In The Gray.

Standard

I decided on Christmas eve as I was dousing my hair with chemicals that it would be the last time; I am over coloring my hair every 3 weeks just to have it fade in a week and not match the rest of it for two more.

I can do without the time suck, the expense and the occasional professional tune-up to correct the banding that I created for myself in my efforts to Feel Like A Natural Woman.

Tomorrow will bring me to the end of the third month of my journey.

I posted on Facebook about this and I referred to this situation in a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago in an attempt to bring both of you up to speed on the higher-level events in my life.

There’s a movie called “The Grey.” Remember back in lit class when we would discuss: Man vs. Man, or Man. vs. God, or Man vs. Machine…? Which type of struggle encompasses this film? Yes.

It’s about a group of maybe nine rank and file (i.e., necessary) men from a petroleum company who survive a plane crash somewhere in a tundra. We don’t know where, exactly, but we can guess it’s very cold and very remote. The group of men are a typical motley crew: one is a new father, another is a great guy, one is an ex-con whose vulnerability dressed in hubris would be his downfall, one has a kidney disorder, another is a kind of MacGyver / dog whisperer / shaman / former Seal, one is a recovering alcoholic who’s divorced or in reconciliation with his wife, one is devoted to his family, another is just a standard prick. I think that’s eight. Let’s go with that. Bottom line: they all have their gifts and their flaws. It’s like Lord of the Flies but grown-up style. We start to get to know them on the night before or of the flight back to the “Main 48” as part of their leave from their jobs in that isolated place. The plane crashes somewhere in the Northwest territories of the U.S. and then we begin.

From the beginning, you sense tension and that’s how movies work.

What lives in the tundra and can do quite well thank you? Grey wolves. And then the drama begins, because you KNOW shit’s about to hit the fan, but who’s going to get it first? And how will he die? Will it be an embolism or a knife fight with another survivor? Before you run to Netflix and start to watch it, I must tell you that Liam Neeson is in the film. So now you really have to decide if you can take it.

It doesn’t matter who dies. Or how or if you’re psyched or sad when he finally he got his because he was so sweet or such a jerk to everyone or he lost his glasses or he has a fear of heights or he softened his granitic heart just before.

What matters and what any of this has to do with me is that this is how it feels for me right now as I have decided to grow out my gray hair.

When I was 39 I tried this. Maybe it was the cut, maybe it was because I was still “young” or maybe it was because it just didn’t look “right” in terms of balance, but I threw in the towel and started coloring again.

Then five years later, I started adding highlights. And “warmth” to my colorings and let me tell you: I am not a “warm” tone person. I am more Snow White. So anytime you add “heat” to my hair… it doesn’t work. (I tried to come up with an analogy that had to do with a croissant and it wasn’t working, so I let it go — some battles are not worthy of the energy.)

I joined a Facebook group, “Gray and Proud” which is a fun place for people like me — trying to figure it out, in the process of no more processing, and the people are generally super supportive.

I feel like the wolf is out there… just waiting to wrestle me to the ground and say, in her “all the more to eat you with” voice, “Stop. Just stop with the coloring… you know how frustrated you get when you see the end result and you feel it’s not you. You are going to be 50 in SIX MONTHS; that doesn’t mean you’re half dead, it just means you’re 50 — so stop trying to make your hair look like you’re 30 … I’ve got grays… so what if they’re tipped in black … but I’m a wolf. You know that’s not where you are right now… so be cool, man… or i’ll bite your head off.”

And then I’ll say, “But you’re a wolf. You were made that way.”

And she will turn around, snarl and say, “So were you. Get over yourself.”

And I’ll snarl back, “yeah, ok…” but in a really weak way because she’s a wolf and I am NOT a wolf and she could just… yknow, END IT right there (IT COULD HAPPEN!) and so here I am.

Before I share pics, some things I’ve noticed:

  1. Less hair is falling out in the shower.
  2. The bluing shampoo I use (to keep the silver from yellowing and to help keep my chemical low-lights from getting brassy) is sort of harsh… my hair feels NOT soft after I use it; that was a surprise.
  3. Even on this Facebook group, there are Nellys from Little House on the Prairie. Someone asked about conditioners, and everyone was giving input and then some person said (insert nasal and uppity tone): “You know blah conditioners are just blah wax and your blah hair is not alive, so you’re just blah putting wax on your blah hair follicle blah like you would on a wooden blah floor…” and I stopped myself from typing: “Stop being a JAN BRADY. Let the woman ask about conditioners, you hag.” (That must’ve been one of my PMS days.)
  4. Combining points 1 and 3: when I posted on this group about less hair falling out, many people commented and agreed and in retrospect commented that they’d noticed it as well and a person much like the person in point 3 said, “Probably not… Hair blah goes through a blah natural shedding blah stages like all cellular blah  – can you get me a Tab? processes….” and I couldn’t help myself so I said “I appreciate that. But this is a profound difference, AND I’m seeing baby hairs coming in unlike another time in my life….” she didn’t comment. Maybe the wolf got her.
  5. People are looking at my hair now. I’m past the stage of “maybe she’s going to get her roots done soon” and have entered the “no, this is intentional, she means to let her hair look like this.” Hmm. 
  6. The amount of gray coming in is going to rock my world when this is all done. I would say that I am about 75% gray from the tips of my ears forward to my face. I still have a nice (getting slimmer) black streak in the front, but shit’s about to get real… So I need my stylist to help lighten more of the artificially darker hair a bit more.
  7. I spend more time finding a good pink lipstick and putting on mascara. Will it all add up to the amount of time I spent in a chair in a salon? No.
  8. I am more hair aware. That bugs me a bit because I’m not a terribly vain person. I have always tried to look like I didn’t just roll out of bed, but this experience does make me feel as though I need to walk around with a sign that explains point 5.
  9. I’ve lost 5 pounds. That has nothing to do with the hair, just thought I’d mention it.

Without further ado, the photos… (that’s really why you’re here):

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.26.20 PM

Ooops. How did that get here? (snort, MC)

countryclub

This is the country club look; or the way my hair looks just before I wash my face. I generally don’t wear a headband because it’s 2017. 

harshlighting

I love this one. It captures my ___ perfectly.

lottery_pch

When I win the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes — which would be really great seeing as how I never participate. I feel like I resemble Wynona Rider here… (which explains why I don’t like her.) 

natural_light

This is natural light inside. Things are coming along and I am trying not to hate it. Intentionally messy. 

sunlight_letsgetreal

Ooof. Outside. Hair is a mess. On purpose because I’m TRYING to show the randomness of it all.

yogateacher_bangs

This is how I generally look when I teach yoga to kids. The bangs soften my face.

yogateacher_sane

This is how I look when I teach yoga to adults if my bangs simply don’t cooperate.

So will the wolf come and get me? I don’t think so. I’ve told my kids they can only say two things about my hair, because I’m really in this to win it … I’m really done with the coloring and I’ve been blessed with dark eyebrows, big green eyes and a fairly happy skin tone and complexion to pull this off for years before I start to worry people.

They can only say, “This is really cool,” or “It’s good you’re doing this for yourself.”  The  minute they tell me I look old, is the minute the wolf comes out.

Thank you.

About Grass Oil by Molly Field

follow me on twitter @mollyfieldtweet. i'm working on a memoir and i've written two books thus unpublished because i'm a scaredy cat. i hail from a Eugene O'Neill play and an Augusten Burroughs novel but i'm a married, sober straight mom. i write about parenting, mindfulness, irony, personal growth and other mysteries vividly with a bit of humor. "Grass Oil" comes from my son's description of dinner i made one night. the content of the blog is random, simple, funny and clever. stop by, it would be nice to get to know you. :)

10 responses »

  1. “This is the country club look; or the way my hair looks just before I wash my face. I generally donโ€™t wear a headband because itโ€™s 2017.”

    I simply adore you. And I love love your hair. It’s gorgeous!!! And draws attention to the fact that your skin is AMAZING.

  2. You are pretty! I am always on the fence when the time comes to color my hair again. I usually have both the thought of stopping coloring or making an appointment at an expensive salon floating in my head at the same time. For now I color at home.

    • Thanks, Kate! I didn’t write about this in the post but when I decided to stop coloring it was after years of an inkling and months of deciding and I went on Pinterest and YouTube and made an appointment with my person at the salon to stop and of course she was against it — I’m too young, I’m not ready, it ages you, it’s a big step… but what it meant was less $ in her pocket — significantly less.

      So I asked around and met a stylist who came highly recommended and she gets it. She understands it’s about me, not about her. And she knows that if she treats it right, then I’ll be loyal for years and years.

      So she started six weeks ago with lowlights and using a cooler tone / ash highlights. Because my base hair color is quite dark, black actually with cool red tones, I need to go “cooler” to help the blend… BUT because I’d been both at-home and professionally coloring my hair (as I mentioned) and it was always “warm” the lowlights she attempted will “pull” (result) in a warmer hue even though the ash toner was applied.

      She and I will see each other again on Monday and we will see what needs to happen next. I believe she will do a “partial” because my outer hair (“top coat,as I refer to it) and “pull” more ash lowlights to increase the blend.

      We shall see. Lots of people go cold turkey and just stop altogether. I can’t do that. I’m out in the public teaching yoga a lot and I work with young children too, so I’m not really ok with such a drastic move.

      My unsolicited advice: if you color at home and you one day might have a highlight / lowlight process performed to ease a transition, stay away from the reds. When you “pull” from a red, it will end up honey blonde and that’s the lightest it will go before shredding your hair. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  3. I think it looks great and look forward to watching the progression! Your beautiful eyes are more noticeable now, and as the kids say, your eyebrows are on fleek ๐Ÿ˜

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