Silver Hair Month by Month – One Year

Collage of woman growing out her silver hair

March 2021: The dye is cast

Image of silver roots at parting

The last dye is applied to my silver hair/roots in a weekly ritual, performed by my husband. Ah, the mystery and romance of 20 years together.

As I am not double jointed with an owl’s field of vision, dye dabbing is one of Richard’s chores, along with de-fluffing the vacuum filter and putting the bins out. Even though this DIY dye concoction is hardcore Majirel and ammonia, it can’t cut through the white hairs. They fan out, high kicking, like Busby Berkeley dancers.

Post lockdown, and there’s nowhere to be seen other than the supermarket, park, or Zoom, so a bit of root spray or eyeshadow conceals the greys.

My husband is not sure about the transition. It’s OK for him, he’s 46 with not so much as a smattering of white – I’m talking about the odd, grey fleck, like I had at 19. Am I reduced to my hair colour?

Does he worry he will look older? That I’ll embarrass him with my wild, witchy hair? Or that I will no longer follow the rules that women must forever replicate the hair colour of their youth? Even if that means developing a scalp condition with more scales than Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons?

I’m feeling relieved that this is the last time my hair will (hopefully) be covered in chemicals, and that I might be able to use cream towels again.

Woman with dyed hair
March hair.

April 2021: How to blow out your hair and wallet

Woman with dyed hair
Cute baby lights.

Five weeks in and I’m off to the salon for baby lights, a bit like grown up highlights only smaller, yet prone to having a tantrum if they miss their 2pm nap.

After fending off a coup by the hairdressers, which you can read about here: https://shinyhappysilver.com/2022/04/10/silver-transition-pt-3-one-year-of-silver/ the subtle, stripey baby lights brighten my hair without impacting the half inch or so of silver roots I have painstakingly cultivated.

Within a week of the visit, however, the definition has gone. The strands have merged into a blorange mass. I don’t want gentle baby lights, I demand robust senior lights that laugh in the face of foils, and aren’t triggered by the ‘no pain, no gain’ 1980s’ highlighting caps. I may as well have squandered the £80 on something fun for 40 plus year-olds, like HRT or electrolysis for stray big toe/nipple hairs.

Woman with dyed hair and silver roots
Blorange mass with white roots, just one week after salon visit.

May 2021: Hair decorations

Woman in silver wig
No, this is not my Halloween costume.

The silver badger stripe is more noticeable now. I’m wearing it wavy, which helps to disguise the parting. It’s getting harder to blend, so I experiment with head scarves and hair bands, aiming for a Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn style.

Walking up Asda’s feminine hygiene aisle, though, I feel less Princess and more Tena Lady. “Are you auditioning for a part in ‘The English Patient’?” my aunt asks, examining the taupe scarf bandaged across my head.

This is the woman who made her husband dangle precariously from Blackpool’s ‘Big Wheel’ in the 1970s, to retrieve her turban – along with several old pairs of rolled up tights that she’d stuffed inside for volume –  when it fell off during one of the rotations.

I Google: ‘How to tie a 1940s’ headscarf’ summoning the glamour of Goldie Hawn in ‘Swing Shift’, but the ratio ends up like a handkerchief draped over a watermelon.

Perhaps I should try a French plait. I watch ‘braids for short hair’ videos in awe, as the influencer quickly transforms her short bob into 20 different funky styles. I achieve a tangled mess.

I’ve always been all thumbs, even when I worked in silver service, and my swan napkin folding resulted in the mutant lovechild of the Loch Ness Monster and a question mark.

I buy a silver wig, a silver scrunchie ponytail, and a Heidi braided hairband. None quite match my shade of silver. I turn to a silver root cover up spray in a can. But it’s metallic, glittery silver, and my hair looks like a toddler’s sprayed a Christmas twig wreath. My bathroom is now silver. Beats Chestnut box dye stains I suppose.

June 2021: Smurfette!

Woman with blue dye on her hair

The Weetabix brown on the bottom of my hair is bugging me. It’s not just the contrast between my grey roots and the darker ends, it’s the bland beigeness.

Woman with grey roots

Maybe I can try to blend the two tone hair. I try Revolution Silver Angels colour depositing conditioner. It’s temporary and washes out easily, apparently. The mixture smells like sweets. It’s extremely messy to apply and turns out a Slush Puppy blue. The colour has little impact on the beige, but it creates a ‘blue rinse’ effect on the grey roots, that I quite like.

It takes a good few washes to rinse out due to my hair being fine. Ironically, my hair was never this embracing of permanent dye, but now that I actually want the dye to fade, it takes numerous rinses and lashings of Apple Cider Vinegar. Still, I quite like the blue and I’ll bear this in mind when I get bored again. I knew the spare latex gloves I acquired during Lockdown would come in handy. 

Woman with silver roots
Mrs Slocombe blue.

July 2021: 48th birthday hump

A staged selfie.

I meet my family for a birthday lunch out, out. My brother, four years my senior, has been silver for a good few years. It suits him and he’s often praised for being a silver fox.

I feel frumpy, I started the Curly Girl Method a week or so before my last dye and I’m feeling frizzy and not feeling very foxy.

This is the beginning of the ‘hump’ for me. The awkward grow out phase that tends to last for the next few months. Maybe I’m a silver camel.

My weight is not helping matters. When I compare the pre-meal selfies, with great lighting and careful composition, alongside the reality of the natural, cold light of day shots outside restaurant, I question whether artificial isn’t better after all.

August 2021: Greywatch!

In my head, I am a siren, all beachy waves, glinting silver on the ocean. In reality, the cold, Cornish wind is blowing my frizzy, grey hair both port and starboard.

I’ve come away without product, or a diffuser, and my hair is challenged by the elements. I procure some salt water from the sea – it’s good for the hair – but when I later rinse my hair in the ocean water, wondering if anybody had a wee in my water while swimming – it dries all crispy like murky seaweed. It smells salty, and when the gale forces blow my flyaway hair in my mouth, it tastes salty too.

Meanwhile, My sister-in-law looks fabulous with a glossy, auburn box dye and a snazzy straight cut. I am tempted to follow suit. There’s a sudden realisation that I a) do not look like Pammy off Baywatch b) this seaside salty air and sun does my town hair no favours, and c) I do not evoke the essence of Sophia Loren in a wide brimmed hat, more Steve Martin in ‘The Three Amigos’.

I’m starting to fantasise about dye and straighteners, after smugly proclaiming to all my bored friends and family, that they are banned substances in my house.

September 2021: Where are all the Silver Sisters?

Meeting old friends for lunch. It’s a challenge as, apart from the odd glimpse on Facebook, they have not seen my silver or waves in person. We are the same age, but nobody is sporting grey.

I leave home after confidently posing for a bathroom selfie. The reception is positive, although nobody is putting themselves forward to take on the silver baton.

The restaurant has several grey haired male diners, but it’s slim pickings for female counterparts. I view the restaurant picture and only see my grey football hair and weight gain.  The hump just got bigger.

Interestingly, it is my husband who dissuades me from returning to the dark side. He likes the silver and doesn’t want me to dye it. While I thank him sarcastically for his approval, secretly I’m pleased. Validation is still needed after years of social conditioning.

Facebook groups are invaluable when it comes to getting over the hump. Images of beautiful transitions fill my saved posts.

October 2021: Pixie

I have become obsessive about the greige hair. I need the bottom to match the top. Now! Or I will hack even more off myself.

I visit the barber, who charges £15 for a short back and sides, complete with electric razor. The hair on the nape of my neck is a steel grey, darker than the rest, as are the sideburns, I now have, that wouldn’t be out of place in The Sopranos.

The last time I had cropped hair, I was mistaken for one of my sons’ friends, as I’m barely over five foot. Now, I might get mistaken for Ronnie Corbett.

The Pixie proves to be versatile – easy to dry and style quickly. There are now just a few inches of beige.

November 2021: Wavy goodbye

My hair is too short to wear wavy. If I do, I look like a teenage boy sporting the current front perm. In the 1980s, it was all about the back ‘footballer’ perm. The Billy the Fish from Viz Comic.

I could attempt a Morrissey quiff like comedienne Dawn French is rocking, but my hair drapes forward even floppier than Hugh Grant’s curtains. I sacrifice waves for silver.

Gone is the dry plopping, squishing and sleeping in a satin bonnet. My routine is shampoo, condition, air dry, and a quick blast with the Dyson. It is so easy.

I love my hair again. The silver is now dominant and it looks like this is deliberate, and not just a hangover from lockdown laziness.

Not a perm.

December 2021: Tinsel, turkey and raised glasses

A chance to unwrap my new hair in front of the family. I treat myself to two new pairs of clear glasses that coordinate with my hair. Feeling pasty, so need to add more colour to my face.

Also, short hair reveals the start of a crepey neck and jowls. Perhaps I need more polo and turtle necks like The Beatles and Bert and Ernie, but I have a short, stout neck, like Ray Winstone, not an elegant swan/ Loch Ness neck.

January 2022: Scissor happy

Another cut removes more greige. I’ll get it trimmed every five weeks now at the barber’s. I’ve been assigned their one and only female stylist and the aim is to shape it into a bob.

My routine is taking a little longer now. I wash it twice weekly, with Head and Shoulders (yup, that’s correct) to accentuate the white silver that’s grown in, Alberto Balsam or Herbal Essences conditioner, and a Herbal Essences banana mask, weekly.

It’s mostly air dried and blasted on a low heat with the Dyson. It’s wavy again, so I do fire up the straighteners now and then with a heat protector spray.

I don’t use purple shampoo as I am worried about looking like the Purple Pie Man from Strawberry Shortcake.

I’m also fed up of spending. I love my hair. It’s healthy and shiny.

I am inspired to lose weight, revive my collection of vintage clothing and enjoy clothes again. I folllow fashion and beauty/hair influencers.

It has awoken the old Anna. The Anna who cared, who was individual and full of passion. I had found myself again after years of style drudgery.

February 2022: By the power of Greyskull!

I’m officially middle aged. In my 20s, I laughed at Bridget Jones’ mother getting her ‘colours done’. Now, I’m rediscovering colour and trying to work out my palette. My makeup is bright, with hot pink lipsticks. While it may look like Picasso has applied the slap, I am trying to look less zombie.

Next step, skincare and diet. I have several inches of dye left, which creates a metallic silver and gold effect that I like.

This is what freedom tastes like and I hope I don’t return to the dark place where hair goes to dye. In this next year, the focus on length, condition, and colour and of course.

March 2022: First birthday and silver hair

I celebrate the occasion with another cut. At work, I receive compliments from female colleagues, who love it, but who couldn’t possibly embrace the silver as it wouldn’t suit them!

The next part of my journey is to grow my hair and maybe get a fringe, and try to entice the wave back, as my hair has a little of the texture of candy floss when wavy.

Dye coated it in a layer of paint, so now it’s flyaway and I must work on the texture. When it’s wavy, if I look like Mrs Merton or Mary Whitehouse, but that’s just society casting grey haired women as pearl clutchers.

My mother is finally more accepting of my silver and she begrudgingly admits we’re related, when we’re out in public. My hair is making progess, but I know the best is yet to come.

4 comments

  1. I love reading about your journey and enjoy your writing style. As a curly silver sister (March 2020 was my last colour!), I relate to your story and look forward to future installments. Cheers from Canada!

    • Thank you so much. It’s great to hear that my writing style travels! Good luck with your transition and thanks gor reading.

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