The Hair Metric

I’ve been coloring my hair for…well, quite a few years now. It’s not a fast process because I use chemical-free ground herbs – henna and indigo being the main ingredients. So the process includes mixing the herbs with water, black tea and a little vinegar (to help it soak into my whites), letting that sit for an hour or so to let the indigo “bloom” (so it’s less red, more brown), and then working the thick, dark green goop into my hair. I cover that with a reusable shower cap (leopard print, of course), and let it sit for 2-3 hours. I always think I’m going to make three, but more often than not, I end up rinsing it out at 2.5 hours because I get sick of trying to catch all the occasional drips from the shower cap with the towel draped around my neck.

I don’t touch up my roots, because I’m lazy, and because these dyes are very permanent, so dying over the top of a previous dye job results in a darker color, and that would leave the crown of my head lighter and the rest darker and I’m pretty sure it would be a really bad rendition of the “ombre” color fades kids are going for these days. I just wait until I need to get my hair cut again and then dye it the night after my appointment, when it’s short and a lot of the dye has been cut off.

That works okay if I stay on top of cuts. Which I often don’t. My stylist is super-busy, and I can’t wash my hair the day after I dye it which leaves only Saturday for appointments. So I often end up with gray/white roots and hair nearly to my shoulders in the span of ten weeks (my hair grows fast – always has, just like my nails).

So lately whenever I get my hair cut, I come home, take my hat off (it looks horrible just after a cut, because roots, dye, no dye, lighter dye…it’s a wreck), and look in the mirror. What I’m mostly looking for is whether there’s more white than gray. Enough white to just finally say, “Okay, it’s finally socially acceptable again, so no dye job needed.”

Why? Because to me, it seems like the only hair color that really isn’t acceptable and generally tends to make a person “invisible” is salt & pepper. That in-between stage that makes one look older than they are, but still too young to be “going gray”. It’s an uncomfortable stage, in my opinion (and in my experience, the one people are most likely to comment on). That’s the stage I’m covering (mostly). When it’s done, and my hair is all white, I feel like it will be “socially acceptable” again, and then I’ll be able to do away with the whole six-eight week dye routine.

I realize this is my own hang-up, and that plenty of women go gray/white naturally and gracefully, and kudos to them for that. But in my experience, people respond to the dyed hair better than the “transitional” stage, especially at work. So for now, I dye.

Do you have a hair metric? If you dye your hair, is there a point at which you know you’ll stop dying it?

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