Ugh! Don't you hate it when you make a quick decision that requires a long, multi-step solution? Me too.
Fact #1: I have been going gray since my mid-thirties, a strand at a time. When I noticed all the gray roots amassing in the center of my front hairline I started to use dye. Years later, I thought I should go lighter with the color for a better transition. However, when I tried a Revlon dye three shades lighter; instead of dying my entire head, it stripped back color from the front 2 to 3 inches, revealing pure white strands. It was much more growth (and lack of color) than I had expected so I panicked and redid it with a darker dye. However, it got me thinking, perhaps going gray wouldn't be so bad or hard, if I did another Big Chop one day?
However, at that time I wasn't ready. I thought I would still need that allusion of youth to get a job and pursue a romantic life.
When I did change my mind, I started researching how to avoid cutting all the dyed portions and most importantly, my length off. Perhaps, there were some natural ways to strip dye out of hair. My first experiment was with a recipe of baking soda (opens up the hair cuticle), a strong dandruff shampoo, and common dish detergent. I did notice, immediately, that the lather was a bit brown, so I think this method was working but at that point my last dye job had been months ago. So too little, too late.
So, what's the stupid thing I did? Well, I couldn't stand the multiple shades in my hair. The white roots and the darker ends, I was fine with them. It was the middle section of my strands that were actually white underneath the old brown dye which was now faded and dull. My hair was now three distinct colors. I wanted that middle section and the dark ends to blend together so... I tried the "dying it three shades lighter" thing (see above) in hopes of repeating the earlier result...stripping back to the white strands and evenly dying the rest.
Well, it didn't work! The dyed hair got darker and the glorious 2-inch white roots I had been cultivating now looked stained, as if I rubbed coffee grounds in my hair. Disappointed is not a strong enough word for how I felt.
I tried the baking soda concoction again but it didn't work this time. To the rescue, came Color Oops, a commercial color remover, which is what I should have done in the first place. This ammonia- and bleach-free color remover is supposed to restore hair to its original shade; however, for me it only took mine back to before my most recent stupid dye job. Unfortunately, the smell was highly sulfuric, like rotten eggs, and lasted over a week despite frequent shampoos.
Fact #2: I am now letting it grow out naturally, occasionally applying a purple toning shampoo to the brassy tones of the fading brown dye left on my actual white strands. The truth is I would be perfectly fine dealing with the white roots and the dark dyed ends, just not the "masked" hair stuck under that dull and too-slowly fading dye.
Fact #3: I am living for the loveliness that is @grombre on Instagram! Besides the gorgeous inspiration of all the women not fighting their changing hair color but also the revelation that people are going gray at a much younger age than I thought. The majority of the stories on there have people finding their first grays in their teens or early 20s and then dyeing for decades. So sad that gray hair = old (so we feel like we must dye if we are under 60) whereas if the stigma was not perpetuated it would be, "when it happens, it just happens...no big deal" What an easier life it would be, right?