Do you remember when you found your first strand of gray hair erupting from your head? Yeah, it’s pretty much like that.
For most people, it’s a core memory. Devastating at the least, knowing you are getting older one gray hair at a time.
Not me! I found my first gray hair in high school and knew I was destined to color my hair for the foreseeable future. Watching my mom and my uncles go gray prematurely was a clear indication of my path.
Even since then I’ve had highlights, low lights, full color, you name it I got it. I was determined not to transition to gray hair until my late 50’s. *News Flash* Didn’t happen!
I refused to grow old by national beauty standards especially with my baby face getting carded well into my 30’s.
That was my party trick, sharing stories of how I get asked for my ID for stupid reasons like buying a lighter for the grill, or being asked if I was old enough to get tickets for an R-rated movie.
The kicker was when I bartended and one of my customers asked if I was in high school. At the time, I had graduated with my masters, was married and newly pregnant with our first child.
Needless to say, I actually like the attention. I was aging backwards so it seemed to everyone else.
The gray hairs on my head were being covered up by color every couple months. Sometimes, I could even hold out for 5 months. Then it happened….
I turned 40.
What Happens When You Turn 40?
The moment you turning 40 is like when you are pregnant and everyone wants to give you advice about your new baby. Except this time around, you hear about all their ailments and how their body is breaking down. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing because everyone talks about it or if things really do change, for instance:
- More gray hairs
- Harder time losing weight
- Sleeping with multiples pillows
- Moving your body in a certain way giving you nerve damage for weeks
- Certain foods don’t agree with you anymore
- Injuries take forever to heal
I became more aware of this growing older phenomenon when my husband turned 40 a mere eighteen months before I did. He had hurt his back several years before laying pavers for our backyard patio and healed fairly quickly.
But no joke, one day after his 40th birthday, he moved the wrong way and was laid up on the couch for about a week. The whole thing seemed fictitious, but I was seeing it with my own eyes.
Gray Hairs: Distinguished Vs. Old
My husband grew finer with age as the gray hairs started interspersing throughout his auburn beard making him look very distinguished. He did ask if I thought he should dye his beard, but truly it looks really great on him, so no!.
On the other hand, the moment I turned 40, my gray hairs sprouted like wildfire. I was having to go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks for a root touch up instead of stretching it out for several months.
I liked having the persona of looking young. My favorite thing to do is shock people by telling them I have four kids (ages 9-15). The look on their faces is priceless and they go on and on about how I don’t look that old.
But the upkeep to maintain a youthful look was a pain. I love my hairdresser but I really didn’t need to see her often as I was. I made the decision after following several women on Instagram, who were transitioning to their natural gray hair, it was time for change.
How to Transition to Gray Hair Gracefully
At first, I wasn’t ready to go full throttle. I was nervous and needed to ease into the process a bit without my fears paralyzing me. My hairdresser stopped highlighting my hair before I turned 40. The change of getting older was producing split ends and drying my hair out when it was a lighter color.
She suggested I experiment with low lights to be scattered throughout my hair making the growing out process even. I wouldn’t have a noticeable growth line instead it would be interwoven. I could deal with that.
We did this for about six months, but I was still keeping the same amount of appointments as before to get my hair retouched. Ugh!
By then I was pretty fed up with everything, so my next appointment was only for a cut, no color! I wanted to try and see what would happen if I stopped coloring my hair all together. She had done some base work with the low lights and the kids had even stopped commenting on my gray hairs.
Right now, in the process of transitioning to natural gray hair, it has been a little over 3 months since the last time I dyed my hair.
I have come to grips with the fact that my gray hairs are part of the aging process and accepted that my DNA has destined me to early graying. I’m not sure if I will be completely silver when all the color is gone, or maybe a cool salt and pepper. But I’ve decided to embrace the change either way and go with the flow of what happens next.
Taking Care of Gray Hair
If I’ve learned anything through this process, there is more to just letting the hair grow out. I had to mentally prepared for navigating this season of life where I will look drastically different than any other point in my life.
After I had kids, the texture of my hair changed and getting use to that took some time as well. I teased my mom a lot before having kids about the coarseness of her strands. Isn’t it my luck to inherit the similar trait as well?
Now it’s about trying to figure out what products to use for my hair. I’ve always a thick head of hair, but wouldn’t I be damned if the top half gets oily faster than the bottom half now. Stepping into this gray transition, makes me want my hair healthy and shiny like it was before. I’ve tried both Verb and Eleven products to keep up on maintain my youth.
I hope it’s awhile before I need the purple shampoo. I want all the luster and volume I can get in my 40’s. Never again will I complain about having too much hair, because I know it’s a luxury many people lose as they age. I plan on keeping this full head of hair, gray and all, for as long as I can.
If you are in the process of transitioning to gray hair, what has your experience been like?