It may seem perverse to begin my column this month by celebrating a shade that is absent from colourful autumnal trees and hedgerows, apart from in the glittering spiders’ webs suddenly all over our gardens.
Instead I want to talk about a colour – some might call it a non-colour – that since the start of the first lockdown has been top of mind for me, and increasingly on top of my head.
You see, for those of us of a certain age, grey is the new brunette. BC (Before Covid), every four or five weeks, I would happily pop into Hawkesbury’s hairdressing salon, Head Start Studio, for a cut and colour to keep my grey roots hidden and my ends from splitting.
This regular dose of me-time meant I genuinely had no idea what percentage of my hair would be grey if left untouched by hairdresser’s hand. Under lockdown, with the decision to dye or not to dye denied me, the truth slowly emerged.
To my surprise, growing out my grey felt strangely liberating. Ever the Pollyanna, I decided to embrace my inadvertent inverted ombre.
With the irritating zeal of a reformed smoker, I developed a radar for people who had given up their dye-jobs, kindred spirits who had also ushered in the ashen look.
By contrast, I was interested to see who swung in the opposite direction, colouring their hair ever brighter with purples, blues and pinks. I hope this trend helped compensate colourant manufacturers who had lost customers like me.
A kind friend on the same path introduced me to purple shampoo. Rather than colouring your hair mauve, it promises to transform plain grey into shining silver. This counterintuitive trick reminds me of the blue bag my grandmother used in her twin tub to wash whites whiter. I didn’t understand how that worked, either, but it did.
Now I’m wondering why it took me so long to realise I should be glad to be grey. It’s a softer, more flattering look for older skin, as well as a saver of time, money and effort. My only dilemma is how to continue to support Head Start Studio while keeping my new-found natural colour. I’ve always said I go there as much for the entertainment value as for the hairdressing, always leaving with my face aching from laughing so much at Tasha and Alannah’s banter.
Then the answer came to me: I can still visit just as often, if I ask them each time to cut only half as much off as they used to.
This post was originally written for the October issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News.