Women, and often men, think about colouring their hair as grey strands herald in maturing years.
Wanting a more youthful appearance is the main motivation, but Lydia dyed her hair for a different reason.
When she was in her early 30s, Lydia noticed grey strands in her curly brown hair. To camouflage it, she used a henna rinse. Unfortunately, she had to stop this when she became too grey, as the henna turned the grey tresses orange. Eventually all her hair was grey and almost white in certain sections.
“I felt fine about it and so did my family,” she says, and although certain friends did encourage her to colour her hair over the years, she continued leaving it in its natural state until just recently, at age 56, when she decided to go back to being a brunette.
“It was mainly because the texture of the grey hair was becoming unmanageable,” says Lydia, who found that her natural curls were beginning to flatten out.
“I’m now receiving lots of positive feedback,” she says, which makes her think she must have looked like an old hag.
“It took time to get used to seeing myself with brown hair, after looking at a white head, but I like it like this, although I feel I abandoned the cause to have the right to age with grace and dignity and not be a slave to the bottle [of dye],” she adds.
Paula, on the other hand, had been enhancing her blond locks with highlights until age 56, when the process no longer adequately covered the pesky greys that had slowly begun to show. She then began dyeing her roots blond, while continuing to add in the highlights.
“I was born a blond and will probably die a blond,” says Paula, who is now 62. She adds that if she was braver, she would let her hair go completely grey.
Another natural blond, Edie, started using a light rinse to enhance her flaxen tresses while in her teens. She notes that it really never was a huge difference to her own natural ash colour so, like Paula, she went from dyeing her hair to just putting in highlights. She continued doing this all her adult life until undergoing surgery last year, after which she found her hair beginning to thin and break and decided to let it grow in naturally.
“My hair now is all grey but still shows a darker contrast that looks like highlights,” says Edie. At 61, she’s not finding it too difficult to live with, and she believes that after so many years using solutions on her hair, it can only be healthier.
Hairstylist Alexandra Rochon, known to clients as Alex, has been in the industry for 15 years. She stresses that to maintain healthy hair it must be nourished, and especially when it is coloured.
“Men and women should regularly use a conditioner,” says Rochon, who originally wanted to be a colourist and has attended L’Oreal Professional School. Her own long blond locks are conditioned regularly.
She emphasizes that consumers should ask advice before dyeing their hair. Although she agrees that some over-the-counter products are good, she explains that consumers should understand that the companies consider that the person’s hair is healthy and only one colour (that is, no highlights or perm solutions). In discussing salon dyes versus home-use products, she notes that users should be aware that although cosmetic staff can be helpful they cannot offer assistance when there is a problem with the colour or texture of your hair after dyeing it.
She notes that there is no reason people should not use hair dyes, but does not recommend them for pregnant women in the first trimester or for someone who has been ill or takes a lot of medication. Also, if you have allergies to cosmetics, chances are you will be allergic to the same pigments in the hair dye.
Rochon adds that everyone should know that colour is made to last four to six weeks, and hair has to be well taken care of if you want it to be shiny and healthy. Salon colourists will usually recommend certain hair-care products because they know how they work and what effect they will have on a client’s hair.
“So protect your investment and take care of your hair” is Rochon’s advice.