My hair costs me the price of a weekend break per year. I know this because, since lockdown, I’ve missed three hair appointments, saving myself almost £150.
Thing is, my hairdresser, Ray, has been tinting my hair to a shade approximating my schoolgirl blonde for the past 15 years. Thereby re-establishing the ‘real’ me: mousy with corn sun-bleached tendrils. This is the ‘me’ I’ve clung to up to my sixth decade.
Ray’s 5-weekly restoration of youthful me is so effective that I’ve only caught occasional glimpses of my shameful grey roots. To me, grey has always reeked of old, conjuring up pictures of my mother with white and steel curls, crumpled face and mis-applied pink lipstick.
After the first cancelled hair appointment during lockdown, I attempted to maintain blonde me by the application of a gold powder that promised to “banish all grey.” At a centimetre’s re-growth it worked – kind of, although it was a little too – gold, giving me the appearance of a mummified Egyptian queen.
Three months into lockdown and the grey is creeping so far down the length of my hair that my crowning glory resembles a failed tie-dye experiment. But when I take a closer look at my grey hairs, lying as sleek and flat as strands of fine metal, they’re a harmonic blend of white, silver and gunmetal. Unlike the dull blonde, the grey hairs have the lambent glow of rain on glass. The beauty of my natural grey hair begins to feel ‘right’, as if I’m shedding a raw, unpolished persona – an authentic elegant me emerging from the shackles of moody youth.
When Ray calls to arrange an appointment for July, I tell him I don’t want a colour, just a cut.
“You’re the third person this week who’s going gr-ombre,” he says cheerfully. As we book our appointment I feel liberated. I’m beautiful as I am.
The relief in quietly discarding the Valerie that’s been bending to the wind of convention and its celebration of youth is tangible. With excitement I join the thousands of other women across the globe who’ve liberated their grey.
Yes, Ray, I’m going gr-ombre.