Because I know you care deeply (ha!) I thought I should come back with an update after the post I wrote about considering going gray. I was, and still am, kind of amazed at the strong opinions people have about whether or not hair color matters.
As you can see from the picture here, I decided to just go ahead and take the plunge; I not only stopped coloring my hair, I decided to remove myself from the two-tone purgatory I’d been living in for the past six months and let my stylist just… cut it all off. I honestly think the cut was way more traumatizing than seeing exactly how gray I’ve become (hint: very), if only because it was such a radical change. I know that in my header picture on this blog my hair is pretty short, but when I went for my cut, my hair was easily down to my bra strap. Long.
The cut itself was like the clown car of hair events. First we discussed what was going to happen, and my stylist had me put my hair into a low ponytail. Then she picked up her scissors and sawed off the ponytail (which was a good 10″-12″ of hair, right there). I figured that would be the worst of it, you know? But then she started cutting. First she shaped the new style, and there was quite a lot of hair falling, but I expected that. But then she started layering/thinning/texturizing and it was surreal. I mean, I was watching in the mirror, and I could see that my hair was already very short… and yet, huge tumbleweeds of hair continued falling to the floor. By the time it was done, it really looked as though several poodles had been skinned in the general vicinity.
So. What do I think of it?
This is a complex question. I’ll try to tackle the various facets.
Color: After all that debate about the gray, I realized two interesting things once all of the dye was cut out of my hair. First, I actually really like (and really missed) my natural brown color. My gray is so stubborn and hard to dye, I think we’d been dying it darker and darker over the years. My natural brown is back and I dig it. Even better, my gray is a steely silver and—to my delight—I kind of dig it, too. Second, although I kind of knew this from my roots, now that my hair is short I think the pattern of where it’s brown and where it’s gray—for example, I’m nearly solid gray right at the crown of my head, but barely gray right in front, over my face—is… kind of interesting. I like it. It’s sort of like having tie-dye hair. (I laughed while I typed that. But c’mon, nature made my hair all patterned! That’s kinda nifty.)
Cut: It’s a shock to go from hair so long to hair so short. I feel like I’m still getting used to the new ‘do, and I’m not convinced I’ll keep it this way. However—that said—I can wash and condition (what’s left of) my hair in about 45 seconds, now, and it dries really fast. Plus I don’t really have to do much of anything to it for it to look halfway decent, and my morning bedhead is easily fixed with a couple of damp-handed swipes. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments. My biggest fear was that I’d suddenly look like somebody’s grandma with a “sensible haircut,” and that wasn’t the reality (thank goodness). We’ll see.
The issue of professionalism: I had a lot of people arguing with me on both sides of this one, both that it mattered and that it didn’t. Right now I am in total hermit mode—no conferences, no hustling for new work, I’m basically not really “out there” at the moment—so I guess I won’t know the true answer to this one for a little bit (whether or not I will be judged as less professional because I am no longer covering my gray). My prediction is that it will be a wash; I think the new haircut is significantly more professional than my old one, even though the color is no longer as “polished.” (And maybe this is just me, and maybe it will wear off, but because I’m feeling a little insecure with the change—and perhaps missing my security blanket of all that hair—with my shorter hair I am much more apt to put on a little bit of mascara and lip gloss before leaving the house. Make of that whatever you will.)
The bottom line is that I’m glad I did it and I feel good about my decision to embrace the gray. But I’ll definitely be curious to see if there’s any real professional impact with this change.