Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confession time

Okay, I confess, I'm old (well not that old) and gray... and I color my hair.  There, I said it.  It isn't something I like to admit but I find myself in a bit of a quandry.  Here's the scoop:
I'm 46.  I started the childbearing thing in my 30's so I was a bit late to the game.  The problem is that I started going gray in my 20's.  For years I didn't do anything about it.  We have pictures when I11 was a baby where I have this quite dramatic shock of white hair swooping down over one eye. While it was just the one dramatic, slightly off center streak, it was actually pretty cool... but then it spread.  For a brief while I did the home dye (semi-permanent) thing but with young kids it was too much trouble and I decided I wasn't that vain- so I let it go and by the time I hit 40 I was definitely more salt than pepper (except right at the back of my head, there it is still it's original color).  I was okay with it- even when someone asked me if K8 was my grandson when he was about 2 (OUCH).   Now don't get me wrong- I'm not too bad for 46.  I'm not wrinkly and while I have about 30 extra pounds, I'm actually in decent shape.  
The kicker came a week before my 45th birthday- I was at work and a patient was looking for me but couldn't remember my name.  I overheard her tell the nursing assistant "you know- the gray haired lady in the red shirt".  I'M NOT OLD ENOUGH TO BE THE GRAY HAIRED LADY IN THE RED SHIRT!!!  I had a day off a few days later and wandered into the place we had always gone to get our hair cut and asked about a color.  With as much gray hair as I had, I was scared to try it myself.  So I started down the coloring road.  I cringe when I think about the environmental impact of coloring my hair but once you start it's hard to stop.  My stylist did a great job matching my original color (a medium reddish brown) but when it starts to grow out I get the 'skunk stripe' down the top of my head and go have it done again.  
But here's the problem.  Even though I don't go to a really expensive place- It still ends up costing close to $70 a month. When V was working wasn't a problem.  He still says that I'm worth it and that I shouldn't worry about the money- but I do worry.  That is a lot of money spent on something that is a definite luxury.
I need to come to a decision at some point- keep coloring or figure out a way to just go back to what it is.  But I'm not there yet.  My compromise- this evening J14 and I went out shopping and picked up a box of hair color.   She helped me match the color in the store and then helped me apply it- trying to color just the roots I can't do myself.  She did a bang up job and it looks great- and $7.99 is much more reasonable for a month of vanity.  I think she has a new job.  In payment, I let her get a box of semi-permanent color to jazz up her hair and give her red highlights.  We'll do that later this week. We had a lovely time sitting in the bathroom chatting- a sort of bonding experience.
I'm still torn as to what to do with this one.  On one hand, it does make me feel good- I look my age and not 15 years older.  But, on the other hand there are costs, both financial and environmental.  I'm stuck.  I'll probably go the home color route for a while but I can't go on forever.


  1. Me, too! All of it! I am 47. I started going grey at my temples a good 15 years ago. I planned to age gracefully, accepting the gray as natural, and the wrinkles as a reward for smiling so much. It was fine, at first.

    Then I got a boyfriend 13 years my junior (who is DH, now 11 years later). I have pretty good self-esteem, but as I got older, I just couldn't take being so much grayer than my much-younger man. After a terrible attempt with store bought color, turning my hair pink, I went to a salon. The $104 bill almost killed me. But it did look good.

    That was in September. In Nomeber, the gray was coming back, but I couldn't stomach another $104. I bought a root touch-up kit and DD15 applied it for me. It looked pretty good. But now we are almost in January, and I don't know if another kit will do it. I was thinking of maybe going to the salon once a quarter, for just color. I can get my simple cut cheaper in many places, including paying a friend to do it.

    But now I have a new plan sneaky plan. I am going to try to wheedle the color formula out of the salon colorist. I chose my salon specifically because they use a color product that is manufactured in my town. I used to be a color model for that company - when I was young and was doing it just for fun, not gray coverage. I can BUY the color directly from the manufacturer if I am accompanied by a licensed cosmetician, and one of my friends is one. If I can get the formula I liked, I can get my friend to color me with salon color.

    So, that's my color Independence plan.

  2. Color it out of the box for now - it will be a wonderful bonding experience with J14 once a month when she does your hair and you do hers.

  3. I recently gave up on salon coloring, now I am a mousey blonde. In my college days I used to make one box of color work for several touch-ups by only mixing 1/2 of the stuff together, then 1/4 as I got better and braver about it!
    I say keep using the box color, it sounds like you are getting more than your money's worth out of bonding with your teen daughter! Kris

  4. I colored my hair for years and years simply because of boredom. Now at 46, I just don't care. That very well could be because I don't have much gray, and in braids, it doesn't really show.

    What am I going to do when it shows a lot? Um... home color? Except I stress over the chemicals... perhaps I'll just try harder and be the "hot lady with the gray hair" ;)

    Yeah. I didn't think so either. Home coloring it'll be.

  5. Whew! I'm glad I'm not the only one out there.
    Matriarchy- what a great plan! What manufacturer is that? I don't remember all of the industries in Reading.
    Kris and Hickchick- Yeah, I think we'll be going the box route for a while. We did have a great 'girl time' and I think with a teen, I'm going to need all the connecting I can get!
    Meadowlark- Before the extra weight, I tried to not let it bother me as 'the hot lady with gray hair'- it didn't work then either. How hot the body is isn't the issue. There isn't an easy answer or formula to figure it out. But I do stress over the chemicals.

  6. It's Renbow International. I think they do more biz in Europe than here.

  7. Hey, I've got an idea for hair coloring. I'm a henna artist, and henna (plant, but Not local - grows in the middle east) is Great for your skin And your hair, and dyes it red. You get darker red the more often you dye it, it's a great natural conditioner, and you can mix other yummy things in to really make it a treat. You can also mix with indigo to get a darker brown/red mix (sounds like your natural color!). Check out hennatribe.org, they have a whole forum for Henna on Hair full of pictures and recipes. It's cheaper than boxed dyes and made from plants! Woohoo! AND it's good for your hair!

    Good luck figuring it out. And don't beat yourself up.

  8. I home color my hair. What I have learned is, hair color gos on sale about every two months.The first Sunday of the month there are normally coupon in the paper for hair color. Rite aid will some times make them buy one get one free. Hair color last a while so I buy when it's on sale. I save a lot of money this way. Plus when your happier others are happier too.


Glad you stopped in. I would love to hear from you.