Grey hair, don’t care: How lockdown helped me embrace going grey

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By Keeley Ryan

I still remember the first time I realised I had a grey hair. Or rather, the first time that it was pointed out to me. “You’re way too young to have this,” my then-hairdresser quipped as she held the stark-white hair up between her fingers. I was 16-years-old. After a brief bubble of nervous laughter from me, she insisted again that I was too young for grey hair — and yanked it out. 

The next time, it was pointed out at school — and was brought up intermittently for the final few months before graduation. 

“Why don’t you do something about that?” I remember someone asking me, while another said she “wouldn’t leave the house like that.” From that moment, I began to do everything I could to hide them whenever I saw them pop up. Yep, from box dye to spray dye; hair scarves to hair bands, I have tried everything to try and hide my grey hair over the last few years. 

There was even a few ill-advised months where I drastically lightened my hair in an effort to to hide them. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight, the colouring really didn’t suit me. Plus, I was spending even more time in the hairdressing chair maintaining those roots. 

And then lockdown happened; throwing all my plans to keep my roots hidden out the window. 

For the last few months, I’ve tried to do anything and everything I could to keep my hair looking as ‘normal’ as possible.

After totally butchering my split ends and my fringe (and sending my apologies to my hairdresser), I decided there was one task that I wasn’t quite willing to DIY when it came to my ‘do: dyeing it. 

Partially because I was determined to resist the call of the box dye out of fear that it would turn my hair orange — or that I’d get the dye on anything and everything but my hair. But a few weeks out from my 30th birthday, I also decided it was time to grow out the grey a little bit and see how bad it really was. The first day that I left the house with my roots showing, I was convinced that I’d run into everyone I know — after all, that’s when that usually happens, right? When you feel that you’re not at your ~best~, whatever that may be? 

It was about halfway through lockdown that someone commented on my roots. 

“Your new hair colour looks really good,” my neighbour told me one morning as we were both leaving to walk our dogs. After the initial surprise at his comment wore off, I began to wonder if maybe my roots wasn’t as noticeable as I thought. Or, at the very least, that maybe they weren’t something I should be ashamed of. 

There’s now about three inches of regrowth sprouting from my roots, which makes it look a bit like I’ve had a bottle of Tipp-ex spilled down my parting. And for the first time in nearly 14 years, I actually don’t mind seeing the grey — in fact, I kind of like it. 

I had my last visit to my hairdresser less than a week before lockdown began and, by this point, probably would have been in to see her another three times to try and bury the grey. Surprisingly, the fact that my colour was fresh at the start of lockdown was what — in part — helped me change my opinion about my grey hair. 

Every morning for the last three-or-so months, I’ve seen my hair change from dark brown to grey. And while it was daunting at first to see the carefully maintained colour fade away into the shade that I’d been hiding for the better part of the last decade, it’s actually been nice (and oddly soothing) to let it go. 

While I’ll fully admit that I’m not ready to let it all go grey gracefully — and I probably won’t be for a little while yet — I’ve shelved all the root-hiding gadgets I’ve acquired over the years, and I won’t be going back to them any time soon. 

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