Andrea Loewen Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


After 25 Years of Colouring My Hair, it's Time to Stop!

White hair doesn't have to "look old."

Grey hair, no more cares

After twenty-five years of colouring my hair, at the age of forty-six, I’m going to stop! The crazy thing is that this decision has been a ridiculously difficult one. I’ve stared at myself in the mirror, sweated, lost sleep, and talked myself in circles about what to do.

I first started thinking about not colouring my hair when my frustration level at keeping it my childhood colour (dark brown) got too time consuming, too expensive, and too logistically tricky.

My hair looked really nice for about two weeks but then as the new growth came in, I’d have a sharp white line at my roots. I kept old mascara containers to cover over the white, which actually worked fairly well until I forgot it was there and got it all over my hands! There also a product by WOW that’s an eye shadow of sorts to apply onto the roots but I’d have to keep doing that every day.

My Dad’s hair was mostly white by the time he was forty so I realized that it was time to accept my follicle genes – my hair was getting more and more white, not the reverse!

When I started asking stylists about the process of letting my hair go white, one comment particularly struck me, “I just don’t want you to regret it – women can look really old with grey hair.” That freaked me out! I didn’t want to look old. She went on to say, “Consider hair colouring like an accessory. You’d spend money on nice shoes or a bag, so the money to keep your hair brown is so worth it.”

I admit that I changed my mind because of her comments. It took awhile to realize that she had a vested interest in my hair colouring decision: she’d profit from all the colour going onto me. She also didn’t have to free up three hours of precious time about every four weeks to get the treatment done.

The biggest question I asked myself was this: is it just a story that women look older when their hair has some white in it or is it possible this is a societal myth? Can women look amazing with white hair?

I started noticing young women, middle-aged women, and seniors with white hair. Many of them looked stunningly beautiful! One woman in her thirties said her hair went totally white very early so she decided to embrace it. I thought she looked amazing – and she really didn’t care what anyone thought of her hair colouring choices.

After thinking about it for waaaay too long, I made the decision to stop colouring my hair. That meant going from dark brown to mostly white. The trick was how to do this without freaking myself, my children, my husband, or my students out.

This was how my hair looked in January of this year:

Letting my gray hair shine - no more colouring

According to what I learned (mostly from Pinterest), my options were to shave my head, bleach it, or do a slow transition with highlighting and hair cuts that got shorter and shorter as time progressed.

I found a stylist who was completely on board with me so we talked about a process that would make the transition a bit less stressful. We decided to start putting lighter highlights in it every six weeks or so to make my overall hair colour look lighter. Apparently you can’t just colour dark hair to white. It takes several visits to the salon to achieve.

This it how it looked at a headshot photo session in March. I can see the roots in this photo so I wasn’t totally happy with how things were going.

Letting my gray hair shine - no more colouring

A few months later I had a “wash” put in it because the highlights were becoming too brassy, blond. I also went from long hair to just above the shoulder. I also bought lots of cool hats!

Letting my gray hair shine - no more colouring

In September, I cut it shorter to a bob at my jawline.

Letting my gray hair shine - no more colouring

I was happy with how the transition was going but felt the obvious line from uncoloured hair to coloured was still too obvious for my liking and wondered if I was ready to just cut most of it off.

I did that! The wonderful Jeff Altenburg from Shampoo Planet (and also a makeover stylist on the Cityline TV show) gave me this totally funky cut:

Letting my gray hair shine - no more colouring

It's shaved underneath!

Letting my gray hair shine - no more colouring

That is where I am today! The really ironic thing is that after stressing through this process, our school has decided to do a head-shave event in support of one of our sweet students undergoing a bone-marrow transplant. This girl is only seven. I agreed to shave my head if they raise $10,000! I’m pretty sure they’ll get there. So pop over to my Instagram or Facebook page to see what happens. I imagine I'll just let it grow out after that happens. 

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