IT SLAP WORE ME OUT, the time, attention and investment required to maintain my “natural” brown hair. Ten days of beautiful salon color then BOOM Day Eleven it appeared: my part already sprouting a strong new crop of gray. It was not pretty, this skunky look, and the work it took to keep those roots at bay was exhausting and also maddening. Thus in May, I threw up my hands, sat in the swivel chair of my beloved Steve Brinchi of Capelli Salon and announced: I CANNOT DO THIS COLOR THING ANYMORE.
That’s a big decision, he said, his voice calm, his demeanor rich with experience.
I MEAN IT, I said.
This did not offend sweet Steve, for he and I have had a long and trusting hair management relationship, and also, one can safely assume from the vantage of a hairdresser he has already Heard. It. All.
Let’s do this, Cath, he said. It was gentle, unfazed. Let’s make your appointment eight weeks out. Leave your roots natural in between, and when you come in July, we’ll have a better idea of what we’re dealing with. We’ll discuss it then.
This seemed good. This seemed entirely reasonable.
THIS WAS NOT EASY.
I watched as those gray roots lengthened, and I became obsessed with determining just what I should do. I tried hairstyle after part-masking hairstyle. I spent hours online, following link after link to grow-out-your-grays methodologies. (Be strong! Wear it boldly! Claim your roots!) Time crawled, I do not exaggerate, then after what I swear was a literal hair eternity, the day finally came for my appointment with Steve.
I looked like this.
We talked and talked, Steve and I did, for he kindly allowed A WHOLE BIG LOT of extra time for me to tell him everything I knew as a layperson/expert via my extensive research re: The Best Way to Grow Out Gray Roots When You Have Brown Hair. These include bayalage, highlights, lowlights, ombre, and the oh-so-brilliant and inventive do-it-yourself Dye Strip. Not to mention the ages-old Cold Turkey option, which as an option, I, in fact, did not mention. Steve listened and smiled and from time to time commented, then when I had exhausted every bit of commentary, he pulled out the color book to show me what we actually were going to do.
We have to prevent damage, he said, so we’re going to limit this to one appointment. We’re going to lift the existing color, tone it, and we’ll take you light all at once. That way as your roots continue to grow, they will blend.
I liked this idea. Then I asked:
How light, exactly?
He pointed to a very blonde patch in the book. This, he said.
Oh my, I thought.
Steve went to the back to mix the magical color cocktail, and I wished I had one myself being extremely excited and also very nervous and even unsure although at the same time feeling very, very certain.
As hairdressers are wont to do, Steve turned me away while he dried and fluffed and straightened my newly lifted locks. (I worked just as hard reminding myself it’s a good thing to breathe.) Then suddenly it was done, SPRAY, SMILE, SWIVEL and VOILA! There she was! Of which I have exactly no photos but only a vague recollection of a stranger in a mirror, of a woman who looked at me and grinned while I myself looked back and wondered who on earth that possibly could be.
I SKIPPED THREE errands. I desperately needed to run them, but I bee-lined it home instead, excited and worried and wondering what would be the reaction of my dear, precious husband—I mean, 19 years with #5 Medium Brown and suddenly here I was, a new wife, a blonde! He smiled at me, and approved, and I ran to the bathroom where after a few minutes of staring I raised my phone to snap this commemorative and also investigative photograph.
WHICH BRING US to now, a couple of days later and a few minutes to soak. My reflection still surprises, every mirror glance catches me off-guard. But seeing my WHITE HOT ROOTS and knowing I WILL NEVER HAVE TO DYE THOSE SUCKERS AGAIN? Understanding this transition is—relatively speaking—a gentle one?
Those things make me very, very happy.
Plus, who even knows, I might emerge from this experience brandishing a whole new level of sassy.