Au Naturel: My Hair Journey

Happy Monday, Friends! Do you color your hair? Do you still enjoy the process or are you over it? The popular "good hair/ bad hair day" descriptions illustrate the fact that hair can become a complicated issue for many of us! Am I right? Now that I'm about four months in, I want to share my journey with you...

how to go gray gracefully

 In French, the literal meaning of au naturel means "in the natural state." After reading everything I could get my hands on regarding the subject and wrestling with the decision for over a year, I have finally decided to let my hair grow out to its natural state. I have updated my blog photo to according to reflect my progress. No--I am not going platinum, but my roots are white! Let me begin by saying, I have a great colorist/ stylist. Shari has been doing my hair for over twenty years. We have become close friends. Shari is also a talented artist, and as you can see from her Instagram post below, she has a great sense of humor. (She posted after everyone went crazy over the handmade mittens the senator wore to the inauguration ceremony.) 
pretty gray hair
Photo courtesy @sharipaints


While I had absolutely no complaints regarding Shari's care of my colored locks, premature graying makes maintaining color especially labor intensive. Another student spotted my first gray hair when I was a senior in high school, and I started coloring my hair shortly after. Anyone who colors their hair knows that coloring more frequently becomes necessary over time. I was aware that my natural roots had progressed from going gray to turning white. I have admired many women who have gracefully allowed their hair to grow au naturel, but I lacked confidence that I could pull it off with my fair skin and light blue eyes. Let's keep it real: I'll be sixty in October, and while I'm not trying to pass for twenty years younger, I also don't want to look washed out or instantly age twenty years! Can you relate? 

going gray gracefully

As I researched, I was surprised by how many women have wrestled with this issue, so I thought some of you may appreciate seeing what I've learned. I read posts from women who chopped all their hair off to hasten growing out their gray as well as women who had salt-and-pepper gray growing out from various shades of color, who refer to themselves as "calicos." Some wore lots of hats! My hair is easiest to care for long and is pretty healthy, so I really didn't want to lose my color and length simultaneously. However, I was also looking for a solution to lessen the demarcation line between colors. I frequently pile my hair on top of my head and I happened to notice that  there wasn't too much of a color difference between my white roots and the lightest highlights at the ends of my hair. I read about a technique called "babylights" that is basically very fine highlights all over, and I wondered if Shari might be able to do those a shade lighter than my usual highlights. We're the same age, and she has also contemplated going natural. We've both been indecisive, but once I was ready, she did just what I suggested! So the last time I got color was at the beginning of January. At the end of February, Shari did the lighter highlights. I was so nervous before doing them, but as usual, she did a great job and I was pleased with the results. This past Friday, which was over eleven weeks later, we decided to add more highlights to blend the colors better. You can see how white the top is. The back looks a little blonder, but overall, the process is coming along nicely, and I don't anticipate needing more highlights while the rest grows out. What do you think? 

how to grow out hair color and go gray

I will confess that even though I am pleased with the results, I really had to work up my nerve to share this post and update my photo to the "new look," so please keep this in mind when you comment. 😊 However, I have realistic expectations that this isn't going to be a quick process, and I feel like this is a look I can live with. Let me tell you how liberating it is to see Shari for a trim without having to get color--not to mention the money I'll save! I'll leave you with a few more tips for those who may be considering a similar option.
  • Almost every story I read discussed getting resistance from friends and family who were not supportive. I feel very blessed to have received only positive feedback, but the bottom line is it's YOUR hair, and they'll get used to it!
  • Use a toning shampoo like Matrix Brass Off  to keep white and gray hair from yellowing.
  • Undecided? Read accounts from women who have already done it, and pin images of women with pretty gray, silver, or white hair. Talk to your colorist about realistic options that you can live with. 
  • As many stories as I read that talked about an initial lack of support, I read that many and more from women who loved their newfound freedom and wished they'd gone gray sooner! 
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How to go gray gracefully
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I think you hair is great in its natural state, Cecilia! Covid was a time that had many of us toying with different ideas. I actually let my hair grow out from a short pixie, so if and when I decide to go natural, I will do the short cut method to help mine along. I am the youngest of 7 girls and only the oldest one has gone natural!

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  2. I think your hair looks beautiful!!!

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  3. You look fabulous, dahling! I stopped coloring my hair years ago. It was several months of doing scattered highlights to let it go back to mousey brown, and I too cut it all off at one point. Now the grey is growing in and looks like highlights, and I'm just going to let nature decide. You are right, the money savings is significant!

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  4. Cecelia,
    You look fantastic and isn't it incredibly freeing not to have to worry about coloring your hair anymore...I went natural when I was 57 years old, 6 years ago..I was lucky in that my stylist was frosting my hair with blonde highlights and blending it in with my gray and being that my hair was cut short, once I stopped getting it colored, it only took 3 months and 3 hair cuts before my hair was in it;s natural state which was sort of salt and pepper. Funny thing is that most people thought I was getting my hair frosted to look that way...Now it is more gray than not but luckily, I inherited my Mother's silver gray hair...It was great because when the pandemic hit, I only had to worry about not getting a hair cut and not about getting it colored....You Look great !! Love it!!
    Thanks so much for stopping by!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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  5. Your hair looks fantastic! It suits you very well and makes your pretty eyes sparkle. Kudos to you for taking the plunge and to your hairdresser for her expertise and advice. My hair is silver/white and at almost seventy-four, I am very pleased with it. Due to sensitivity to the chemicals in hair dye, it has been many years since I have used any of it.

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  6. Love it! Your face looks brighter - your (more) natural color suits you well! I let mine go grey at age 60; I am now 64, and get many compliments on my natural hair!

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  7. I’m thinking of doing the same thing but I’ll probably wait until winter when I can wear more hats!

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  8. I am so glad this is becoming more common! Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.
    I never colored my hair...first because of the expense. I just could not afford to keep up with it. Then I figured, well I've made it this far so why give in now? My hair started turning in my late 30s but it really changed in my 40s. I could style it certain ways to hide the white. A few people I dearly loved encouraged me not to dye my hair but most people really pressured me to give in & dye it. Hair stylists were the hardest to say no to. I've struggled with finding a stylist that will still help me keep healthy hair when all I want is a simple cut & style.

    Now I'm working on growing my hair out long. I've worn it fairly short for about a decade. It was so much easier to care for, just wash & go. I can't figure out what to do with long hair. It drives me crazy...in my face, so flat, ect. But I'm tired of dealing with stylists. So I'm going in for a trim a few times a year if that, & learning to style long hair. (I'm 55)

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  9. Love it! Your hair looks really nice. :-)

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  10. I think it looks fabulous and I totally get it. I was born platinum blonde, but by high school, my hair darkened to light/ ash blonde, so I started highlighting it. By the time I was 50, the color was almost platinum again. Over the last year, I let it grow out, back to its normal darker color and I loved it. Two weeks ago I finally went and had a very, very few highlights put in to strategically hide the gray, but I like it much better now! Enjoy your pretty color!

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  11. Your hair is lovely! If mine had gone gray prettily, I would have kept it! When I started graying, 30* years ago, I called the Clairol 800# asked them what color "mouse brown" was; the lady knew EXACTLY what number to tell me! At 69, I am surrounded by "natural" friends but still haven't made the leap! I color mine at home and usually use coupons so it is not a big expense. It is whiter now, but still a nasty salt and pepper, not a pretty silver...the day will come, though! Thanks for sharing your story; it is an encouraging experience for me!

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  12. Your hair color looks very pretty! I started going gray in my late 20's-early 30's. Not fun. So I've been coloring it for a long time now. Used to do it myself then started having it done after kids were born. For the past 5 years or so my stylist has been doing highlights a few times a year. Really does help camouflage the gray when it starts to grow back. Not sure what kind of gray I'll have -- my mom's was beautiful -- hopefully I'll be as lucky. Someday lol. xo Kathleen

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  13. Your hair is gorgeous, Cecilia and it's perfect for your coloring. I'm still coloring my hair because my natural color is not pretty at all. I have to use natural colors without gluten because of skin sensitivity, so I just maintain it at home. You look great and your new photo is wonderful!

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  14. It looks good. I keep dying my rootsas they come in grey. So will continue! Your white is better!

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  15. I LOVE it, Cecelia! You look beautiful in the lighter color as well! I have many friends who have gone a-la-natural since Covid hit and they are sold on it! It is much cheaper and saves lots of time at the hair salon! I give you a 10 out of 10 with your new hair color!

    Hugs,

    Tee

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  16. Not only does your hair look fabulous Cecelia but you have beautiful skin as well!
    At nearly 65, my natural hair is too dark for my coloring. And for some crazy reason there really isn't too much gray. I wish there was more gray (and hair) on my head. The plus side for me is the coloring thickens up the hair which for me is needed.
    Thanks for adding your post to the FWF link party.
    RR

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  17. I absolutely LOVE IT!!! I have been struggling with this journey and decision myself. I'm going longer and longer between coloring and still in the decision making phase. You look fabulous and your post is inspiring and affirming. I'm featuring it when my party opens up!

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