May 30, 2008

Should you dye your gray hair and if so, when?

I've always had a few gray hairs, but in the last few weeks, I've been noticing a lot of them. Enough that I am starting to wonder if I should do anything about them.

Keep in mind that I've never colored my hair before. Ever. I haven't even had a perm since high school. My hair is healthy and shiny and has always been my crowning glory, my favorite feature. But now . . . I'm starting to get a little self-conscious about all the grays.

I'm 34. I feel too young to be worrying about gray hair. And yet, there's no denying that I have a lot more gray hairs than I did just a couple of months ago.

So, what's a girl to do?

As I see it, I have several options:
  • Do nothing. This is my inclination, but only if I don't get more gray hairs. I'm leaning toward this option because it's the cheapest, it's the easiest, and frankly, I'm terrified of coloring my hair. What if it looks bad? What if it damages my hair? I think I'd prefer some visible grays to a bad color job or unhealthy hair.
  • Color my hair at home. This would be less expensive than going to a salon. But I'm hugely intimidated by the prospect of coloring my own hair. How would I know what shade to get? What if I do it wrong? Even if I managed to get it right, how often would I have to do this? How much time will it take? (At least I know that I could get hair color inexpensively, thanks to The Drugstore Game!)
  • Get my hair colored at a salon. Not surprisingly, this is my least favorite option. Primarily because of cost. But also because it feels like an admission, a defeat. I feel it makes me old. I don't have anything against aging, but I hate the feeling that my life is just slipping past me. When did I get so old that I need to cover up my grays? I also have no idea how I would find the time to get my hair colored regularly; I can't even find one hour every six months to get my hair styled.
  • I can also manage my stress better. When I was younger, I noticed that the number of gray hairs increased during times of stress. During exams, especially, I would suddenly find little streaks of gray. So I'm thinking that maybe I've been internalizing too much stress and that's why my hair is turning gray. While I'm not thrilled about the idea that I'm so stressed out to the point of manifesting it physically, I think this would be preferable to turning gray simply because of age. Unless I've already reached the max number of grays for the rest of my thirties, in which case I can learn to live with it.
  • I can eat better. Or more precisely, I can eat foods that are supposed to help hair grow dark. I grew up hearing that seaweed in particular makes hair dark, and fortunately, I love the stuff!
What would you do?


Denise Mall said...

I remember feeling there was no way I was ever going to color my hair. After all, I have always had full fabulous blonde hair. The kind most blonds wish they had, instead of the thin stringy hair.

Being blond, gray is not an issue. I don't suspect it ever will be, since my great-grandmother was the same and her hair turned into beautiful white cornsilks. So, there is hope for me.

Then a couple years back, I thought my hair grows back so fast - why not try something crazy? I went to the salon paid a bit of money and came out a red head. Something I truly enjoyed, while it lasted. Plus, being a blond, I never had root issues, my hair just lighted, bit by bit.

Anyway, I say throw caution to the wind. Go try it, at a salon, just once. Don't worry, enjoy the relaxing time away from your mommy duties. And remember, hair grows back.

Lifes short, live every minute of it.

Mrs. Bargain Hunting Wife said...

My officemate has totally gray hair and wears it in a cute bob. I think she looks great!

The downside of dying is that once you start, its hard to stop because you have to wait for a while to get your hair all back to gray (until all the dye grows out/gets cut off).

If you do dye, I'd go professional. Which is stupid because all of my dye jobs were in the dorm bathrooms with my roomate's help:) But even at the expense, it will look better and if you don't like it, they should fix it for free! Plus if you pick the right salon, it should be a pampering, girly fun time!

Mrs. Bargain Hunting Wife said...

Whenever I use to dye my hair, I would always feel so flirty and fresh with the new color. I loved that feeling!

Anonymous said...

If you go with a semi-permanent color (such as Nice N Easy) it puts a coating on your hair which doesn't damage the hair and also washes out gradually. That way you can play around with different shades to see which works best for you without the commitment.

Anonymous said...

LOL.. i was just wondering this myself last night.. I am the same age as you, and I pluck, pluck, pluck them.. I haven't colored my hair in ages and I'm just not ready to start again. **Especially** for "age" related reasons and not just cuz it's fun to change it up. I have maybe 50 or 60? I don't know.. Not a whole lot, so plucking isn't too much a nightmare. I make a ritual of it: do the front, then position my mirrors so I can see the back and go through there. Every couple weeks I do this. I just like to, I think. I don't have kids though, so that probably effects the kind of time I'm able to devote to it! I basically refuse to color it until the little buggers completely overrun me.

Andrea said...

I am 32 and have been regularly coloring my own hair for almost 2 years. I'm like you - don't want to pay the salon to do it. I do use a semi-permanent (I think it's Natural Instincts) and I find it's gentler to my hair than the permanent color, and it "blends" better with my natural color. Plus with coupons I can get it for about $4. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm 34 too and have really started to get gray in spots. I think my hair is very healthy as well, since I don't do much to it chemical wise. I have really long hair and have decided to just leave it. Too much trouble (and cost!) to dye it in my opinion. I figure God designed me this way...why fight it!

Camille said...

I noticed gray hairs a few months ago and am debating this very thing. I don't need to dye yet, but soon.

I will probably bite the bullet and go professional and have some fun! I figure if I have to go gray way before I'm ready, then I might as well enjoy it!

Rachel said...

I'm 31 and the last few years have been getting many more grays when my roots grow out. I have been dying my hair for several years now, always myself, and I have always been happy with the results. If you follow the directions dying your own hair is easy and I don't feel like I have damaged my hair at all. I have very healthy hair (I have never processed it in any other way, never use a blow dryer).

I dye my hair just cause I like different colors and always have.

MetaMommy said...

I loved the reddish streaks in my hair because they were natural, but no one believed me. I've always had a few gray hairs, but hardly worth worrying about. But the number just exploded in the past year, and they're focused on the crown of my head. I'm about 5' tall, so everyone notices my head. It's funny how low maintenance I used to be, but how that's changed as I've aged.

Despite thinking I would never do it, I just got tired of seeing the gray in the mirror. I went to a salon and got it colored my same color. It was sad because, like you, I felt that feeling of defeat. I also really didn't like the routine cost, but I genuinely felt better for it. And because the color matches my natural color almost exactly, the root problem isn't as prominent as if I went for a radically different color. I just see a few grays sprouting up, but they don't bother me as much for some reason.

However, being pregnant, I've avoided getting my hair colored since December. It's funny because I can see exactly how much my hair has grown over the past few months, and it's amazing (~4 inches)! Of course, rapid growth is a con for coloring because it exposes your roots sooner than later.

Anyway, I'm glad I went with a salon because it meant I couldn't screw it up. And I didn't end up with a brown neck/ears. If you do use color at home, I've heard that applying vaseline or baby oil to your neck and ears will prevent the pigment from staining your skin.

Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a girl, but it seems like a balance of these options is necessary. Go to a salon once and see what you think. For long-term, color your own hair (I don't know what goes into this, but it seems manageable enough), and eat better. Eating better is always great and helps the stress (as well as the figure). Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

Sincerely Yours said...

I, too, am 34 and have started noticing some pesky gray hairs. I am so glad to hear that some other young gals are having this same dilema. I think for right now I can pluck here and there and not have them be very noticeable but I am concerned about what to do in the future. I have red hair and I think this is the hardest color to try and get a natural looking dye job. I don't want purple, pink, or orange hair! The man who cuts my hair told me that there is no way he could recreate my natural color. His advice was to wait until I couldn't stand it anymore. The cost of upkeep would also be a factor. Can't wait to hear what you decide to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm 42 and have been dying my hair since my mid 20s (I starting getting gray hairs in high school). I color mine at home and I love it. I used to spend about $100 bucks a pop at a salon, but since I have to color my hair every 2-3 weeks, this would put me in the poor house. I also only color my roots, since that is the only place gray appears. I find this keeps my hair looking and feeling very healthy.

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

I've been getting grey hairs since my twenties. It's now over 50% grey, and I do colour it. I do it at home, with L'oreal Preference. Works well. I don't like doing it, but I hate the salon more. Every six weeks is best for good coverage. The grey really washes me out or I wouldn't mind so much.

Anonymous said...

I am 49 and have been dying my hair since mid-30s. At first I did it at home, but it was messy. At first it was OK - I choose a nice auburn color. Then one day I tried a different color which looked OK on the picture but ended up turning my hair jet black. Not only that but as I did a lousy job in getting the color even the back of my had had orange spots like on a calico cat. I had to go to a salon to have it fixed.

Since then I started going to salons. But... I have a pretty high salary and low expenses, so the expense isn't a big deal for me. If it had been I'd do it myself.

As to what you should do. It depends on a) how many gray hairs you have, how noticeable it is, can you pull them out and b) do you care how you look? do you care if you look 10 years older than your age? This is what having gray hair does to you. If you don't care - and it is perfectly fine not to - then don't do it. If you do - try it at home, see if you like the result. Choose some of those temporary colors that only last a few weeks first and see if you like it. This way you can always stop.

Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm so glad that I'm not alone in how I'm feeling!

I still haven't decided what to do, but I am still leaning toward doing nothing. Kitty asked an excellent question about whether it bothers me that the grays make me look older, and I actually don't think there are enough grays at the moment to have that effect.

Of course, I'm concerned that I'm going to continue getting more grays and then I will look older, but for the time being, I'm grateful that they are still relatively sparse (though there are a lot more of them than there used to be!). If I do continue turning gray, I'm going to have to do some hard thinking about Kitty's question. I honestly don't know if it'll bother me - I think it will depend on how it looks!

Father Sez said...

Maybe you should also ask your male readers this question.

I tried to dye my hair once and all my children laughed their heads off. (My wife was a little more polite...she just giggled and giggled.)

It's been a mixture of gray, white and black since then.

FB @ said...

Stress is definitely something that causes white hair for me

I guess the trick is not to stress out :) I can do that. But I wonder if stressing out is what causes the grey hairs and then they just never go away!? :|

I better get working on some relaxation tips....

I'm going to link this