Categorized | Features, Laurie's Scribbles

To Color Or Not to Color? That Is the Question


More and more, I’m flirting with the idea of seeing what “lies beneath” my processed hair color (I truly have no idea).

By Laurie Stone

We’ve all seen those women. They look gorgeous in gray or silver hair. Helen Mirren, Emmylou Harris, and Jamie Lee Curtis come to mind. But it’s still a big leap for many. More and more, I’m flirting with the idea of seeing what “lies beneath” my processed hair color (I truly have no idea). I’ve decided there are six reasons to let Mother Nature do her thing and one teensy (OK, huge) reason not to.

The Physical Experience

I’m sick of being a slave to the ritual. I’m sick of the “goop,” which feels cold on my scalp and then gradually heats up. I’m sick of feeling the chemicals ooze into my body. I’m sick of it all. The other day I was at the hair salon and saw a woman who looked in her late 80s getting color. For some reason, that depressed me. At what point are we allowed to be ourselves?

Pokes of Grey Color

After several weeks, silver stragglers come back like unwelcome houseguests. I sense my hair doesn’t want this color anymore. It seems to be shrugging it off as if to say, let it go, sister. Be who you are. You don’t need this junk anymore. Take a new path.

Finding Our True Self

Aging is hard enough. Why not do it on our terms? And yes, it’s not fair that men can go gray and it “adds character.” We women aren’t so lucky. Hair’s a big part of our identity. But like many women who color, I feel there’s a more natural version of myself lying underneath. I haven’t met her yet. In fact, I’ve been putting off meeting her for a long time. The question becomes, will I like her? Or will I go screaming in hysterics back to the hairdresser?

Courage To Go Gray

There’s something brave about those who go naturalLately I find myself studying women who choose not to color their hair. In many cases, I’m filled with admiration. There’s a confidence that comes with self-acceptance, with saying this is who I am, take it or leave it. In some cases, parts of their personalities come through that weren’t there before. Some gray-haired females now dress in leather jackets or wear funky earrings or brightly colored glasses, as if to say they’ve now been given full permission to be themselves.

Who Wins The Color War?

Part of me is excited to start a new journey. Beginnings are fun and exhilarating. But in some ways, I feel like I’m playing chicken with myself. I’m not sure who will win this hair-coloring thing. The old me who’s scared of change? Or will someone else emerge, someone more confident and ready to embrace those inevitable transitions in life?

A Process

It can be done in baby steps. This whole process reminds me of going into the ocean when I was a kid, cautiously, slowly, one step at a time, like I do everything in life. But apparently, there are ways to de-color in phases, with the help of a good hairdresser. Thank goodness, I have one. Phew. That makes things easier.

Will I Be Happy?

But what if I end up looking like Grandma Moses? What if I wake up one morning with no hair color and feel I’ve aged several decades? Again, I think of the women I know who have natural hair and look great (my 80-something-year-old mom comes to mind). I realize what makes them attractive is deeper than processor and highlights — glowing, healthy skin, wise, knowing eyes and a youthful spirit come to mind.

A Tentative Step

Yes, the new is scary for many reasons.

The other day a man gave a warm smile as he held the door for me. I couldn’t help wonder, will that go away if I no longer color my hair — if I no longer make that crucial effort to appear “younger”?

Or will it matter at all?

Yesterday I called for my next hairdressing appointment. I spoke to the receptionist who asked her usual question.

“Cut and color?”

I reached up and felt my hair. I knew I was due for a touch-up, but decided for the first time to wait. I would take that initial step in meeting the person I’ve run away from for years. Will I like her? Or will I decide I’m not ready? There was one way to find out.

“Just a cut,” I said. It felt strangely liberating.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog, Musings, Rants & Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

6 Responses to “To Color Or Not to Color? That Is the Question”

  1. Diane says:

    Decisions. Decisions.
    And you know what? In the end, coloured hair or au naturel? You will continue to be amazing! 🙂

  2. Laurie Stone says:

    Now I know why I like you, Diane!! ?

  3. Lisa Romeo says:

    Oh brother, I go through this entire line of internal questioning a few times a year. What I’ve settled on is… since I mostly work at home, alone, I let it all go until I must leave my hovel to show up at a work or writing related event where eyes will be on me: a reading, client meeting, conference presentation, etc. Then I time my color/cut/blow-out for the day before the event. In between times, when I venture out socially, I use a spray-on root touch-up and it works just fine. This way, I save some money, some time, and don’t feel like such a slave to it. Good luck. I’m curious how it turns out!

  4. Lauren says:

    I will be coloring my hair for the foreseeable future. I just like the way I look better with my hair colored. I know I would not feel vibrant with grey hair. Very few can pull it off well, but I say good for the ones that can and feel good doing it. I don;t judge. Whatever works for the individual!

  5. Tracy says:

    Great article Laurie! Earlier this year we had a dinner party. The first two women to arrive had gone grey since we last saw them- and looked amazing!
    When my third female friend arrived, her hair was the same pretty blonde that it’s been. I hugged her. Clearly I’m not ready!

  6. Theresa Wiza says:

    Before 9/11, my son joined the Marines and during that time news coverage was ongoing. A woman approached me at work and said, “You’re so courageous!” She was talking about my hair! Like you, I couldn’t stand having to dye it all the time. If I had to go through that again, though, I would do it differently. I would get highlights and lowlights, gradually decreasing the lowlights and increasing the highlights until it looked more natural. My sister was afraid to let her hair go, and I convinced her to just do it! She gets so many compliments even today at 66 than she ever did when she was in her 20s. So I’ll say to you, just do it!


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