The primary reason was curiosity: what's under there? I figured, Why not see, and if I don't like it, back to red—though I was finding the upkeep wearisome.
This release from an ultimatum was important psychologically. My children were rather negative ("Maman, no offense but you are going to look older", a son told me.) Le Duc was entirely positive, maybe because he got there first.
And, I was snookered by Vivienne Westwood.
I always said, I'll give up red when Dame Vivienne does, and damned if in spring of 2014 the woman didn't shave her head (to draw awareness of global climate change, she said) and go grey. When first shorn, she looked like a Buddhist nun—hardly encouraging, but I had to fish or cut bait.
Then, a French girlfriend visited in July. I thought this consummate Parisienne would never be anything but a caramel brunette, and hel-lo, she had about five inches of grey grown in, dictated by her hairstylist, who now refuses to colour or perm clients.
Get set, go!
Anticipating bad hair months, I chose August 1 to stop colour. My stylist was warmly supportive but realistic: "Gonna look worse before it looks better, but 4 or 5 cuts and it'll be great."
|Late Aug.: Grey sides|
I bookmarked a few photos of women who looked good in grey hair, but avoided sites where they claimed moral high ground; I've always felt about it like I do about natural childbirth: it's merely a choice. (I consider that epidural the nicest thing anyone ever did for me.)
Several girlfriends were, shall we say, not encouraging. One suggested I buy a wig; I gave her a mojito too.
October to December: Keep calm and carry a hat
|October: Inching along|
My neighbour Joyce began around the same time. She wears a chin-length bob with straight bangs. Joyce first grew out only the bangs, keeping the sides coloured and letting that area grow long enough to pull back in a low ponytail. Now, she is growing out everything else, so not colouring at all. She will return to her bob when everything's grey.
|Dec.: Grey all over|
Susan, a friend of 40 years (medium golden blonde with highlights) visited; we met at the MAC counter at Ogilvy. My pinky-brown lipsticks looked washed-out; the makeup artist, Kim (blue-black), recommended several deeper shades, including Pro Longwear "Perennial Rose". I still don't wear foundation but now add blush after my usual whoosh of translucent powder.
Susan gave me a graceful silver ring to celebrate our long friendship (I guess the grey reminds her how long); Le Duc was wholly admiring, and my boys said they didn't think they would like it, but do.
What I've noticed
There is a lot of bad advice about what clothing and accessory colours look good with grey hair, such as "avoid grey", which is not true if you wore it before.
Jewel tones are touted as your best friend; I dislike jewel tones, except in jewels. Which reminds me: jewelry is essential. Without it, I feel just too practical. A bit of sparkle or texture in accessories helps, too.
Defined eyebrows are important. Mine are still brown, and I will have them coloured if they turn invisible.
2. If grey is your path, summon your equanimity: you are outing yourself as woman of years. I'm now being offered a seat on the subway; with red hair, I had to be on crutches before anyone shifted.
Two girlfriends (brunette with tonal highlights; grey) called the effect "distinguished" (at different times). Robert Young as Marcus Welby was distinguished; this is not what a woman hopes for! I figure the term is code for "looks older, but for older, OK". Other persons hold various opinions, and, just like a vegetarian at a dinner party, they'll tell you.
I understand why I kept the colour as long as I did, but then, the day came. "At a certain point", I told Susan, "we don't look youthful with hair colour; we look like an older woman with a head full of dye."
For one, that point comes at 40-something, for another, not till she's laid out. The salon owner's 90 year old mother comes in every two weeks to maintain her glossy brunette, while two late-thirties women in my French class are completely and cooly grey.
For me, hair colour was a fun ride while it lasted—over 30 years—and now, on to the next phase!