I found a grey hair. Actually, I found several. I’m sure there are more but I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 14 years old so I just can’t see them. I blame my mother for setting me on my lifelong journey of sitting in a salon chair every eight weeks. She made some comment in passing in my early teen years about how I would look “so pretty as a blonde” and that cemented in my head like the alphabet.
It started with Sun In, an inexpensive bleaching agent that I would liberally spray on my hair every time I was at the community pool and let the sun provide the heat needed to turn my mousy brown hair into the color of dandelions. If you’re reading this and you’re in your 40’s you probably used this product, along with baby oil and iodine to brown your young healthy skin just like I did. Every summer I was a tan teen bleached goddess. Man what I would give to cover that young child in sunblock…but I digress. Anyway, Sun In worked wonders until winter when there was no sun to make the Sun In work. That’s when my mom would sit me at a chair in the laundry room and insist I endure her pulling strands of my hair through a plastic cap, cover said hair in a smelly bleaching agent that would give me a sun-kissed look all year long. Because my hair was stick straight my mom would also bless me with a perm.
I became accustomed to these golden strands so once I left home I had to maintain this look. My hair salon addiction began around the time I was 19 years old and it’s continued to this day. When I was getting blonde highlights (age 19-38) I was in the salon chair every six to eight weeks. This was ridiculously expensive for someone my age but I had a credit card so I was ok. I did eventually find a stylist who would “only” charge me $75 for a full head of highlights and I stuck with her for ten years. I thought nothing of spending $600 a year on my hair at such a young age because I “needed” to look my best and being blonde gave me a self esteem boost.
As my career progressed so did my paycheck and I realized I could afford a more luxurious salon experience. The type of salon I had been going to played terrible country music and smelled like cheap perfume and bleach. Once I was making more money I could afford to visit a salon that pumped essential oils into the space and they would massage my head after removing 40+ foils from it, which felt amazing and made me believe I was deserving of this experience after working all week. The experience was lovely but would cost me around $200 after tip.
This became expensive rather quickly so I decided to bring some of my natural color back in so that I could move my visits out to every eight weeks and eventually I’ve removed most of the blonde and can stretch an appointment out to ten weeks. This has saved me a lot of money over the past few years and I’m happy that I’ve slowly transitioned to a darker color. Blonde was really fun when I was younger but about 2-3 weeks after I would get my highlights my new growth would start to come in and, if you get highlights you know what I mean, I started to look unkept very quickly. This always bothered me and made the decision to bring in some of my natural brown hair color an easy one.
Recently, I had an experience at my salon that left me agitated with my stylist. You see, I’m loyal. I find someone I like and I stick with them for years. I had been seeing this particular stylist for four years and had even followed her to a new salon. For the very first time ever I had to make a short notice cancellation due to illness. Her response was not “I hope everything is ok” or “I hope you feel better” but instead it was a warning. She told me that she would waive her new cancellation fee one time but the next time she would charge me 50% of my booked service as a fee for cancelling…that’s a $75 cancellation fee!
This experience got me thinking about how much money I’ve spent on my hair and at her salon and that spiraled into how much money I’ve spent over the years on my hair. I did a rough estimate and I came up with an astounding number…I have spent well over $20,000 on my hair! I continue to spend roughly $1,000 a year on it and as my grey is starting to come in I expect this number to go up, but does it have to?
What if I just stopped coloring my hair?
That’s insane right??!! Or is it? I shudder to think how much money I could’ve used to pay off debt or added to my 401k if it I had been happy with my natural hair color for the past 20+ years. What if I just stop and see what’s underneath all those chemicals? I asked my husband his thoughts and his response was to point to his beard and show me the grey coming out in it. My husband naturally leans towards authenticity in most ways so it was no shock that he supported me letting my natural color grow out. We’ve really gotten away from authenticity as a society. The majority of the women I work with have either fake eyelashes, fake nails, colored hair or all the above. If you are more natural you are looked upon as if you’ve given up, are “granola” or simply don’t care about yourself.
I spend hours away from my family to achieve a form of beauty that society has led me to believe I need to maintain to be valued. My best friend had breast cancer several years ago and she lost all her hair from chemo. This hair loss NEVER lessened my opinion of her or how much I valued her as a woman and person. My husband’s grey beard hair doesn’t lessen him in my eyes. I’m honored to grow old with him and I find it sexy. Are a few grey hairs and my natural hair color going to lead to a sexless marriage, low self-esteem, and a sudden desire to wear polyester gowns all day? Doubtful. Of course I can always go back to coloring my hair if I hate it so it’s not as if this has to be a permanent decision.
Part of my agenda with starting this blog was to simplify my life. Giving myself back the time that I spend at the salon definitely takes that off my to-do list. Instead of $200 on my next hair appointment we can take a day trip to the aquarium and have a nice lunch somewhere, creating memories that last longer than the time between salon appointments. So there it is, Less For Now challenge #2 will be to stop coloring my hair. I’m not setting a deadline for when this one ends like I have for the social media challenge but I want to give this a good six months to see where this goes. I’ll post new growth and grey updates occasionally and if I decide to recolor my hair then I will honestly discuss my why for doing that. Hopefully the “real” me isn’t something I can’t live with.
*title is a quote by Andre Gide