Thandie and I met British writer and journalist Eve Claxton in New York recently. We were both struck by how much her eye color was accentuated, what a lovely effect it had on her skin tone, and the overall striking beauty of her hair-and her in it.
We asked her to write about going grey, and her decision to accept, rather than correct it.
“When you’re a woman with prematurely grey hair, you tend to notice others who are in the same predicament.
Just the other day, I was on my way to an appointment in the West Village when I spotted a woman in her 30s with a short silver buzz cut — we flashed each other a smile of recognition as we went by. Most mornings when I’m taking my kids to school in Brooklyn, I see a woman about my age with salt-and-pepper shoulder-length hair walking in the other direction. We always glance at each other as if to say: “Does this look okay? You look good. I hope I look the same.”
At the age of 42, I’ve been going grey for most of my adult life. I’m originally a brunette, but I first started noticing silver strands in my hair I was still in my teens. I started covering the grey in my early twenties because, quite frankly, I wanted to look my age.
But maintaining the color took time and money, and I didn’t really enjoy dousing my head with chemicals on such a regular basis. When I got pregnant at the age of 34 I stopped dying, cold turkey.
It felt like the right thing to do, not only because there’s evidence that toxins in conventional hair dye can get absorbed through the scalp into your bloodstream, but also because I have a really good connotation with grey hair and motherhood.
My own mother went grey at a young age, and now that she’s in her 70s, she has a beautiful halo of silver curls.
Still, there are always those mornings when I stand in front of the mirror and feel completely brought down by my grey. When I first started growing out the dye in my hair, it was still dark with streaks of white, but over the past few years, it’s turned much lighter. People tend to assume that I’m being bold and daring by showing my true color—which is funny if you think about it because I’m actually not doing anything at all.
When you have older-looking hair, it can make you feel older, especially when someone stands up to give you their seat on the bus because they’ve only seen you from behind.
Not so long ago, I decided I wanted a change: I went to the hairdressers to talk about dying my hair again.
The colorist ran my fingers through my grey and told me that she was sorry, but she couldn’t bring herself to put anything on my head. “Your hair is already a gorgeous color,” she pointed out. “Why would you change that?” So I walked away with my natural look intact and just having just saved a couple of hundred dollars. On the way home, I spotted a woman a little bit older than me, looking amazing with a sleek silver bob and bright red lip—we snuck a look at each other and smiled.”
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