beauty

'The early days are hard.' What I wish I'd known about going grey.

Grey hair is in my genes - I remember plucking out grey hairs in my early 20s, desperate to hold on to my trademark long dark hair for as long as possible. 

Over 15 years, I spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on covering my greys, until deciding to permanently ditch the dye. 

When I was younger, my hair was my crowning glory. Long, thick, straight, dark brown hair that shined with health. I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but I had nice hair. No argument. And it was seriously easy care.

Watch: The five ways to lift your hair game. Post continues after video. 


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Although I’ve sometimes hated how boring my dead straight hair is, it meant no time spent on blow drying or straightening. Just wash and go, baby.

In my early twenties, I remember being on a long-haul flight with my little sister. We were off on a round-the-world trip with a friend, and she sat next to me, plucking out the grey hairs she spotted. She thought it was hilarious that at 23, I already had a fair few.

Fast forward a few more years, and I’d gone from laid back no hair-care girl, to dying my own hair regularly at home. I opted for colours that matched my natural dark brunette and hoped no-one would notice the cheeky grey regrowth appearing. 

In my thirties, I ditched the home dye and started paying professionals to spend hours dyeing my hair properly, eventually opting for lighter browns and highlights - anything to hide that pesky regrowth that seemed to appear before my very eyes.

The early days. Image: Supplied.

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When I was 38, I took a leap and decided to go cold turkey on the dye.

I’d seen other younger women embracing their natural grey locks, and I thought it looked great. Going grey young runs in my family (well, some of my family, my sister still hasn’t got any grey hair!), so I knew it was a losing battle I was fighting. 

I realised the time and money I was spending on maintaining my 'youthful' non-grey hair was just not okay with me anymore. 

Now I’m 40, and I’ve been dye-free for nearly two years. Here’s what I wish I’d known about going grey.

You’ll have some wobbles along the way. The early days are hard.

Get ready to embrace your 'skunk stripe' as the natural grey hair colour grows out. Even after my clever hairdresser had set up my hair to blend in well with the regrowth, I still felt self-conscious about it. The best times were when I was at the beach wearing a hat, and no-one could see my regrowth secret. 

Other days I completely forgot about it, or just wore my hair up.

Once it got more obvious that I was intentionally embracing my grey, I felt less worried about how it looked. And I would often tell people about deciding to go grey, especially when we caught up for the first time in a while (hello lockdowns). 

When I was 38, I decided to go cold turkey with the hair dye. Image: Supplied.

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You’ll have some wobbles along the way. I certainly did. Moments when I was tempted to just dye my hair and be done with it. It felt like an exercise in patience, especially when I was checking every day to see how much more of my 'silver crown' was appearing. 

Hang in there. Look at some of the amazing silver-haired influencers on Instagram like Luisa and Silverishing on those wobble days - they inspired me to stick with it. 

You’ll find a new tribe.

Going grey has opened up a whole new sisterhood to me. People in shops, at parks or on the street, who spot my grey hair and want to come and say hello - to share their own grey hair story, or to compliment me on embracing my natural hair colour.

Because choosing not to dye your hair is a very visual vote against the patriarchy and what society 'expects' women to look like. You know, the pressure we all feel to look a certain way, no matter what age we are? And I’ve definitely had people question my decision to go grey. 

"Why would you want to look older than you are?" they’ve asked. But the pros for me far outweigh the cons, and I’ve actually come to love my natural grey hair colour.  

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You can still look well-groomed and 'done'.

One of my biggest fears about going grey was that I’d immediately look frumpy and 'old'. 

But going grey doesn’t have to mean giving up on caring about the way you look. I still get my hair cut and styled, make an effort with make-up when I’m going out, and love wearing nice clothes. I mean, I’ve never been a super high-maintenance kinda girl, but I still like to make an effort occasionally.

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What I’ve learned is that with grey hair you can be a bit bolder. It can handle bright colours - clothes, accessories, even a bold lip. It’s a new opportunity to find your own personal style. 

Seriously, grey hair goes with everything, and part of the fun is no two grey-haired heads are the same.

You can still look well-groomed and 'done'. Image: Supplied.

Your natural hair colour naturally suits you.

I know going grey isn’t for everyone, and I would never ever judge anyone for colouring their hair. Just as I hope people don’t judge me for not colouring mine! But something I’ve noticed, is that often your natural hair colour is the one that suits you best. 

For me, my grey hair is not as harsh against my 40-year-old skin. It feels more forgiving than if I’d stuck with the dark brown of my youth.  

Although I miss the gloss of that long, dark hair, I’ve come to my love my new silver style, and for now, it’s here to stay. If you’re thinking about going grey, I say go for it. 

You might just fall in love with the new, natural, you (and you’ll save a big ol' bag of money and time along the way). 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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