Thursday, November 16, 2006

REDHEAD AGING NATURALLY

I had long red curls as a small child. Then, my mother learned how to french braid hair, so for a number of years as I grew older, I had braids that ultimately grew to a length more than half-way down my back. From that point on in my life, my hair has been of various lengths, with various degrees of waves or curls. For some years, I've had short hair which is what I most prefer now, a style I will likely keep for the rest of my days.

As a young child, teenager, young adult, I was never subjected to derogatory words or name calling because of my red hair, though I've heard some redheads have had that experience. My mother did prepare me with awareness and skills as best she could to deflect whatever words might come my way, in the eventuality any did. I expect many parents for many reasons quite different from mine have found it necessary to arm their children with the skills to cope with possible, hurtful and demeaning, or worse, comments. What's most troubling is that some of those comments are actually made. I was the recipient of some teasing but never in a malicious manner intended to hurt or offend.

I do recall in college coming out of the dining hall one evening to walk past the gaunlet of boys sitting on the curb across from the door assessing the girls, when one said, "I'd rather be dead than red on the head." I knew he just wanted attention, but I was too tired, just getting off work with lots of studies ahead, to indulge him.

The "red" in "Joared" refers to the fact that I am a redhead. Well, at least I was, until the silver threads started creeping in amongst the golden red hairs. Furthermore, the silver threads are proliferating. The invasion continues and is insidious. Seems as though it happens at night, because when I look in the mirror in the mornings the silver threads are there, increasing in number before my very eyes. I give serious thought to staying up all night thinking this might prevent the onslaught, but the need for sleep gets the better of me. Yes, I miss each one of those red hairs. You see, I don't just like my red hair, I really like my red hair.

Most recently I am noticing the silver threads in my hair have begun to predominate in number. What that means is, many fewer golden red hairs are present with some of them darkening, too, then turning to silver. No longer do I say, " I have silver threads among the gold." Now I more accurately say, "There are golden threads among the silver."

Yes, I gave some consideration to trying to recreate the red hair color through artificial means--hair dyes. I know others, men and women, make this choice and I respect their right to do so. However, I have seen those who have become incapacitated also become distressed, demoralized, and depressed when they viewed their reflection in a mirror. Their self-image was visually shaken because of their personal appearance, not only from the effects of their illness, but the sight of their hair dye disappearing as their unwanted natural hair color emerged.

For me, personally, healthy or ill, I don't want to be thinking about whether or not my "roots" are showing, when I must go again for a touch-up, or a full hair dye job. My hair grows very fast and thick, though it recently may be thinning a bit, so would require frequent care. I don't want to spend the additional time, or dollars, required to dye it in the first place, much less to have to constantly keep it up. Another appointment I don't have to make, keep, and work into my schedule. Just one more responsibility I can welcome not having.

Those are some of the several factors that have kept me from trying to recreate the original shade of my red hair color. The primary factor is that I strongly believe in aging naturally. I'm curious to see what happens during the aging process from beginning to end, and in between, with all the possible variations in hair color, skin, body shape, whatever else. That's not to say I'll like all the changes, but I will accept them, for they are me at any given point in time.

22 comments:

  1. I, like you, have never wanted to dye my hair for many many reasons...but I think the biggest one always has been not recognizing the person that stares out at me from that mirror! My hair, for my age, is not all that gray or silver...it's still pretty dark....And I'm not sure how it will look if it ever does go all grey/silver/white....Whatever it decides to do iks okay by me except I don't prticularly like the "thinning" part, at all....
    I don't know how old you are Joared but it seems to me growing older the "Natural" way, as you said, is better than being a slave to the "bottle" for those comstantly changing roots. Less work is better!

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  2. For me, the silver threads started when I was twenty-five. Runs in the family, so I started dyeing my hair then. I think I stopped dyeing it four or five years ago and was sorry I hadn't stopped earlier. I hate going to the hairdresser's and just go for a haircut these days. Lasts 30 minutes when the dyeing process could last hours since you went from dyeing to cutting... Anything involving more than one person is time consuming.
    I'm not as fussy about what I look like any longer. Ageing, I guess ;)

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  3. I had that wonderful auburn shade of hair that people try to get and I loved it. When it started going gray I never colored it, because I like the wonderful gray it is going. So, now it is gray in front and sugar and cinnamon in back and you can still see some of the red.

    The one time some idiot college boy told me he'd rather be dead than red in the head, I answered that I would rather be red than dead in the head. His friends laughed and said, "she got your!"

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  4. I like my gray hair now, too. It's just as well, because back when I decided I was too young to go gray, and started dying it, all the gray was around my face, and within two or three days, there was a white fringe showing. Impossible to touch up often enough. So, I have learned to love that it is almost all white, now.

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  5. I've been having my hair dyed for about 15 years, mainly because when it first started going gray, the texture was wild. No two hairs grew in the same direction, and dying it helped that. But now I am tired of that process, and so last month, I didn't get it colored. My hairdresser says I will come screaming back, begging him to dye it again, but I hope I can withstand that urge. At the moment, I have about 1/2" of gray roots. My idea was to let it grow out for 2-3 months and then get my hair cut much shorter (think Judi Dench) until it grows out fully. Wish me luck!

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  6. Amazingly, there are only a couple of times in my life that anyone made me aware of any negative conotations of having red hair--at least, in a personal way. In 3rd grade, having just moved from Tulsa to Kansas City Mo, a girl whom I considered a new friend passed me a note during assembly that said, "Red-headed hot-headed". Later, my mother cautioned me that boys considered redheads a special challenge. (I never asked any of them if that was true and always wondered what my mother knew about it all since neither she nor her siblings had red hair, but rather various shades of brown or blonde. As an aside: My only surviving aunt was the blonde and at 81 is still mostly--and, always, naturally--a beautiful ashe blonde, having no more grey hair than I.) Because my Hunky Husband prefers brunettes, I tried dying my hair when I was 21. It wasn't very successful and a professional couldn't succeed in covering the greens and purples that resulted. My father-in-law informed me that I looked like a [lady of the evening]!! That was the end of that! Like many, when I was in my mid-50s, I cut off the long hair that I had had for 25 years, and find it much easier to care for. I cut my own hair and just comb it (with a little gel) when I emerge from the shower, so I have no need of spending the time and money and frustration of dealing with a professional beautician. The natural curl keeps my ineptitude with the scissors from showing! Like Joared, it's hard to tell whether I have silver among gold or gold among silver. Obviously, I am/was a strawberry-blonde-type redhead, rather than Maya's Granny's auburn--which I would have loved to have had, of course! There are a lot of us redheaded bloggers, aren't there?
    Cop Car

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  7. I am letting my hair go natural after coloring it for about 9 years. I began in my mid 50s not because of the gray but because I'd had a combination of anaesthetic for surgery and bad perm which left it all washed out of color. I thought I'd have fun and went very dark for awhile (never seemed like me) then found my way back to a more natural color to what I had had.

    A year ago I decided, because I was letting my hair grow really long, I didn't want to also be coloring it and began to taper back. Since I was doing it at home, this was pretty simple. Just color less streaks to avoid the skunk stripe of stopping cold turkey. At the beginning of summer I did the last home treatment of a few strips, and it has grown out very naturally. It is possible I look older for the gray, but as the above comments and blog stated, I am enjoying seeing what I am now at 63, and I had begun to hate the artificial color which never seemed really right as a substitute for what once was. (Also with quite long hair, I did not want to look like an aging country western singer want-to-be. You can have really long hair at my age, 63, when it's gray or silver but dyed? I didn't feel it worked.)

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  8. I'm 43 and had long thick red gold hair almost to my waist till I got it cut a few weeks ago to mid back braw strap length. Yes, it does grow fast. I have quite a few white hairs but no one notices unless I show them. I've seen people in classes I've taken come in with red. I don't know if they were trying to copy me. One was Claire Pettibone and I didn't appreciate it (in college). Another was in my yoga class, and I considered it a compliment as she obviously switched from maroon to red gold heinna. Neither would acknoledge I was in the room. Funny. I've died it every shade of purple/marroon/orange, when I got it highlighted with gold blond and the gold washed out leaving me with white streeks. I had the best luck with red gold heinna, but I haven't tried it on white hair. I'm told heinna doesn't work on white hairs and if you leave it on too long, you get orange. I think I'll try.

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  9. Anon:
    I wonder if saving the hair you had cut was possible either for a hair piece for yourself or maybe to donate for cancer survivors?

    Yes, I guess some would like to copy our red hair and try with varying success. I came close years ago to trying to recapture my red hair by dying when I realized my hairdresser's changing hair color shades seemed to be her ongoing effort to develop my golden red look on her dark hair (my red was darkening by then.) When she finally achieved my color and it looked so natural I almost succumbed to dying my own hair. I'm glad that I didn't waste my time and money on that process as I would have missed what I and others consider the attractive way in which my hair has grayed.

    Hope you get a red color you like with the henna.

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  10. I am 46 years old and have some white hairs in the temples and a few more in the part. I'm not sure if they were gray before turning white, I just noticed the white. I tried a few dyes and liked it for a day or two but eh..... If I went dark auburn, it seemed kinda pretty but it was not me. When I was able to match my color which was that deep red/gold color, I was very unhappy. It didn't look at all natural. Bright/deep red hair I realized is on the young redheads. I felt like I was trying to look 20 years younger but not able to pull it off. It reminded me of some of those 80 year old ladies you see in church with the extremely dark hair and penciled eye brows. Nothing at all against them, if that what they like, then I support them but it was just not "me". Not me at all. Thankfully they were all temporary dyes and a month after every application they were gone.

    I will wear my hair proudly as it ages. I was special growing up (as all redheads are) and will age with my fellow redheads in true redhead style and just let it come over me like every other season change. It's just as beautiful.

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  11. Maureen, thanks for sharing your redhead experience and thoughts. I find the aging process fascinating even if there are aspects I could readily skip, but am intrigued by life itself. Hope you enjoy your natural hair color change through the years ahead as you cherish the memories of the golden strands.

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  12. I have colored off and on since the age of 31, when thyroid disease began to quickly rob my hair of its color. I had an infant, and I didn't want people asking me about my granddaughter! I just this past month (at 42) decided to stop the madness.
    Rather than let it go away gradually, though, I'm having the salon take the color down to a close approximation of what it actually is, and from there I will just let it grow and do what I can to minimize the stripe.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

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  13. Headzred: Thanks for writing about your red hair experience. I went to your blog but see it has been a couple years since you wrote. Cute baby! Was interested in how your hair color was affected by your thyroid disease. Must have been very disheartening to lose the red at such a young age. Would be interesting to learn your thoughts about the hair color change you're making now as the natural color evolves.

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  14. I am also a graying redhead (well more gray then red) and it actually looks like I have had my hair frosted.

    My problem is that at 59 my hair is so lack luster and has no moisture or shine anymore that is really bothers me.

    Other then that...I love how I have gotten as many compliments with my so called "frosted red" as I did in my 20's when it was a glorious medium auburn.

    Kudos to you for staying natural. Now if you can recommend some good products that can make my hair look better I would be a happy person.

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  15. JAyers: Glad to hear your red hair is aging so attractively. I, too, have been fortunate to have my graying do so in a "distinguished" way as others tell me.

    I've indulged myself for many years by relinquishing my hair care to the beautician I first went to for a haircut thirty years or so ago. I give her carte blanche to use and/or experiment with whatever shampoos, conditioners, or whatever, within my basic guidelines of no coloring or other artificial items. I pay little attention to the products she uses though she always tells me, so am unable to offer you any suggestions. She keeps my hair "lookin' good" -- much better than whenever I do it myself.

    I do know I used to have very oily hair, but in my forties that began to change. I never knew if it was a consequence of having borne children, our move from the humid midwest to low humidity areas in the southwest, then to inland SoCal, or if it was just the natural aging process.

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  16. This post has been periodically receiving Anonymous comments that promote commercial products within the content. Such Anonymous comments without a link to authenticate the writer are not accepted on this blog.

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  17. I liked my red hair,,alot. I felt sorry to see it go. It went from red to auburn to blonde to white. I am ok with the white, but I am a redhead at heart, and that is what counts. I have two redheaded sons and they light up a room

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    1. Tom: Glad you stopped by. Once a redhead, always a redhead, I agree. Pleased to hear the redhead line is continuing. I have a new redheaded grandson -- he's a sweetheart!

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    2. I am natural redhead. I guess it was a dark copper ginger before I started dying it. I started going grey around the time my dad died, around 31 years. I think it was stress that brought it on from his illness, because no one in my family has premature grey. Or that I know of;) I guess the hardest part for me is watching all of my friends with their browns and blonde hair so easily go to the salon and color their hair without much trouble. I on the other hand have to go every two weeks because the red fades so quickly or I get that very distinct line at my roots. I'm considering going to the salon and having them color it closer to my natural then slowly transition in the grey. I also wonder how the grey will be perceived at work. I love being a redhead...not ready to let it go:(

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  18. Growing up as a red head, I was constantly made fun of for my hair. I waited and waited for the time to come when I would finally appreciate my hair, but at sixteen I have already started finding grays. I am VERY upset about it, but I guess I have to appreciate what I've got while I've got it.

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  19. I used henna for several years during the transition to gray. It does NOT cover gray, but did brighten my regular red colour which was starting to fade. Most people just admired the "highlights" that resulted.

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  20. I started greying at about 20 and have been coloring ever since. Three months ago I realized that (as an auburn redhead), my roots would be showing after two weeks. I'm now 80% grey and growing it out. I'll always be a ginger but now I'm going to be a silver and I'm excited about that too! Can't wait to see what shade of grey I'll have.

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