As a child, I remember one of my mom’s hair stylists referring to the color of my hair as “dirty dishwater blonde” which I guess was pretty descriptive and not necessarily a dig? I was like 8.
Me, my sister, our very early-90s hair styles and young RBFs, and our little brother.
It was naturally a light brown and pretty one dimensional until I started playing with chunky highlights like a good 90s teenager with $15 and a friend who would pull the strands through the cap on the back of my head.
In college, it progressed back to natural as I progressed beyond DIY bleach jobs and had zero money to pay a professional. That is until I had my final semester of j-school when I would be working on air as a reporter and fill-in anchor at the local NBC affiliate.
There was a lot of pressure to play the part- to look like a talking head, complete with a short, polished hair style. I spent over $200 at a fashionable stylist who came highly recommended by my news director- literally money that was supposed to feed me for at least 6 weeks- and got a short, trendy razored ends bob with bangs. He dyed my dishwater hair sleek, deep chestnut brown. I looked very smart and not at all like a really, really broke college student who would eat mostly Lipton noodles that semester, and only because my roomie’s dad worked for the company and sent her a moving box full of them.
There are a list of reasons I didn’t go into TV news after college that have nothing to do with this post, so let’s just jump to my mid twenties, back to long, caramel blonde highlights, a new career path, and finding my first gray hair before I even got pregnant with my first baby.
I’ve been fighting gray hair for about 13 years.
I knew I didn’t want to stop coloring my hair and covering my grays when I got pregnant, but as a first time mom who was hyper concerned about how everything I touched would affect my baby, I feared highlights would turn him into a cyclops.
Spoiler alert: he wound up being my most difficult baby, and I fully embraced bleach and fumes for the last 2 pregnancies.
But, for that first pregnancy, I went back to deep chestnut brown, courtesy of a box of all natural dye. And I continued to use it to cover my grays for the next few years.
While economical, it was a total PITA, especially as my grays became more prolific and persistent.
I shared a photo of our fresh family of just 3 at our first-born’s first birthday last month, and I got so many comments and messages about my dark (though a bit faded and not freshly colored) brown hair. How people loved it, and why did I decide to go blonde?
Because my grays are winning this war that I’m not ready to surrender yet, and I’ve finally found a way to live with them that doesn’t have me touching up my hair every 4 weeks.
I originally worried the only way to win the gray war was to go fully blonde, but that just brought me right back to needing frequent root touch ups.
My old caramel highlights didn’t do much to disguise new growth either.
Over the last 18 months I’ve started requesting very light highlights to be worked in- like almost white. I’ve also gone all in with full highlights 2x a year, and partial highlights in between.
Now, when my hair grows out, I actually have enough grays and enough nearly white highlights that they all blend together and I can reasonably go 8 to even 10 weeks between salon visits. Truthfully, I usually stretch it to 12 weeks, but those last two weeks drive me a little nuts.
Here’s the KEY though: PURPLE SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER.
Any brassiness in my supposed-to-be white highlights makes my grays really stand out.
Here’s a budget shampoo and conditioner I picked up at Walmart that I also like: Loreal Ever Pure Blonde.
The point, I think, is the purple deposits into your hair, counteracting the yellow. I’m no expert, but it works. I use it every time I wash my hair.
With this method, it’s not like my grays disappear. They are there and noticeable if you look close, especially a few weeks+ after coloring. But it’s a manageable way to ease into what’s probably going to be an entire head of gray hair in 10-20 years.
My dark brown days are over because it would be so much more work than this.