Sarah's story - My transition to grey
We know how difficult the decision can be to ‘ditch the dye’. Deciding to transition to your natural hair colour, whether that be grey and white, or something else, can feel daunting. At White Hot, we are not about encouraging people to go grey and white – we always think you should do what feels right for you.
But, we do aim to offer help and inspire those who might be considering the change, and what better way to do that than through the stories of those who are transitioning.
Meet Sarah. Sarah lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two teenage daughters, and is currently a year into her transition.
“It’s only hair” people often say when you think of going for a drastic chop or change of colour but as I sit here, writing this, I am left thinking “but is it?” I’m now a year into my ‘grey transition’, and I am left questioning why the big deal, if it is “only hair”?! For me it has been so much more than that; it’s been a test of my inner strength and character as well as learning about other people.
On April 27th 2018, as I sat in the hairdresser’s chair, I knew that this time I was done! This was in fact the 3rd time I had caved into the pressure of covering the grey. Twice before I had made it to this dreaded stage, the 4-5 month mark, and just felt I couldn’t continue looking this way with the grey halo around my hair line and along my parting. Everything inside me knew I wanted to continue on my grey journey but then I’d waver, and think I wasn’t strong enough to go to meetings, meet up with friends for coffee or be taken seriously for the fear of those around me thinking “I’d let myself go”. It was an inner angst for me, as ridiculous as its sounds. I want to be beautiful (who doesn’t?) and loved my trademark (as my father once called it) long glossy black hair. But was I prepared to have this at any cost?
I try and live a simple healthy lifestyle. As a family we eat balanced healthy home cooked foods most of the time, I exercise religiously 4 -5 times a week, I try and use organic products in our home, and look for non- toxic make-up and skin routines.
As a nurse I champion treating the whole body holistically and encourage my patients to embrace healthier options. In my specialised area, working with children, I try to be supportive and encourage my patients to love themselves for who they are. I tell them that they are enough and beautiful, whatever body shape they may be, race, or ability. With my daughters, I support them to be real, true and honest, to love themselves no matter what and to never let anyone make them feel insecure or less than they are.
With that said, I still sat in the hair salon every 3 weeks for a hair line, and 6 weeks for a full colour. The stinking, burning chemicals being painted onto my sensitive scalp, so strong at times my eyes would water. Being told, “right I will leave you for 40minutes” but I would always feel sick in my stomach of what these chemicals would be doing in that time, counting down the minutes until I heard “ok do you want to come over to the bowl”.
My first greys were at university aged 21. Horrified by their existence I would just pull them out. By my mid 20’s I started to have semi-permanent colours to cover the odd patches and strands. By the time I turned 30, I needed a 6 weekly permanent colour. By my mid 30s I needed the hair line touched up every 3 weeks, as those silvers and greys would reappear so quickly and then back again 3 weeks later for the whole lot to be coloured. It was high maintenance and was costing me a fortune in both time and money.
I remembered I would sit in the chair and laugh “please wash the greys away” and talk about when science was going to come up with a pill that stopped grey hair! And being honest, even after all this colour I never truly felt I looked that great. Striking...perhaps, but natural, I think not.
Now in my 40’s I really had no idea what my real natural colour was…apart from the grey! After all, I had been colouring for half my lifetime! And after all this colouring I felt I only really has a 2 week window when it looked good, the time in between the tell-tale signs of dye stain on my forehead around my hair line (which never rubbed off for days) and those pesky little silvers peeking through again.
The turning point for me was when I had been invited to a party at short notice; I was so desperate for a hair appointment that I took my husband’s appointment as the hairdresser was fully booked. It was then that I realised that this was becoming ridiculous! I didn’t want to be that girl that wasn’t ready nor confident, and who was ruled by salon appointments.
I was always inspired by famous celebrities sporting their grey/silvers, but it was the journey to get to that whole head of grey I wasn’t enthused by. I wanted the grey now! I didn’t really want the ‘journey’. As I knew from twice before, it’s arduous, it’s extremely lengthy, but above all it’s a test of your confidence.
So April 27th 2018 was my NO MORE moment! I made a pact to myself to see a year through no matter what and then re-evaluate. Indeed I have learnt more about myself and others. It’s been so much more than the grey.
Who would have imagined the comments from strangers? I’d never encountered this before, and to be honest most were negative. Annoyingly those comments came at that 4-5 month mark….
“What are you doing to your hair?’ as she glanced to the top of my head with a disapproving look.
“I see you’re embracing the grey…..why would you do that at this age, there’s plenty of time for that later”
“I loved your straight black hair” Wasn’t really a negative, but then maybe not what you say to someone growing out their greys!
“Are you worried you’re going to look older?” Well theoretically I am a year older than when I first started this journey, but let’s be real, I’m not in my 20’s either and I certainly don’t want to try and look like my teenage daughters!
Social media and advertising tell you to “be yourself”, “be authentic”, “be real”, advocating female empowerment and all that it entails, and then the next minute you are bombarded with adverts for fillers, Botox and enhancements…it’s a confusing time. We want to be real, authentic and beautiful. We want it all. But I truly believe there’s something quite beautiful in honesty, purity, keeping to your beliefs and what you feel is important to you.
I’m the only one of my age in my little community that’s dong this grey transition, but I see that around the world the ‘silver sisters’ are making huge waves and the support from these woman online has kept me going. It’s a supportive community and gaining strength daily as others come on board.
I’m thankful to have found a young edgy hairdresser who is on board with my journey to grey and has helped me at times when I’ve wanted to return to the dark side. On those occasions she has thrown in the odd highlight to help with the demarcation but other than that she’s kept me on track. (I have found that taking photos helps too, as you can see progress when you think nothing is happening.) And yes, I’ve had more than my fair share of bad hair days. The first 6 months were the hardest, from the dreaded ‘skunk line’ to the faded out ‘blorange’, which ironically I loathe way more than the grey! But now I enjoy my hair appointments as it’s my ‘me time’ and I always get a trim and have a deep conditioning treatment. My hair has never felt so healthy and strong.
I am now at the 13 month mark and above all starting to get the positive comments! These have mainly come from women in their 20’s who seem fascinated by the streaks and random colours, something you could never get out of a bottle. Plus I get a lot of comments on how good my skin looks, which is funny as I’ve not changed anything on my skincare!
For those that know me, I’ve always strived to be different and unique in some way, and this journey has made feel that and more. Above all, I feel authentic and that I have stayed true to my beliefs.
You can follow Sarah on Instagram @simplysarahnz
Are you a white hot woman or a white hot man? Are you currently transitioning to reveal your grey and white hair? We absolutely LOVE to see your photos and hear your stories, please do send or share them with us.
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