Confessions of a Couch Cat: To dye or not to dye
When middle age hits the fan there are many things to consider. You non-middle agers out there should also take note – these questions will come to you eventually too.
Grey hair is my silver crown and I earned every single strand. On the other hand, grey hair is dry, wiry, and brittle, breaks off easier, and makes me look older.
So, while I love the middle-age anthem of pride in grey, I also have mixed feelings when my braided hair is almost silvery at the roots in some sections of my scalp.
My hair dresser, Johanna, asked me the other day if I wanted her to dye my hair. I hadn’t given that much thought since I wear soft dreads braided and my natural hair is tucked sweetly underneath each braid.
About 10 years ago, I did the dye thing and it didn’t seem to make much difference, so I dropped the idea and never thought about it again until now.
There is also this ‘bad’ chemical with a long name called paraphenylenediamine (I dare you to say that one three times really, really fast!) that is in many commercial hair dyes.
Those using dyes out there check the ingredients on whatever you are using. See if ‘PPD’ is in it and make an informed choice. Ask your colourist if PPD is in the dye she/he uses.
Anyway, this PPD thing is supposedly no good and many folks are allergic to it. And yet, the natural hair dyes available without harsh chemicals may not cover all the grey. In any event, dyes always wear out and have to be redone forever. So dying hair, like braiding or perming hair, is a constant hair care commitment not just a once off thing.
I read that: “Permanent hair colour can be strenuous to hair, which gets thinner and more fragile with age. A less damaging semi-permanent colour or strategically placed highlights could be all the colour help you need to keep your grey under wraps without risking excessive hair damage. “(www.thehairstyler.com)
Sadly, the cover-your-grey or don’t-cover-your-grey articles on the internet largely speak to white women. Black folks have a whole different kind of hair colour range and texture. So reading about lightening highlights and ‘blonding’ tips to cover grey, may not make sense to many of us sepia girls grappling with this question.
One of my aunties went totally grey by age 40. Her daughter, who was about 5 at the time, hated her mom coming to school events because her friends thought her mom, was her grandmom.
For a 5-year-old, that was a crisis. I recall my auntie deciding to dye her hair black for the sake of her child. I understood that, but I never liked it. Back then, I had the idea that being who you are honestly, meant being AS you are naturally. I have since shed that delusion as I matured.
Being who you are has little to do with how you choose to wear your hair. As long as any of your choices are for reasons you embrace, then you are honestly who you are.
I will soon shed my braids as the tug and pull of getting my hair done every five weeks is just too much. My greying natural locks have started to break off a lot. I’m feeling traumatized as I search for a new hairstyle that is acceptable to me. This big push to go natural is real and I’m considering it.
But, my hair is damaged by more than 30 years of wearing extensions, micro-braids, twists, cornrows, and/or soft dreads. My sister is into wearing these super great looking wigs and maybe when I go to the USA at Xmas time to visit her, I will give a wig a try to see if I like myself that way. Still, I have to decide if I let the grey do its thing or whether I dye my hair using natural products that won’t cover all the grey (though this only lasts 6-8 weeks), but at least tones it down a bit.
Who knows what I will decide in the end, but I’ll let you know how it turns out. Send me any ideas, suggestions or experiences you have to help me make the choice.