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Nikol Johnson

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I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

by Nikol Johnson

I think it’s safe to say that you would probably rather die than have your hair turn gray before forty right? I mean, gray hair represents old, stressed or should I even say it? Elderly? Let’s face it gray hair is taboo for women under seventy-five.

Every article in glossy magazines is telling us to defy our age yet make sure we cover all our gray. I am so tired of the gray stigma, the feeling that to be beautiful you have to conform to all these “beauty hair rules.” Does it matter what color your hair is? Does having gray hair mean you are one step into the grave? I decided to stop dying my hair and find out what happens when you embrace the unexpected.

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

Sporting the Silver Fox Gray Stripe shoot in 2014 PC: RR Photography

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

PC: RR Photography

October 2015 is when my gray seemed to multiply by three hundred in a twenty-four hour period. I started getting gray strands here and there around twenty-one by age thirty-four I had a little gray stripe secret that I let out to play with the world. This little silver fox highlight situated smack dab in the front of my hairline made strangers want to call me Cruella. The Cruella comments got old very quickly, and I started thinking about just letting my hair go natural. Now, this is not the easiest conversation with your stylist. I was told that I would “Look soooooo much older” “You’re too young for the gray” “Why would you do that are you crazy?” So I kept putting it off. I felt that part of me just wanted to see what I looked like and part of me was the rebel wanting to do shock factor since no one my age would even dare think of letting their gray out.

This left me feeling hopeless, was I going to have to endure weekly toxic hair dye on my head for the rest of my life? By October 2015 I had been through more than my fair share of fertility treatments (2 IUI’s, 4 IVF’s with more to come) I felt that all the synthetic hormones just added to my rapid gray hair progression. It’s not easy walking into a fertility clinic with doctors not only judging your egg quality but looking at your hair as advanced maternal aging. I am sure no one has ever seen a gray-haired pregnant woman. I got to the point where I just didn’t want to fight it anymore and honestly; I didn’t care I was tired of pretending that I wasn’t gray.

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

Photo Credit: Rick Gomez Photography

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

Photo Credit: Rick Gomez Photography

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

Photo Credit: Rick Gomez Photography

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

Photo Credit: Rick Gomez Photography

Don’t ask why I decided to let my hair take its natural course in New York City on my fortieth birthday weekend. It was rough, to say the least. I pretended that I was preparing for a role in a movie and I was doing character research. I look back at these pictures and think OMG that took guts because I literally had black and white hair with large white roots. I figured it was all going to be white very quickly but apparently, that didn’t happen. My hair likes to be defiant, and challenging that’s what you get when you let the gray beast out. I would have mornings where I couldn’t believe what was looking back at me in the mirror and then other mornings where I was getting used to seeing white.

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

New York City October 2015

It’s almost like a new relationship, you have the awkward, insecure first couple of months getting to know each other then you become more comfortable and before you know it you’re in love and engaged. That’s what it’s like growing out your gray. You despise the gray at first (Ok so maybe not just like a new relationship but you get where I was going with that), you curse it up and down and then you realize it’s not going anywhere, so you start to warm up to it. You find yourself not cursing at the gray every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in any and all reflections. Strangers start saying they love your hair and is it natural (enter eye roll because of course it is and why would you voluntarily dye it gray?). You start feeling confident sporting the gray hair and loving the freedom it represents.

Just keep in mind you are saying goodbye to a hair color you have known for your whole life give or take a couple of meltdowns where you wanted to look like a blonde bombshell. You are starting over with a new color, cut and hair relationship that takes time. Understand that it’s not going to be an easy process, there are no shortcuts pardon the pun. Growing out your natural gray takes time and patience. I do suggest cutting your hair into a chic cut whatever that means to you but above the shoulders. The more you cut off, the faster you will be able to grow out your gray. You must look put together when you allow the gray to come through.

The ironic part of all this is that people say I look younger with gray hair instead of the “harsh black color.” Imagine that! I look YOUNGER! Embrace your beauty ladies and find your inner hair peace. I am so happy I freed myself from the dying process and allowed my real beauty to shine through.

 

I Stopped Dying My Hair and This is What Happened

 

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