My Return to Rebellious Hair: Part 1 | Haute Macabre

My Return to Rebellious Hair: Part 1

I’ve had my share of rebellious hair. It’s been purple and green and blue and every imaginable shade of red. It’s been dreadlocked and mohawked (not to mention dreadhawked), shaved and pixie-short and ass-long. In the 80’s it absorbed so much Aqua Net I feel a personal responsibility for the hole in the ozone layer.  But over the last couple of years it’s returned almost to it’s original color, I learned to love and care for the natural curl, and my hair and I have kind of made peace. It has been decidedly unrebellious hair.


Seriously, I’ve done some hair.

A couple of years ago I noticed that there was finally enough gray creeping in at the temples and some other spots that it was really noticeable. And it was a good, steely color. An ass-kicking silver. I kinda liked it. So I switched my usual hair dye to a semipermanent, figuring that when the time came that would make my life easier (by the way, it made a real difference in how healthy my hair was, too).

A couple of dye jobs back, I quit dying the temples, where the most gray was.  And as this next round of dye crept up on me, I started researching ways to lift the old dye off – and  I discovered a couple of things.


That’s my temples, folks. I got some Richard Gere action going on.

1) Science can put a man on the moon and prove the existence of the Higgs boson particle, but it has no clue how to ease you into gray hair. That’s OK, though. I have some ideas, and I’ll be chronicling them as I try them. Because I am NOT cutting it all off, and I am not going to watch a bizarre looking line of demarcation march down my hair for the next three years. These are not options.

2) According to the internet, if you let your hair go gray you will be frumpy, fired , and unloved. You will never get another job or another man, and that sucks because you will probably lose the ones you have now.

Yes, it actually says that. On blog after blog after blog. I found advice for professional stylists on helping their clients go gray that was simply “talk them out of it”. Stories from people phased out of their jobs for letting the white show. Tales of horror in the dating world, husbands who cheated with younger women, women who caved and re-covered their silver to be competitive in the job market,  words like ‘haggard’, ‘drab’, and ‘tired’. One woman who obsessively collects photos of same-age couples where the man is gray and the woman is not. I started realizing that female politicians across the board dye (yes, Hillary, I’m looking at you.)

Reading all this, I found in myself the exact same reaction I had at sixteen to being told that if I dyed my hair purple it would be ugly and I would never get a summer job and probably would become a heroin addict and a hooker and die early and alone.  “So, uh…fuck you guys.”

Suddenly it dawned on me that the absolute most rebellious thing I could do with my hair was to go gray. And rock it. At not-quite-40. I’m just at the beginning, so I would love to hear everyone else’s advice, input, and stories.

Next time around, I’ll give you the rundown on the natural ways to get the old color out while keeping the gray in. (Hint: so far, they don’t work worth a crap.)

disco witch

13 Comment

  1. I don’t know what sites you researched from but as a professional hair dresser I can tell you we embrace the gray and silver look. A good hair dresser helps with the transition and we have colors and glazes that just enhance the silver and calm the frizz down. Since a lot of the time grey becomes course and resistant. Also a lot of the natural and color boxes sold in stores really aren’t great for your hair. Just something to think about

  2. Good for you! Common beauty standards be damned. Just remember to keep the grey bits extra moisturized. The loss of pigment can sometimes lead to dryness as well, giving the grey part a completely different texture than the rest of your hair.

  3. I stopped dyeing several years ago and have never regretted it… but my un-gray color is much lighter than yours, so the transition was easier. (I went from dark red-brown to dark-gold and silver.) I cut it short (just below chin) and had a *bunch* of multicolored highlights put in. It actually only took that one colorist visit.

    I bet you could do the same, even with length; it’ll take more than one visit for you, though. Maybe one epic highlight batch and a couple of glazes.

    You know what I need help with now? Makeup. I look much more washed-out now with a naked face than I used to. And SO obvious when I’m not eating right or getting enough sleep!

  4. I am 55 and the gray I have is at the hairline. I express myself or would if I was allowed, by my hair color. I am a natural brunette, but at the present time, a redhead. I have given the “let the gray grow” much thought. I can’t make up my mind.
    I wear black most of the time, although I love color in general, maybe that is why I use my hair as a way to balance the black/color struggle.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and looking forward to hearing about your discoveries along the way.

  5. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with internet, but I find grey to be very sexy! I can’t wait for my husband to grey and we’re only in our mid-twenties! Do it and fuck what everyone else thinks. 😉

  6. My mother noticed my first grey hair when I was 17, and now in my mid-20s it’s started coming through in earnest. For the most part it’s unnoticeable as the hairs seem to be randomly sprinkled about, but I suspect by the time I hit 30 it’ll be more obvious. Turns out my dad was more salt than pepper in his 30s too.

    So, whatever. I see this as the beginning of my transformation into Storm.

  7. Oh boy, can I relate, and was just thinking about this topic this week. I found my first gray at 18 and now at 43 I am (I think), 30-50% gray. I’m not sure because I try not to let my roots show. I have dark brown hair, so I have no idea how to go about making this transition, and like you, it seemed every reference I have ever read basically says, “don’t do it!” But I am so sick of the pain in the ass of keeping up with it. I used to be able to afford to get it colored at the salon and do an in between root touch up. Now I’m doing it at home and it just looks crap. I also hate the idea of the chemicals I’m putting on my scalp; other than dye I try to use mostly “natural” products. To further add to the mix, I have 19m old twins. So I feel like if I go gray, I’m going to look like their freakin’ grandmother. My husband is supportive of my going gray (not that I”m letting him dictate, but ya know…one does ponder the whole attractiveness/youthfulness issue). But I just haven’t been able to commit. Also I don’t want to cut off my hair. Look forward to hearing about your journey.

  8. Here’s what I did, and I bet it’ll be similar to whatever you end up going with.
    I went to a good colorist, one with some understanding of my punk rock past, and had him weave in some very light allover highlights, with some chunkier ones in there as well, with the specific purpose of growing out my grey.
    I selectively added some dark purple streaks, maybe 6 or 8, to keep things interesting. I went back maybe three times and had him do the roots, and it took me about 9 months to get to the point where it looked good enough without the foils, and now my maintenance is just doing the chunky accent streaks. Everything else is grown out. It looks fantastic and I get loads of compliments.

  9. In my teens, my hair was in a constant state of flux but in my late twenties, I decided to stop the crazy colors and let it be. Now, I have really long hair that is not finished growing. Seriously, I was so awed by Crystal Gayle when growing up. Can you imagine how awesome she would have looked with some color streaks in that mane?
    It seems that the more gray women get in their hair, they tend to chop it shorter and shorter. I have noticed a couple of gray hairs this year and I am so ready for it. I have been more than amazed by Kristen McMenamy’s silver mane. I want to be a silver fox like EmmyLou Harris or Judy Collins. Something about long silver hair that just seems wise and powerful. Pattern grays like Lily Munster are pretty sexy too.

  10. Kudos! Looking forward to seeing how this progresses. I am so down with doing this (and I have almost enough grays to start). Another suggestion — highlights (toned to platinum) to lift some of your color out and blend your ends in with your grays more?

  11. I just hacked all my hair off in one go, but before that I just kind of ramped down. I lifted as much of the Little Mermaid Red out of my hair as I could and went with a semi permanent natural red for a couple of months, and just kept trimming until the worst of the ends were gone, etc, and gave up and chopped. HOWEVER! My bestie is in the middle of a loooong transition involving much highlighting and lowlighting to keep the hair visually blended and it seems to be working okay so far. And yeah, I feel totally rebellious rocking my grey temples at 32! I wasn’t so happy when I started going grey in my twenties, because that was just too soon, but a totally natural and grey pixie makes me feel like I’m giving the entire beauty industry the finger. Which will last until I am bored with this look, or maybe start looking like my mom. Which ever comes first!