Pam is one of a number of women who stride through the office door each morning happily wearing their natural hair colour.
She’s young and fit, and wears grey beautifully. Pam is also in good company, as a growing number of women are deciding that letting those grey or silver locks down doesn’t necessarily tag them as past their prime.
Ironically, many of us know women in their seventies who continue to cover their grey even as we witness a trend in which others in their twenties pursue chemically induced heads of silver, grey or white. Annie Clark, the musician in her very early thirties who goes by the stage name St. Vincent, has done so with great style.
One of my neighbours, who is somewhere in between 45 and 60 and has been rocking a a short and elegant white head of hair since I’ve known her, laughingly told me how she was recently approached by someone less than half her age. The young gal loved our neighbour’s hair colour, and was disappointed to learn it didn’t come from a bottle!
We are talking about a massive industry here, and all the marketing that comes with it. I’ve read estimates that more than 33% of women over the age of 18, and approximately 10% of men over the age of 40, use hair dye.
I’m one of those people who was perfectly content with her natural hair colour, and had no interest in altering it – until genetics kicked in and I found my first (silvery) grey strands around the age of 30. These were all the more obvious since I’d evolved from blonde toddler to someone friends dubbed Snow White (it may have had something to do with that wreath) on our wedding day. While my black-haired dad remained that way until his sixties, my mum and the women in her family had a pesky tendency to go white in their late twenties. My mother is among the multitudes who – for decades -turned to hair dye as a solution, but I never knew my grandmother as anything but a vivacious, white-haired dynamo. When I look at my mother’s now naturally white hair, I think it’s a gorgeous look.
What impact does your hair colour have on your professional brand?
What about you, and the women and men around you? Do you colour your hair for style, or to keep perceptions of age at bay? Do you perceive the grey-haired women in your office as old, or perhaps confident or wise … or a combination of these and other adjectives?
Making the Transition
After years of hair colouring, I decided six years ago to forgo chemicals, go cold turkey and let nature do its thing – which turned out to be a contrasting combination of dark brown and silver. One year in, I pulled the plug and went back to hair dye. Fast forward to last December, and I was ready to again ditch the chemicals to which I’d been exposing myself. I headed to Suki’s, where I asked my colourist for one last batch of dye to ease the transition by colouring my hair silvery white. This truly lovely pro, who knows her stuff, took colour choice in to her own hands and I emerged from her chair with blonde highlights and brown lowlights. Hmm. Not what I’d asked for, but it works.
I’m making this second return to natural hair colour for a few reasons. I don’t like the smell of the chemicals, or conflicting thoughts of impacts they may have; take a look at what the Canadian Cancer Society and American Cancer Society have to say. Next, my hair grows quickly and roots show up in no time. Speaking of which, time is precious and although it’s a a wee amount, I’ve recovered another couple of hours every six weeks. An even more interesting short term bonus arises from my calculation that the annual cost of having my hair coloured in a salon is only a couple of hundred dollars shy of the cost of a return flight from Vancouver to Europe. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy travel?