There are so many ways in which I would like to start this post. Talk about beauty, experience, age, emotions, life, colour. Grey colour? Is it even a colour or merely a shade? Does it represent uncertainty or indifference, age or maturity, boredum or modesty? Not a favourite colour for many, certainly not mine and yet why did the first sight of this colour in my hair NOT make me jump up and run to the salon to get it coloured?
The reason was simple. My greys got me thinking. I believe that life takes you through different stages as you move from one decade to the other. There are bound to be new priorities, new developments, new challenges and new concerns. I saw my first grey as a step towards realising that a whole new chapter in my life was about to begin. I was 35.
Ever since childhood I always had very thick hair. Thick and very long going right upto my waist. My sister had the same thick, long hair too. Every morning half an hour was dedicated in oiling, brushing and plaiting our hair! No easy task considering that we did not have hair conditioners in those days! The full credit for my thick tresses goes to my mum. I loved my hair and was very proud of them. That was just the first decade. The second decade moved towards teenage-hood was where my hair took a rebellious turn! From front flicks to fringes I tried it all, my tresses no longer long but in a fashionable ‘layer cut!’ Then came the unnecessary colouring during my heydays in the modelling world, modelling for leading brands of shampoos and oils where hair had to be dyed jet black and then ironed poker straight not with tongs but with a real iron! Blow dry, curlers, straighteners, I did them all!
Plus I loved being in the sun, playing in the sand, never once bothering to protect my skin with a sun screen or my hair with a serum. But I continued to love my hair! The third decade was very different though with two pregnancies, a chance to be re-born as a stay-at-home-mum which kept me happy but with a falling hair problem after each baby. Not to mention the endless sleepless nights worrying about colic, gas, constipation and whatever that a new mum worries about! The days of non-stop running behind toddlers when a one-off hand brushed through my hair was the best grooming I could get!
But hold on, at 35, while I may not have rushed to get my greys coloured, after a while the need to change my overall appearance did take me to the salon. I went through the beautiful shades of reds as shown by the salon staff on an extensive shade card – the brilliant hues from a luminous mahogany to a scorching auburn to dark cherry, I was biased towards red. I tried on all the shades, year after year, enjoying them like the changing seasons, revelling in the compliments that followed about how much the colour suited me, complimented my skin colour and so on. Till one day I noticed that the greys were standing out more and more, and they showed much earlier than their annual appearance, in more clusters than ever before, seeking attention, demanding justice, asking me to acknowledge their existence! The more I coloured, the duller the reds got, no more as luminous as the lovely shade card samples, my hair started getting dry, very dry and frizzy to the point of looking and feeling more and more like the overused broom kept in my kitchen corner! Hair cuts became more frequent to get rid of the dead hair, but if your hair starts looking dead right from the roots, a haircut is not a solution, unless you plan to go bald! I stood staring at myself in a mirror one day after just having a fresh colour session. I saw a tired, aged woman looking back at me. There were faint lines on her forehead, crinkles near her eyes and her head was covered with dull, lifeless, red hair. It was as if my hair did not match my face! That was the decisive moment. I never coloured my hair ever again.
That was nearly two years ago when I turned 40. And not once in these 2 years was I tempted to cover my greys. Was it an easy journey? No. It took time for me to get adjusted, to let the greys grow out. A totally new, much shorter hair style and a stylist who I could trust, definitely helped. I soon learnt that my friends and family needed time to get adjusted too! They could not watch me turn into an “old lady” and always tried to change my mind with their well-intentioned comments and suggestions. But I had made up my mind and I was determined to make it work. In order to tame the greys which were getting frizzier by the day I started doing keratin treatments, once a year which works wonders for my hair making them tamer and more luminous! Soon I had the same friends commenting on how elegant I look and how they wish they had the guts to do the same!
I can’t say that I am proud of having greys but yes I am proud of the fact that I stuck to my guns and did what I felt was right for me. I no longer have to hide behind caps, different kinds of ‘cover the grey’ hairstyles or spend endless hours in the salon wasting my time and money getting the right colour done. More importantly my hair is once again a part of my personality, defining who I am, and as for the greys, well like I said the greys conceal the story of my life within those strands! So “Go Grey!” I say.
Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so please do leave your comments here.
This piece was a featured in a Hong Kong based local magazine Beyond the Boundaries.
“Beauty fades, but confidence is the key.” – Nafisa Ali