Mourning my silver hair transition


After 22 months of growing out the grey, I am, finally, fully transitioned. My silver journey is complete.

I have reached the Holy Hair Grail and claimed the silver chalice that we aspire to as fledgling transitioners.

It’s a voyage of self-discovery, determination and true grit. There’s been laughter (usually other people’s) tears and self doubt along the way.

There’s been hairbands, pixie cuts, a recent burning of follicles, which you can read about here, family interventions, head patting and disapproving looks, which you can read about here.

My friends, this has been a trek.

And here I stand before you with a head of steel and ovaries to match. A woman who accomplished her mission, without compromise or regret.

So why then do I find myself gazing with envy and nostalgia at pictures of those just starting out on their silver haired transition, secretly hankering for that time before the silver was finalised?

I’m even reminiscing over my demarcation line.

It’s similar to how I might look at a new mother and wish for those baby years again. I forget the sleepless nights, the teething, the stitches, the exploding nappies.

Maybe, like childbirth, I’ve blocked out the bad bits of transition. Although, to be fair, it’s quicker to produce a human being than a head of grey hair.

Empty nest

Am I missing my transition months?

As I fantasise about wearing an Alexis Colby style black lace veil hat like these, reality makes its own, less dramatic, entrance.

Have I already forgotten the pain of walking around like a seagull pooed on my head, being asked if I’d missed a hair dye appointment in lockdown, or the embarrassment of being singled out on a Zoom meeting with two-tone hair?

While I love my silver, once you climb the mountain there isn’t anywhere else to go.

My colour is complete. For the first time in an age, it’s genuinely permanent. I’m not used to a constant colour. I don’t know what to do (how about enjoying it?).

Yes, I could dabble in temporary colour to mix it up. I could go wild and add a diamante slide or sequinned hairband.

I can grow my hair, cut my hair, get a fringe, grow out a fringe, wear it straight or wavy. But none of these come close to the thrill of the grow out.

Have I traded hair dye dependency for transition addiction? Do I need to attend ‘Grow Out Anonymous?’

“Freedom!”

My transition was a badge of honour. I wore my battle scars with pride.

But As I counted down the grow out, the weeks dragged. I was desperate to move on to the next stage. I longed to be years in, swishing my hair about like a ‘Timotei’ advert instead of inching away at a snail’s pace – I have extremely lazy hair.

I envied those fully fledged Silver Sisters, with their heads of grey and infinite wisdom.

Now, I envy those with their transition outstretched ahead: the badger parting, the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ crop. What is this strange feeling?

Maybe I’m bored. Even before I dyed my hair out of necessity, I coloured it for fun.

As a teen, I’d buy the ‘Harmony’ hair dye sachets to temporarily colour my dark brown hair a shade of ‘Plum’ or ‘Burgundy’, which was barely visible to the human eye, and which lasted one wash and left the bathroom windowsill looking like the prom scene from ‘Carrie’.

As the years rolled on, my hair absorbed every shade, from blonde to red, black to orange. No week looked the same.

Now, it is silver. It’s consistent. Dependable. It rewards me for not being smothered in dye, with shiny, happy silver.

The forensics of growing out the grey

Transition may have lasted an age, but I never got bored. It excited me. I was fixated on the progress. I did not use root cover up as I was proud to display the grey.

I was also impatient. My two-tone hair irritated me. Not the roots, the orange ends. and dabbled in colour depositing conditioner to blend the ends. You can read about my Smurfing here.

During this time, I had two job interviews and although I initially faltered and considered wearing a wig/dyeing my hair/applying root spray, I went into the interview naked. Not literally, of course – I mean, the only job I might secure with that look is chief doughnut taster – but with full on root growth. I was offered both jobs!

My transition fascinated me. Each day I would wake up and examine the microscopic growth, captured in hundreds of images on my ‘phone.

My progress was charted. New milestones reached. A year to the ear, yes, yes. Measuring my growth became my new hobby.

I savoured my transition, because I knew it would not (hopefully) happen again, as long as my resolve or my health allowed.

Then one day, around 18 months in, my hair was all silver. I had reached my end goal. Celebrations!

Has the shine worn off?

As a child, you’re desperate to be a grown up. Then you grow up and want to be a child again once the disappointment and reality crash in.

But I’m not disappointed. Quite the opposite. I love my silver. I swoon over it with the look of love. I want to introduce it to my friends and family, treat it to a spa day and an Early Bird ‘Harvester’.

But I miss the thrill of the chase. The grow out months.

Short of dyeing my hair ‘Chestnut’ and growing it out again, I must live vicariously through others’ transitions, scrolling through Instagram for my grow out fix.

At 19 months, disaster struck when an overzealous stylist burnt my silvers with a straightening iron, and some turned yellow.

It was more traumatic than the ending of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’.

I’ve since had a cut, which has helped, but, looking back, at least the yellow added some variety to the grey. The lengths I go to to spice up my life.

I enjoyed my transition. I wasn’t one who minded the grey on display. My confidence grew with my parting and while there were some wobbles, I knew, even when quizzed by doubters over my decision, that this was my calling: to grow out my grey and encourage others to do the same.

Join our club

Some are called to religion. Some to the bar, to teaching or caring. My purpose is to tell the world about silver hair, whether they like it or not.

I’ve become quite evangelical about it. I might stand in my city centre with a sandwich board handing out flyers detailing my transition, preaching: “Grey loves you!”

“Mother, it’s like you joined a cult,” one of my teenage son jokes, as I try to recruit an unsuspecting passer by to the cause.

I follow her across the shop, desperate to tell her how happy she’d be if she converted to silver. That she’d missed a spot of dye just above her crown. That Pennywise wants his orange hair back.

Sure, like any revered leader, I may not always be popular and there may be a few restraining orders along the way, but I have found my calling.

Forget ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ this is ‘A Dye’s Purpose’ in which a woman lives numerous existences, often over decades, with many different artificial hair colours, only to finally find peace when the dye ceases.

The only tears will be of relief at not having to ever to apply ‘Medium Brown’ to my scalp again, only to discover the manufacturers have deceived me.

It was not the ‘Medium Brown’ I was promised by the smiling, shiny model on the box.

It was not the shade of a majestic Oak tree or a seal’s silky coat. It was the colour of dark, sticky treacle, which made me, with my Victorian pallor, look like Count Dracula’s latest casualty.

Grey-haired wisdom

Just like the pooch in ‘A Dog’s purpose’ I have lived, and I feel qualified to bark about my experiences.

During transition, I would pass on words of wisdom like a respected hair Oracle. The Great Follicle, or Yoda passing on advice to a young Luke Skywalker:

Me:”Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.”

(I proceed to tell Luke about my battles over many, many years, in my pursuit of dark hair. I catch him floating away when I reach ‘Episode VI – The Parting Strikes Back’ and I use the Force, and the threat of being grounded for a week, to focus his attention).

“Is the dark side stronger?” Luke asks.

“No, no, no,” I assure him. “Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

I tell him about how brown box dye lured me in from the end aisle of ‘Boots the Chemist’ with the promise of a quick fix for my grey roots.

“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?” he asks.

I assure him: “You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive.”

I’m right, of course. I am at one with my silver hair, and order has been restored to my Empire.

Maybe it’s time for a bit of chaos.

What do you think? Do you miss your transition? Has the shine worn off your silver? Or are you currently going through the transition process? Let me know in the comments below.


8 responses to “Mourning my silver hair transition”

  1. Lovely pictures of your transition how hard you worked to finally reach your goal. It looks gorgeous. Enjoyed reading it, always amazes me of the funny quotes. Thank you for a very interesting read

  2. Love your blog. I had been wondering how the yellow hair was going. Love your cut!
    Some similarities between our journeys (start/end, method chosen). When I did dye, I changed my color with the seasons. My kids still ask what color my hair will be when I have a haircut scheduled. This is the longest I have been one color in over 30 years!

    • Thank you so much! It’s going. Slowly, but due to cutting rather than methods like purple shampoo. I love the idea of the change in the seasons! Sounds like we are both winter now!

  3. You are an incredible writer, thank you for sharing. Unlike you I don’t miss the transition, I have to say I am enjoying how my hair is getting less silver and looking a lot more like a coat of a polar bear !!!

    • Thank you so much for taking ths time to read this and for your lovely words. I love the ‘coat of polar bear’ as I’m after that snowy white too. Enjoy your crown!

  4. Thanks so much. I enjoy your essays, humorous, true, and observant. I did not hate the grow-out and made the most of it by proselytizing everyone who would listen about the freedom and beauty of silver hair. Now that I am all grown out, it is a little boring, but I would never want to repeat the process again.

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