I just wanted one last chance, you know? So ... I took it.
But, the resulting embarrassment lasted an excruciatingly long time. I can still recall the blush-inducing anguish ... (more about that later ...).
You see, I wasn’t ready to suddenly stop being a brunette; to reveal to my world there were many more startlingly-silver hairs growing out of my noggin’ than there were naturally brunette ones.
Aside from revealing I'd been going grey for years, wouldn’t it be admitting I had officially reached ‘OLD-ness’ – and, if I was boldly prepared to embrace it, would everyone assume I was giving up on fun, preferring a back seat in life’s live show?
What about those moments of feeling fabulous, vivacious, full of life and loving it; when we feel something akin to ... youthful? Would I feel old, being grey, and no longer experience those lovely feelings?
And, then there’s the Mary Tyler Moore ‘joyously spinning around in the street’ moments.
No, I’d never actually ‘do’ a Mary T.M. in public. But I still wanted, from time to time, to feel the exhilarating urge to do it.
(Just for a few seconds, run the television clip through your mind, but replace Mary Tyler Moore with a grey-haired woman – grinning like a loon, her arms in the air, spinning herself ‘round and tossing her woolly beanie into the air; celebrating her love of life, just like Mary....
Now, seriously: wouldn’t passersby assume she was just a teensy
bit la-la – or even lost from a nearby retirement village?).
So, I worried: “If I let my brunette hair dye fade away, will those youthful feelings fade away, too?”
Going grey is a huge psychological hurdle to leap over, especially as the concept of 'grey hair is for grannies'
is deeply entrenched in our society.
I wish, now, I hadn’t sought out that one last chance to remain brunette. That last chance was henna.
I happily put up with the messy, crumbling paste and its earthy aroma, knowing I’d no longer suffer painful allergic reactions to chemical dyes, which my doctor had just warned me off – telling me I was risking an anaphylactic seizure. Besides, the packaging promised a warm deep brown result which, to my way of positive thinking, translated to ‘youthful.’
Well, that natural pigment loved my silvery re-growth in a vibrant celebration of what can only be described as orange. Like the freshly-formed rust on a tin can left in the rain, my re-growth and my scalp were truly eye-catching. They glowed as though there was some magic night-light emanating from within my scalp.
Over the following weeks, I found many reasons to stay home, and was thankful (for once) my freelance journalism work is often isolating.
When I did see family and friends, their response was something along the lines of “Oh my God, what the hell have you done?” and those who didn’t know me well enough to comment, tried in vain to look as though they hadn’t seen it. It was the worst home-hair-dye job, ever. It was downright nasty.
I washed my hair a lot. By golly, every day, I washed it; double-shampooing and rinsing with very, very hot water. But, that henna pigment was stubborn. Despite having heard rumours of terrible reactions to applying chemical dye over henna-dyed hair (including hair splitting and breaking off) I eventually visited the hair dye displays in the supermarket, one last time. I opted for a semi-permanent warm brown dye. I took it home and gingerly applied it, constantly eyeing the shower floor for clumps of long hair. Much to my relief, my hair stayed put in my scalp and the orange wasn’t too noticeable - except for when I went outside on bright, sunny days.
I made a silent promise to make an appointment at the hair salon. It was definitely time to seek professional help.
The transition from brunette to silver was interesting – exciting, even! I’ll tell you about it in my next post. I even have a few photographs – proof that ‘going grey’ does not require wearing a brown paper bag.
See you soon! - Victoria xo