (it's designed for men after all) and it fades out in a few weeks. The first time I did it, I got a shade that was too dark and must have washed my hair a couple dozen times in two days to fade it out. My hairdresser told me the quick, easy way to do it (make a paste of baking soda and water and massage into your hair, let it sit for a bit and rinse out). I haven't had to use the baking soda thing though cause I just bought the next lightest shade. Oh, another easy thing about Just 4 Men is there are only about 5-6 shades, unlike women's hair color that has 560 shades.

I finally quit perming my hair a few years ago when I got orthodontic braces (one website said a new hairstyle would help make the braces less noticeable and give you a morale boost) and saved myself about $250 yearly. I'm not real eager to start doing salon color and cough up that money again.

Hang in there, Michele. It'll be grown out before you know it. And if you don't like it, you can always color it again.

Marilyn

Anonymous said...

I started going gray in my early 30s, so I color and highlight. It is a pain. I'm past 40,and I give it 10 more years, then I'm done with the color thing.

Michele Hauf said...

Great hearing everyone's coloring tales today. (The power has been out here since noon, and it just blinked back on at 7:30, so I've been AWOL this afternoon.) I love what hair color does for my confidence, but I'm willing to give it a go and see if the gray works or not. If not, I'll be back this summer toting my beautiful new dark locks, I'm sure. :-)

MaryF said...

Wow, I'm like you - I started dying it experimentally and now I don't remember what my original color is. My hair is past my shoulders, and when I get gray at the part, I call it "hag hair." I can't bring myself to let it grow out, even though both my parents have beautiful silver hair. I'm only 41!! But BOY do I hate coloring it.

Kaitlin said...

I'm sorry...I had to giggle at this entry. :) I'm 31 and have been going silver since I was 16. It's a genetic thing, since my mom has been silver since she was in her very early 40's. I don't care about my hair all that much. It's still dark brown for the most part and the silver just looks cool.

Maybe it's because I'm not vain? I don't know. My mom is one of the least vain people I know & she just lets her hair shine for the world to see. I'll probably be like her when I'm her age...I hope. :D

lois greiman said...

I've been thinking that when my hair starts graying I might just dye the whole mess grey so it's all one color. But...who knows? Vanity and all that.

Samantha Hunter said...

Coming in here late as I obsess on a proposal I want out the door. I didn't start dyeing my hair until about 5 years ago and that was mostly fun -- I liked doing stronger reds than my natural auburn, and bleach highlights, etc. Then I read an article which said the best hair color for you as an adult was the one you had as a child, so I took the picture to my hairdresser (permanent hair color really isn't permanent, btw, it just lasts longer and actually is good conditioning -- my hair always looks/feels great after a color), and she matched it, and that's been the color I've stuck with.

Lately, I do it more because of the increasing grey, which simply doesn't look good on me and I feel too young for it. Maybe when I'm 60. But I've been rethinking just because it's expensive, about $70 every 8 weeks. I won't do box color, call me a snob, but I've tried it and the result is just not the same.

I'm sort of in the same boat as you are, tho, since, if you look at my web pics, my hair there is all one length, cut short and under, which I like -- I let her talk me into layers a few years ago, and saw an Xmas pic from this year and was like AHHHHGGGGG! Really, the layers DON'T work for me, too many curls for a 45 year old. So, I have to go through the awkward stage of growing things out, and may color while I let it grow out, or not, and really get skaggy before I got get it fixed up... we'll see...

Sam

Betina Krahn said...

I colored my hair (blond) just after college and loved it. Kept it that way through marriage, two kids and three major moves. Then I let it grow out and went to perms instead of color. My hair is so fine that it needs a texture boost and coloring or perming provides that.

I was au natural for a long time. . . but after husband died I had to brighten up the winter or else. . . so I got "highlights." And as every one here knows, highlights become full coloring in no time. Now I have color touch-ups about every 6 weeks. And my hairdresser is always looking for new(and cheaper) ways to help me keep the hair bright and cheerful.

I'm with you, Kathy. This dishwater-mouse brown doesn't gray nicely. Looks yellowish, streaky, and just plain depressing to me. The women in my family have never grayed nicely. So I guess I'll color for another 10+ years. . . until I retire. By then, I'll be ready to go "comando short" and will positively love it!
That's my plan!

Betina Krahn said...

Michele, we should at least get to see the "skunk stripe"! C'mon girl-- photos!

Michele Hauf said...

Oh, heck no, Betina. Well, maybe I'll try to take a pic of the stripe. The Boy is home today because he had 3 wisdom teeth yanked this morning. If he's feeling better later (and he is in a goofy mood) I'll have him take a pic.

As for the vanity part of dying ones hair. Sure, I can get behind that. But the growing out part is worse. If you naturally go gray it's gradual, and might even look kind of cool. But this sudden decision to just quite coloring means I've gray, and then a very definate line where the dark brown starts. Not nicely blended or natural by any means. So yeah, I'm vain about that cause it's just plain ugly. :-)