beauty

'I let my hair go grey at 31. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.'

I had honestly never considered letting my hair go grey until I came across the Grombre Instagram account.

I guess it just goes to show how influenced we are by societal beauty standards. 

We’re told by advertising, and even sometimes by our own family and friends, that if you have grey hair and don’t want to look old, you need to dye your hair. 

And there aren’t many women out there in mainstream media below 50 who have grey hair. But when I saw these women, some as young as me, rocking their grey hair I thought, "Why can’t I do that?"

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Video via Mamamia.

I found my first grey hair at 16. 

Having grey hair that young was challenging at times. I would always feel particularly self-conscious when I was overdue for a visit to the salon, and my stark grey regrowth was super noticeable next to my dark dyed hair. 

I can remember being in my early 20s and going to a party with quite obvious grey regrowth. I made sure I didn’t sit down, because I didn’t want anyone to see the top of my head. 

Later on in the night, I actually relaxed and sat down. But then a guy walked past me, looked down, and yelled out, 'Do you know you have heaps of grey hair!?' 

So, needless to say, I was a little worried about embracing my grey hair. I was worried about feeling insecure. 

I expected my confidence to take a blow, and to feel self-conscious if people stared. But I figured it was a pretty low-risk experiment. 

I could always dye my hair again if I changed my mind, or felt too awful with grey roots. But then something really unexpected happened. I began to love my grey hair, and it actually gave me confidence. 

Image: Supplied.

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I have never felt more sure of myself than I do now.

My hair was below my shoulders when I began my transition, and my initial plan was to bleach and tone it to match my regrowth. But when I suggested this to my hairdresser, she was quite hesitant to use bleach on my hair, which was already quite dry and damaged. In the end, I decided to go cold turkey, which is literally doing nothing but letting your hair grow. 

I realised that if I was going to go through this process; I wanted to make the most of it. Unless I dye my hair again (and I don’t plan to), I only get to go through this growing out phase once. 

Having this grey ombre (grombre) is referred to by some in the grey grow-out world as a rite of passage.

Image: Supplied.

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I don’t think going cold turkey is the only way, or even the best way, to grow out your grey, but I think it was the best approach for me. 

It’s allowed me to gradually get used to my colour, and slowly let go of my old self.

It’s also taught me a lot about patience! The first few months of not dyeing my hair were pretty challenging. I felt too self-conscious to show my regrowth because for quite a while, I just looked like I was really overdue for a visit to the salon! Headbands became my friend, and I wore my hair pulled back for about six months to hide my regrowth.

Image: Supplied.

But once I started wearing it down, that’s when I began to feel liberated and free. 

I still have days where I look in the mirror and think, 'Ugh, I feel pretty drab'. But then I remind myself that I used to have days like that when I dyed my hair too. 

When I made the decision to stop dyeing my hair, I wanted to reclaim all the time and money that I was spending at the salon. I wasn’t even enjoying it anymore, and it had started to feel like such a chore. 

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Going grey seemed like a worthwhile pursuit, but I expected it to be hard.

And it has been hard at times, but it’s also been an amazing journey.

For the past 15 years, I have been utterly embarrassed and ashamed at the amount of grey hair I have for someone my age. But with this change of perspective, I now celebrate what I used to consider as my biggest flaw.

How cool is that?  

Are you interested in the grombre trend? Check out some of my favourite Instagram accounts of young women who have also embraced their natural grey hair:

@liz_kamarul 

@nic_went_gray 

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@silverstrandsofglitter 

@naturally_silver

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Elise lives in Brisbane and is a stay-at-home mum, a freelance graphic designer, and a newly-converted cat person. She is passionate about raising awareness for mental health and mental illness, and the correct first aid for burns (running water for 20 minutes!). Elise spends her free time op shopping, drinking coffee, and re-setting passwords. You can follow her on Instagram here:  @elise__harden.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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