Going Grey and Being Authentic

I have grey hair, actually silver, really sparkly silver. After 20 years of coloring it a youthful dark brown I took the plunge to stop. I could no longer justify putting toxic chemicals onto my scalp and soaking into my skin. They must be soaking into my brain too, that would explain a few things about my memory. Either way, it was all going into my blood stream without the benefit of filtering through my liver.

Unfortunately the FDA does not regulate the ingredients in hair color products whether they are considered synthetic or natural. They contain such toxic ingredients as formaldehyde and carcinogenic coal tar, these chemicals have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, leukemia, thyroid disease and developmental and reproductive toxicity. Para-phenylenediamine and tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline damage genetic material and increase your risk of bladder cancer when using the hair dyes only once per month. I was dying my hair every two weeks, dramatically increasing my exposure. Eugenal, a common fragrance, is associated with neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, organ toxicity and allergies.

I tried to find products with the least amount of chemicals but even the best ones still contain at least one harmful toxin. I had been oblivious for years that the dye could be causing me harm. My wonderful husband discovered this fact about ten years ago, pointing out that the chemicals are even more harmful in dark dyes. Even though I was now informed it still took me nine more years before I made the decision to quit. My search for ‘healthy’ hair dye began because I was NOT going to stop coloring my hair. That would make me look old, right?

The searching led me to the conclusion there was nothing out there safe, even henna has heavy metals. Since I had been cleaning up my life, home and food for the last few years, it was important to me to clean up this area of my life as well. I started considering stopping, seriously considering, because I wanted to be authentic to the healthy lifestyle I had been living. What held me back was fear and I definitely did not want to look old. Some people had the opinion that it would age me, whoa!!! This was exactly what I did not want to happen. I was also very concerned that the silver would not compliment my complexion at all and that I would look washed out.

I decided I would take one huge leap and do one last chemical treatment on my hair by stripping the dye and recoloring to a silver, so the grow out would be less noticeable and disturbing. Fortunately, I talked it over with my hair stylist beforehand because it would have been a serious mistake. She informed me that the metals in the henna dye I had most recently used would react with the stripper and cause my hair to break off at that point. Basically I would end up with a crew cut. I could not do that, not in this lifetime. The easy way out was not an option so I was forced to do it the hard way.

I pressed on anyway and informed everyone what to expect and how my hair would be looking different. I knew it would be hard and strangers would probably look at me and wonder what on earth was going on with my hair. I mean, those were the thoughts that went through my head when I saw a woman with huge roots. I was fortunate my hair was long enough I could wear it in a ponytail for about seven months, this somewhat disguised my roots. Anyway, that’s what I kept telling myself but most people were more than likely thinking it looked weird. Except for young people, 25 and younger, they thought it looked cool. I would love to take credit for the hombre hair fashion but mine was natural. I received many compliments from these youngsters and always said to them “thank you but I’m just growing out my grey hair”. I’m not sure why I felt the need to qualify my thanks, maybe it was me wanting to be authentic.

It’s been a year since I started, I probably have about six more months until it’s completely grown out. I feel comfortable now wearing it down, thanks to the hombre fad. I still receive compliments from young people, however, I no longer feel the need to tell them I’m growing out my grey. The silver color does not wash out my complexion as I had feared, I’ve even been told that it really brightens up my face.

I am being true to myself by going with my natural color and living the healthy lifestyle I feel is absolutely essential for optimum health into my retirement years. My fears were unrealized, no one called me a weirdo or said I was crazy. In fact, I’ve been told I’m really brave for doing this and how they wished they had the courage to do it too. I received so much support from family, friends and even strangers, it made it easier to look strange for a while. The time I save by not having to dye my hair is priceless, I can schedule things on Sunday nights and not have to worry about planning my life around coloring my hair.

I don’t look old, in fact, I look striking. The silver picks up the sunlight and really sparkles, like me.

Kim Jones is a holistic health and wellness coach. Contact her to learn how she can help you with your health goals and living authentically to your true self at nourishyourhealthylife.com or nourishyourhealthylife@gmail.com.

Albert D. Sant