Remember way back in the Fall when I mentioned I would stop colouring me hair and see what my natural colour was? It's done and it's pretty spectacular.
Aside from my regrowth roots, I estimate that I haven't seen my natural hair colour since just after I had Alexander in 2000. I cut it very short and then in a fit of sleeplessness and a "OMG I have two children" moment, I bleached it (which turned it pumpkin orange) and then tried to fix it (which thankfully, the sleep deprivation has wiped the results of that out of my memory) and I've been colouring it ever since.
When I made this decision (inspired by the fabulously awesome Julia Farwell-Clay) I went looking for photos of women in their 40s with grey hair. There aren't many--though there are a million photos of Jamie Lee Curtis who looks amazing--so I thought I would take a picture after each hair cut so that those of you considering this could see how the grow-out goes.
Having pixie-short hair makes this an easier process. I made the decision in October and I was 99% colour free by June, completely natural after my July 29th cut. I get my hair cut every 5-6 weeks (which seems economical since I stopped paying for professional colour) so it's a fairly fast process.
October (just had a cut and colour for Rhinebeck):
In mid-December my stylist suggested adding light blonde highlights just to the top to even things out and hide the obvious root line. It looked great, but I probably could have skipped this step. It was December and cold and I usually have my head covered. I think I panicked a bit.
January: sorry for the bad lighting. I really have just a bit of re-growth and I discover I'm not as grey on top as I am on the sides.
March: mostly blonde on top. Stylist kept the top longer to maximize my colour investment.
April: sides and back are natural, still have blonde colour on top. It did look a bit weird by this point, but the fabulous white streak I discovered in the front made up for it.
I just happened to get the chance to have some professional head-shots done a few days later (and the photographer insisted on a knitting one!). I'm still mostly blonde on top.
May: I started loving my hair at this point. It was a mix of grey and blonde and I started getting it cut shorter which I personally prefer. I was feeling good about my decision to ditch the colour.
June: I'm grey. Both greyer than I thought and perhaps, not grey enough. My natural colour is pure ash-blah. I remember when my hair went from blonde to this non-colour and how washed out I used to look. The silver gives it a pop and I like it, but it there are moments where I feel I look old or perhaps not so stylish (dowdy would the word fashionable people might use, but that's too-judgemental--greying men don't get told they look dowdy.)
That white streak is amazing though.
July: My hair is natural and pretty fantastic. I like it. I really like colouring my hair for fun, but feel much better not HAVING to colour my hair to hide the grey or maintain a shade that isn't mine. Natural hair colour has far more depth and shade going on--I'm a hand-dyed yarn compared to a commercially-dyed one :)
I also like the quiet (or perhaps not so quiet) fuck you to gendered ideas about aging that comes with showing my grey. I was referred to as "the silver haired woman" recently and after the hit of feeling old, I decided it was an okay description because there aren't many silver-haired 45 year old women around.
If I get bored, I can add some colour. Something fun and completely unnatural. I'm thinking electric blue.
*I just have to say that those books and that movie have totally messed with my desire to use the term shades of grey to refer to my hair. A quick google tells me that grey is the newest trend and all the cool kids are dyeing their hair. WTF?