Blonde: Not so dumb after all

The gene pool can often be a murky morass from which we may inherit some pretty horrid traits. Well, that’s how I saw my white hair for most of my life.

The first strand appeared on my head when I was a mere 10 years old! Every time I saw it I’d pluck the offending hair, inspect it carefully and bin it quickly. Not a hint of colour there.
Many factors cause hair to go grey prematurely – stress, anaemia, a lack of vitamin B12, genetics. In my case it is the latter.

Embarrassed

By the age of 16 I had a patch of grey/white hair on the right side of the front of my head. And I hated it. I started colouring my hair every three months from the age of 18. My grey hair was an embarrassment, something I was determined to hide.

When last we estimated, my hairdresser, Allison, said I was about 80% grey – except, in my case my hair is completely devoid of colour so I’m 80% “white”.

A peak at what my hair looked like if I didn't colour it every two weeks.
A peak at what my hair looked like if I didn’t colour it every two weeks.

In the blink of an eye, I found myself becoming a slave to the vicious colour cycle. Every three months became every two… became every month… became every two weeks. And in the last two years, I’d have to pop an antihistamine before administering colour since I’d become allergic to any hair dye I tried on my hair.

For years Allison tried to convince me to “lift” the colour (in layman’s terms lifting colour is equivalent to bleaching) from my hair rather than add to it. For years I resisted.

In the beginning colouring my hair was fun, it was almost a reinvention of myself every time I chose a different shade. Red, blue, magenta, purple – I’ve had many a fabulous hue on my head. After 25 years, the fun turned into a detested chore. I’d rather be cooking, I often thought.

Crafty

Then, last year, circumstances lead to me not being able to colour my hair for about six weeks. On account of the fact that my hair grows like weeds I suddenly found I had more white than colour on my head. Seeing a rare opportunity, my crafty hairdresser pounced.

“You need a change,” she cajoled.

“Let’s just see how it looks,” she encouraged.

“If you’re unhappy, I’ll make it right in a day,” she promised.

And so I agreed. What can I say? It’s been the most liberating thing I’ve done in a while.

Shock

The initial shock of seeing my full head of “lifted” hair had my son in stitches, my partner dead silent and me in tears. I was warned that the first “lift” would not yield the desired result – no matter how many Instagram videos make it appear so. There’s years of colour that needs to be stripped off.

So I left the salon with more copper and brown – my two least favorite hair colors in the world – in my hair.

Thanks to the miracle silver shampoo, however, these awful colors can be toned down quite dramatically and I could live with my hair till the next lift… almost.

By week two I was avoiding mirrors and poor Allison was considering blocking me on WhatsApp. She eventually capitulated to doing my second lift three weeks before schedule, warning me that I’d have to work extra hard to care for my chemical-choked locks.

I walked out of the salon smiling this time. I could finally see the beginnings of something I was happy with. And after the colour settled this new look began to grow on me.

There's nothing better than not having to worry about my white hairs showing.
There’s nothing better than not having to worry about my white hairs showing.

Liberating

And then the realisation set in. This was just so darn liberating. Not to mention edgier than even I could imagine. No root touch ups every two weeks – I only needed to do my next lift three months later. No huge colour bills. No stress in between if a white hair made an appearance.

It’s been eight months since my first foray into this new look. My son’s ceased laughing, my partner doesn’t look so shocked when he opens his eyes and sees me next to him in the morning and a bad hair day is no longer because my whites are showing.

It was a bumpy start. I was ready to stop the adventure and head back home. But my new hair journey is now on an open road. And my destination could be anywhere.

I wear my white hair with pride and confidence these days. And that my friends is a truly phenomenal feeling.

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Meneesha
Online and books editor by day, mum even while I sleep, individual all the time. I live in the beautiful city of Durban - the unpolished gem in South Africa. If I didn't have a family, I'd be that crazy cat lady your mum probably warned you not to feed! Blogging is where I share, vent, rant, laugh and generally be myself. Join the ride!

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